Both Rough and Smooth collies are descended from a localised variety of herding dog originating in Scotland and Wales. The Scottish variety was a large, strong, aggressive dog, bred to herd highland sheep. The Welsh variety was small and nimble, domesticated and friendly, and also herded goats. When the English saw these dogs at the Birmingham market, they interbred them with their own variety of sheepdogs producing a mixture of short and long haired varieties.
After the industrial revolution, dog ownership became fashionable, and these early collies were believed to have been crossed with the Borzoi (Russian Wolfhound) to get a more "noble" head, which is today one of the true characteristics of the Rough Collie. Though it is not known conclusively if the Borzoi cross made it into the mainstream of the breed. When Queen Victoria acquired a Rough Collie, after seeing one at Balmoral Castle, they were transformed into something of a fashion item.
Continued breeding for show purposes drastically changed the appearance of the dogs; in the 1960s, it was a much taller dog than it is today (in the UK; in the US, the size standard has not been revised downward and dogs have remained between 24-26"). Earlier dogs were also more sturdy in build and reportedly capable of covering up to 100 miles in one day. In the UK the Rough Collie is no longer used for serious herding, having been replaced by the Border Collie. Though in the United States and a number of European countries, there has been a resurgence in the use of the Collie as a working and performance dog
Three coat colours are recognised for Rough Collies: sable and
white, where the "sable" ranges from pale tan to a mahogany;
tricolour, which is primarily black edged in tan; blue merle, which
is mottled gray. All have white coat areas, in the collar, parts
of the leg, and usually the tail tip. Some may have white blazes
on their faces. In addition, the American Kennel Club accepts white,
where the dog is predominantly white with coloured markings of sable,
tricolour, or blue merle on the head and sometimes body patches.
Rough Collies have a blunter face than the smaller, but otherwise very similar Shetland Sheepdog, which is partly descended from the Rough Collie. The planes of the muzzle and the top of the skull should be parallel in collies, with a slight but distinct stop. (In shelties, the planes are not parallel.) The downy undercoat is covered by a long, dense, coarse outer coat with a notable ruff around the neck, feathers about the legs, a petticoat on the abdomen, and a frill on the hindquarters.
Height and Weight
The desired size and weight varies among breed standards; male collies can stand 55.8 to 66 cm (22 to 26 in) at the shoulder; the female averages 5 cm (2 in) shorter. The males are usually in the weight range (45 - 75 lbs) and the females are usually 5 to 10 lbs less
Rough collies should show no nervousness or aggression, and are generally good with children and other animals. However, they must be well socialised to prevent shyness. They are medium to large sized dogs, but can be well suited to live in small apartments because of their calm disposition. Like many herding dogs, collies can be fairly vocal, and some are difficult to train not to bark. The amount of herding instinct varies, with some dogs being quite drivey and others calmer.
Rough Collies are very loyal and may be one-family dogs (although most make exceptions for children), but are very rarely aggressive or protective beyond barking and providing a visual deterrent. They are typically excellent with children as long as they have been well-socialised and trained. They are eager to learn and respond best to a gentle hand. They relish human company and generally fare poorly as outdoor dogs.