Are Rough Collies Aggressive? (Find Out The Truth!)

Most potential owners look into how friendly, loyal, or trainable a certain breed is.

The appearance and maintenance requirements are also high on the list of things that can sway people towards one dog or another.

However, a lot of people tend to overlook the breed’s level of aggressiveness. This can often determine how well a dog will fit with you and your family.

Learning about the potential aggressive behavior is important even with breeds such as Rough Collie who have a reputation of being very sweet and good-natured.

Most dogs were not originally bred as family pets but for tasks such as herding, hunting, or protection.

A lot of these jobs required that dogs show a certain level of fighting spirit.

As Rough Collies were bred for herding, it’s logical to ask how much of those instincts are still alive and are Rough Collies aggressive.


Are Rough Collies Aggressive?

In general, Rough Collies have very soft and gentle personalities. They’re very affectionate, loyal to family, and trainable.

They commonly get along well with kids as well as with other animals.

However, some dogs, in certain situations, can engage in behavior that can be described as aggressive.

These behaviors can range from growling, excessive barking, chasing, nipping, and sometimes even biting.

As they were developed for sheep herding, Rough Collies were bred to be fearless, determined, strong, and, when needed for herd protection, aggressive.

However, as they became more popular as family pets, a lot of these traits were bred out to some extent, especially aggressiveness.

The result was a gentle, sweet, and well-behaved dog we know today.

Still, potential owners must be aware that some situations, often caused by improper care, can trigger some of those aggressive instincts and bring them back to the surface.

Why Do Rough Collies Behave Aggressively?

There are several factors that can contribute to the rare instances of Rough Collies behaving aggressively.

Herding Habits

As I already mentioned, even though they are nowadays rarely used for herding, those old habits die hard.

In the absence of sheep or other livestock, Rough Collies see the family as their herd.

This often leads to overprotective behavior and attempts to herd members of the family, especially kids.

In most cases, this is rather harmless, but Collies do tend to get nippy.

Nipping at the heels may seem to them as playful fun and legitimate herding strategy, but can easily scare children and smaller pets in the household.

Territorial Instincts

Another thing left from herding days is their tendency to defend territory.

While they’re usually friendly towards strangers, if they feel that someone is stepping into their territory, Rough Collies can get very vocal and try to scare the impostor by excessive barking.

In rare cases, if they sense greater danger, they may lunge towards whomever they see as a threat.

However, as they’re bred for herding and not for hunting, they will usually stop short of following through with the attack.

Improper Care

As with all dogs, Rough Collie’s behavior in many ways depends on the owners.

Improper care, lack of socialization and training, and negligence can often lead to them becoming more aggressive than it’s common for their breed.

Rough Collies are an extremely energetic and active breed that needs to spend time outside and be given plenty of exercise.

If they don’t get a lot of attention and are not engaged in various activities, Collies can vent all that pent-up energy through aggressive behavior.

Also, aggression often comes from the mistreatment and sometimes even torture they went through as puppies.

How Do You Stop a Rough Collie from Being Aggressive?

A Rough Collie that, for whatever reason, is behaving aggressively is, by no means, a lost cause.

Below are a few tips on what you can do to make your Rough Collie be less aggressive and prevent them from engaging in such behavior in the first place.

Establish Yourself as a Leader

Rough Collies sometimes behave aggressively because they try to establish themselves as a leader of the household.

Remember, they often see family as their flock and will try to assert their will.

If you establish yourself as the indisputable number one and leader, the dogs will feel less of a need to be aggressive.

They will recognize that it’s your responsibility to protect the family, not theirs.

Some easy ways to assume the leadership position is to always eat your meal before the dog and walk through the doors ahead of your Rough Collie.

Early Training and Socialization

A great deal of a dog’s future behavior is determined while they’re still puppies.

You need to start training your Rough Collie very early, so it will become obedient and listen to you when it grows older.

This will make controlling any potential aggression much easier.

As Rough Collies are very sensitive, it’s important not to be aggressive yourself during training.

Yelling at Collie or hurting them will only make them understand that that kind of behavior is acceptable.

When training a Rough Collie, positive reinforcement is crucial.

Furthermore, failing to properly socialize Rough Collie at a young age will make them wary around other people or animals.

This can sometimes lead to them becoming overly aggressive towards strangers or other animals.

To prevent this, have them spend a lot of time at places with plenty of other people or animals.

A daily outing to a dog park, while they’re young, will do wonders for your Rough Collie’s attitude towards people and animals outside the family.

Avoid Confrontation in the Household

I already mentioned that Rough Collies are rather sensitive.

They can easily feel a negative and aggressive atmosphere in the household and adopt that pattern of behavior.

If they witness loud confrontations, they will see aggression as normal.

In addition, they may feel the need to protect you if they perceive that someone is acting aggressively towards you, even if it’s just a heated discussion that happens very often.

So, in those situations, it’s best to move them to the other room and avoid them witnessing such behavior.


Don’t let all the stuff said above scare you. A large majority of Rough Collies are wonderful, loving, and sweet family dogs,

Only in rare cases, they may exhibit aggressive behavior.

They are very protective of their owners and sometimes they can take the protection too far.

However, most of those situations are preventable with proper care, training, and socialization.

If you feel that you can’t handle it yourself, it’s always a good idea to ask for the help of an experienced trainer.

Also, if you’re purchasing and have no adoption, make sure you find a reputable breeder.

You want someone who breeds dogs not only for looks but also for temperament.

Authored By

Madeline Wright

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