4 Types of Collie

Did you know that there are several types of collie? If you're interested in discovering what each of them is like, in this article you'll discover their main characteristics.
4 Types of Collie
Samuel Sanchez

Reviewed and approved by the biologist Samuel Sanchez.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

When talking about the collie we must bear in mind that we’re not referring to a single breed of dog. Actually, there are 4 officially recognized types of collie, each with its own specific characteristics.

Collies are originally from the north of England, specifically in Scotland. Since their emergence, they were used as shepherd dogs and, although on a temperamental level they have many similarities between the different varieties, on a physical level it’s easy to differentiate them.

So, you didn’t know there were different types of collies? You’re about to find out what they are! In addition, all these variants have been validated by the International Cynological Federation (FCI)

Short-haired collie or smooth collie

We start with the smooth collie, one of the lesser-known collies if you’re outside the United Kingdom. In this area, it’s more common to see it as a companion animal for many families.

This type of collie is a sheepdog that emerged in the 19th century. Today it’s as popular as a pet and can live perfectly well in the city, adapting to any home in the process. Even so, it should be emphasized that it’s always advisable that your collie dog should always be able to exercise freely.

The smooth collie has a short, dense coat – in fact it really has two coats of hair. This coat of hair can be merlé blue, tricolor, or white and sand. Their measurements range, depending on the specimen, between 51 to 61 centimeters (20 – 24 inches) and their weight is usually between 18 and 30 kilos (40 – 66 pounds).

It’s a well-behaved dog, with a great capacity for learning. It’s active and very tolerant of humans, especially with children.

A smooth collie on a white background.

Bearded Collie

The bearded collie is a dog that originated around the 16th century. Although at this time it was a sheepdog, its role was losing relevance – as well as its breed. Fortunately, in the twentieth century, its recovery began.

Its height at the withers is usually between 51-56 centimeters (20 – 22 inches) and its elongated body supports a weight of between 18 and 27 kilos (40 – 60 pounds). It has long hair which falls on the sides of its muzzle over his face, as if it were a beard. The fur also falls down its trunk, which is naturally divided in the middle of its back. Their coat can be colored blue, gray, black, fawn, or brown.

These dogs get along wonderfully with people, as they’re happy and sociable in nature. In addition, they’re quite at ease when it comes to living with other dogs. Additionally, it should be noted that, despite being a dog originally from the countryside, they have no problem adapting to life in the city, as long as it’s physically and mentally stimulated every day.

Of course, compared to the other collies recognized by the FCI, this one can be a bit more stubborn when it comes to learning. For this reason, experts such as those of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, recommend having a dog trainer.

A bearded collie on the ground.

Without a doubt, the border collie is one of the most recognized types of collie in the world. It’s not surprising, because it’s the most intelligent dog of all, at least according to Stanley Coren’s list.

For this reason, although, since its origin in the 18th century, it was only used as a cattle herder, today it’s a highly appreciated pet and it’s very common to see them in skill and obedience competitions. Its beauty and elegant bearing are yet another reason to look at this very special canid.

Being such mentally active dogs, they need a lot of daily stimulation. Because of this, in addition to physical activity, caring for a Border Collie implies exposing them to mental challenges every day. Failure to do so may lead to behavioral problems that make it more difficult to live together.

They’re usually pleasant and affectionate, but we don’t recommend that you have one in a small apartment. Remember that this canid needs a lot of activity, so if it lives in a place with plenty of space to exercise, so much the better.

It’s a medium-sized dog, with a height at the withers of between 46 and 54 centimeters (1.5 to 1.8 feet) and a weight between 14 and 22 kilos (30 – 48 pounds), depending on its size. Their hair is dense and long and, although the best-known one is the black and white version, there are also brown, red, black, tricolor, or merlé blue border collies.

A dog lying in the grass.

Long-haired collie or rough collie

Along with the border collie, the long-haired collie is undoubtedly another of the best-known types of collie. This doesn’t surprise us either, as the famous fictional dog Lassie was this type of collie.

On the other hand, its intelligence and beauty have made it become a very appreciated dog as a pet, leaving aside that role of shepherd that it fulfilled perfectly from its origins. The rough collie has an affable character, in addition to being very intelligent, which helps a lot in their learning and education for family life.

Two of its most notable physical characteristics are its elongated snout, whose nose is prone to sunburn, and its long hair, which must be brushed regularly to avoid knots. This is usually white and sand, tricolor or there may also be specimens with blue merlé hair.

In addition to this, other characteristics about its physique are that its weight ranges between 18 and 30 kilos, depending on the size, and that it’s usually between 51 and 61 centimeters in height at the withers.

A rough collie in the field.

Are the collie and border collie the same breed?

Although there are people who mention “collie” as a breed to refer to the border collie – as this is one of the best-known variants – the truth is that this isn’t true.

The collie shouldn’t be talked about as one particular dog, as that name refers to several breeds, some of which we have mentioned throughout the article. So, for that reason, a border collie and collie are not the same breed.

Nor should the term “collie” be used solely to refer to the long-haired, short-haired or bearded collie, as this could lead to confusion. It’s best not to generalize and call each type of collie by its full name. We know it may sound confusing at first, but, with a little practice, it’s easy to tell the difference between them.

What’s the best type of collie to have as a pet?

It would be unfair to choose just one of the collie types as a pet. They’re all highly intelligent, social, loving, and protective dogs with their family. However, there are small characteristics that perhaps should be taken into account when trying to choose between them as a companion animal.

For example, the great physical and mental activity that the Border Collie needs every day requires owners who are willing to provide it. In the same way, it should be noted that the learning of the bearded collie is a little slower than that of the others. So, those who want it as a pet should be willing to invest time in its education.

One of a kind of collie.

Having said that, all types of collie are ideal to live with people and other pets, as they’re especially friendly dogs with children. These dogs are a wonderful mix of sweet, caring, and loyal – don’t miss your chance to get to know one!

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