I don't intend to write a lot of basic information that can be found with a simple google search on the Smooth Collie breed, but I do hope to let some more people know about this very little known breed and its amazing versatility.
The Kennel Club keep a list of 'Vulnerable breeds' on their website, which mostly indicates the number of breeds with less than 100 puppy registrations per year. It's quite an extensive list and some of these breeds are so typically English it's surprising they are even on the list at all. I decided to start with my favourite breed on this list and the breed we have chosen to bring into our family next. The Smooth Collie.
The Smooths are the short coated and lesser known variety of the Rough Collie. They maintain the same basic shape and proportions of the Rough yet due to lower demand, breeders have been able to retain the health and temperament as close to it's original intention as possible. Smooths are of course a herding breed and therefore a working breed and so they retain that willingness to learn, the intelligence to think for themselves and the stamina to run all day if necessary. They are of medium size on average.
However they are also a breed which seems well suited to a family life. That easy to train nature does not develop into the somewhat obsessive traits border collies can show. In fact they seem to be, in my research and exposure to the breed, every families dream dog. They are just as happy curling up having cuddles as they are out in the fields working sheep, running an agility course or even as a therapy dog. They adapt to the environment they are placed in, be that with young children and other family pets, or to a life destined as a full on working dog. The smooths I have met have been well tempered, calm and amicable. Not a sign of aggression. I would call them a subtle dog, they do not seem to demand your attention or shrink into the background. They seem calmly confidentof themselves.
In terms of behaviour these dogs do not show that many behavioural problems, though the most likely would be separation anxiety if anything were to develop, however I am sure as with any dog, it could display aggression if necessary. Healthwise the most concerning problems are the MDR1 gene which can prove lethal if the status of the dog is not known. This is multi drug resistance, meaning only specific drugs can be used safely on the breed. However this is not uncommon in a lot of collie types, as well as the other consideration, CEA ( collie eye anomaly) and PRA ( progressive retinal atrophy). Both known eye conditions that can be either progressive or the dog can be affected at birth causing problems with sight. The majority of breeders within the Smooth community do test for these health conditions as a matter of course.
Some breeders are now pushing for hip and elbow testing, though the breed currently shows no specific problem in these areas, many are suggesting it as a prevention rather than a cure to a problem which already exists. It is recommended that a dog has it's hips tested before partaking in any strenuous sport such as agility, but this is to help prevent problems by being aware if the sport could aggravate any small issue already existing.
The Smooth seems to excel at agility, however many have said if you want to compete at a high level the smooth is just a bit too slow to compete against the likes of the border collies, so perhaps working trials or competitive obedience can be an option. In other countries the smooth is also regularly used as a therapy dog such as guide dogs, or medical alert dogs, they are also used in search and rescue. This shows the great versatility of the breed, and coupled with its amazing temperament and excellent health status, it is shocking to think it is such a rare breed in it's home country. If you are interested in the smooth, it is well worth chatting to the vastly knowledgeable breeders in the smooth community, all seem to be very welcoming and happy to discuss their dogs, you can even spot them at Discover Dogs every year with a great team and an information filled booth.
I hope I may have given you a bit of an insight into this superb breed. Remember to fully research any breed you are interested in, attending shows, talking to owners and breeders, examining the health status of the breed and its longevity. Always buy a puppy from a breeder who health tests and keeps their pups in a clean and stimulating environment and ensures the puppies stay with their mother until at least 8 weeks old.
Dog Trainer, animal lover, artist and photographer