The Collie is a highly intelligent, energetic breed of medium size that is a loyal and devoted companion. They’ll easily become attached to the entire family, usually not needing to single out just one person for their affections. They don’t do well if left in the yard all the time, and if they are chained or tied they can turn into a serious nuisance, barking, and whining incessantly. Collies who are included as part of the family typically are happy and don’t cause a lot of problems. They will bark if a stranger approaches, but are not usually aggressive when it comes to protecting their homes and families.
Collies are originally from the Scottish Highlands and the hills of northern England. They were developed as herding dogs, to help farmers drive sheep and cattle to new pastures or to market when necessary. Queen Victoria fell in love with the breed during the 1860s, and they gained new popularity as fashionable pets at that time. The Collies of today retain both the intelligence and the high energy required of good herding dogs, so it’s important to give them adequate exercise and activity. These dogs often do well in obedience, agility, and herding, and many Collie owners find that their dogs thrive when given this type of work to do.
Because Collies originated as working dogs in rugged, isolated areas, they are quick to bond with their owners. In fact, according to the Collie Club of America, their primary focus is on people. Collies typically are sensitive to all aspects of family life, and are aware of normal routines and schedules. Collies can tell one person’s footsteps from another and can distinguish the sound of the family car as it approaches or the voices of loved ones in another room or outside. This characteristic also can lead to the dog alerting family members when something is out of the ordinary.
Collies excelled in the past as herding dogs, and as such the breed developed ways to communicate with the Shepherds. Collies are known for vocalizing with a variety of barks, grunts, whines, and sing-song noises that they use to convey information to people. They often also use facial expressions, tipped heads, puffed cheeks, or clicking teeth to get their point across. Such traits are of tremendous help when a dog is trying to move a person to action, but for most modern Collie owners these efforts at communication are charming and endearing rather than a matter of life and death.
Collies are very gentle-natured dogs and are generally safe and reliable around other animals. This stems from their herding background. Shepherds often had several dogs that had to work and live together to be successful. In the average home, this means that Collies can generally be trusted around other pets, including dogs, cats, rabbits, and birds. However, it’s always wise to introduce them slowly and to keep an eye on them to ensure no problems develop. Some Collies will nurture and protect small animals, caring for them as they might care for their own puppies.
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