Collies make terrific family pets. Their easy going nature and fun loving personality are suitable for children of all ages. Social animals, they usually get along well with other family pets. Generally speaking, they do not usually stray far from home, preferring the company of their family, to life on the road. However this is a general rule and it is always highly recommended that Collies have a fenced yard to exercise in. Like people, dogs have unique personalities. Some Collies are very energetic while others are very mellow. You should try to find a dog that fits the pace of your lifestyle.
The only difference between the Rough & Smooth Collie is the length of coat. Smooths have all of the great qualities of the Rough, without the hassle of grooming long hair. Smooths will still shed once or twice a year, depending on the weather. Once the dog starts to "blow it's coat", it is recommended that you give him/her a warm water bath. This will cause the hair to fall out quicker, shortening the shedding time. After bathing, dry the coat well and rake out the undercoat.
If your Collie is going to be a member of the family, and not shown or bred, it is highly recommended to spay or neuter him/her, not only to reduce the amount of unwanted animals, but also for the long-term health of your pet.
What colors do Collies come in?
The American Kennel Club and Collie Club of America recognize 4 colors. The one most people associate with a Collie is SABLE AND WHITE, which was the color of Lassie. Sable can range from lemon-golden brown, to a dark rich mahogany, tinged with black. TRICOLORS are very striking, as they have a black body color, white collars and white legs, with tan markings about the face. BLUE MERLES are less frequently seen, but their bodies are a silver/grey with some small black patches, with again the white collars and legs, and tan markings. WHITE COLLIES are the rarest of the colors. These animals have white bodies with colored heads and patches, and the heads can be sable or tri. White Collies are NOT defective in any way.
How big are Collies?
Collies are a medium sized dog, ranging from 22" to 24"(females) and 24" to 26"(males) at maturity. Females are usually 45 to 60 lbs. while the males are 60-75 lbs.
Do they require a lot of brushing?
Yes for roughs, and no for Smooths. A Rough Collie should be brushed once a week, and it will probably take you about 30 minutes to do a good job. Females will "blow" their coat after each season, and males will "blow" once a year, generally around their birthday. A yearling dog will "blow" all of his coat and this means profuse shedding. The older a dog gets, the less hair is blown. Smooths will also "blow" their coat, but a bath and a quick brush as all they require. The good thing about Collie hair is that it is easy to take off furniture and carpets, as oppose the short, sharp coat of a Doberman for example. A bath in warm water when the coat starts to loosen up will hasten the shedding process, and keep your dogs clean too.
Are they noisy?
Collies can be a yappy breed if they are left alone for long periods of time and become bored. The normal, active Collie will bark when strangers arrive, at the neighbor's cat, and at strange goings on in the neighborhood. If barking is a problem, the dog can be "debarked" at the veterinarians. Debarking is usually a 30 minute surgery, done under anesthesia, where the vocal cords are cut. The dog can still bark, but it is a muffled sound.
Are they good with children?
VERY! Collies love children and will tend to "herd" them and treat small children as their flock. Collies are very gentle with youngsters and put up with toddlers pulling their hair and ears and tails very well. They are great companions for older children as they love attention, rough housing, and playing ball. Collies will usually become very protective over "their" children, and will not usually tolerate other children hurting them. One breeder sold a puppy to a home with children, and one day the parents noticed a bunch of kids teasing their six year old in the park. The Collie began to circle "his" child, not letting any of the other children near "his" baby, and kept him out of harms way. This is the way of the Collie.
Are they "one man" dogs?
NO! When a Collie has a family, he loves the entire family. They are easily adaptable to new situations and new people. Collies are truly people dogs; they need companionship and are not happy without people around them. Every dog is different. Some Collies enter a new home & act like they've been there their whole lives. Others may take a few days to settle in.
Are Collies nervous or shy?
No. Collies are loving, outgoing animals that love people and have a zest for life. Collies should be a little reserved towards strangers, but to people they know, they should be loving, and outgoing. A shy, nervous Collie is not typical of the breed. Occasionally an older dog will be shy due to being in a previous home and these animals can usually be brought around by love, good care, and patience.
I've heard that you should not buy a dog that is inbred.
What does that mean?
This is not true. Dogs are bred in three ways: Inbred...which means breeding mother/son, father/daughter, sister/brother..... Line-bred - half sister/half brother, granddaughter/grandfather etc., or by Out-crossing...which is having no related animals within three generations. There is NO right way or wrong way to breed dogs and all three types of breeding will produce the "right" puppy for the pet buyer. When a breeder inbreeds or linebreeds it simply means they are attempting to intensity traits within a family line for breeding/showing purposes - to make an animal "dominant" in the hard to get areas of quality. Inbreeding does not make shy or sickly animals any more than outcrossing, and an outcross dog does not have more "vigor" than a linebred animal. Most breeders will utilize all three breeding practices in their breeding programs at some time, and line breeding is the most common practice.
What is a pedigree?
Your Collie's pedigree is his family tree. It shows three or four or sometimes five generations of his family. While it may be gibberish to a pet buyer, to a breeder it is a blueprint of genetic qualities. The males are always on the top side, while the females are on the bottom. The abbreviations used are:
CAN.CH. - Canadian Champion
AM.CH. - American Champion
MEX.CH. - Mexican Champion
INT.CH. - International Champion
OTCH. - Obedience Trial Champion
BER.CH. - Bermudan Champion
C.D. - Companion Dog
C.D.X. - Companion Dog Excellent
U.D. - Utility Dog
HC or HIC - Herding Instinct Certified
T.T. - Temperament Tested
V.C. - Versatility Companion
NE - Normal Eyed
BIS - All breed Best In Show winner
BISS - Best in Specialty winner
What supplies do I need for my Collie?
2 bowls - one for food, and one for water, stainless steel preferred, as Collies love to chew plastic. A "pin" brush, a "slicker" brush, and a comb for grooming. Nail clippers, and "Quick Stop" for trimming the nails. A spray bottle for water and scissors for trimming the hair between the toes. A nylon or metal choke chain for wearing ONLY when the dog is being walked or when control is needed. WEARING A COLLAR AT ALL TIMES IS A DANGEROUS PRACTICE - it can become caught on various things and choke the animal,
Should I take my Collie to obedience class?
YES!! Any family pet needs rules to live by, and an obedience class is just the ticket. You and your Collie will learn to work together as a team and you'll find it is fun too. By the end of the course you will find your Collie can sit, stay, come when called, lay down, and walk nicely on a lead, all of which will make him a better pet to live with. Besides, you might find you enjoy the challenge and go on to competition obedience, which you'll find at every dog show. A Collie doesn't necessarily have to be top show quality to enjoy dog shows, and spayed and neutered Collies are welcome at obedience trials. You will be amazed at how quickly your Collie will learn with a little practice. They love to learn and are eager to please.
Do Collies eat a lot?
Collies, when fed a professional quality food actually need but two to three cups a day, a surprisingly small amount for a medium sized dog. It is very easy to overfeed as many Collies are "good eaters" so you must monitor their weight carefully. If you try to feed a cheaper, grocery store type food, you will be feeding almost twice as much (five to six cups) to maintain the same weight, so no money is saved with this practice, and you'll end up scooping twice as much poop.
Do Collies require a lot of exercise?
The Collie himself will generally tell you no; left on his own he is actually a fairly lazy animal. Their favorite type of exercise is walks with their family and many Collies are enthusiastic retrievers, if taught young. The Collie will be a faithful jogging companion if you wish but it is important to not over-exercise a young animal, as you can do damage to the skeletal development.
Do I need to fence my yard?
Yes. It is highly recommended that your Collie be kept in a safe environment. If you are not home during the day, a 12'x8' pen with a dog house is fine for your Collie to hang out in. Collies have an undercoat for warmth & an outer coat to repel weather. They enjoy being outdoors, but hate to be tied-out. A run is not always the best solution as they tend to run back and forth and bark. Many breeders will not sell a dog unless there is a fenced yard due to the incidence of "hit by car" deaths. An invisible fence with collar does not prevent another animal from entering your property and attacking your dog.
Tell me about the Collie eye problem
Collies have two different types of eye problems, the first being CEA or CEP - Collie Eye Anomaly - also referred to as Collie Eye Problem. It has been estimated that 90% of the Collie population is affected with CEA. Most "grades" of CEA will NOT affect your dog's vision in any way, now or later in life. Choroidal Hypoplasia is the most common part of CEA, and means there is a "thinning" in the back of the retina. Colobomas are a "pit" and usually occur in the presence of hypoplasia. Occasionally a pit will occur in an area that will affect vision - the animal is not blind but will not have full vision in that area. Evan more rarely occurring ia a large pit that will possibly cause the retina to detach. Some puppies already have a retinal detachment and this means the puppy is blind in that eye. Things that are not part of CEA that Collies can occasionally exhibit are Persistent Pupillary Membranes, Corneal Dystrophy, and Retinal Folds. These conditions do NOT affect vision. All reputable breeders take their Collie puppies to a canine opthamologist between 6 and 8 weeks of age to have their eyes checked, and most breeders will supply you with the Opthalmic Examination Form upon request. CEA does NOT worsen with age and rarely affects vision.
The other major eye problem within our breed is PRA, Progressive Retinal Atrophy. Dogs afflicted with this will be blind in one or both eyes later in life. This is a progressive disease and is not generally able to be diagnosed at the time of the CEA check, but occurs later in the animal's life. It is very rare today to see a case of PRA as breeders work very hard to avoid known PRA carriers in their breeding programs. Occasionally breeders have animals that are suspect carriers that they would like to prove clear of PRA, and this is done by "test breeding" to a PRA blind animal. If a certain number of the of the resulting puppies are PRA free, then the "suspect" animal is reclassified as a "non-carrier" for PRA. If any of the resulting offspring have PRA, then the breeder knows his dog is a carrier and usually neuters the dog. Puppies from test- breedings such as this are genetic carriers of the problem and should NEVER be used for breeding, but still make wonderful family pets when neutered.
Most breeders are very careful concerning eyes and try to breed for and from CEA normal eyed or hypoplasia animals only. Occasionally a puppy with a coloboma will turn up in a litter, and while this puppy should not be bred, they will make a wonderful pup as the vision is NOT affected. Breeders need to make PRA test- breedings and occasionally CEA test breeding for the betterment of the breed, and pet buyers who take these puppies into their homes are doing a great service to the Collie. It would be a shame to have to destroy these pups who are outwardly healthy and that have no vision problems because the pet buying public wants "normal" puppies only. Only through test breeding will we clear our breeding stock of these problems. Most breeders will destroy any pups who are blind or have a vision loss.
I've heard Collies have sensitive skin.
Never, ever, shave your rough Collie. A Collie's skin can get easily sunburned. If you don't like all of the hair, then get a smooth! If a rough Collie gets wet, it must be dried thoroughly or it may get hot spots. Like any other canine, Collies can get demodectic mange. All dogs have the mange mite, which lives in the dog's hair follicles. In some dogs, stress or hormonal changes due to puberty can cause the skin an excess amount of sebum, a gland secretion. The mange mite feeds off the sebum. If too much sebum is produced, the mites reproduce out of control and the animal begins to lose hair in patches on the face and legs, where the mites are most prevalent. The dog's immune system usually kicks in and the dog will self heal within a few weeks. Some times the animal must be dipped with Mitaban to help kill the excess mites. In extreme cases, the animal must be put on antibiotics and dipped several times. There is no known cause to mange, and genetics may or may not play a role in it's appearance, we simply don't know.
Will my Collie have to visit the vet a lot?
A normal, healthy dog only has to see his vet once a year for his yearly "booster" shots, health exam, and stool check. Your dog should be spayed or neutered at about six months of age, or what your vet recommends.
Will my Collie's ears tip?
Maybe yes, and maybe no. Yes - if the right genes exist or if you are willing to tape the ears over during the trouble periods, such as teething, heat cycles and stress times. No - if the ears are not well formed to begin with, and many pet puppies are designated as pets because of poor ears. few Collies today have "natural" tipping ears; most are formed by breeders taping or gluing at some time in their lives. The easiest way to make your Collie's ears tip? Buy some "Fun Tac" at the drugstore and put a small amount on the tip!
Are Collies prone to hip dysplasia?
No, Collies today are relatively free of that disease, although it does occur in approximately 1% of the population. The term "X-rayed clear" means that the animal was x-rayed and found clear of hip dysplasia.
Why are purebred animals more expensive than mixed breeds?
The old adage, "you get what you pay for" is true of purebred animals. The price you pay includes the stud fee that was paid, the shipping of the bitch, the cost of tattooing, worming, shots, registrations, advertising, eye checks, feeding...plus you are paying for the generations of quality champions that are behind your dog. You are paying for a beautiful Collie that looks like a Collie should, and acts like a Collie does. You are paying for the time the professional breeder puts into each litter and for the wonderful temperament they are producing. You are paying for a quality animal that you can be proud of for many years. You are paying for a heritage.
Thanks to The American Smooth Collie Association for these FAQ's.
Human Foods that are Dangerous for Dogs and Cats
•Xylitol ( artificial sweetener found in products such as gum, candy, mints, toothpaste, and mouthwash)
•Chocolate, Coffee, and Caffeine
•Grapes and Raisins
•Garlic and Onions