Breed standards

Collie (Smooth)

Breed standards are the official guidelines that describe the ideal characteristics, temperament, and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function with soundness essential.

Last Updated: 05 Aug 2009

Pre 1987 Kennel Club, London

Group 5 (Working Dogs)

The Collie should instantly appeal as gifted with intelligence, alertness and activity. He should stand with dignity, and his movements, governed by perfect anatomical formation, with no part out of proportion, should be smooth and graceful. He should give the appearance of a dog capable of working.


To enable the Collie to fulfil 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.


Should be gay and friendly, never nervous nor aggressive.

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 the front or the side the head should bear a general resemblance to a well-blunted, clean wedge, being smooth in outline. The skull should be 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 should lie in two parallel straight planes 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 a correctly placed "stop") should be the centre of balance in length of head. The end of the smooth, well rounded muzzle should be blunt, but not square. The underjaw should be strong, clean cut and the depth of the skull from the brow to the underpart of the jaw, should never be excessive (deep through). Whatever the colour of the dog, the nose must be black.


Are a very important feature and should give a sweet expression to the dog. They should be of medium size, set somewhat obliquely, of almond shape and of dark brown colour, except in the case of blue merles when one or both eyes may be wall or jewelled. Expression full of intelligence, with a quick, alert look when listening.


These should be relatively large, wider at the base, and placed not too close together nor too much on the side of the head. 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 the lower incisors fitting closely behind the upper incisors; a very slight space not to be regarded as a serious fault.


Should be muscular, powerful, of fair length and well arched.


The shoulders 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 forearm somewhat fleshy with pasterns showing flexibility without weakness.


Should be a trifle long compared to the height, back level and 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.


Should be oval with soles well padded. Toes arched and close together. The hind feet slightly less arched.


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


Movement is a distinct characteristic of the 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, powerful and full of drive. Viewed from the side the action should be smooth. A reasonably long stride is desirable and this should be light and appear quite effortless.


A very important feature of the Smooth Collie is his short, flat top coat of harsh texture, with a very dense undercoat.


The three recognised colours are Sable and White, Tricolour and Blue Merle.

Sable: Any shade from light gold to rich mahogany or shaded sable. Light straw or cream colour is highly undesirable.

Tricolour: Predominantly black with rich tan markings about the legs and head. A rusty tinge in the top coat is highly undesirable.

Blue Merle: Predominantly clear, silvery blue, splashed and marbled with black. Rich tan markings to be preferred, but their absence should not be counted as a fault. Large black markings, slate colour, or a rusty tinge either on the top or undercoat are highly undesirable.

White Markings: All the above may 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. All white or predominantly white is most undesirable.



Dogs: 56-61 cms (22-24 ins) at shoulder.

Bitches: 51-56 cms (20-22 ins).


Dogs: 20.5-29.5 kgs (45-65 lbs),

Bitches 18-25 kgs (40-55 lbs).


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness of the fault should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.


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