People considering adding a Collie to their family frequently ask, “Are Collies good with kids?” Most Collie owners answer with an enthusiastic “yes!”
I polled an international forum for Collie lovers, asking if Rough Collies and Smooth Collies were good with children, and received 365 responses. 87% of people said yes, 10% said Collies were inclined to “herd” rowdy children, and 1% said unfortunately not in their experience. (The 4 people who responded “no” explained that their Collies were afraid of kids, and in 3 of those cases there was a known reason for the fear.) There were no reported instances of aggression.*
So yes, most Collies are great pets for a family with children! Many survey respondents also shared stories and pictures of their Collies and kids being adorable together. There is a reason Lassie the TV star has been so popular, and why Collies are often called “Lassie dogs” to this day.
The following story was submitted (pre-survey) by Anne Lively, the editor of The Cassette, a quarterly magazine that has been celebrating Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs for more than 25 years. Tam, an old farm type Collie, is the reason Anne has had Collies all her life since childhood. He is an excellent example of the special place these wonderful dogs hold in the hearts of their people.
– Emily Sowulewski, Collie Chatter Founder
Tam, My First Collie
My sister and I grew up reading Albert Payson Terhune’s books about his Collies. One after another, Claudi and I checked those books out of our little Greentree, Pennsylvania library.
At the time, our Aunt Choochie had a sweet red-gold dog. Ginger was mostly Collie with a smidge of something else mixed in. This was way before spay and neuter campaigns, so when Ginger came in season Aunt Choochie waited until Buster, the purebred Collie who lived a few streets over, came calling. Then she opened the door and let Ginger out. All breedings should be that easy!
Tam was all we had imagined our dog would be. Mom taught him to stay within the confines of our unfenced yard. Walking home from school, Claudi and I could see Tam leaning out to watch our progress, paws planted firmly at the very edge of the lawn.
We hung a bell on the door and Tam learned to ring it when he wanted to go out. Tam taught Cozy, my first purebred Collie. Cozy taught Scotia. Scotia taught Lucy, and that went on down until we got a dog door and the dogs could let themselves out. I love that it all went back to Tam. Eventually Dad hung a bell outside the door for Tam to ring when he wanted to come back in.
Claudi and I had read some books about dog training. Tam learned tricks and obedience easily. We’d read that dogs could be taught hand signals, so we taught those to Tam. I was all grown up when I learned that that was a pretty high level of obedience. To us kids, everything was possible.
All these years later it’s still impossible to write about Tam without a lump in my throat. He was the very best introduction I could have had to the breed I love and have had ever since. His lead hangs with our other leads by the kitchen door and I think of Tam every time I pass it.
– Story by Anne Lively
*These results are surely biased, since anyone with a truly bad experience involving a Collie is unlikely to be part of a forum for Collie enthusiasts. If you’re considering getting a Collie, remember no breed is perfect! There will always be outliers and exceptions to the general rule. Before getting any dog, do your research to make sure you’re bringing home the right fit for your family. Also, thoroughly vet breeders to verify they are ethical and responsible.
Bonus Fun Facts!
Lassie the Collie continues to be popular! As recently as 2020, a modern adaptation of the classic 1943 film Lassie Come Home was released. Unlike the 2005 remake, the 2020 release was filmed in German. For US viewers it can be watched via Roku.
A previous generation of viewers – who hadn’t grown up in the 40s watching Lassie films or in the 50s-70s watching the long-running TV series – were introduced to this canine American icon through the 1994 movie simply titled Lassie. That movie was an original story, unrelated to the Lassie Come Home book and movies.
At this point it seems reasonable to anticipate that every decade or two, we’ll be treated to some sort of Lassie media. I think anything Lassie-related is worth watching. Actually, I’ll watch anything featuring a gorgeous Collie running across the screen!
Featured photo credit: Sarah Lindsay Photography