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The Collie is a hardy and healthy breed. Their average lifespan is 12-14 years.  Not only are they beautiful, but they are intelligent, friendly, loyal, loving and almost human-like. They are noted for being very people-friendly. Collies are unsurpassed in their ability to love, they are gentle and sensitive, and wonderful with children and other pets, yet playful and comical.  Every child should have the opportunity to be raised with a Collie. They are a great companion.  This is why they make such an ideal family pet, bonding with all the members of the family.  Likewise, they are easy to train. They learn very quickly, it is amazing.  In addition to being a very clean dog, they are one of the easiest breeds to housebreak. Most become housebroken at an early age with very little effort.  Collies should be raised properly and treated with respect. They should be trained with a loving, gentle hand and voice, never harsh or loud due to their sensitive nature.  Training should be positive and fun. Under no circumstances should a Collie ever be chained or tied up and left as an outside/backyard dog.  Collies need to be with their family and interacting with people. 


The Collie standard is written as the basis of what the "perfect" collie should be and what breeders should be striving for. 


The Collie is a lithe, strong, responsive, active dog, carrying no useless timber, standing naturally straight and firm. The deep, moderately wide chest shows strength, the sloping shoulders and well-bent hocks indicate speed and grace, and the face shows high intelligence. The Collie presents an impressive, proud picture of true balance, each part being in harmonious proportion to every other part and to the whole. Except for the technical description that is essential to this Standard and without which no Standard for the guidance of breeders and judges is adequate, it could be stated simply that no part of the Collie ever seems to be out of proportion to any other part. Timidity, frailness, sullenness, viciousness, lack of animation, cumbersome appearance and lack of over-all balance impair the general character.

The head properties are of great importance. When considered in proportion to the size of the dog the head is inclined to lightness and never appears massive. A heavy-headed dog lacks the necessary bright, alert, full-of-sense look that contributes so greatly to expression. Both in front and profile view the head bears a general resemblance to a well-blunted lean wedge, being smooth and clean in outline and nicely balanced in proportion. On the sides it tapers gradually and smoothly from the ears to the end of the black nose, without being flared out in backskull (cheeky) or pinched in muzzle (snipy). In profile view the top of the backskull and the top of the muzzle lie in two approximately parallel, straight planes of equal length, divided by a very slight but perceptible stop or break. A mid-point between the inside corners of the eyes (which is the center of a correctly placed stop) is the center of balance in length of head. The end of the smooth, well-rounded muzzle is blunt but not square. The underjaw is strong, clean-cut and the depth of skull from the brow to the under part of the jaw is not excessive. The teeth are of good size, meeting in a scissors bite. Overshot or undershot jaws are undesirable, the latter being more severely penalized. There is a very slight prominence of the eyebrows. The backskull is flat, without receding either laterally or backward and the occipital bone is not highly peaked. The proper width of backskull necessarily depends upon the combined length of skull and muzzle and the width of the backskull is less than its length. Thus the correct width varies with the individual and is dependent upon the extent to which it is supported by length of muzzle. Because of the importance of the head characteristics, prominent head faults are very severely penalized.

Because of the combination of the flat skull, the arched eyebrows, the slight stop and the rounded muzzle, the foreface must be chiseled to form a receptacle for the eyes and they are necessarily placed obliquely to give them the required forward outlook. Except for the blue merles, they are required to be matched in color. They are almond-shaped, of medium size and never properly appear to be large or prominent. The color is dark and the eye does not show a yellow ring or a sufficiently prominent haw to affect the dog's expression. The eyes have a clear, bright appearance, expressing intelligent inquisitiveness, particularly when the ears are drawn up and the dog is on the alert. In blue merles, dark brown eyes are preferable, but either or both eyes may be merle or china in color without specific penalty. A large, round, full eye seriously detracts from the desired sweet expression. Eye faults are heavily penalized.

The ears are in proportion to the size of the head and, if they are carried properly and unquestionably break naturally, are seldom too small. Large ears usually cannot be lifted correctly off the head, and even if lifted, they will be out of proportion to the size of the head. When in repose the ears are folded lengthwise and thrown back into the frill. On the alert they are drawn well up on the backskull and are carried about three-quarters erect, with about one-fourth of the ear tipping or breaking forward. A dog with prick ears or low ears cannot show true expression and is penalized accordingly.

The neck is firm, clean, muscular, sinewy and heavily frilled. It is fairly long, carried upright with a slight arch at the nape and imparts a proud, upstanding appearance showing off the frill.

The body is firm, hard and muscular, a trifle long in proportion to the height. The ribs are well-rounded behind the well-sloped shoulders and the chest is deep, extending to the elbows. The back is strong and level, supported by powerful hips and thighs and the croup is sloped to give a well-rounded finish. The loin is powerful and slightly arched. Noticeably fat dogs, or dogs in poor flesh, or with skin disease, or with no undercoat are out of condition and are moderately penalized accordingly.

The forelegs are straight and muscular, with a fair amount of bone considering the size of the dog. A cumbersome appearance is undesirable. Both narrow and wide placement are penalized. The forearm is moderately fleshy and the pasterns are flexible but without weakness. The hind legs are less fleshy, muscular at the thighs, very sinewy and the hocks and stifles are well bent. A cowhocked dog or a dog with straight stifles is penalized. The comparatively small feet are approximately oval in shape. The soles are well padded and tough, and the toes are well arched and close together. When the Collie is not in motion the legs and feet are judged by allowing the dog to come to a natural stop in a standing position so that both the forelegs and the hind legs are placed well apart, with the feet extending straight forward. Excessive "posing" is undesirable.

Gait is sound. When the dog is moved at a slow trot toward an observer its straight front legs track comparatively close together at the ground. The front legs are not out at the elbows, do not "crossover," nor does the dog move with a choppy, pacing or rolling gait. When viewed from the rear the hind legs are straight, tracking comparatively close together at the ground. At a moderate trot the hind legs are powerful and propelling. Viewed from the side the reasonably long, "reaching" stride is smooth and even, keeping the back line firm and level.
As the speed of the gait is increased the Collie single tracks, bringing the front legs inward in a straight line from the shoulder toward the center line of the body and the hind legs inward in a straight line from the hip toward the center line of the body. The gait suggests effortless speed combined with the dog's herding heritage, requiring it to be capable of changing its direction of travel almost instantaneously.

The tail is moderately long, the bone reaching to the hock joint or below. It is carried low when the dog is quiet, the end having an upward twist or swirl. When gaited or when the dog is excited it is carried gaily but not over the back.

The well-fitting, proper-textured coat is the crowning glory of the rough variety of Collie. It is abundant except on the head and legs. The outer coat is straight and harsh to the touch. A soft, open outer coat or a curly outer coat, regardless of quantity is penalized. The undercoat, however, is soft, furry and so close together that it is difficult to see the skin when the hair is parted. The coat is very abundant on the mane and frill. The face or mask is smooth. The forelegs are smooth and well feathered to the back of the pasterns. The hind legs are smooth below the hock joints. Any feathering below the hocks is removed for the show ring. The hair on the tail is very profuse and on the hips it is long and bushy. The texture, quantity and the extent to which the coat "fits the dog" are important points.

The four recognized colors are "Sable and White," "Tri-color," "Blue Merle" and "White." There is no preference among them. The "Sable and White" is predominantly sable (a fawn sable color of varying shades from light gold to dark mahogany) with white markings usually on the chest, neck, legs, feet and the tip of the tail. A blaze may appear on the foreface or backskull or both. The "Tri-color" is predominantly black, carrying white markings as in a "Sable and White" and has tan shadings on and about the head and legs. The "Blue Merle" is a mottled or "marbled" color predominantly blue-grey and black with white markings as in the "Sable and White" and usually has tan shadings as in the "Tri-color." The "White" is predominantly white, preferably with sable, tri-color or blue merle markings.

Dogs are from 24 to 26 inches at the shoulder and weigh from 60 to 75 pounds. Bitches are from 22 to 24 inches at the shoulder, weighing from 50 to 65 pounds. An undersize or an oversize Collie is penalized according to the extent to which the dog appears to be undersize or oversize.

Expression is one of the most important points in considering the relative value of Collies. Expression, like the term character is difficult to define in words. It is not a fixed point as in color, weight or height and it is something the uninitiated can properly understand only by optical illustration. In general, however, it may be said to be the combined product of the shape and balance of the skull and muzzle, the placement, size, shape and color of the eye and the position, size and carriage of the ears. An expression that shows sullenness or which is suggestive of any other breed is entirely foreign. The Collie cannot be judged properly until its expression has been carefully evaluated.


The Smooth Variety of Collie is judged by the same Standard as the Rough Variety, except that the references to the quantity and distribution of the coat are not applicable to the Smooth Variety, which has a short, hard, dense, flat coat of good texture, with an abundance of undercoat.

Approved May 10, 1977



This is the most common of the Collie eye diseases, but it should be noted that Collies share this disease with several other breeds. Researchers first noted this problem nearly fifty years ago. It was later found to exist in most Collies and in most Collie families. This so-called syndrome, meaning a group of conditions which appear in conjunction with each other, is present prior to birth. Collie Eye Anomaly can be easily checked when the puppies are 7-8 weeks old, by a qualified Board Certified Ophthalmologist. It is something that your average Veterinarian is not qualified to diagnose. The eyes must be dilated prior to the examination, so the interior of the eye can be examined with an Ophthalmoloscope.A dog is either given a "Normal" or "Affected" rating. If given "affected" the type of abnormality is noted. It used to be popular to use a Grading System and still is being used in certain parts of the country. Currently there is no universal, standardized grading system. Normal: A "Normal" eye rating is of course the best grading there is. (There are also "Go Normals", which are so mildly affected at a young age, that later, the pale areas disappear, leading to what is termed a "Go Normal". Keep in mind that these are still in fact affected with CEA). There are variations even in "Normal" eyes. These correspond somewhat to a dog's coat color. Thus it is often difficult to judge the pigment in a Blue Merle's eyes as it is diluted along with his coat color.Choroidal Hypoplasia, Chorioretinal Change:These refer to abnormalities in the coloring or pigmentation of the choroid or central layer of the eye's lining. This is the most common abnormality found in Collie eyes. Often referred to as mild CRC, Grade I or Grade II, it is the least harmful and least severe form of CEA. Most dogs with this eye grade function normally with no ill-effects or loss of vision.

Staphyloma, Coloboma, Ectasia: While not completely synonymous, these terms all refer to a cupping or bulging in the eyeball usually in the area of the optic disc.

Vascular Disease, Tortuous Blood Vessels:Defects in the vessels of the eye which are responsible for its blood supply or "nourishment." These may be malformed, undersized, or even lacking.

Retinal Detachment: Loosening or separation of the inmost, or retina, layer from the wall of the eye. This may involve a tiny area or the entire retina. It can be either one or both eyes. The complete detachment of the retina results in blindness in that eye.There is a new Genetic Test for Collie Eye Anomaly / Choroidal Hypoplasia.

Please visit the OPTIGEN website for details.  A cheek swab can determine if a collies is DNA a carrier or noncarrier. 

Can the Collie's eyes become worse? Might he later go blind?
The basic answer is "No" as CEA is present prior to birth. However, a dog born with a severe Staphyloma or with Vascular Disease may later suffer loss of sight if a detachment or severe hemorrhage occurs. The majority of dogs that are slightly affected, will have perfectly adequate eye vision throughout their life. (Even a dog with one blind eye will adapt perfectly well in his surroundings.) What have breeders done to improve Collie eyes? When the eye problem was discovered more than 50 years ago, it was estimated that 90% of the Collie population was afflicted with some form of eye disease. Because CEA has involved such a large percentage of the breed, eradication has been slow . Over the years, with selective breeding and eye checking of breeding stock, the numbers of affected Collies has greatly reduced. ALL reputable breeders eye check not only their breeding stock, but all puppies that are offered for sale.How is CEA inherited? Most of the specialists agree that Choroidal Hypoplasia is carried as a simple recessive. For a dog to show symptoms, both parents, even if they show no signs themselves, must carry a gene for the condition. Evidence exists that some other parts of the syndrome are inherited differently. Staphyloma, for instance, rarely occurs except in the presence of Choroidal Hypoplasia. Dogs recommended for breeding will vary according to the standard set by the individual doctor. The ideal, of course, is to eliminate all but the clear, non-carriers, from the breed. Please note: Even among the dogs that examine "normal", most are carriers of the gene. They have a "hidden" or recessive gene for the condition and will transmit the gene to half its offspring. Optigen testing is a DNA test in which dogs can be proven to be carriers or noncarriers of CEA.  Before this test became available in recent years, breeders had to test breed an affected dog to a normal-eyed dog to determine whether or not they had a noncarrier.


A collie eye problem that can occur in rare instances is Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). Since the name is just what it implies, it can be a progressive disease, that may not appear until later in life. This is a completely different and unrelated disease to CEA. As the name indicates, PRA is a progressive disease which refers to retinal degeneration. It can result in complete blindness in one or both eyes. However, Collies seem to be blessed with the fact that PRA seems to have an early onset. Fortunately, this is an eye disease that has largely been eradicated thanks to breeders efforts of test breeding potential carriers. Since PRA is a simple recessive gene, it is much easier to test for than CEA.  PRA has proven to be a simple recessive in all the breeds studied. Again, this means that even though the condition is not present at birth, both parents must be carriers. If one parent has PRA, half the puppies may develop PRA, but all will be carriers for the disease. Early signs of the problem may be noticed by the owner as "night blindness." The dog has trouble seeing in dim light and will bump things. An expert may detect early signs in the eye at six months or younger. Thanks to funding of certain grants by the Collie Health Foundation, research has been done to develop a test that will locate the genetic markers for this disease and a DNA test is now available through Optigen for PRA.

MDR1- Multidrug Sensitivity

THE IVERMECTIN STORY  There is a genetic syndrome in collies that can be deadly if not addressed. Some of our collies do not have the proper transport system in the brain to move chemicals back and forth between the brain tissue and the blood that supports the brain tissue. These collies are very susceptible to certain toxic drugs that enter the brain and cannot get back out. The dogs that do not have a proper transport system can become intoxicated, seizure and possibly die when exposed to certain drugs.

Among the drugs that can affect our collies are ivermectin and ivermectin sister drugs (the active ingredient in certain heartworm preventatives and ear medications), Imodium (an anti-diarrheal medication), and a number of the drugs used for chemotherapy. Exposure to these drugs in a large number of our collies can be fatal.

When dealing with the genetic makeup of our breed, APPROXIMATELY 35% OF OUR COLLIES ARE AFFECTED and will become intoxicated when exposed to those drugs listed above.

APPROXIMATELY 45% OF OUR COLLIES ARE CARRIERS OF THE AFFECTED GENES. These collies may or may not react to those drugs listed above. If they react it is usually not as severe a reaction as the affected collies. However, when two carriers are bred they can produce affected, affected carriers and unaffected non carriers.


There is now a genetic test available to determine if your collie is affected, a carrier, or not affected. (MDR1, University of Washington),  It is a simple cheek swab. Information on the test is in this newsletter.


Here are some links to websites giving more information on Ivermectin sensitivity in Collies:

"Prevalence of the mutant MDR1 allele associated with ivermectin sensitivity in Collies." Dr. Katrina Mealey of Washington State University. Email Dr. Mealey at kmealey@vetmed.wsu.eduMultidrug Sensitivity in the Collie (includes Ivermectin and others)Ivermectin Toxicity in Collies  

Hip Dysplasia

WHAT IS OFA? OFA stands for Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. It is a “not for profit organization”, with the purpose to “provide a standardized evaluation for hip dysplasia and to serve as a data base for control of hip dysplasia through selective breeding.” In order to receive an OFA number, a dog has to be at least 24 months or older on the day of his X-rays. Younger dogs can be x-rayed and evaluated but cannot receive an OFA number. Many breeders do this as a potential early screening. Because of the difficult positioning of the rear legs, (they must be extended and pulled parallel), most dogs require sedation or anesthetic. Film identification is extremely important. Permanent film identification in the film emulsion is required for all radiographs. Upon completion of X-rays, the owner fills out an OFA application. The radiograph, signed application and fee are then submitted to OFA. OFA also recommends that a copy of a dog’s AKC registration be enclosed.

Once the x-rays are received by OFA the process first begins by screening the X-rays for correct positioning and technique. If acceptable, the X-rays are then evaluated by (3) board certified Veterinary radiologists and a consensus of their opinions is taken. “The hips are evaluated for subluxation, shallow acetabulum (socket), femoral head/neck remodeling, acetabular rim/edge changes and degenerative joint diseases.”

Excellent, good and fair……..all considered Normal and will receive OFA numbers.
Borderline….....Recommend a recheck in 6-8 months.
Mild, Moderate and severe…….Dysplastic.

As with CERF, in order for the OFA number to be on the dog’s AKC registration form, as of July 1, 1996, a dog must be either tattooed or micro-chipped at the time the X-rays are taken. This identification should be noted on the X-rays. OFA sends a quarterly report of OFA numbers to AKC.

The OFA number is similar to the CERF number, in that each element has a precise meaning. Using the number….. CO-1620E24M-T as an example……CO is the breed identifier (in this case for Collie); 1620 is the ascending numerical order of normal individuals assigned a breed registry number; E stands for Excellent; 24 is the age in months when the x-rays were taken; M is for the sex of the dog and T stands for tattoo. An OFA number is good for the entire lifetime of the dog, but OFA reserves the right to correct or revoke any number.

Of added interest, OFA is branching out into other areas of health, with the recent addition of a Canine Thyroid Registry and a registry for Congenital Heart Disease as of January1, 1996.

Further information on OFA may be obtained by writing or calling: OFA at 2300 E. Nifong Blvd, Columbia MO 65201-0418, telephone 1-573-442-0418; Also information may be obtained from The American Kennel Club, at 1-919-233-9767. Here is a link to the OFA website:

Written by Gayle Kaye - from the April 1998 CCA Bulletin.
Reprinted with permission.

Demodectic Mange

Demodectic Mange or "demodex", is a common skin disease of dogs caused by a microscopic mite called demodex canis. These mites are part of the normal flora of the skin, and are present in small numbers, so the disease is not contagious. In predisposed individuals the mites increase in number causing clinical disease.

Why some dogs develop demodicosis and others don't is not understood. It is thought to be genetic; affected dogs have an immune system defect that may be inherited, making it difficult to keep the mites under control.

There are different forms of this disease: localized and generalized.


This form usually occurs in dogs younger than one year of age. There is no breed or sex predilection. Affected animals are usually healthy and have developed demodicosis as the result of a temporary illness
or a stressful event.

The first sign of localized mange might be thinning of the hair around the eyelids, lips, mouth and the front legs
– a typical moth-eaten appearance. Prognosis is usually very good, and most animals (90 percent) will recover spontaneously. About 10 percent usually will become generalized.


Generalized demodicosis can begin as a localized case or can present itself as an acute illness. It is frequently categorized according to the age of the dog during the initial onset (juvenile or adult). The main distinction between the two types is the result of differences in predisposing factors and prognosis.

Juvenile-onset generalized demodicosis has a more favorable prognosis. Most of them will "self cure" as their immune system matures, somewhere between eight months and three years, depending on the breed of the dog.

Adult-onset generalized demodicosis has a more guarded prognosis. These animals develop demodicosis as a consequence of another illness or immunosuppressive therapy
. They do not have a genetic predilection for demodicosis. Conditions associated with adult onset demodicosis include cancer, endocrine disease, metabolic disease or steroid therapy. Prognosis depends on the underlying disease.

For the generalized form, a genetically inherited predisposition to the disease has been found. For this reason, affected animals should be neutered. Both females and males have the same ability to transmit genetic predisposition to demodicosis. The generalized form of the disease is much more difficult to resolve with therapy and relapses after discontinuation of therapy are common.

Clinical signs consist of demodicosis consist of numerous patches that appear on the head, legs and trunk. These patches generally develop into large areas of hair loss
, and the breakdown of skin leads to the formation of crusty sores. Most often symptoms appear between four to six months of age on the face or legs often called "puppy mange."  Most puppies will spontaneously resolve within a few weeks to a couple of months.  If symptoms increase or do not resolve the puppy should be diagnosed with a skin scraping and started on treatment.  Treatments may consist of weekly dips, medicated shampoo, antibiotics such as cephalexin to prevent secondary or staph infections, or Interceptor. (In some cases the vet may treat with ivermectin but this should only be given to dogs who are MDR1 tested normal/normal).  NEVER give ivermectin to a dog who is not tested!  It is a good idea to provide probiotics such as FortiFlora or yogurt when dogs are on antibiotics to help boost their immune system during treatment.


There's a new genetic DNA test for "Grey Collie Syndrome" or as it's officially known......Canine Cyclic Neutropenia. A blood disorder that is present at birth, affected puppies are smaller and weaker, with a noticeable pale gray or pinkish/gray or beige color. This blood disorder affects red and white blood cell production approximately every 10 to 12 days. Due to the cyclic nature of the disease, these puppies rarely live beyond a couple of days and when they do survive, they are extremely susceptible to all sorts of infections. With treatment they can be kept alive, but few have lived beyond a couple of years old. Gray Collies have been documented in many different Collie bloodlines for more than 60 years and coincidentally the disease is also present in humans. Both sire and dam need to be carriers in order for the gene to present itself (autosomal recessive). However, it should be noted that carriers do not manifest the disease.

WHAT IS EPILEPSY?  Idiopathic epilepsy is a "diagnosis of exclusion" - there is no test at this time that says "yes, this dog has epilepsy". A dog experiencing repeated seizures, with no identifiable underlying cause (tests run to exclude things that can cause a seizure), is diagnoses as an idiopathic epileptic. Most people don't run every test known to veterinary medicine, as that's quite expensive and probably not productive in terms of changing the treatment plan, but there are basic tests that rule out major things. We have info on testing and why to do or not do various tests in the "Basics" section of our website - Bottom line, a dog experiencing seizures is affected with seizures; repeated seizures over time, the dog is called an epileptic - but could be primary (idiopathic) or secondary epilepsy (caused by something, such as a tumor, etc).When we see idiopathic epilepsy in dogs in their prime - 1-5yrs - when they should be healthy and have no problems, tests show no underlying cause, it is generally assumed they have inherited "something" that is allowing them to seize. That "something" is what we're trying to find. When we can identify the mutation, or find a marker linked to the disease, then there WILL be a test for inherited epilepsy. We're not there yet though! Liz Hansen Animal Molecular Genetics Laboratory University of Missouri - College of Veterinary Medicine 321 Connaway Hall Columbia, MO 65211 573-884-3712