5 Popular Collie Breeds: Characteristics, Differences, and More

Collies are a type of herding dog hailing from the United Kingdom. Specific breeds include Border Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Rough Collies.

Jun 10, 2024By Nikita Hillier
popular collie breeds

Collies are a beloved group of herding dogs that come from the gorgeous landscapes of Scotland and Northern England. The term “Collies” encompasses a large variety of breeds, each with its own unique characteristics, fun personality, and charm.

From the small yet spirited Shetland Sheepdog to the iconic Rough Collie, there is a loving collie breed to suit every lifestyle and preference. Here are some breeds that could suit yours!

1. Shetland Sheepdogs

shetland sheepdog looking up at camera
Image Credit: Kanashi on Unsplash

Talk about cute! Shetland Sheepdogs, affectionately known as Shelties, are a small and very smart breed that originated from the Shetland Islands of Scotland. Despite their very small size, they possess a huge personality that makes them amazing companions for families and individuals alike.

Because of their willingness to please, these dogs are easily trainable with positive reinforcement. Yet, being very smart, they require mental stimulation to prevent any common behavioral problems arising from boredom. Keeping them engaged with activities, such as agility courses, obedience training, or puzzle games, can help keep them engaged and fulfilled.

Shetland Sheepdogs have a thick double coat that sheds a lot, especially during seasonal changes. Regular grooming, including brushing several times a week, is super important to avoid any matting and keep their coat in good condition. Additionally, they may require occasional trimming to keep their appearance tidy.

They enjoy regular exercise such as daily walks, playtime, and activities, like fetch, to keep them mentally fit. Early socialization is super important, as sometimes their herding instincts can cause nipping at heels or herding attempts on young children.

2. Rough Collies

rough collie dog laying on ground
Image Credit: Chloe Evans on Unsplash

Rough Collies gained a lot of popularity when people became fond of the fictional character Lassie. These dogs are larger than most other members of the Collie family. This breed originated in Scotland’s Highland regions. They are known for their looks, intelligence, and gentle demeanor.

Prospective owners should be prepared to keep up with coat maintenance as these dogs have a very thick double coat that desperately needs regular grooming to prevent matting and keep it in optimal condition. The good news is that Rough Collies are very intelligent, making them highly trainable.

As with other members of the Collie family, mental stimulation super important for these dogs, and early socialization is essential to make sure they remain confident and well-adjusted. Nobody wants an under-stimulated Collie dog! Despite their gentle nature, they can be very protective and may be quite aloof around strangers.

Rough Collies have moderate exercise needs and like long walks, hikes, and interactive play sessions. What’s more, Rough Collies love kids, making them popular dogs for families with children.

3. Border Collies

brown and white border collie close up
Image Credit: Anna Dudkova on Unsplash

Border Collies are the true epitome of working dogs. These are renowned for their impressive athleticism, intelligence, and herding ability. They originated from the borders of Scotland and England and are highly regarded for their ability to excel in various working roles and canine sports.

People looking to purchase a Border Collie need to know that these dogs have boundless energy and an intense prey drive, similar to Australian Shepherds.

They require a lot of physical and mental stimulation to prevent boredom, which can lead to excessive chewing, lots of barking, and pacing. Running with your dog and going on frequent hikes can keep your dog happy and healthy. You might even enjoy partaking in breed-specific sports with your Border Collie.

Even just playing fetch gives these dogs a sense of purpose and direction. Due to their herding instincts, Border Collies may nip at heels or attempt to herd children and other pets, but early socialization can help with this. With correct training, these dogs are loyal and devoted companions.

4. Bearded Collies

two bearded collie dog sitting together
Image Credit: Daily Paws

Often known as Beardies, Bearded Collies are energetic and charismatic canines originating from Scotland. They are well-known for their distinctive and shaggy coats, paired with their large personalities. They make incredible companions for individuals and families who lead active lifestyles.

These dogs have unique grooming requirements that need to be adhered to nurture their well-being. Their long, shaggy coats require regular brushing to prevent any matting and tangling. You will need to keep up with monthly baths, occasional trimming, and very regular grooming to maintain coat health and appearance.

Like all Collies, this breed is highly intelligent and trainable, enjoying mental stimulation and challenges. If left alone for long periods, they can develop separation anxiety. Owners need to provide plenty of attention and exercise for their canines. Their playful and affectionate nature makes them perfect family companions.

Rough Collies are truly gentle and have a great tolerance for young children as long as they are socialized early. With their lively personalities and loyal natures, they are great pets to have in an active household.

5. Smooth Collies

smooth collie dog laying down
Image Credit: Daily Paws

Smooth Collies are one of the lesser-known members of the Collie family. However, they are still equally as charming. They share a lot of traits with their Rough Collie counterparts including intelligence, loyalty, and a gentle nature, but with a much smoother and easy-to-keep coat.

While these coats are easier to maintain, these dogs still need regular grooming to stay free of dirt, mats, and tangles. Additional grooming is required during shedding season to remove loose fur.

Grooming needs aside, Rough Collies excel in obedience training and enjoy fun activities that stimulate their minds, such as agility courses and puzzle games.

They form strong bonds with their families, thanks to their affectionate and loyal nature. They require plenty of attention and companionship to enjoy their role as beloved family pets in households with children and other animals.

Just ensure that you socialize them early to avoid behaviors such as nipping at heels or attempting to herd children and other pets. They truly make great family pets!

Nikita Hillier
By Nikita Hillier

Nikita is a huge animal lover who has grown up on a farm with many different animals, from dogs and cats to horses and cows! She has a lot of experience in the equine industry and is even in the process of studying for an internationally accredited Equine Sports Massage Certificate! In her spare time, she enjoys writing and spending time with her beloved animals!