Because the world's best-known dog of movie and TV fame is a collie, folks might believe this breed boasts "Superdog" qualities. Spoiler alert: Lassie is a fictional character played by a canine actor, not a real dog. Real-life collies sport the sort of traits that make them a good choice for a family dog.
Collies make good family dogs not only because of their affinity for children, but because -- contrary to their image in the popular imagination -- they aren't one-person canines. Your family collie likely loves everyone equally and expects to be treated as a member of the family. She's also good with four-legged members of the family, including felines. Even though the collie is a large dog, she's generally good with small children. However, adults should supervise interactions between any canine and young kids.
Collies developed as herding dogs, with this instinct still ingrained. While not driven to herd anything that moves like some herding breeds -- hello, border collies -- your collie could try herding the kids or other pets around, nipping at heels to encourage movement. If you don't have sheep for your pet to organize, make sure she receives sufficient daily exercise to keep her physically fit and prevent boredom.
Intelligence and willingness to please their people makes collies easy to train. Acting as a watchdog comes naturally to collies, although excessive barking might accompany that activity. Because your collie soaks up knowledge so readily, consider competing with her in obedience, agility and other canine sports. Her loving nature makes her a natural therapy dog candidate. She's a sensitive soul, so train your dog with kind words. You can hurt a collie's feelings by yelling at her.
Although rough collies sport a lot of hair, they don't require extensive amounts of brushing. A thorough grooming weekly usually suffices, although you must be more vigilant during shedding season. The Collie Club of America describes the breed as unusually clean and easy to housebreak. Typical collies don't leave a doggie aroma in their wake. Collies usually don't chew excessively or display destructive tendencies. That makes the breed a fine indoor pet, the place where this classic family dog feels most comfortable.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.