Scotch Collie vs Rough Collie: What’s the Difference?

collie dog laying in front of purple flowers
Lisjatina/Shutterstock.com

Written by August Croft

Published: April 8, 2022

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Did you know that there are two different types of collie breeds known as the scotch collie vs rough collie? While the answer may surprise you, scotch collies actually predate rough collies. We owe our modern-day rough collie to the scotch collie- but how are these two breeds similar, and how are they distinct from one another?

In this article we will discuss all of the differences between scotch collies and rough collies so that you can get a full understanding of these two breeds. We will go over their physical differences as well as their ancestral and behavioral differences. Let’s get started and learn a bit about the history of the collie now!

Comparing Scotch Collie vs Rough Collie

Scotch Collie vs Rough Collie
The scotch collie predates the rough collie, and was the original inspiration for the breed.
Scotch CollieRough Collie
Size17-26 inches; 35-70 pounds20-24 inches tall; 40-65 pounds
AppearanceMany different appearances and colors given their lack of a breed standard; often has a shaggy coat, not quite as long as the rough collie, in shades of brown, black, red, white, and merleLong, straight, and coarse outer coat with a soft undercoat; found in a variety of colors including tan, brown, white, black, and merle. Has a distinct mane of fur around its neck
AncestryThe original collie breed, originating in Scotland for herding sheepBred in Europe for herding sheep; altered from the Scotch collie’s genes
BehaviorEven more intelligent than the rough collie. Extremely laid back and alert, as well as loyal. An excellent problem solver and sturdy dogExtremely intelligent, loyal, and easy to train. Very patient with children and strangers, and highly active
Lifespan13-15 years12-14 years

Key Differences Between Scotch Collie vs Rough Collie

Scotch Collie vs Rough Collie

Given that the scotch collie was never recognized by the AKC, the physical appearance of the scotch collie varies far more than the physical appearance of the rough collie.

There are many key differences between scotch collies and rough collies. The scotch collie predates the rough collie, and was the original inspiration for the breed. Given that the scotch collie was never recognized by the AKC, the physical appearance of the scotch collie varies far more than the physical appearance of the rough collie. Finally, the scotch collie lives a slightly longer lifespan than the average rough collie. 

Let’s discuss all of these differences in more detail now. 

Scotch Collie vs Rough Collie: Size

Scotch Collie vs Rough Collie

The scotch collie lives a slightly longer lifespan than the average rough collie. 

One of the most interesting things when comparing the scotch collie and the rough collie is the fact that the rough collie has a set size and weight, while the scotch collie comes in a variety of heights and weights. This is because the scotch collie is not technically a purebred breed of dog, and its appearance is not regulated as much as the rough collie. 

For example, the average rough collie is 20-24 inches tall according to its breed standard, while the scotch collie is anywhere from 17-26 inches tall. The scotch collie may weigh either more or less than the rough collie as well, due to unregulated breeding sizes. The average rough collie is 40-65 pounds, while the scotch collie is 35-70 pounds.

Scotch Collie vs Rough Collie: Appearance

scotch collie vs rough collie

The rough collie has a set size and weight, while the scotch collie comes in a variety of heights and weights.

You can tell that the scotch collie and the rough collie are related, but there are some differences in their physical appearances given the fact that scotch collies are unregulated dogs, and rough collies have a set purebred standard that they must meet. The rough collie has a long and straight fur coat, while the scotch collie typically has a less impressive coat overall. However, both of these dogs are found in the same colors and patterns. 

One of the main ways you can tell the difference between a rough collie and a scotch collie is that the rough collie has an impressive rough fur collar around its neck, while the scotch collie rarely has this feature. It feels like the rough collie is the more elegant version of the scotch collie, but they are both beautiful and capable dogs. 

Scotch Collie vs Rough Collie: Ancestry and Breeding

Scotch Collie vs Rough Collie

The rough collie has a long and straight fur coat, while the scotch collie typically has a less impressive coat overall.

One of the key differences between the scotch collie and the rough collie lies in their ancestry and breeding. Both of these dogs were bred for herding sheep and other farm animals, though the scotch collie is the reason that the rough collie exists. Let’s discuss the history of both of these dogs in more detail now.

Originally bred in Scotland, the scotch collie was used during the 1700s, while the rough collie was first bred in Europe a bit later. The rough collie was designed to be a more beautiful and more regulated version of the scotch collie, while the scotch collie remained unregulated and free to look however they wanted. In fact, the rough collie almost made the scotch collie breed obsolete, though there are recent efforts to revive this beloved dog. 

Scotch Collie vs Rough Collie: Behavior

Scotch Collie vs Rough Collie

The rough collie has an impressive rough fur collar around its neck, while the scotch collie rarely has this feature.

The behaviors of the scotch collie and the rough collie are extremely similar. Both of these breeds are highly intelligent and capable of working dogs. They are also steadfast and loyal watch dogs of their families. However, many owners report that the scotch collie demonstrates a more dedicated personality when it comes to working, while the rough collie is less alert overall. 

Scotch Collie vs Rough Collie: Lifespan

Scotch Collie vs Rough Collie

Originally bred in Scotland, the scotch collie was used during the 1700s, while the rough collie was first bred in Europe a bit later.

A final difference between the scotch collie and the rough collie is their lifespans. The Scott collie lives a slightly longer life than the rough collie overall. Though it always depends on the health of the individual breed. Both of these dogs have a decently long life, especially when you consider their size.

For example, the scotch collie lives an average of 13 to 15 years, while the rough collie lives anywhere from 12 to 14 years. Given the health and dedication of the majority of herding dogs, you can expect a long and happy life from either of these two breeds. 

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About the Author

August Croft is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on astrology, symbolism, and gardening. August has been writing a variety of content for over 4 years and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theater from Southern Oregon University, which they earned in 2014. They are currently working toward a professional certification in astrology and chart reading. A resident of Oregon, August enjoys playwriting, craft beer, and cooking seasonal recipes for their friends and high school sweetheart.

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