A new report claims Rough Collies are falling out of favor in the United Kingdom and could be at risk of ‘dying out’ there.
Anyone who knows me probably wouldn’t be surprised to know that I’d put Rough Collies at the top of my favorite dog breeds list. In fact, a few years back, when I actually listed my 10 favorite dog breeds, the famous “Lassie dog” did indeed take the top spot.
“Lassie,” of course, was the most famous collie, a canine character in books, films and TV shows over the years. The TV series has been out of production for a long time. But people of a certain age will call out that name whenever they see me with my dog. (He’s the fourth Rough Collie I’ve owned in my lifetime.)
I grew up with one. My parents brought home a Collie puppy the Christmas after I turned a year old. That puppy grew up with me and she immediately understood that she was supposed to be my protector.
Forgive the unfortunate fashion choice — seriously, I don’t know how those plaid pants came to be — but here’s a shot of the two of us from the 1970s:
She was a fantastic dog. No kid ever had a better dog to grow up with. You might have had one as good…but not better.
I’ve loved the breed ever since. My current Collie is my fourth one. He’s 9 and I’m hoping he’ll live at least 20 more years!
So what’s so great about Rough Collies?
The “rough” part refers to the long coat. There’s a short-haired version called the Smooth Collie. But the classic “Lassie” version is the rough variety.
Aside from being particularly attentive and caring with children, Collies are incredibly smart, very sensitive, loyal and loving. They’re protective but friendly. They love being part of a family and their herding instinct makes them very good at keeping track of their “pack.”
When I’m visiting my parents with my current Collie, when everyone’s in the same room, you’ll find him curled up on one end of the couch perfectly content. But the moment anyone gets up, he’s up, too, wanting to know where that person’s going. They like to keep their group in one place just as if we’re the sheep and he’s the shepherd.
All of us have our favorite breed. For me, the Collie is it.
The one main drawback of a Rough Collie is the hair. Yes, they shed. They shed a lot. People ask me about shedding and I’m always honest. If you have a thing about dog hair on your furniture or on your clothes, you might want to keep that in mind.
But what I also tell them is that the hair is a very small price to pay for the companionship this breed gives you.
In England, their numbers are dwindling quickly.
The Independent reports that the breed faces “an uncertain future” in the United Kingdom. That’s after a steep decline in popularity to the lowest level in 75 years.
The dog breed is now close to being classed as “at risk” by The Kennel Club, which monitors breeds with declining numbers in the UK.
The fear is that if the popularity of the breed continues to dwindle, the breed could become “extinct,” at least in its native lands. The Rough Collie is believed to have originated in Scotland where it was bred to guard sheep.
I don’t see any comparison to the breed’s popularity in the United States, but I don’t have any serious concern that the U.S. would have such a serious issue.
But I agree with those quoted in the article that it would be a tragic loss if the Rough Collie no longer had a presence in the area where the breed originated.
The breed is definitely something special. Maybe we need a new Lassie series to help boost the Rough Collie’s popularity. If more people could see how wonderful they are, there would be no chance of the breed disappearing.