Scotch collie

Scotch collie

Scotch Collie is the name originally given to the two types now often divided into Rough Collie and Smooth Collie. They were derived originally from herding dogs from Scotland and northern England, with mixture from other breeds, particular the Borzoi. See Collie for other types of collie and related dog types.

History of Rough and Smooth Collies


The origin and history of the Scotch Collie dog breed is not entirely known, but we do know that it included ancestors originating in Scotland and northern England. Before this time, however, the breed has an ancestry that spans thousands of years as the Scotch Collie's ancestors had been used to herd sheep and cattle for many centuries in both the Highlands of Scotland and throughout early England. The word "collie" is thought to come from the word for "black" or "coal" in Old English. The Scotch Collie breed consists of both the Rough Collie and the Smooth Collie. A division between long-haired and short-haired variants also existed in the 19th century. However, it is apparent that at one point the Scotch Collie was much smaller than today's dog, like the many other working collie breeds. The ancestor of the Scotch Collie was short, somewhere around 14 inches or so at the shoulders with a broader head, and black or black-and-white. The dogs that came to be the Scotch Collie had been used to herd and guard the flocks and herds of their caretakers.

Although the Scotch Collie and its ancestors had been used for several centuries as a working dog herding sheep and cattle, it was in England in the 19th century that the dog became popular as a pet and show dog rather than a working dog breed. Queen Victoria took an interest in Scotch Collies and the rest of the country soon followed suit. It was also at this time that the dog became larger through cross-breeding with breeds such as Borzois. At this point, Scotch Collie breeders began to standardize the breed and keep written pedigree records. Scotch Collies were shown in dog shows in England as early as 1860 and made its way to the United states by 1880. By about 1886, the the Scotch Collie breed was fully standardized and remains roughly the same today. It was in this same year the the Collie Club of America was formed, becoming one of the founder breeds of the American Kennel Club.

A surge in popularity occurred in the United States in the 1940s and 1950s with the release of the movie "Lassie Come Home" in 1943 and the subsequent television series that began in 1954 and ran for seventeen years.

Breed Standards

As is the case with many breeds of dogs that are still used for their original purposes, breed standards vary depending on whether the registry is more interested in a dog that performs its job superbly or a dog whose appearance meets an ideal standard.

The Scotch Collie, on the whole, has been treated mainly as a show dog after its sudden rise in popularity and many more are being kept as ring dogs. Farmers and livestock keepers generally use other types of herding dog, such as the Border Collie.

Few handlers of working herding dogs participate in conformation shows, as working dogs are bred to a performance standard rather than one based on appearance. Likewise, conformation-bred dogs are seldom seen on the sheepdog trial field, except in Kennel Club-sponsored events. Dogs registered with either working- or conformation-based registries are seen in other performance events such as agility, obedience, tracking, rally-o or flyball, however these dogs do not necessarily conform to the breed standard of appearance as closely as the dogs shown in the breed rings as this is not a requirement in performance events, nor do they necessarily participate in herding activities.

Coat Colours

Both Rough and Smooth varieties are available in four distinct colors:

  • Sable collies are generally the most recognizable, the choice of the Lassie television and movie producers. The sable color on these dogs can range from a light blonde color to a deep reddish-brown, with any hue in between possible.
  • Tricolor dogs are mostly black and white with tan markings.
  • Blue merle collies are best described as tricolor or black-and-white dogs whose black has been diluted to a mottled gray-blue color.
  • White collies are usually mostly white on the body with a head coloration of any of the three previous.

As modern-day "Lassies", both Rough and Smooth Collies have become successful assistance, and therapy dogs. At least one guide dog school (Southeastern Guide Dogs in Florida) currently trains Smooth Collies as guide dogs, and a number of Scotch Collies are currently partnered with disabled individuals around the United States.


The Scotch Collie is typically a very healthy breed, and is known to inherit few health conditions that are both serious and prevalent. Some health conditions of note include Collie eye anomaly, PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), gastric torsion, dermatomyositis, grey collie syndrome (a type of neutropenia), collie nose (discoid lupus erythematosus), and demodicosis. Seizures, canine hip dysplasia, microphthalmia, and cyclic neutropenia are also occasionally seen. The Collie Health Foundation ( maintains a website and database on disorders affecting collies.

Some Scotch Collies (and other collie breeds) have a particular allele of the the multi-drug resistance gene, MDR1. This is also known as "the ivermectin-sensitive collie", however the sensitivity is not limited to ivermectin, a common drug used to treat and prevent various ailments in dogs including heartworm disease. More than 20 drugs are expected to cause adverse reactions including milbemycin and loperamide. A study by the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at UC Davis concluded that all dogs with this mutation are descendants of a single dog which most likely lived in Great Britain during the middle of the 19th century.

The mutation of the MDR1 gene is found in Scotch Collies and related breeds worldwide and affects approximately 80% of Scotch Collie dogs in the United States. Dogs with this mutation are predisposed to various sensitivities and some may suffer a potentially fatal neurotoxicosis.

Ivermectin is a popular choice in the prevention of heartworm disease in dogs, an extremely serious and potentially fatal condition. Despite the high prevalence of sensitivity in Scotch Collies to this medication, the low dosage provided is generally considered safe and preventative drugs such as Heartgard are advertised as approved for Scotch Collies, having a wide margin of safety when used as directed. A simple test, recently developed at and provided by Washington State University, can determine if a dog is a carrier of the mutation which causes sensitivity.

Scotch Collies typically live an average of 12 to 14 years.


Scotch Collies are known to be generally sweet and protective. They are generally easy to train due to a high level of intelligence and a willingness to please. Some are a bit clingy, but this is often seen as an overdeveloped sense of loyalty. They are excellent herding dogs and benefit from the companionship of a family or other dogs. Scotch Collies are very playful and gentle around children. They can also exhibit a strong herding instinct, especially around children.

Famous Scotch Collies


External links

Clubs, Associations, and Societies

Information about the MDR1-defect

Rough and Smooth Collie Info

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