Sunday, August 6, 2023

Where have all the collies gone?

 Collies have this remarkable ability to make people smile.  When older people see a collie, the rough variety in particular, they are transported back to their younger years.  They often remark, “I always watched Lassie on Television, never missed an episode!”  Others will talk about going to the movies, to watch the old Lassie movies on the silver screen.  Some will tell us stories of their childhood collie, back when the collie breed was more popular.  Invariably they will say, “you never see collies anymore.”

It always makes me wonder, if people have such fond memories of collies, why aren’t they more popular? Is it that people don’t know how to find a collie rescue group or a reputable breeder?  I do know that there aren’t a lot of collies available through rescue, at least in comparison to other dog breeds.  This is due, in part, to not being one of the more currently popular breeds, so there aren’t as many litters produced each year.   Since there is a high demand, you will see a lot of advertisements for litters of yorkies, labs, goldens, French Bulldogs, and so on.  But I think it’s also because there is such a strong network among collie breeders that whenever a collie ends up in a shelter word goes out immediately, and the collie is pulled from the shelter.  The Collie Rescue Foundation’s motto is “all collies belong to you and me,” and this is a reflection of how collie owners and breeders feel about our breed. 

As for obtaining a collie puppy or adult from a reputable breeder, I’m beginning to think people just don’t know where to look. A couple years ago,  I was at a park with a couple of my smooth girls, and I was surprised to see a stranger enter with a blue Merle, smooth collie!  I didn’t know anyone else in my town had a smooth collie.  I immediately approached her to say hello, and we began talking about smooth collies.  As I know all the collie breeders in our State and surrounding areas, I asked her where she got her boy.  She told me she drove down to Tennessee to get him, as she couldn’t find any collie breeders up here!  I was shocked, as the East Coast in particular has always had more collie breeders than any other area of the country.  So why was it so difficult for her to find a reputable collie breeder?

Last week I was at a nearby pet supply store, which has a few do-it-yourself dog bathing stations.  I had my Scarlett in the tub, giving her a bath, and other customers kept stopping by to comment on her.  Some wanted to tell me she was beautiful, some couldn’t believe how good she was being, some wanted to know what kind of dog breed she was…and one couple wanted to talk “collies.”  They were long time collie owners, and were excited to see another collie.  They said they had an 8 month old collie puppy at home. I asked where they got him, and they named a town about 40 minutes away.  I knew of this breeder, and he wasn’t someone I would recommend.  He doesn’t health test, he doesn’t put any titles on his dogs and doesn’t belong to any breed clubs.  (I’ll get to why that is important in a moment.)  So how did this very nice couple end up getting a puppy from him?  He was the only collie breeder they could find!

Unfortunately, these type of dog breeders are the ones advertising their litters in local papers and on Craig’s list.  Both are sources that reputable breeders avoid, as they want to ensure their puppies end up in safe, loving homes.  So breeders who do not health test or title their dogs, or belong to collie clubs, are where the general public are finding their new puppies.  Health testing is important, as you don’t want to find yourself with a dog that has a genetically inherited (and preventable) health problem.  There is no way to predict all future health problems a dog may develop over his or her lifetime, no one can foresee every possibility, but this is a good place to start.   And a breeder that has titles on their dogs has proven a few things. One, their dogs have good conformation, meaning they meet the breed standard. Two, they have good temperaments and can compete in herding, obedience, agility, nose work, pet therapy, or many other sports and activities.  You can find these well bred dogs by looking for reputable dog breeders who have earned the AKC title, “Breeder of Merit.”  And finally, it’s important that a dog breeder is a member in good standing of their National Breed Club. Breeders who are members of the Collie Club of America have to adhere to a code of ethics that others do not.

There are resources for finding a reputable collie breeder, which I will share below.  I hope they will help aid others in finding their future collie, as they are out there, just waiting to meet you!

How to find a collie:

Collie rescue is always a great option, especially if you are looking for an adult collie. Here is a link for the Collie Rescue Foundation’s website:   They have links to collie rescue groups all over the country on their website.

The Collie Club of America has district directors for different regions of the country.  They can often provide contact info for CCA collie breeders who have puppies available.  You can find the list of district directors here:

You can use AKC’s website to search for Breeders who have earned the title of “Breeder of Merit”  by clicking here:

You can also reach out to your local collie specialty club, as they will know who has puppies, adults, or upcoming litters planned.  I don’t have a comprehensive list of local collie specialty clubs yet, but I may try to put one together.  You can usually find them by searching online for “local collie specialty clubs,” and many have Facebook pages (***I want to specify these are collie club pages, not Facebook groups) where they announce their upcoming shows and events.

***I do want to caution you against utilizing the various Facebook groups as your main source.  I have seen people recommending collie breeders with poor reputations or limited experience with the breed, and trying to convince others to buy their next puppy from these individuals.  While I do believe they mean well, this is not an ideal way to find a heritage breeder. 


  1. We watched Lassie whenever it was on and loved it! I did see a rough blue merle Collie walking one day but that was a few years ago. You're right - sadly, we don't see that many Collies anymore.

  2. What a pretty puppy! Very used post too!

  3. Excellent article. As the adoption coordinator of a collie rescue, I have seen first hand many problems with collies from backyard breeders who sell puppies for only several hundred dollars. No heath checks, no eye checks, doesn't want anyone on the property, no pedigree (currently one called Bradg Collies says he has collie puppies to "adopt"; he is selling them with every thing just mentioned). We have taken in collies missing front teeth between the canine teeth (birth defect), another missing digits on his toes causing him to limp, and other effects caused by poor breeding. So your advice about going to a collie rescue or an AKC breeder of merit is the best. Do not support backyard breeders, they are cheaper but don't care about genetics, MDR1 gene, health checks, temperament, inbreeding, etc. This can result in anxious, unhealthy dogs with thousands of dollars in vet bills plus the continuation of cranking out unhealthy dogs. Do your homework before getting a collie, but do get one. They are a wonderful breed!

  4. My cousin and their family had a Collie when I was a kid. I never watched Lassie, but I loved that dog. He was so cool. I remember thinking at that time that when I grew up, I would get me a Collie They were my favorite for a long time. ♥

  5. We are a Sheltie family but the challenge of finding a pup when we lost Katy was not unlike what you are describing with Collies. One blessing we had was I belong to an online Sheltie group and was able to network with people to find a reputable breeder and find Teddy.

    There just aren't as many purebred dogs that find their way into rescue. Our first two came from that route but as we've looked over the years when we've thought about expanding our Sheltie family the options thankfully aren't huge because the supply isn't as great as it is with other mixed breeds. I know we've always had to sign contract to return our dogs to their breeder should we find ourselves unable to care for the dogs.

  6. We contacted 4 collie rescues when we were looking for a smoothie 3 years ago. They interviewed me by phone ( during Covid). All 4 of them were rather snooty and we never heard back from any of them. By purest coincidence I met a woman who has a smoothie and she sent me to her breeder. The breeder is very ethical, had all the health checks, vaccines, microchipped, registered etc. I really felt that we weren’t good enough for the rescue organizations.

  7. Collies are such beautiful dogs, gentle, kind and loving. We never had a collie but we did have 2 collie mix pups, they were beautiful too.

  8. Great post! I’ll be looking for a collie puppy this Summer, thank you for sharing this on Reddit!