Acquired: Breeder (professional)
Training: I haven't learned care / training techniques
Posted September 8, 2014
Rough Collies are beautiful, regal dogs with long flowing coats, delicate features and slim limbs. Despite their appearance, they are working dogs, bred in Scotland for herding. As such, they are extremely energetic, with a keen intelligence that needs to be fulfilled. Despite small paws, they are quite large dogs, bigger than the border collie, and with a much harder coat to maintain. The long, flowing top coat needs a lot of care, as does the thick undercoat, and both can mat really easily, particularly behind the ears. These dogs need lots and lots of exercise. Our boy was walked approximately three or four miles off-lead every morning on a dune-filled, deserted beach, and one or two miles on-lead by me after school. I did the both walks on weekends and school holidays. To be honest, it wasn't enough, displayed by his occasional tendency to disappear off with a jogger, who did an eight mile run over the beach every day. This would happen about twice a week, and no amount of recall training could prevent it. You just had to sit down and pass the time until the jogger returned, and our boy would come bounding back, tail wagging, tongue lolling, having had the time of his life. Even packing a backpack and taking him on a full day's hiking in summer holidays didn't tire him out. Be warned, rain, shine, hail, floods, whatever, a half hour run around in a dog park won't cut it for this breed. If you're a keen jogger, cyclist or hiker, then this is definitely the dog for you.
On the positive, these are gentle, sociable, loyal and loving dogs, good with other dogs, strangers and children. They are also relatively none-vocal, expect when during high excitement or when a threat is perceived. They make a great rough and tumble playmate, and are soft mouthed with toys. Their intelligence makes training easy, but a stubborn streak will determine whether a command is obeyed, and when. I was 12 years old when our boy joined our family, and he quickly made his role my guardian and protector, and constant companion wherever I was allowed to take him.
On the negative, the guarding and herding instinct can manifest in little quirks if not given an outlet. Our boy used to prevent anyone other than the immediate family going upstairs in our home in the evening. He would sit at the top and bark furiously at them, leaping forward like he would a sheep to bring it back in line with the flock. Through the day, he had no problem, and this behaviour never resulted in a bite, or even a nip, but did prevent our friends using the bathroom! Either they were straying from the flock, or our sleeping area was not to be invaded after dark. Whichever the explanation, it was obvious he wasn't being totally fulfilled mentally. I mention this as a warning to be aware that quirky behaviour can manifest from a lack of stimulation. Choose the personality carefully when you select a puppy, and ensure the activity level matches that of your family members. Make them use their brains with lots of thinking games, and you should have a wonderful dog.