Collie Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em
Rough and Smooth Collie Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2018
We're talking here about the Scottish or Scotch Collie who comes in a long coat (called Rough) and a short coat (called Smooth). The Rough Collie is the more common of the two. Picture "Lassie."
Most of today's Rough and Smooth Collies are far removed from their heritage as an active herding breed, and need only moderate exercise. In my experience, the Smooth variety is a little closer to his roots, so tends to want more exercise and mental stimulation than the Rough variety.
What Collies need most is a great deal of personal attention. Collies become unhappy if left for long periods of time without the companionship of people or other pets. Unhappiness can result in chronic barking or destructive chewing.
Rough and Smooth Collies have a soft, sweet personality. They are sensitive dogs who do not do well in an environment with frequent tension or loud voices.
Collies are peaceful with other pets and polite with strangers. As with most sweet-natured breeds, there is potential for timidity, so young Collies need to be thoroughly socialized in order to build a confident temperament.
Collies have a mild-to-moderate stubborn streak, but they're reasonably easy to train if you maintain a calm voice and a light hand on the leash. Usually they need only verbal corrections, gentle leash guidance, and lots of praise and encouragement.
Some individuals, unfortunately, can be hypersensitive and highstrung. These dogs are more difficult to work with.
The most common behavioral issue is excessive barking, typically when bored and left outside, or when left alone too much.
All Collies are individuals, but in general, Smooth Collies tend to be more athletic and agile and retain more working instincts. Rough Collies, in general, are a bit calmer.
If you want a dog who...
- Is elegant and graceful, rather than powerful
- Comes in two coat lengths and many striking colors
- Is sweet-natured and gentle
- Makes a good watchdog, but is not aggressive
- Is polite with strangers and other pets
- Needs only moderate exercise
- Is not difficult to train
A Rough or Smooth Collie may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Providing sufficient exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom
- Destructiveness and barking when left alone too much
- Shyness or fearfulness in some lines, or when not socialized enough
- Chasing things that move (instinctive herding behaviors)
- Potential barking
- Frequent brushing and regular trimming (Rough coat)
- Heavy shedding (both coats)
A Rough or Smooth Collie may not be right for you.
Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.
- You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult Collies have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
- If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
- Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your Collie to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.
More traits and characteristics of the Rough or Smooth Collie
If I was considering a Scottish Collie, I would be most concerned about...
- Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Though they don't need miles of running exercise, Collies must have regular opportunities to vent their energy and do interesting things. Otherwise they will become bored, which they usually express by barking and destructive chewing.
- Providing enough socialization. Standoffish by nature, Collies need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution can become shyness, which is difficult to live with.
- Emotional sensitivity. Be honest.... is there tension in your home? Are people loud or angry or emotional? Are there arguments? Collies are extremely sensitive to stress and can end up with neurotic behaviors if the people in their home are having family problems. Collies are peaceful dogs who need a peaceful, harmonious home.
- Barking. Collies, especially those who are highstrung or bored, are often too quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound. You have to be equally quick to stop them. See Collie Training.
- Shedding. Both Rough and Smooth Collies shed a lot. Be sure you don't mind hair on your clothing and furnishings.
- Grooming. The Rough Collie needs much more coat care. Without frequent brushing and combing, Rough Collies will become a matted mess. Regular trimming is also needed, especially around the dog's hind end, for sanitary reasons. Obviously, Smooth Collies don't need combing or trimming, but they still need frequent brushing when the dog is shedding (because hairs that end up in the brush do not end up on your clothes and furniture!)
- Health problems. Eye diseases are a concern in Collies, as are skin disorders, epilepsy, and heart disease. See Collie Health.
To help you train and care for your dog
Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.
The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.
To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.