Rough Collie: dog breed appearance, character, training, care, health

The Rough Collie, or long-haired collie , is the refined version of the traditional Scottish shepherd dogs. It is popular as a companion dog, its fame started in the 19th century, and it was increased thanks to the famous dog Lassie . At Petlifey, we explain everything about the rough collie breed.

Rough Collie characteristics

Originally from the United Kingdom, the rough collie is a dog with a very beautiful appearance, standing with serene dignity and in which each part is in proportion to the whole. Its physical structure shows strength and activity, without signs of heaviness or coarseness. It is a dog with great expressiveness.

It is an eminently balanced animal in its proportions, as it presents a perfect combination of the skull and muzzle, the size, shape, color and location of the eyes, as well as the correct position and bearing of the ears.

It is also known by the names  Colley à poil long or Langhaariger Schottischer Schäferhund .

Physical characteristics of the long-haired Collie

The long-haired Collie is a dog of great physical beauty and a bearing of serene dignity. All parts of your body harmonize with the whole. It shows strength, dynamism, lightness and refinement. Its expression is sweet and affectionate.

  • General Appearance: The Rough Collie is a very harmonious and proportionate sheepdog. Structurally, the length of the body exceeds the height at the withers and overall the figure is very balanced and refined.
  • Size: large.
  • Height at the withers: 56-61 cm (Male) and 51-56 cm (Female).
  • Weight: 20-29 kg (Male) and 18-25 kg (Female).
  • Body: characterized by being agile and robust at the same time. Its back descends gently towards the rump and its chest is wide and deep.
  • Head: very clean and well defined lines. Viewed from the front or side, it has a well-drawn wedge shape, clearly truncated and smooth in outline. The c RSHIP is flattened and sides are tuned gradually and smoothly from the ears to the tip of the nose.
  • Muzzle: fine and has a truncated end, although not square.
  • Nose: always black.
  • Eyes: they are a characteristic of the breed and give it a very sweet and intelligent expression. Medium in size and almond-shaped, they are placed in a somewhat oblique position. They are dark brown in color, but blue-blackbird specimens usually have one or both eyes of blue or mottled blue color. When the dog is attentive it shows a lively and alert look.
  • Ears: they are small and are placed, neither too close together nor too far apart, on the upper part of the skull. When the dog is at rest it carries them backwards, but when alert it raises them forward and carries them semi-erect, with the upper third naturally falling forward.
  • Nose-frontal depression (stop): it is moderate.
  • Jaws: The jaws are strong, and the teeth are healthy and complete, made up of good-sized teeth. The bite is perfect and scissor .
  • Neck: muscular, strong, of good length and well arched.
  • Forelimbs: straight and muscular. Its shoulders are oblique, they are well angulated. The forearms and arms have strong and robust bones.
  • Hind limbs: well defined and very solid. Its legs are straight and muscular. The knees are well angulated and the hocks: They are very lowered.
  • Feet: they are oval and are endowed with thick and strong pads. The toes are close together and quite arched (a little less on the hind feet), especially on the forelegs.
  • Tail: the tail is long, reaches at least to the hocks, and is covered with abundant hair. When the dog is at rest, it is usually carried low but with the tip slightly bent towards both. On the other hand, when it is in action it can carry it happily, although without exceeding the line of the back or back.
  • Skin: firm and well adhered to the body.

What is the hair of the Rough Collie like?


The hair conforms to the contour of the body and is very dense. The outer layer is smooth and rough in texture to the touch. Instead, the undercoat is soft, woolly, and so compact that it almost hides the skin.

On the mane and on the chest it is very abundant, and on the muzzle and face it is smooth, as on the tips of the ears, although at its base it is longer. The forelimbs have long and abundant hair, while on the hindlimbs the fur is quite long on the hocks, and long and smooth below them.


There are three varieties of color in the Rough Collie:

  • The cibelina, including any shade that goes from light gold to mahogany dark.
  • The tricolor, where the black color predominates, dotted with spots of intense tan color on the extremities and head
  • The blackbird blue, in which light silver blue predominates, dotted and mottled with black, or with spots of an intense tan color.

Regardless of the basic color of the coat, most rough collies have white spots on the collar (which is sometimes totally white), the chest, the limbs, the feet and the tip of the tail.

As a curiosity, you should know that there is an almost identical breed but small in size, they call it the rough “dwarf collie”, but its real name is Shetland Sheepdog.

Character of the Rough Collie breed

A striking feature of this breed is its extraordinary expressiveness. The dog uses a whole range of gestural and postural tricks to convey its state of mind, and accompanies them with a wide variety of sounds, beyond the normal bark.

In fact, there are those who consider that because of the joy, affection, tranquillity and peace that they transmit, having a rough collie at home is an antidote to the stress and problems of modern life today.

Thanks to its great agility and flexibility, its enormous intelligence and its ability to learn and obey the instructions of its master, the rough collie has become an ideal dog to participate in disciplines such as agility or obedience.

This breed is endowed with a very stable character, although some specimens sometimes show a marked tendency to exercise their old herding function.

This tendency can be translated into a mania – driving everything that moves around them regardless of whether they are children, adults, other animals and even objects such as bicycles, motorcycles and cars.

But, in general, it maintains an exceptional behaviour with other animals and with children, although it is advisable that, in both cases, it is accustomed from an early age to the presence of both, since it is not advisable to never leave children unattended with a dog, regardless of the breed.

  • Energy: high level. Active and athletic, you need to practice a lot of exercise daily,
  • Temperament: intelligent, faithful, sweet, friendly and peaceful, responds very well to training. It is very affectionate and shows no trace of nervousness or aggressiveness.
  • Adaptability: high. Although it needs ample spaces to run, it adapts well to city life.
  • Sociability: high. Very sensitive, it is the ideal dog to live with a family; It is very affectionate with children and the elderly
  • Health: good. You have the possibility of suffering from some of the diseases typical of the collie family.
  • Longevity: low. You can live 8-10 years in good health.
  • Utility: very versatile. Due to its good character, it can be trained for various activities; shepherd dog, guard and defence dog, companion dog, obedience. gaiety or flyboy. Deter the predator. Grazing and guarding.
  • Movement: this is a distinctive feature of this breed. When the dog moves, it brings the front feet close together, while the hind feet move parallel and not so close together. The latter, very powerful, provide a great boost to the march. From the sides, the movement is seen together, and the step is long, very light and without apparent effort.

Rough Collie education and training

Some claim that the rough collie is the most sophisticated version of all Scottish shepherds, but those who believe that it is the canine equivalent of the human cliché of the “silly blonde” is very wrong.

It is a ductile dog, very prone to training and more sensitive than other shepherd dogs, so it is necessary to educate it with a fair hand, but without using brusqueness or methods that could make it an insecure or timid animal.

It is likely that the presence of greyhound blood, and even borzois, in its genetics is what gives its temperament a certain distrust towards strangers, which it manifests with rapid movements and somewhat elusive attitudes.

At first, the rough is not friendly with those it does not know, although it never shows signs of aggressiveness, reserved, curious and observant, it will wait to see who comes and how its master behaves with them to show the newcomer a slight affection and dismissive.

Like many shepherd dogs, it can be a good “spotter”, although it is not a good watchdog in the strict sense.

More adaptable than other shepherd dogs, the rough collie can live perfectly in the city, it is enough that it is guaranteed the adequate daily dose of exercise so that it maintains a perfect physical and mental balance.

Many consider them a luxury dog, perhaps because it integrates perfectly into family life in a flat or apartment if it believes it is the object of all the attention that it feels it deserves.

In fact, it is the family dog ​​par excellence, not only does it like to be in the company of other members of its “pack”, but it loves to be the center of attention and the object of everyone’s pampering.

But beyond that extraordinary attractiveness, that expressive face with slanted eyes and the typical raised ears with the bent tip that give it its characteristic appearance, the owners of a rough collie must remember that this is also a working dog, and they have They need to satisfy their needs for exercise and distraction if they intend to raise a healthy and balanced dog.

Sometimes the rough collie’s herding instinct can be manifested by trying to attract attention with small nips with the mouth, which should never be considered as nibbles: this is what the English call yipping.

Such nibbles are a typical work tool of some breeds of shepherd dog, and although they can certainly be annoying, they are not signs of aggression, but rather reflect the way in which this dog keeps everything that it does under control. around them and that it considers to be its responsibility.

Rough collies, like members of many other herding breeds, were developed to work for man and with man, so the bonds that the breed establish with their reference persons are strong and permanent.

Unlike other dogs, oriented towards solitary work in the most adverse conditions, this one is like an extension of the shepherd in the care, guarding and driving of livestock.

Although, like other collies, it is capable of making decisions for themselves, it stands out as an executor of the orders it receives from its aster or guide, whom it never loses sight of and whom it follows with its eyes at all times to ensure its approval.

In fact, it feels adoration for its masters, whom it admires unconditionally; Therefore, once the proper connection between the dog and its owner has been developed, the dog’s obedience is not at all, and it is in this context that this breed shows the virtues of the perfect soldier: obedience to its boss and immediate response to its orders, without ever questioning its decisions.

But the master must be able to reciprocate that dedication, to fill the rough collie’s ability to please with something to do, a task in which it can feel important.

Every specimen of the breed must receive adequate training and be integrated in the performance of some activity that keeps it mentally active.

Individuals of this breed are not difficult to deal with and can be the right pet for beginners. The novice owner will find in them a dedicated, understanding, loyal and obedient dog, and will not be frustrated by its attempts to contradict them.

But fashion and its media fame have led many people to mistakenly regard it as a mere companion dog, and it is not, since it is above all a working breed with exceptional qualities, the most prominent of which is, without doubt, its value.

It defends its own and theirs from any external aggression, and in some historical periods, such as the two world wars, it was used to accompany relief forces, such as the Red Cross, or as a rescue dog in disasters.

Today it is no longer used for these auxiliary tasks, in part due to the dedication that its coat needs for good maintenance, but it is still possible to see specimens of the breed performing guide dog work , especially in the United States.

Rough Collie breed feeding

The rough collie is an active shepherd dog, which, together with the special characteristics of its coat, makes its food needs very specific.

You need an energetic and abundant diet, and you have to take into account the source and quality of the fats in your diet, since they are what help keep the coat in optimal conditions.

Sometimes it may be necessary to supplement the usual food ration with an extra supply of fatty acids in the form of vegetable oil or fish oils.

The fats you eat in your diet not only help keep your skin and hair in perfect condition, but they also guarantee the perfect functioning and maintenance of many of your vital organs.

Therefore, we must not abuse saturated fats or fats of unknown origin that, instead of benefiting, can lead to the appearance of serious health disorders.

Allergic conditions are becoming more and more frequent in dogs, and this breed does not escape them. Almost all have their origin in food, a totally new situation for an animal used to living in the open air and eating whatever it wants, who knows instinctively what is going to be good for them and what is not.

That is why it is very important to know the quality and origin of the components of commercial diets and, in the same way, observe the result of the use of one or the other in each individual dog.

The amount of the daily ration, as well as its energy formulation, must be decided based on the way of life that the rough collie develops in each stage and the activities that it carries out.

In any case, whether it lives with a family or if it is used as a work animal, the quality of the components of the diet should not undergo any alteration.

Rough Collie breed health

It is very important to remember that the main prevention and health care strategy for this animal is, along with hygiene, a good diet.

The correct development of the skeleton and muscles, dental and eye health, and the condition of the skin and hair will depend on it.

Being a dog that lives so integrated with man, the rough collie tends to share with them some of the diseases of modern society, such as, for example, obesity.

In dogs, as in humans, the root causes of obesity are sedentary lifestyle and the tendency to overeat.

A healthy specimen will rush the ration that is put in front of them, even if it is excessive, because there is something inside that prompts them to eat everything that is available to them just in case the next day it does not have anything to take to the house. mouth. But an obese dog is a source of disease and little by little it ceases to be a jovial, cheerful and active animal.

Like the other breeds in the Collie family, the rough’s health is basically good. It can suffer, like all of them, a singular genetic alteration that makes it intolerant to certain chemical compounds. Especially to an antiparasitic preparation widely used in veterinary medicine.

You can also develop some other eye problems typical of the breed, but all this can be prevented from the beginning if, when buying a puppy, you go to responsible and knowledgeable breeders of the breed, truly concerned about its development and improvement. .

Rough collie specimens can live for more than 10 years if they are well fed and cared for, and undergo regular veterinary control.

Beyond the normal checkups and periodic vaccinations and deworming, this breed does not have to present serious health problems.

Characteristic diseases must be known to breeders, who must try to avoid them by reproductively selecting healthy specimens.

In this sense, for the owners, the breed clubs are, in addition to an extraordinary source of information, a good base of support to turn to.

It is good to maintain a constant relationship of trust and to be advised by both the rough collie breeder and the veterinarian.

Also, through some breed clubs you can get interesting educational material and meet other rough collie owners.

Thus, the integration of the specimens of this interesting breed in some activity is facilitated. In which these splendid animals feel fulfilled as the useful, intelligent and beautiful individuals that they are.

Rough Collie care

The rough collie needs good cosmetic maintenance, although it does not require special cuts. Its coat, long, straight, of good texture, and with abundant and dense undercoat, needs regular care , basically bathing and brushing, with some small cutting work.

Rough Collie breed arrangement


The purpose of the bath is to keep the rough collie’s hair clean, hydrated and free of knots that could necessitate a radical cut or shearing. Before bathing it, it is advisable to perform some basic routines, such as trimming the nails and cleaning the ears and eyes.

It is also advisable to hydrate the hair with a little water spray and detangle with a long-bristled brush. If the presence of knots is noticed, it must be undone before bathing.

To do this, try to open the knot with your hands, applying if necessary a specific product for this work, and if this is not enough, you can use a special knot tool. The knot should only be cut if it is strictly necessary.

Once this is done, the dog is bathed. First, all the hair is moistened with warm water and then a special shampoo for double-coated dogs is applied, which usually has a very high hydration factor and contains some oil (coconut, almonds, etc.).

The soap must be distributed evenly throughout the body, making sure that it reaches the dense undercoat.

Let it act for a few minutes, while the dog is massaged to stimulate epidermal circulation. Then rinse thoroughly and repeat the operation, this time adding a conditioner with similar characteristics to the shampoo used. It is finally rinsed with plenty of water.


The rough collie has a double coat that retains a lot of water due to its dense undercoat. At the end of the bath, the hair is drained well and a first manual drying with a towel is given.

Drying is then started using a powerful air ejector that is applied to the undercoat, in order to remove all the water that it has retained.

Finally, a hot air dryer is applied to dry the outer coat, while the hair is worked by opening it by hand and brushing with the long-bristle brush.


Brushing is the most important grooming job for the rough collie. The undercoat must be raked with a special tool, taking care not to tear it off and opening all the knots that are found.

It is advisable not to brush the hair when it is completely dry, it is better to spray a little water or apply a special moisturizing product. Hair must always be kept hydrated.


The outer mantle is worked with two types of brushes: the long-barbed and the card. It begins by working against the grain of the extremities, where the hair is shorter. Then the body is brushed from the inside to the outside. Do this by opening the hair with one hand and working with the other in the natural direction of growth.

Brushing with a soft card will smooth the finish.

Ears and tail

The back of the ears, where many knots tend to form, and the tail will be combed with the card and the metal comb.


Scissor work on the rough collie is very small. It is limited to outlining the feet, emptying the interdigital hair. And match the fringes on the limbs, ears and chest, with thinning scissors and flat scissors.

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