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Herding Dog Group

The goals and purposes of this breed standard include: to furnish guidelines for breeders who wish to maintain the quality of their breed and to improve it; to advance this breed to a state of similarity throughout the world; and to act as a guide for judges.

Breeders and judges have the responsibility to avoid any conditions or exaggerations that are detrimental to the health, welfare, essence and soundness of this breed, and must take the responsibility to see that these are not perpetuated.

Any departure from the following should be considered a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.


The exact origins of the breed are unknown, though it is generally accepted that the highlands of Scotland were the Collie’s original home. The name has been spelled in many different ways, and is thought to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon word “Col,” which means “black.” Dogs of this sort were used for centuries as sheepdogs, both herding and guarding the flocks.

The Collie has been recognized by the United Kennel Club since 1914. At that time, it was called the “Scotch Collie” but the name was revised to “Collie” in 1991.

General Appearance

The Collie is a dog of great beauty, dignity and balance, with no one part ever out of proportion to the whole. It is strong and active, never cloddy, and has no trace of coarseness. Quality of head and correctness of expression are of prime importance.

The Collie exists in two coat varieties, Rough and Smooth, that are identical to one another except for coat.


The Collie is an extremely friendly companion, showing no sign of nervousness or aggression. They are happy and active and get on well with children and with other dogs.


Head properties are of the utmost importance. The head must be in proportion to the size of the dog, and be extremely well balanced throughout. Seen from either the front or the side, the head gives the impression of being a clean, well-blunted wedge, and is very smooth in outline. The sides taper gradually from the ears to the nose, without any prominence of cheekbones or a pinched muzzle. Viewed from the side, the top of the skull and the top of the muzzle lie in two straight, parallel lines that are equal in length and joined by a very slight, but perceptible, stop. 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 the length of the head.


The skull is flat. It does not recede laterally or fall off backwards. The occiput is only moderately prominent, not peaked. The width of the backskull is less than its length, and is dependent upon the entire length of the head. The depth of the skull from brow to underjaw is not excessive.


Long, smooth and well-rounded, blunt at the end, but never square, with a strong, clean underjaw.


A full complement of strong, white teeth meet in a scissors bite.

Serious Fault: Overshot bite.
Very Serious Fault: Undershot bite.


The eyes are medium in size, almond in shape and set rather obliquely. They are dark brown in color, except in the Blue Merle, which may have blue, or blue flecked, eyes (one or both). The eyes are clear and bright and give a sweet, intelligent, attentive expression.

Serious Fault: Large, round eye or any eye fault that detracts from correct expression.


The ears are small and fairly close together on the skull. When in repose, they are folded and thrown back into the neck frill. When alert, they are carried about three-quarters erect, with the top one-quarter tipping forward.

Faults: Prick or low ears.


Must be black.


The clean, firm, muscular neck is fairly long and well-arched. It is carried upright to show off the heavy frill.


The shoulder blades are long and sloping. The upper arm sets the front legs back under the dog with the elbows close to the ribs.


The forelegs are straight and muscular, neither in nor out at the elbows, with a moderate amount of round bone. The strong pasterns are flexible.


Slightly longer than tall, with a firm, broad back and well-sprung ribs. The chest is deep to the elbow. There is a slight rise over the loin and the croup slopes gently to give a well-rounded finish.

Faults: Any tendency towards a cumbersome appearance.


Muscular at the thighs, with well-bent stifles and strong, low hocks.


Clean and sinewy below the thighs, never cow-hocked.


The feet are comparatively small, oval in shape, well padded, with well-arched, close toes.


Long, reaching to the hock joint. Carried low when the dog is quiet, but with an upward swirl at the tip. When the dog is gaiting, or is excited, the tail is carried gaily, but never over the back.


Abundant, dense and double, regardless of variety.


The coat fits the outline of the body and is very dense, with the outer coat straight and harsh to the touch. The undercoat is soft and furry, nearly hiding the skin. The mane and frill are very abundant. The front legs are well feathered, and the back legs are profusely feathered above the hock joint. The tail carries heavy feathering. The mask (face) is smooth.

Faults: Soft, open or curly outer coat.


The smooth variety has a short, hard, dense, flat outer coat of good texture, with an abundance of undercoat.


The acceptable colors are sable, tri-color, blue merle and white. There is no preference.

Sable: any shade of light gold to rich mahogany or shaded sable. Typical white markings, to a greater or lesser degree, should include a full or partial white collar, white shirtfront, legs, feet, and a white tail tip. A blaze may appear on the muzzle and/or skull.

Tri-color: predominately black with rich tan markings on the head and legs, and carrying the same white markings as the sable color.

Blue merle: mottled or marbled blue-grey and black with white markings as in the sable color, may or may not have tan face and leg markings as in the tricolor.

White: predominately white, preferably with sable, tri-color or blue merle markings.

Height and Weight

Males: Height, 24 to 26 inches at the withers. Weight, 60 to 75 pounds.

Females: Height, 22 to 24 inches at the withers. Weight, 50 to 65 pounds.

Under- and over-sized individuals are penalized according to the degree of deviation from the accepted heights.


Sound, moving with feet fairly close together. As speed increases, the breed single tracks. From the side, gait is smooth and effortless, showing good reach and a firm back carriage. Any choppy, stilted or rolling gait is faulty, as is weaving or crossing over.


(A dog with a Disqualification must not be considered for placement in a conformation event, and must be reported to UKC.)
Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid.
Viciousness or extreme shyness.

Please Note

In UKC Conformation Shows, this breed is shown by variety in this order - Rough, Smooth.

UKC Breed Standards: Collie

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Official UKC Breed Standard

Revised January 1, 2008

©Copyright 1991, United Kennel Club