The Collie Standard

There are two standards for the Rough Collie: Breeders adhering to the FCI  work according to the British Kennel Club Standard, Breeders adhering to the American Kennel Club work according to the AKC Standard. (link to the AKC website )

Breeders who care about the quality of their dogs in respect to health, character and looks, have to carefully select the dogs for breeding. To give their striving for quality a framework, the cynophilic organizations define so-called "breed standards".
A breed standard describes how the ideal dog of that breed should look and behave. It is not a description expressed in measurable units, but more a prosaic account of all the relevant features of the dog. Usually the standards lists some necessary features, e.g. the tipping ears for the Collie, some unwanted features, e.g. straw coloured coat.

The FCI ( Fédération Cynologique Internationale) represents breeders in numerous countries. For each breed, the national federation of the country from which the breed originates is responsible for the publication of the standard.
The Collie is an exception as the British Kennel Club is not an effective member of the FCI.
Furthermore the American Kennel Club, which represents several countries not affiliated with the FCI has its own version of the Collie standard. However AKC and FCI mutually accept dogs bred to either standard.

The Breed Standard (KC-FCI) — Rough Collie

General Appearance

The Collie should instantly appeal as a dog of great beauty, standing with impassive dignity, with no part out of proportion to the whole.


To enable the Collie to fulfill a natural bent for sheepdog work, its physical structure should be on the lines of strength and activity, free from cloddiness and without any trace of coarseness. Expression, one of the most important points in considering relative values, is obtained by the perfect balance and combination of skull and foreface size, shape, colour and placement of eye, correct position and carriage of ears.


The Collie should have a friendly disposition with no trace of nervousness or aggressiveness.

Head and Skull

The head properties are of great importance and must be considered in proportion to the size of the dog. When viewed from front or side, the head resembles a well-blunted, clean wedge, being smooth in outline. Skull flat, the sides should taper gradually and smoothly from the ears to the end of the black nose, without prominent cheek- bones or pinched muzzle. Viewed in profile, the top of the skull and the top of the muzzle lie in two parallel, straight lines of equal length, divided by a slight but perceptible , 'stop' or break. A mid-point between the inside corners of the eyes (which is the centre of the correctly placed , 'stop'), is the centre of balance in the length of head. The end of the smooth, well-rounded muzzle is blunt, never square. The underjaw is strong, clean-cut and the depth of the skull, from the brow to the underpart of the jaw, must never be excessive (deep through). Whatever the colour of the dog, the nose must be black.


These are a very important feature and give a sweet expression to the dog. They should be of medium size (never very small), set somewhat  obliquely, of almond shape and of dark-brown colour, except in the case of blue merles when the eyes (one or both, or part of one or both), are frequently blue or blue flecked. Expression full of intelligence, with a quick alert look when listening.


These should be small and not too close together on top of the skull, nor too far apart. When in repose, they should be carried thrown back, but, when on the alert, brought forward and carried semi-erect, that is, with approximately two-thirds of the ear standing erect, the top third tipping forward naturally, below the horizontal.


The teeth should be of good size, with scissor bite.


The neck should be muscular, powerful, of fair length and well arched.


The shoulder should be sloped and well angulated. The forelegs should be straight and muscular, neither in nor out at elbows, with a moderate amount of bone.


The body should be slightly long compared to height, back firm with a slight rise over the loins; ribs well sprung, chest deep and fairly broad behind the shoulders.


The hind legs should be muscular at the thighs, clean and sinewy below, with well-bent stifles. Hocks well let down and powerful.


These should be oval in shape with soles well padded, toes arched and close together. The hind feet slightly less arched.


Movement is a distinct characteristic of this breed. A sound dog is never out at elbow, yet it . moves with its front feet comparatively close together. Plaiting, crossing or rolling are highly undesirable . The hind legs, from the hock joint to the ground, when viewed from the rear should be parallel but not too close. When viewed from the side the action is smooth. The hind legs should be powerful with plenty of drive. A reasonably long stride is desirable and this should be light and appear quite effortless.


The tail should be long with the bone reaching at least to the hock joint. To be carried low when the dog is quiet, with a slight upward swirl at the tip. It may be carried gaily when the dog is excited, but not over the back.


The coat should fit the outline of the dog and be very dense. The outer coat straight and harsh to the touch; the undercoat soft, furry and very close, almost hiding the skin. The mane and frill should be very abundant, the mask or face, smooth, also the ears at the tips, but they should carry more hair towards the base; the front legs well feathered, the hind legs above the hocks profusely so, but smooth below. Hair on the tail very profuse.


The three recognised colours are sable and white, tricolour and blue merle.

White markings: All the above should carry the typical white Collie markings to a greater or lesser degree. The following markings are favourable: white collar, full or part; white shirt, legs and feet; white tail tip. A blaze may be carried on muzzle or skull or both.


Dogs: 22 to 24 inches (56-61cm) at shoulder.

Bitches: 20 to 22 inches (51-56cm).

Ideal weights have been deleted.


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault is regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.


Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles descended into the scrotum.