Rough Collie

Written by: Jamie
Updated: February 21, 2021

Today we are going to take a look at the Rough Collie, commonly known as the Lassie dog. Find out everything you need to know about this magnificent breed.

Rough Collie in snow

Height: Male 24-26 inches, female 22-24 inches
Weight: Male 27-32 kilos, female 23-29 kilos
Lifespan: 12-16 years
Pedigree (registered with the KC?): Yes, this breed is registered with the Kennel Club.

Positives and Negatives

Check out the breed at a glance:


  • Ideal family pet
  • Highly intelligent and easy to train
  • Friendly with other animals
  • Fantastic service and therapy dog


  • High grooming maintenance
  • This breed is not hypoallergenic
  • Can be prone to separation anxiety
  • Not ideal for first-time owners

rough collie running


Rough Collie’s share a similar background to the Smooth Collie. Both are working sheepdogs derived from Scotland.

Today, the breed is commonly known as Lassie after the fictional 1950’s TV series ‘Lassie’ which featured a Rough Collie.

It was based on Eric Knight’s novel ‘Lassie Come Home’ which was published in 1940, but this wasn’t the earliest Lassie creation.

Despite not being listed as one of the top 20 dog breeds, the long haired Collie is still highly popular in both Britain and America.

Their striking coat portrays elegance and quickly gained the attention of the upper class. Coat colours are found in blue merle, tricolour, and sable and white.

Rough Collies have a face that is thought to resemble the Borzoi, although genetically a connection hasn’t been confirmed.

One thing that can be agreed on is their grace. Their features along with their obedience combined are what allows this pooch to excel in the show ring.

Collies are loving, devoted companions who thrive off their owner’s love. Unlike others in the Collie family for example the Border Collie, a Lassie can’t be left alone for long periods.

The breed is prone to separation anxiety and will need somebody at home to stay by their side.

scotland shepherd dog face


Just like the rest of the Collie family, the Lassie breed is also a sheepherder originating from the Scottish Highlands. Rough and Smooth haired Collies both descend from Scottish and Welsh herding dogs.

The Scottish type was known to be more aggressive than the smaller Welsh variety.

Short and long-haired Collies were created after the English began breeding their own Sheepdogs with the local Scottish dogs.

Collie’s have a rich history dating back hundreds of years. They were first officially recorded in the poem ‘Twa Dogs’ by Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1786.

Shortly after in 1790, they were illustrated in Thomas Berwick’s ‘A General History of Quadrupeds. As their popularity continued to grow, the breed soon came across Queen Victoria’s radar.

She took a shine to the breed after seeing it at Balmoral Castle. This defined the Collies’ future amongst the upper class.

Related: We countdown the 15 most famous Scottish dog breeds.

Overtime Rough Collies became fantastic show dogs after their first appearance in Birmingham, 1860. Then, in 1878 two Collies were entered into the Westminster Dog Show for the first-ever time.

By 1929 a Rough Coated Collie named Laud Loyalty of Bellhaven had won the Best in Show title at the Westminster Dog Show.

Rough Collie dogs became well-known across America after the release of the TV series ‘Lassie’.

‘Pal’ was a male Rough Collie who played the role of the fictional female Lassie in the early 1950s. After he died in 1958, every Lassie featured since has been a direct descendent of Pal.

In 1879, the first Rough Collie was imported into America. The Lassie dog breed was then recognized by the AKC in 1885.

American Lassies have a different breed standard than those registered with the Kennel Club in Britain. They’re slightly larger in size and weight, holding more sturdy features.

Recommended: Our guide on the Xoloitzcuintli breed is out now.


Rough Collie Temperament:

Rough Collie dogs are prized for their intelligence. They’re alert, sensitive, friendly, and make excellent assistance and therapy dogs.

Over the last few decades, Lassies have been bred as Show Dogs and companions as opposed to working dogs. It makes the breed more suitable as a family pet compared to other Collie breeds.

Rough Collie 2

Calm whilst indoors and attentive in the field, the Rough Collie has a perfect balance in temperament.

These pooches love to please and are deeply loyal to their owners. Whilst the breed makes an excellent watchdog and can be protective, Rough Collies aren’t known to hold an aggressive temperament.

Are Rough Collies Good With Strangers?

Whilst Rough Collies will accept the presence of a stranger, they won’t be too trusting. The breed is protective of its territory and makes a fantastic watchdog. They’ll alert their owner to strangers near the home by barking.

Are Rough Collies Good With Children?

Yes, this breed makes an excellent family pet, despite their previous herding status. In the home, their typically calm but can become bored.

Children can be a great solution for this as they enjoy the extra company and attention. This breed will closely bond with each member of the family as opposed to their main owner.

Rough Collie 3

Are Rough Collies Ok With Other Dogs?

Yes, provided they’ve been given the right socialization, the Rough Collie will get along well with other dogs.

They can also live alongside other family pets including cats, rabbits, and other small household animals.

Of course, this is dependent on their socialization but as a herding dog used to look after livestock, they generally like other animals.


Ideally, the Rough coat Collie should receive up to one hour of exercise each day. Slightly less than their smooth-haired counterparts.

Over the last few years, Lassie’s have become more adapted to family life as opposed to sheep herding. Whereas the Border Collie is still popular amongst many Shepherds across the UK.

The Lassie breed can live in both the city or country as long as their exercise needs are being met. Small homes are suitable provided there is a small garden for the dog to access.

As a previous working breed, the Rough Collie will need mental stimulation factored into their daily exercise. This can be any activity that stimulates the mind.

Rough Collie 5

Related: Learn about the Norwich Terrier, a native breed from England, here in our guide.


Check out the breed-related health issues of the Rough Collie below:

  • Collie Eye Anomaly- This developmental condition is inherited via the dog’s parents. As the eye fails to develop correctly it can cause mild issues with vision. In severe cases, blindness could occur.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy- Over time the photoreceptor cells within the eye begin to deteriorate, which will eventually lead to blindness. Affected pets have a very reflective eye when light shines on the area,
  • Grey Collie Syndrome- This hereditary health condition is caused by a fault in the bone marrow stem cells. The fatal disease affects the Neutrophils (white blood cells) an important part of a dog’s immune system.
  • Epilepsy- This common neurological condition affects the central nervous system of the brain leading to seizures and loss of awareness.
  • Bloat- The stomach fills with air building pressure within. This prevents the supply of blood from the hind legs and abdomen, returning to the heart. Potentially fatal.
  • Dermatomyositis- An inherited condition affecting the skin, blood vessels and muscles causing severe inflammation of the tissues.

Intelligence & Training

Lassie’s are deeply intelligent and easy to train. As they’re eager to please their owners, teaching them new tricks is a piece of cake!

Although they can become bored and will need a variety of training techniques to keep them intrigued. Curious by nature, this pooch loves to learn new things.

Rough Collie 4

Training must be consistent and positive. This breed won’t respond to harsh training techniques due to its sensitive nature.

Reward-based training works best, this can be in the form of food, toys and affection. Rough Collies are easy to housebreak, especially if they have regular access to a garden.

Socialization is particularly important despite the breeds natural friendliness. They can be shy around people and may become fearful of unfamiliar sounds, due to their sharp hearing.

To combat this the Rough Collie should be introduced to a variety of different environments where they can experience new noises and people.

Rough Collies love attention and praise which is why they make such amazing Show Dogs. However, due to their previous working history, they may show signs of herding.

Nipping is a method Collie’s use to herd livestock so it is important to stop this whilst they’re young. Say no firmly and redirect the behaviour elsewhere.

Related: Want to learn more about the Wire Haired Dachshund dog breed?


The Rough Coated Collie has a glamourous coat attracting many dog enthusiasts. They are double-coated and shed quite a lot so they aren’t a hypoallergenic breed.

Rough Collies also blow their coats twice a year. A thorough brush twice a week will be needed to keep the fur in order. Slicker and bristle brushes are the most ideal tools to use.

Be sure to pay careful attention to the legs and belly area as these sections are prone to tangles.

Always brush before bathing as it won’t be easy once the coat is wet. Frequent baths will damage the fur so aim to wash them once every three months.

Rough Collie 6

Rough Collies will need a light trim around their legs and paws. The breed shouldn’t be shaven as their fur keeps them cool in the Summer and warm in Winter. Fur should only be shaven for medical reasons.

Don’t forget to keep up with the weekly grooming methods. Ears will need to be cleaned once a week to remove debris.

Teeth should be brushed at least three times a week if not daily and nails will need to be trimmed or filed once every two weeks.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Jamie! I've always been around dogs and now writing about them is an absolute joy.
Read more about my story here.
Reach me at or connect with me on LinkedIn below.

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