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A Rough Collie A Rough Collie

Collie refers to a breed of herding dog originating primarily in Scotland. The exact origin of the name is uncertain, although it probably originates in Older Scots col(l) (coal), meaning black.

The Lassie movies, books, and television shows, which starred Rough Collies, helped to popularize Collies in the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as in many other countries. The Collie Club of America [1] is one of the oldest breed-specific clubs in existence in the United States (founded in 1886). However, there are three different dog breeds with "Collie" in their name:

The farm collie was a generic term for a wide range of herding dogs common in North America until the middle of the 20th century.

Shetland Sheepdogs (commonly known as "Shelties") are sometimes mistaken for Collies, but are a completely different breed of distinct origin.

The highlands of Scotland were the natural home of the Collie, where the sheepdogs had been used for centuries by shepherds, but the modern form of the breed was mostly developed in England in the late 1800s. This early form of the breed was usually referred to as the Scotch collie (or Scottish collie) in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Scotch collies were heavier and less fine-boned than today's Rough and Smooth dogs. The ancestors of the modern Collie were first exhibited as "Scotch Sheep-Dogs" in the 1860 Birmingham (England) dog show.

A rough tri-color puppy. A rough tri-color puppy.

The modern Collie of both Rough and Smooth varieties are available in four distinct colors. Sable and White dogs 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. Tri-Color dogs are mostly black and white with sable markings. Blue Merle collies are best described as Tri-Color 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. A lesser-known variant of collie coloring is that of the "phantom merle" - a seemingly tricolor dog, with only perhaps a slight merling of one or two areas of fur, who actually carries the gene for merling. If bred to another dog with a merle gene, the resulting pups may be "double-dilute" - which can result in devastating neurological conditions.

As modern-day "Lassies", both rough and smooth collies have become successful guide dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs. At least one guide dog school (Southeastern Guide Dogs in Florida) currently trains smooth coated collies as guide dogs, and a number of collie service dogs are currently partnered with disabled individuals around the United States.

Famous Collies

  • Lassie
  • Coleen from Road Rovers
  • Laddie from The Simpsons
  • Blanco, pet of Lyndon Johnson
  • Reveille, official mascot of Texas A&M University

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