In hopes that I can give my readers some insight into dog breeds’ personalities, I am featuring different breeds each week. I will give a little history about the breed, i.e., what they were bred to do, talk about their personalities, and provide advice on the lifestyle needs of the breed. Remember, as I always say, every dog is an individual. Some dogs will exactly fit the breed characteristics while others may be nothing like it.

No dog is more recognizable and beloved than Lassie, the Collie from films and TV. She is depicted as very intelligent, a great sleuth, protective, loyal, and loving. She certainly set the bar high for other Collies! Are all of these qualities accurate?

Collies belong to the herding group and indeed they are herders. Herding dogs will herd anything – people, kids, other animals – either by corralling them with their bodies or with their voices or both. Collies came from Scotland and Wales, traced back to the early 1800s, bred to herd and guard sheep and goats. Their long coats protected them from the damp, chilly weather in these countries. Their name is thought to be derived either from the English word coll which meant “black” or the Celtic word cóilean which meant ”doggie.”

Collies became show dogs in England in the 1860s and just after that, came to the United States and were accepted as an American Kennel Club breed in 1886.

Like Lassie, Collies are very smart. They do well in obedience and other mental activities, and many require a daily dose of some kind of brain work. Collies may love agility, treball, and herding games of course.

They are also fairly energetic and active dogs when young but can be laid back and settled as they age. A daily long walk or two to expel their energy is necessary, and they love their playtime. Some can be fairly high-strung and may require a great deal of exercise and activity.

Collies love to be with people, often found following you around the house and lying at your feet. They are especially good with children. Collies can be very loyal dogs but don’t expect them to be protective. They are gentle, kind dogs and aggression is rare. They may be slightly aloof with strangers but quickly warm up and become your best friend.

Because of their potential medium-large size as adults, early training is absolutely imperative. They can be nippy and jump on people when young. Collies are quite sensitive so be sure to use only positive rewards training – never punishment. Punishment-based training will adversely affect the relationship between the dog and human.

One issue to be aware of, Collies can be very vocal. They use their voices to communicate to other dogs and to their humans. It’s part of their instinct that they used when herding. They will bark when someone comes to the door and continue to bark at them once they are in the house, and will bark and bark until they get attention. They do love attention! So for this reason, Collies may not make the best dog for apartments or if you have close neighbors.

The Lassie of movies and TV was a smart dog, giving evidence to the high degree of trainability of the breed. And you can’t get a better family dog.