7 Types of Collies That Captivate with Their Grace, Grit, and Gorgeous Coats

Types of Collies

What Are Collie Breeds?

Collie dog breeds are sheepdogs by definition and include smooth collies, rough collies, border collies, bearded collies, English shepherds, Shetland sheepdogs, and Old English shepherds. The different types of collies normally have long fur and herd cattle or sheep.

The word Collie may come from the word coolly, which are the black-faced mountain sheep in Scotland that they herded.

Collie dog breeds make great family pets because they enjoy people and vice versa. All types of collies are hard-working dogs. The collie breed likes canine sports such as obedience, trick, and agility competitions. Collie dogs are also easy to train. They aren’t couch potatoes, but once you wear them out, they will cuddle.

Collies are a beloved breed, probably because of Lassie, a show we’ve all seen in reruns. She was smart and beautiful and always alerted the adults when her boy companion Timmy (or anyone) needed help. The show was on TV for almost 20 years, and we still love her breed five decades later.

Types of Collies

dogs that look like border collies

Some sources categorize collies into three types: regular, border, and bearded. Because collies are actually sheepdogs, this article includes several sheepdogs that don’t have the word collie in their names but are types of collie.

1. Smooth Collie 

collie
GROUPHerding
WEIGHT 50-75 pounds
HEIGHT22-26 inches tall
FUR AND COLORShort hair in black, white, and tan; blue merle; blue merle and white; blue merle, white, and tan (tricolor); sable; sable and white; sable merle, sable and white; sable, merle, and white; white; white merle
LIFE SPAN12-14 years

Smooth collies are affectionate, good with kids, smart, playful, very trainable, and they bark a lot — but they are probably saying something important because Lassie always did! The smooth collie is also devoted, proud, graceful, and loyal. They love companionship and physical activity.

The smooth collie was bred with short hair because their job was to help take other animals to market, so they didn’t need the durable, long hair that shepherding dogs need. Their smooth coat only requires a quick brushing once a week, not a time-consuming grooming routine. They are the only short-haired breed of collie.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), Queen Victoria spent time in the Scotland Highlands, where she fell in love with the collies and popularized them (quite the influencer). The collie breed’s ancestors may have been in Scotland 2,000 years before Queen Victoria.

2. Rough Collie 

collie dog
GROUPHerding
WEIGHT 50-75 pounds
HEIGHT22-26 inches tall
FUR AND COLORShort hair in black, white, and tan; blue merle; blue merle and white; blue merle, white, and tan; sable; sable and white; sable merle, sable and white; sable, merle, and white; white; white merle
LIFE SPAN12-14 years

The rough and smooth collie dog breeds are pretty much the same except for the length of their coats. Both smooth and rough/long-haired collies are loving pets that are good with young children, playful, intelligent, easy to train, loyal, graceful, and have a sweet temperament.

The Rough collie blows their undercoat three months after the heat cycle of intact females. Males blow coats once a year, as do spayed females — another reason to spay. They should be brushed once or twice a week.

3. Border Collie 

types of collies
GROUPHerding
WEIGHT  30-55 pounds
HEIGHT18-22 inches tall
FUR AND COLORMedium length, wavy double coated fur in black, blue, blue merle, red, red merle, sable, white and black, white and merle,white and blue merle, white and red, lilac, saddleback, sable, sable merle, gold, brindle, white and blue, white and red merle, white ticked, seal, white and seal, white and gold
LIFE SPAN12-15 years

The Border Collie is a hyperbreed that needs vigorous exercise. They are happy on daily walks, hikes, and runs and like to play. They get bored, so stimulating daily exercise is a must. The Border Collie is very smart, making training easy. They need an owner who can spend a lot of time with them and like homes where they get lots of attention.

Border collies are smaller than long/rough collies and short hairs. They are energetic, affectionate, very intelligent, playful, trainable, social with strangers, and need mental stimulation (because they have herding instincts). The Border collie is also athletic, agile, and a hard worker. These (usually) black and white dogs love canine sports.

They have a long history. Romans brought their herding dogs to England in 43 AD when they invaded the country. Later, when the Vikings conquered Old Blighty, Roman pups crossed with Viking spitzes, creating border collies.

4. Bearded Collie 

collies
GROUPHerding
WEIGHT 45-55 pounds
HEIGHT20-22 inches tall
FUR AND COLORSilky and long in black, blue, brown, and fawn — sometimes with tan markings
LIFE SPAN12-14 years

Bearded collies are adorable with their long, shaggy hair. The bearded collie is smart, affectionate, good with kids and other dogs, friendly, playful, energetic, and tends to bark a lot.

The bearded collie is also independent and funny and loves exercising outdoors. They need a lot of exercise, which explains why my neighbor and her children are always in the yard playing fetch with their Beardie.

Beardies need daily brushing because of their soft undercoat. That’s the grooming price of beauty.

The Beardie breed hails from Scotland. Beardies were also known as Highland Collies and Mountain Collies. Beardies originally came from central Europe, and their ancestors were Polish Lowland Sheepdogs and Komondorok. Beardies arrived in Scotland in the 1500s and were kept by shepherds and peasants.

5. English Shepherd

collie shepherd dog
GROUPNot recognized by AKC
WEIGHT 40-60 pounds
HEIGHT18-21 inches tall
FUR AND COLORStraight, wavy or curly fur in black and white; black and tan: black, white, and tan; sable and white; tan and white
LIFE SPAN12-15 years

The English shepherd is courageous, intelligent, energetic, active, and agile. They are good workers, love children, and are loyal and obedient companions.

According to the English Shepherd Club, “English Shepherds are descendants of the Shepherds’ dogs of England and southern Scotland. This group gave rise to the modern ‘show’ Collies.” They also have cute pointed ears.

Other jobs that they do include tracking, hunting, and treeing (driving prey up trees). On a nicer note, they are used in search and rescue and as therapy dogs. There are so many adorable and sweet types of shepherd dog breeds!

6. Shetland Sheepdog

types of border collies
GROUPHerding
WEIGHT 15-25 pounds
HEIGHT13-16 inches tall
FUR AND COLORLong hair with thick double coat in sable and white; black, and white, and tan; blue merle, white, and tan; blue merle and white, black and white; sable, merle, and white; white, black and tan; white and black; white and sable; white; white, blue merle, and tan; white blue merle; white and sable merle; black and tan
LIFE SPAN12-14 years

The Shetland sheepdog is a perfect pup. They are playful, energetic, smart, affectionate, good with children and other pets, trainable, and active. They need to keep their minds busy with games and activities. Shelties are agile and love herd trials and daily walks. They look like miniature rough collies and weigh less than the others.

Shelties were originally bred on the rocky Shetland Islands, the most northern part of the United Kingdom. They herded sheep, ponies, and poultry. Farmers bred the Sheltie to be smaller than the rough-coat Collie, so they would eat less than a large dog does because food was scarce in the cold and rugged Shetland Islands.

Most people are aware that Border Collies and Poodles are two of the smartest dog breeds. Did you know that the Shetland sheepdog is also in the top six (depending on the source)?

7. Old English Sheepdog

different collie breeds
GROUPHerding
WEIGHT 60-100 pounds
HEIGHT21 inches and taller
FUR AND COLOR10-12 years
LIFE SPANLong fur over undercoat in back and white, fawn and white, brown and white, blue merle, blue, grizzle, gray, white, blue gray, grizzle and white, blue and white, blue gray, white, blue merle and white, gray and white

Old English sheepdogs are such cuties with their shaggy coats. Their fur covers their eyes, so some people don’t realize that some of English sheepdogs are among the mesmerizing dog breeds with blue eyes — or one blue and one brown.

English sheepdogs are smart, gentle, affectionate, good with children, playful, protective, easy to train, and need mental stimulation.

They originated in the British Isles and have some Scotch, European, and Russian ancestry. They weren’t really sheepdogs but drove cattle to markets. Some shepherds would sheer their English sheepdogs and make a yard for clothing with their fur.

FAQs

What Kind of Collie Was Lassie?

She was a rough collie dog.

What Are the Small Collies Called?

Shetland sheepdogs

What Is the Rarest Collie?

White Border collies are the rarest dog breeds.

Final Thoughts

The Collie breeds are very special. They are hard-working as well as great family pets. The types of collie pups vary in size and color, but they are all sweet and fun family members. Most collies need some daily exercise, but they have different energy levels and activity levels.

Collie dogs are eager to please, which is an asset during training.

If you’re interested in a collie breed, check Petfinder or try an internet search for a pure breed adoption group with dogs that need homes.

Elise Margulis
Elise Margulis is a talented animal writer and a devoted pet parent residing near Manhattan in a cozy suburb. With a Chow mix and a rescued Siamese as her loyal companions, she's been animal-obsessed since childhood. Penning informative articles on pet nutrition, health, and animal welfare, she's also an avid advocate for adoption and animal rights. When she's not writing, she serves as the editor of two local online news sites. Working from home with her fur babies, she advocates adoption and animal welfare through volunteering and social media. A true animal lover and vegetarian for over 31 years, she's on a mission to raise awareness and make the world a better place for all creatures.

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