Rough Collie Dog Breed Information and Personality Traits

Originally used as herding dogs in Scotland and Northern England, the rough collie dog has a beautiful, multicolored coat of long, rough-textured fur that easily identifies this amazing breed. Well-known for their intelligence and ease of training, the most famous rough collie personality trait is devotion to their owner followed by their love for children. Those basic characteristics made the rough collie dog the perfect breed to star as Lassie, the beloved family TV show pup that always came to the rescue of her little boy, Timmy.

Rough Collie At a glance
Rough Collie sitting in green field with blue sky in background


Weight Range:

Male: 60-70 lbs.
Female: 50-65 lbs.


Male: 24-26 in. to the shoulder

Female: 22-24 in. to the shoulder


Long, beautiful coat with brown, white, black, and tan fur


Exercise Requirements: 45-80 minutes of exercise per day
Energy Level: High energy level when outside, low energy level when indoors
Longevity Range: 10-14 yrs.
Tendency to Drool: Low Tendency to Snore: Low
Tendency to Bark: Moderate (prone to excessive barking if left indoors alone for long periods of time)
Tendency to Dig: Low Social/Attention Needs: High (loves people, children, and other animals, including cats)

Bred For:

Herding, agility training


Length: Medium to long
Characteristics: Rough-textured, double coat
Colors: Multi-colored (mix of black, brown, tan, and white)
Overall Grooming Needs: Minimal—brushing once a week, bathing once a month, and twice a year they will blow their coat and need a little extra brushing during this time

Club Recognition:

AKC Classification: Herding
UKC Classification: Herding
Prevalence: Common

A dog breed that's well-known for herding and protecting abilities, rough collie dogs are described as strong, loyal, affectionate, responsive, and fast. The rough-coated collie has a beautiful long coat that flows as he runs, and his head is a smooth and elegant wedge shape. Rough collies can do well in the country or the city, but they need companionship and daily runs or long walks. Although they are a little less active than border collies, rough collies do need at least forty-five to sixty minutes of outdoor activity every day. Surprisingly, once he is back inside, he is very calm and happy to sit and lounge with his owner.

The rough collie breed includes two variations: the long-hair, true rough collie, and the shorter-haired, sometimes called smooth collie. Additionally, Shetland sheepdogs and border collies are completely different breeds and are not part of the rough collie breed, despite their similar coat markings and facial features.


As part of the herding classification, the rough collie personality is known to most as smart, quick to learn, and very in tune to people. Collies respond well to consistent, reward-based training, and they tend to enjoy the attention that comes with performing, whether doing tricks or competing in agility, obedience or herding events. Many collies make great therapy dogs as well, due to their calmness indoors and medium height.

Rough collies, like the one featured in Lassie, can at times be very vocal. When rough collie dogs are bored, their bark is a clear sign that they need attention. They also have a tendency to nip at peoples' heels in play, another indication of their herding background. It is important to train your rough collie to not nip, especially around children, as it may frighten little ones. Due to the rough collie's high intelligence level, he is easy to house train and learns tricks quickly. However, switch up training activities occasionally to prevent boredom. They are very smart, so you should get creative with their training!

Living With:

The rough collie is family-oriented and loves playing with children. When he is outside, he will run as hard as he can, but as soon as he enters the house he'll be happy to relax with the rest of the family. Although the rough collie loves to be active outside, he is not an outdoor-only dog, and he can thrive in a small home or apartment as long as he gets daily exercise.

The rough collie is noted for his deep loyalty and nurturing personality, but he also has a fierce independent streak. Owners should try to work with his independent tendencies, rather than against them. Giving your rough collie some time to run around by himself in a fenced area each day may help.

A rough collie makes a great companion dog for a single person, but he will bond with all family members, not just the one who feeds him. The rough collie breed is known to learn the individual characteristics and behaviors of each person in the household. Again, this is why dedicated training of your rough collie is absolutely crucial. Rough collies are intelligent, and they are always watching people and learning, so it is important to train them early and often.


The ancestors of today's rough collie worked as herding dogs in the Scottish Highlands. As partners to sheep herders, not much had been recorded over time about this breed. However, Queen Victoria shifted public attention to the breed in the 1860s, and they quickly became a favored breed of the wealthy upper class.

In the 1950s, the rough collie breed became better known as the all-American family dog thanks to "Lassie." Over the show's two-decade run, it became apparent how devoted and faithful the breed was as Lassie saved Timmy from the well and warned her family of danger each week. Although Hollywood sometimes exaggerates, the depiction of the rough collie as a loyal protector couldn't have been more right.

Today the rough collie is ranked among the top 50 most popular dog breeds by the American Kennel Club and continues to be famous for his loyal, loving, and protective demeanor.

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