yourpurebredpuppy logo

Rough & Smooth Collies: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Collie temperament, personality, training, behavior, pros and cons, advice, and information, by Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Scottish Collie dog breed

In this review, I'm not talking about the more common Border Collie, but rather the Scottish or Scotch Collie that 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 active herding breeds 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.


Dog Breed Traits – Which Traits Are Right For You?

In this brand new series, I'll help you decide which dog breed traits would best suit you and your family, your home and yard, and your lifestyle, so you can choose the best dog breed for your family.

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.

FREE eBooks by Michele Welton

dog icon"Respect Training for Puppies"  and "Teach Your Dog 100 English Words"  are free step by step guides to teaching your pup to be calm and well-behaved.

dog icon"11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy"  is a free guide to keeping your dog mentally, physically, and emotionally happy and healthy so you can enjoy a longer lifetime of companionship.

dog paw

  • 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.

More traits and characteristics of the Rough or Smooth Collie

If I was considering a Collie, I would be most concerned about...

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. Scottish Collies are peaceful dogs who need a peaceful, harmonious home.
  4. Barking. Collies, especially individuals 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.
  5. Shedding. Both Rough and Smooth Collies shed a lot. Be sure you don't mind hair on your clothing and furnishings.
  6. 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!)

  7. Health problems. Eye diseases are a concern in Collies, as are skin disorders, epilepsy, and heart disease. See Collie Health.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

My best-selling books – now available  FREE  on my website

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy is for puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know. Click here to read for free.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say. Click here to read for free.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life. Get my honest advice about all 11 Things before you bring home your new puppy, because some mistakes with early health care cannot be undone. Click here to read for free.

Related posts you might enjoy