The Collie is native to Scotland and was bred to be a herding dog. These dogs are extremely intelligent, loyal, confident, and beautiful. They’ve been a popular dog in the United States since the founding of the nation. In fact, as the Civil War drew to a close and wealthy Americans started to import sheep, Collies were used to tend to their flocks. It’s also assumed that George Washington owned a Collie, as one is depicted in a famed picture of the nation’s first president.
While they are still used as herding dogs today, they have also become one of the most beloved pets in the country. Their intelligence, loyalty, and sensitive nature, as well as their ability to understand the needs of their owners, makes this breed an excellent companion. Lassie, the famed fictional dog, is an excellent example of this breed’s disposition.
If you’re thinking about adding a Collie to your family or using one as a working dog, read on for some important care information about this special breed.
Collie Food and Health
As with all breeds, understanding how to feed your Collie is of utmost importance in order to ensure optimal health.
Feeding these dogs a premium-quality commercial dog food is recommended to ensure that their dietary needs are met. Like all dogs, protein should be the main ingredient in their food. Fiber and carbohydrates are also important, as these nutrients provide the fuel that these high-energy dogs require. Stay away from animal byproducts, cornmeal, and other unnatural additives. Collies are prone to allergies and these ingredients can aggravate their sensitivities.
Dry food is recommended, as it helps to maintain the health of a Collies oral health. For the average adult Collie, 2 to 3 cups of food a day, divided, is recommended. Of course, the amount you feed your dog will depend on his age and lifestyle. Puppies and more active Collies, like those used as herding dogs, should be fed more, while older, more sedentary dogs should be fed less. Some excellent commercial food options for Collies include Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food, Life Stages Dog Dry Food, and Naturals Dry Food .
As mentioned, this breed is prone to allergies, including food and contact allergies. They are also prone to other health conditions, including hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and dermatomyositis, an autoimmune condition of the skin that results in the development of lesions and muscle issues. To offset the cost of veterinary care that your Collie will require, investing in pet insurance is a wise idea. This type of insurance works just like health care coverage for humans and can help you avoid having to pay for expensive medical bills out of your own pocket. Just like health insurance, there are several companies that provide pet insurance, including Geico and Nationwide, which offer coverage throughout the country. There are also providers that offer coverage for certain locations; for example, Healthy Paw Pet Insurance is the top provider in New York.
Leashes and Collars for your Collie
Choosing the best collar and leash for your Collie is important, as you want to ensure their safety and comfort.
For a collar, a standard belt buckle design works well with these dogs. Consider investing in one that is made of a very durable material, as these dogs are surprisingly strong. Also, if your dog will be spending time outside at night or working on a ranch, you might want to consider a collar that features reflective material so that you can easily locate him. While Collies are easy to train, you might want to consider a collar that is designed to assist with training. E-collars and choke collars can be effective, but use them sparingly and choose a high-quality product, such as the Remote Training Collar System or the Family Remote Trainer, to avoid injuring or traumatizing your dog.
You could also use a harness with your Collie, particularly if he is going to be a pet. Harnesses can make walking more comfortable, as they distribute weight evenly and prevent unnecessary strain on the neck. However, if you do choose to use a harness, make sure that you opt for one that does not snag and get tangled in your Collie’s long fur.
For leashes, use your judgment and base the type you choose on your dog’s behavior and lifestyle. Also consider how well you can control the leash. For example, if you live in a cold climate, such as Nebraska, you might want to stay away from leashes made of metal, as this material can get very cold, and therefore difficult to operate. Something made of a high-quality, durable material is always recommended to ensure optimal safety. Two great options include this Leather Training Leash and the Pet Gear Leash.
Best Crates, Beds, and Doghouses for Collies
Collies are extremely intelligent and easy to train. A crate can make training a lot easier. They can also be used as a safe spot for your dog to spend time in while you’re away from home or while he is sleeping. When selecting a crate, always consider the size of your dog. Make sure it is large enough so that he can stand comfortably and turn around without hitting into the walls. If you have a puppy, you can either purchase a different crate as he grows, or invest in one that has a divider that can be used to adjust the space inside, such as this Double Door Folding Metal Dog Crate.
A bed provides a warm space for your dog to sleep. Collies like to curl up while sleeping, so consider one that is shaped like a donut so that he can easily create that nest-like feeling they enjoy. Always consider the size of your dog to ensure optimal comfort. Also, a bed that is easy to wash and remove hair from is highly recommended. The eLuxury Washable Dog Bed is an excellent option for a Collie bed.
If your dog will be spending a lot of time outside, a dog house will provide the shelter he needs for his safety and comfort. Consider the size of your dog, as well as the climate of your area. For example, if you live in an area where the ground can become saturated with water, consider an elevated dog house to keep your pup off the ground. Operable windows provide much-needed ventilation. For hot locations, such as Georgia, a house that features air conditioning can be very beneficial.
Collies are energetic and very smart. Toys will offer your dog the entertainment that he desires, as well as the physical activity he needs. There are several toy options for collies. An excellent option for this breed is a puzzle toy, such as WestPaw’s Qwizl Chew Toy. Your dog will have to manipulate the puzzle to release a treat.
Durable balls are or sticks made of durable materials are also great for Collies, as they can be used to play fetch – a game that this breed thoroughly enjoys. Another option is an automated ball launching toy, like the iFetch Ball Launcher. They are designed to mechanically release a ball so your dog can play fetch when you aren’t home or don’t have time to toss a ball for him.
Treat toys are also great options for a Collie. These toys are made of durable materials and contain compartments that a treat can be stuffed into. Your dog will have to manipulate the toy in order to release the treat, and they can keep your pup entertained for a long period of time.
Grooming Insights for Collie owners
Since Collies have a double coat of medium-length hair, grooming is essential. Combing or brushing your dog once every few days is recommended, as it will prevent mats and remove dead hair. It also promotes the health of his skin and coat. Use a wire-bristled comb or brush, such as the Furminator deShedding Tool or the Hertzko Slicker Brush.
Bathe your dog as needed. For example, if he isn’t very active, monthly baths should suffice; however, if he lives an active lifestyle or is a working dog, more frequent bathing will be necessary to remove dirt and grime. Choose a hypo-allergenic shampoo to prevent irritating his skin, as this breed is prone to allergies. If your dog is exhibiting signs of irritation, opt for a medicated shampoo, like the DogGear Contender for best shampoos. After bathing, dry your dog as thoroughly as possible. Once his coat is dry, spray him with a hydrating spray to avoid static cling (an issue that these dogs often have).
If you are unsure of how to groom your Collie, or you simply don’t have the time, take him to a professional groomer. Your vet can also offer helpful grooming tips.
There are so many accessories available for dogs, and there are several that can be beneficial to use with a Collie.
For example, if your dog spends a lot of time outside or is a herding dog, you might want to consider attaching a brightly colored bandana, around his neck. This accessory will allow you to easily spot your dog while he is out in the woods or running on a field. For training, clickers and whistles are extremely effective tools.
Since these dogs are so active and enjoy playing and being challenged, you might want to consider investing in agility equipment; a fabric tunnel, weave poles, or jump rings, for example. If you are planning on using agility toys with your Collie, choose options that are thoughtfully designed and made of durable materials.