Originating in Scotland, the Collie has long been skilled at herding sheep. Over the years these shepherding dogs have also become adept at gathering the hearts of anyone who has been fortunate enough to make a Collie a member of their family. Collie breeds are so beloved that they are even celebrated with their own pet holiday: World Collie Day.
When is World Collie Day?
Every year, World Collie Day takes place on July 21st!
To mark the occasion, we’ve rounded up a few fun facts about Collies:
Did you know that there are many types of Collies? While we will only be focusing on the Border, Bearded, Rough and Smooth Collie for the sake of brevity, other Collie type dogs include the:
- Australian Cattle Dog
- Australian Kelpie
- Australian Shepherd
- Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog
- Blue Lacy
- Cumberland Sheepdog
- English Shepherd
- German Coolie
- McNab Shepherd
- New Zealand Heading Dog
- Old English Shepherd
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Welsh Sheepdog
Although the true origin of the breed’s name has been lost in the mist of time, there are those who believe that the word “collie” comes from the Gaelic word for “useful.”
Rough and Smooth Collies
Since 1966 a Rough Collie has prompted fans to cheer on their favorite team to victory as the mascot for Texas A&M University. The first Rough Collie to take on the role was dubbed Reveille III, and each subsequent mascot has been bequeathed the same name. Reveille X took on the mantle of mascot in 2021.
Standing guard in a garden outside of the Bucks County Free Library in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, a bronze depiction of Lassie is a reminder that the original story of the famous dog was written by Eric Knight in Bucks County. The sculpture of the “Lassie Come Home” star found a forever home thanks to the Michener Art Museum, which commissioned the work by sculptor Eric Berg.
Toots, a Rough Collie who was part of author Eric Knight’s family, was the muse for the classic story Lassie Come Home. The final resting place of Toots is Springfield Farm, an 1800s farmhouse in Springfield, Pennsylvania where the writer once lived. Today the residence is a part of the National Register of Historic Places.
The first movie dog to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of fame and the first dog star inducted into the Animal Actors Hall of Fame, Lassie (who was first portrayed by a Rough Collie called Pal) has been a canine icon for more than 80 years!
Did you know that Earl Hamner, the creator of The Waltons television series, wrote a children’s book called Lassie: A Christmas Story?
A Collie named Jean holds the distinction of being the first dog to ever have a leading role in a motion picture. Known as the Vitagraph Dog, this tail-wagging thespian stepped in front of the camera for Vitagraph studios at least 16 times between 1909 and 1913.
On the 2022 American Kennel Club’s annual list of the most popular dog breeds, the Collie ranks at number 39.
Wishaw Leader, a Scotch Collie, was the second dog ever to win the Best in Show title at Crufts, back in 1906.
A Rough Collie called Laund Loyalty of Bellhaven earned the Best in Show title at the 1929 Westminster Dog Show.
Famous Rough Collie and Smooth Collie Pet Parents
Many prominent people have been pet parents of a rough or smooth-coated collie, including:
Katharine Lee Bates— The poet who penned “America The Beautiful” turned to the Bard for inspiration when choosing the name Hamlet for her beautiful Collie companion.
Calvin Coolidge— Rob Roy, the 30th President’s Collie, was immortalized on canvas by the renowned illustrator/artist Howard Chandler Christy. The painting of First Lady Grace Coolidge and Rob Roy is displayed in The White House China Room.
Lyndon Johnson— The 36th President was once a pet parent to a white Collie named Blanco, who was gifted to him by a nine-year-old girl from Illinois.
Robert Plant— Strider, The Led Zeppelin frontman’s four-legged friend, was the inspiration for the band’s song “Bron Yr Aur Stomp.”
Beatrix Potter— Generations of book lovers will recognize the name Kep, which was not only the moniker of a Collie character in the children’s classic The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck, but also of Potter’s own Rough Collie.
Elvis Presley— If you watch the flick Paradise Hawaiian Style you can spot The King of Rock n Roll’s Collie companion, Baba! [Don’t miss Elvis Dog Names!]
Jim Reeves— Country music fans visiting Carthage, Texas may want to pay their respects not only at the grave of the crooner who took such songs as “Four Walls” and “He’ll Have To Go” to the top of the charts, but also at the final resting place of the crooner’s beloved Collie, Cheyenne. Crossing Rainbow Bridge three years after his famous pet parent, Cheyenne’s grave can be found just a few feet away from that of the music icon in Jim Reeves Memorial Park.
Edgar Rice Burroughs— While Tarzan had a chimpanzee named Cheetah as a sidekick, the creator of the King of the Jungle’s companion was a Collie named Rajah.
Norman Rockwell— Among the dogs that were immortalized in 55 of the illustrious illustrator’s 323 covers for The Saturday Evening Post was Rockwell’s own barking buddy, a Collie mix named Raleigh. Raleigh appeared on some of the magazine’s most famous covers, including a print known as both “Making Friends” and “Raleigh Rockwell.”
The Border Collie
Although all types of Collies easily claim the top spot in the hearts of anyone who has ever welcomed one of the breeds into their life, the closest any Collie breed comes to the number one position on the 2022 American Kennel Club’s annual list of the most popular dog breeds is the Border Collie, which comes in at number 30.
Since 1968 a bronze depiction of a Border Collie has faithfully guarded the serene scenery surrounding Lake Tekapo in New Zealand. Commissioned by area farmers as an homage to the dogs who have protected their flocks over the years, a canine named Haig posed for the monument, which was created by sculptor Innes Elliott.
Commuters at Garsdale Station in Cumbria, England catch a glimpse of the bronze likeness of a Border Collie named Ruswarp whenever they board the train. The tribute to the dog stands in part for the efforts of Graham Nuttall, his pet parent, in saving the local railway from closure (with Ruswarp contributing a paw print signature on a petition). However, Ruswarp is forever remembered for his act of loyalty. In 1990 his human disappeared during a hike in the Welsh mountains. The dog was found 11 weeks later, standing guard over his pet parent’s lifeless body.
Dubbed “The Parkour Collie” due to skills that closely resemble the popular sport, Neo became a Guinness World Record holder for achieving the fastest 10 hoop/tire slalom by a dog in 8.58 seconds! https://www.youtube.com/embed/08YvoxMzZGU
For more Border Collie trivia, be sure to check out our Fun Facts about Border Collies page!
The Bearded Collie
The Bearded Collie is believed to be the oldest dog breed in Great Britain!
Did you know that the Bearded Collie is fondly referred to as the ‘Beardie’? The beloved breed has also been called the Hairy Mou’ed Collie, the Highland Collie, and the Mountain Collie.
On the 2022 American Kennel Club’s annual list of the most popular dog breeds, the Bearded Collie lands in 124th place.
Famous Bearded Collies
Bearded Collies have been immortalized in paintings by Gainsborough and Reynolds!
In 1989 a Bearded Collie called Potterdale Classic of Moonhill won Best in Show at Crufts.
A Bearded Collie named Cole portrayed Khyi Yang Po, the centuries old dog whose DNA transforms Tim Allen’s character into a canine in the 2006 comedy The Shaggy Dog.
Actress Nicollette Sheridan was once the proud pet parent of a Bearded Collie/Terrier mix she named Little Fatty Princess.