Collie, is a Scottish term for a sheepdog. The American Kennel Club recognizes four collie breeds in its herding group. The largest is the collie, made famous by TV's canine hero "Lassie." There's the bouncy bearded collie, the iconic sheepdog and the border collie. The Shetland sheepdog, a bright, energetic dog, is the smallest collie. All four breeds originally were bred for sheepherding in their native Scotland. Today, they make biddable and lively companions for active owners.
The Devoted Collie
By the 1800s, collies were herding sheep in Scotland. Settlers brought collies with them to America, and the AKC recognized the breed in 1885. The 1950's TV series "Lassie Come Home" helped to make the rough variety one of America's all-time favorite breeds.
The male collie measures 24 to 26 inches at the shoulder and weighs 60 to 75 pounds. A female is 22 to 24 inches tall and weighs 50 to 65 pounds. The rough variety has a long, straight, abundant double coat that can be sable and white, tricolor, blue-merle or white. A white collie, preferably has markings. He has a long wedge-shaped head and semi-erect ears, with the top quarter tipping forward. His tail is carried low. The smooth-coated variety is identical, except for a short, dense, flat coat.
The collie is intelligent, proud and devoted to his human family. He requires daily exercise and will enjoy organized activities such as obedience, herding, trailing and agility.
The Charismatic Bearded Collie
The bearded collie or beardie, with his long coat and tireless energy, was well-adapted for sheep herding and cattle droving in the rough terrain of the Scottish hills. The first beardies came to the United States in 1957 as pets, and were recognized by the AKC in 1976.
A male bearded collie is 21 to 22 inches tall, the slightly smaller female, 20 to 21 inches. A beardie has a medium length, flat, shaggy double coat. It grows longer at the chest, forming a beard. He has long-haired hanging ears and a low-set tail, which curves up slightly at the end. A beardie is born with either a black, brown, fawn or blue coat, with, or without, white markings. As he matures, the coat may get lighter.
The beardie is energetic, self-confident and smart. This charismatic dog loves people and thrives on lots of outdoor exercise.
The Workaholic Border Collie
The border collie was developed by shepherds, in the Scottish and English border country, for his ability to stare calmly at the sheep -- giving eye -- and intimidate them into moving. American shepherds valued the border collie's obedience and quick herding capabilities. The breed was recognized by the AKC in 1995.
The border collie is an agile, athletic dog. The male stands 18 to 22 inches at the shoulder and the female 18 to 21 inches. A border collie's dense weather resistant double coat, which can be straight or wavy, is medium length on the rough variety and short on a smooth-coated dog. The coat can be all colors or any combination of colors. He has an alert expression and his ears are erect or semi-erect.
A border collie is an intelligent, responsive dog who needs plenty of mental and physical exercise to be happy. He is affectionate with his family, but may be reserved with strangers.
The Playful Shetland Sheepdog
The Shetland sheepdog or sheltie originated in the Shetland Islands off the north of Scotland. The islands' sparse vegetation favored smaller sheep, and the dogs needed to herd them were bred proportionately smaller. The breed was recognized by the AKC in 1911.
The sheltie is 13 to 16 inches at the shoulder. He has a long, straight, harsh double coat. The dense undercoat makes the coat appear to stand off from his body. It can be black, blue-merle or sable; with white and/or tan markings. He has a long wedge-shaped head with an intelligent, questioning expression. His small ears are three-quarters erect with the tips bending forward. The tail hangs down or slightly curves upward.
The sheltie is loyal, playful and affectionate with his owner. He is highly active and needs to run, and will enjoy task-based activities.