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So I'm finally at a point where I can get a dog of my own and I'm having some trouble deciding on a breed. Some background is that I grew up around a yellow lab (personal dog) and goldens (aunt's dogs). The yellow was a pure bred from hunting lines and was supposed to be my father's prize bird dog, but due to a change of venue turned out to be a 90 lb lap dog. Currently my family has mini dachshunds, a sheltie, and my aunt has several australian shepards. I've always loved labs and generally prefer larger sporting breeds. That being said I have taken to my sister's sheltie and decided to entertain the idea of getting something other than a lab. While researching I came across smooth collies and thought they may be a good fit for the type of dog I'm looking for. Unfortunately you don't see any collies around where I live and breeders seem to be few and far between so I was hoping to shed some light on them. I've read/researched quite a bit on them, which is what prompted the post here. Generally what I'm looking for is a dog that's biddable, friendly with other dogs, loyal, loves to be outside (will live inside), goofy (one thing I love about labs) and enjoys being around/with it's owner. As for activity/lifestyle generally I enjoy hiking in the local parks or traveling short distances to parks nearby, mountain biking, hanging out at the beach, etc. It seems like either breed will generally fit in and the biggest difference seems to be whether I want a breed that keeps the goofy puppiness or one that is a little more reserved. Any advice or onions or which way to go are appreciated.
 

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@Sha just got a collie puppy! :) so I'm sure she'll have some insight. :)
 

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Generally what I'm looking for is a dog that's biddable, friendly with other dogs, loyal, loves to be outside (will live inside), goofy (one thing I love about labs) and enjoys being around/with it's owner. As for activity/lifestyle generally I enjoy hiking in the local parks or traveling short distances to parks nearby, mountain biking, hanging out at the beach, etc.
You've pretty much described my dog. She's a Rough Collie, but from what I've heard and read, they're the same dog as Smooth Collies. I've decided if I ever get a Collie again, it'll be a Smooth Collie, as I don't want to deal with such a thick coat again! ;)

My experiences with labs and Collies may differ from others here, as I've only had one of each (I also had what I suspect was a lab/border collie mix, but not positive) , so I can only go by what I've experienced. The lab I had was too much for me, however he was the first dog I'd ever owned as an adult and I was very inexperienced with dogs. I'd say the difference between labs and Collies is the energy. Labs are constantly on the go and are willing to play all sorts of games, mostly fetch type, and have to be kept entertained or they will find their own entertainment.

My experiences with labs and the possible lab mix is what convinced me they weren't the right breed for me, I'm a laid back person who prefers a casual walk or bike ride (1 hour, not five minutes!), and I couldn't keep up with their energy requirements. The problems and frustrations I had with them mostly stemmed from my inexperience in dealing with dogs and inability to satisfy their energy requirements. If you're a more on the go type person and plan on doing all sorts of stuff with them, than labs would be great for you.

Collies are amazing dogs, they fit my personality and lifestyle perfectly (except for the Rough Collie coat, yuck!), my dog is content with an hour walk, although she has proved she can and will do more when I do decide to do something more energetic or longer than normal. She has a great off-switch in the house and is content to wait for me to finish what I'm doing, even when she wants to go play (although for this reason, I keep the downstairs door open so she can go outside whenever she wants if I'm very busy). She is very smart and learned commands and routines very quickly. She is not barky (I've heard some Collies can be overly barky though) but alert barks if someone comes into the yard or is at the door. She loves to dig and roll in dirt piles, but will not dig a hole in the ground. She is loyal to me and friendly/loving to family members, aloof to strangers until they prove they're friendly (although there are some people she just refuses to meet or come near). She tries to herd the birds that come into the yard whenever it's being mowed. She learned very quickly to lay down whenever I let my rabbits run around or else she wouldn't be allowed to interact with them. All in all, Collies are great dogs, family friendly, moderate energy requirements, very smart, and loyal. I would recommend them. :)
 

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Natasha33 probably gave much better advice than I can. I've only had my collie, Ginny, for a week, and she'll be 9 weeks old tomorrow. So there's not a whole lot I can say about collies.

I will say that the lab/hound mix I had when growing up was also a fantastic dog. He was loving, sweet, and I think fairly intelligent, though I was 15 when he passed and I wouldn't have really known how to judge those things. He definitely was a chewer, and it lasted up until he was about a year old. He also would tree squirrels and birds and wait (hours, if he had to) until my dad came to shoot them, so the hunting blood was strong in him. He always had quite a bit of energy and wasn't particularly cuddly. He liked to be petted, he loved belly-rubs, but he would much rather bounce around or do zoomies than get cuddled.

Ginny, my collie, on the other hand, is already quite a cuddle-bug, and like @Natasha33 said, I think her energy level will be more my style. I am seeing how the coat will be an issue, as this weekend it got up into the 80s, and even just going outside for pottying got her pretty warm. Outdoor activity in the summer with the rough coat would be pretty tough. But smoothies still have the double coat--it's just not as long. So they will shed just as much, it just will be shorter bits of fur. At least, that's my understanding. They will stay cooler, though, for sure!

Also, a lot of what you are looking for is why I decided on collies. However, labs I think tend to be more goofy than collies (though that's going to depend a lot on the individual!) and from what I've heard, some collies are not a fan of swimming, whereas I think most labs would love swimming.

I'll tag @Lassie0811 as she's a collie breeder and has some gorgeous smooths. She can tell you more about her lovelies and possibly also point you in the direction of some reputable breeders in your area.
 

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Thanks for all the replies so far, it sounds like I'm on the right track. I think the two things that I'm concerned about is the barking and the goofiness/playfulness. Obviously the latter depends on the dog to a degree, but the former I've read is a bit of a breed trait. Unfortunate I think whomever built my house made the walls out of paper which means a lot of the outside noises can be heard realistically clearly indoors. My ex-girlfriends lab-border collie mix had a bit of an issue with alert barking and charging the front door anytime anyone would knock or ring the bell. I know my sister's sheltie also has an issue with this when she's outside away from her people. She likes to run up and down both my fathers fence line and my sister's fence line barking her head off at people walking by. If anyone is outside with her she tends to not pay as much attention. Can good training really alleviate some of the alert barking or is the alert barking really not that big of a deal?
 

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I believe training helps quite a bit. My dog will hush as soon as I tell her and has never charged the front door or gate. She basically will stand near the house and bark towards the disturbance if outside, and will do the same inside, face the disturbance area and bark. Sometimes she won't even bother to stand up, unless she gets no reply from me, then she concern barks. ;) Other than that, I've never had a problem with her barking and have never gotten complaints from neighbors. I highly value peace and quiet, so I've trained her not to bark at every little thing. She learned barking discernment very quickly, a quality I admire and am thankful for. I completely failed that training with my Lab and had many complaints from neighbors, but again I was inexperienced with dogs at the time.

Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, since I've never met a Smooth Collie, but aren't their coat types similar to a Labs? My issue with my dogs fur isn't the shedding, but the length, thickness, and it's prone to matting, issues that shouldn't matter in a Smoothie or Lab, I'd imagine.
 

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The editing expired on the previous post, I wanted to add this:

My dog is playful and goofy, but it's just different from a Lab. Each breed has their own play styles. The Lab was more mouthy/grabby, loved toys, was very bouncy, barked whilst playing, had no qualms about barreling into me while running in the yard, and was just a more physically interactive dog that wouldn't sit still. Tasha is more laid back. Can be bouncy but it's a bounding/wiggly bounce (hard to explain, I call it a rabbit bounce), isn't mouthy or grabby but is prone to nipping at ankles and fingers, pokes me with her nose, slaps me with her paws, doesn't care for toys but loves chasing things I throw although won't pick them up after running to them and poking it with her nose, only barks if overly stimulated with no running outlet, adores running, enjoys splashing in the ocean, and is an overall happy dog that can also just be content with sitting next to me doing nothing for awhile.

Most of what I describe might simply be my dogs personality, not necessarily breed traits, something you might want to take into account.
 

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@Sha Thanks for mentioning me. Ginny is adorable!

Collies are definitely goofy, but not all the time and not in the same way as labs. They bounce, run around, can mouth heels and fingers as Natasha33 said, and some do bark (or other weird noises) while playing. All of mine have great off switches though. Java loves toys and will fetch until she gets tired or distracted, Chanel will play with toys when she's excited and on rare occasions bring it to you wanting to play fetch, Robin likes toys but won't fetch anything more than 6 feet away from him, and some of them could care less about fetching and some about toys in general.

When mine are inside they rarely bark, but outside they take the opportunity to reply to the loud neighborhood dogs or try to strike up a conversation with the uninterested Jack Russells on the other side of the fence. If you call them they'll stop and run back to you wanting praise for their social abilities...:rolleyes:

We occasionally take some of our dogs on hikes. The hikes are only 3 miles but it's up some mountain hill things and the dogs will carry backpacks with water bottles in them. The dogs we take enjoy it, but I know for sure some of them wouldn't like the hike and would rather chill at home so it's just up to the individual dog. I wouldn't know if any of my dogs like swimming as I've never tried but again I think it's up to the individual dogs.

The smooths do shed just as much as roughs, but the coat comes out in shorter hairs that don't clump together as easily. So the hair is less noticeable on your floor and furniture but is harder to pick up than a roughs. It is pretty similar to a labs coat though, I believe.

Once you choose a breed/breeder, your breeder will be able to help you pick a puppy that has most of the traits you're looking for anyways.:thumbsup:
 
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