The Collie is a well-proportioned, large, agile sheepdog. The dog’s lean, blunted, wedge-shaped head gives an impression of lightness and should never seem heavy. The top of the head is flat, and the face is chiseled. The long, smooth, well-rounded blunt muzzle tapers to a black nose.
The ears are three-fourths erect with the tips folding forward. The eyes are almond-shaped, dark, and matched in color except in the case of blue merles, where blue or merle eyes are permitted. The trim, but muscular, body is slightly longer than it is tall. The chest is strong and fairly wide. The tailbone hangs down to the hocks. The coat is the main difference between the Rough and Smooth varieties. On the Rough Collie, the abundant double coat forms a mane around the neck and chest. The Rough’s long coat needs regular weekly grooming to look its best. The Smooth’s coat needs much less attention. On both varieties the hair on the head and legs is short and smooth. Both varieties come in sable and white, tricolor (black, white, and tan), blue merle, or predominantly white with sable, tricolor, or blue merle markings. See the breed standard for details.
The Collie has served humans as a sheepdog for centuries, guarding and herding the flocks. The breed’s name probably comes from its charge, the Scottish black-faced sheep called the Colley. The Collie comes in two distinct varieties, the Rough and the Smooth. The Rough Collie is the beautiful longhaired dog, made famous by the movie star Lassie. The Smooth variety is identical except that it has a 1-inch coat that needs very little grooming. The AKC considers the Rough and Smooth Collies to be varieties of the same breed. They are judged by the same standard with the exception of the coat.
Collies are so intelligent that they have been trained for many purposes, as search and rescue dogs, guides for the blind, movie stars, and guard dogs. Queen Victoria kept Collies at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, and her interest launched the breed’s subsequent popularity. J.P. Morgan and other members of the upper class have owned Collies. The breed’s great beauty has made the Collie a favorite show dog and family companion. The Smooth Collie is more popular as a companion dog in Great Britain than in the United States, but the breed has been gaining ground in the U.S.