Caring for Your Collie and Understanding Their Health

Caring for Your Collie and Understanding Their Health

  15 Jan 2024

Collies are an intelligent, friendly dog breed that makes an excellent family pet. Classified as a larger dog, Collies can weigh between 50 and 75 pounds and live for 12 to 14 years. As a whole, Collie’s are a relatively healthy breed, but there are a few health conditions that every Collie pet parent should be aware of.  

Degenerative Myelopathy in Collies

The Collie breed can be a carrier for Degenerative Myelopathy. DM is a genetic mobility condition that gradually impacts a dog’s leg strength and eventually causes paralysis. Most dogs will not show any signs of DM until they are adults, usually around 8 years old. Early signs of DM include weakening back legs, scraping back paws, and dogs may have difficulty supporting their own weight. Collies with DM will need to rely on a dog wheelchair at some point in their diagnosis as paralysis will occur.  

If your Collie is showing any signs of DM, speak with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Regular, structured exercise, such as rehab therapy, can help to slow the progression of the disease and early introduction of a wheelchair can make it easier to keep your Collie active.  


Collies are genetically at risk for Dermatomyositis, a rare inflammatory disease that impacts a dog’s skin, muscles, and blood vessels. Usually impacting very young dogs, the telltale signs of the condition include visible skin lesions, which can be crusty, patchy hair loss, and even cause ulcers. Although not curable, the symptoms can usually be managed at home with medical supervision from a veterinarian. Treatments will vary depending on the severity, and in some cases, the lesions will clear on their own with time. If your Collie is showing any signs of this condition, seek veterinary help immediately.  

Collie Eye Anomaly 

Collie lays in the grass

This genetic eye condition mainly affects herding dog breeds, especially the Collie and Sheltie. The condition can result in abnormal eye development in the retina, optic nerve, or choroid of a Collie’s eye. In the 1960s, it was originally thought that over 90% of all Collies were affected by CEA. Nowadays, responsible breeders test puppies between six and eight weeks old to determine if they have this condition. According to the OFA, the number of Collies with CEA has dropped to 18.5% although over 40% of Collies tested are still carriers of the condition.  

CEA can cause varying degrees of vision loss, and retinal detachments are common. However, most Collies with Collie Eye Anomaly only experience minor vision impairment and do not become completely blind. 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy 

PRA is another eye condition that can affect the Collie breed. Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a degenerative disease that impacts the retina of the eye. Collies are susceptible to a unique form of the condition that only impacts this breed called red cone dysplasia 2. This unique form of PRA affects young Collies with night blindness as young as only a few weeks old and can lead to complete blindness before the Collie is a few years old.  

Your Collie’s Health

For the most part, the Collie breed is very healthy and with proper care and treatment, a Collie can live a happy, active life. This fun-loving and active breed makes a great addition to any family.

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