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the Dog Blog

Breed History: Where Did Collies Come From?

Image of a Collie

According to the Collie Club of America, the Collie's exact origin is unclear. Some say the breed accompanied the Romans across what is now Britain, around 500 B.C. Collies; however, were not truly recognized as a distinct breed until the 18th century. At that time, they lived in the highlands of Scotland where they were carefully bred to assist their masters in herding and guarding sheep.

By the 1800s, Collies were a popular breed in both Scotland and England. There were two different kinds, rough and smooth-coated Collies. The smooth-coated Collie had less fur compared to the rough-coated Collie. Rough-coated Collies were also smaller and had a broader head.

Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom adored the breed and its popularity grew, not only with shepherds but also with members of the upper class. Collies became show dogs and first exhibited in 1860 at the Birmingham, England, dog show in a category called "Scotch Sheep-Dogs." In 1878, for the first time, the Queen entered two Collies in the Westminster Dog Show.

Towards the end of the 19th century, sheep herding was still important in America and settlers brought Collies to the United States. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1885 and in 1886 the breed’s standard height, weight and physical characteristics were established.

In the 20th century, Collies were less frequently herders and more often family dogs. Many people in America in the mid-1900s recognized the breed from the television series, Lassie, which aired from 1954-1974 and featured a rough Collie with incredible intelligence.

Today, Collies make a wonderful family pet. They're responsive, eager to please and excel in obedience training. Collies are friendly with children, family members, familiar adults and other animals. Make sure you have time to care for their coats. During shedding season in the spring, they need to be brushed every day to prevent severe matting. Even though they are part of the herding breed group, they don't need vigorous exercise. A short walk or a game of fetch for 10 minutes a day is sufficient.

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