Complete Guide to Collie Temperament and Personality

Collies are unlike any other breed, they are highly energetic and always on the go but also attentive to their owners and incredibly loving. Before getting a collie it’s important to be aware of all their personality traits, their affectionate nature, and also their nervous edge to get a full picture.

Collies are super intelligent, loyal, and affectionate, but they are often untrusting towards strangers and are prone to anxiety in unknown situations. Hard-working and quick on their feet, collies need a lot of stimulation to prevent them from becoming bored and developing compulsive behaviors.

In this article, we’re going to look at everything that makes up a collie’s personality to help understand exactly why they do some of the things they do. They’re a unique and interesting breed that can be highly rewarding if properly understood.

Collie Personality Traits

Collies are quite misunderstood dogs, but they are one of the most rewarding breeds. Collies are hyper-intelligent, which can be a double-edged sword, requiring lots of stimulation compared to other breeds.

They are very loyal and affectionate, but only to people they trust and can appear quite unfriendly or aloof towards strangers.

Let’s take a look at some character traits of collies and what it means in practice…

1. Collies are Friendly

Collies are friendly, sociable dogs when given the right training and socialization from a young age. They enjoy the company of people and dogs alike but will usually favor their human companions over anyone else.

A well-socialized collie is the kind of dog at the dog park to make friends with everyone, owners included but will always return to their own person when called. Socializing a collie can be a little tricky, they need slow introductions to people and dogs at an early age.

A negative experience can stick with them so it’s best to keep things short and sweet and always end on a good note. Frequently checking in with your collie during their socialization period to make sure they’re not feeling overwhelmed will not only help with their confidence in general but also their confidence in you as an owner to keep them safe.

Slow and steady socializing can make for a robust and friendly adult dog.

Collies are super friendly! They love people and other dogs.

2. Collies are Loyal

A collie will always choose their owner over anyone and anything else in the room, no matter how many exciting things are going on around them. Collies are bred to work incredibly closely with people. Working collies become an extension of their owner and become so in-tune with their owners that they can usually predict what they’re going to be asked to do before they’re even asked to do it.

The bond they share with their owners can be unlike any other provided you’re able to give them all the exercise and mental stimulation they need.

Collies bond very closely with their caregivers. The people who provide them with food, exercise, safety, and comfort are their top priority. Most collies keep their circle of trust quite small, even well-socialized collies will have a select few people they truly trust. Even among a household of multiple people, they will usually pick a favorite.

luna being loyal
Collies are loyal dogs. They love spending time with you.

3. Collies are Intelligent

Not only are collies bred to be highly trainable but also have the intellectual capacity to make decisions quickly and think on their feet.

Collies have a great capacity for learning and working with their owners. The Guinness World Record for the most tricks performed by a dog in one minute is held by Daiquiri and Hero, both collies.

They can pick up new skills with remarkable speed which makes them great dogs for owners who want to teach them different skills. If not trained or properly stimulated collies can get easily bored.

Border Collies are the most intelligent breed of dog in the world, but they can’t read.

4. Collies are Gentle

Collies are not overly boisterous, they’re sweet-natured and their predisposition to be a bit anxious usually means they veer more towards being gentle dogs.

Even when they run around and burn off energy, they’re not the sort of dogs who crash into other dogs or owners’ legs. They’re very aware of their surroundings and usually more timid than they are anything else.

Having that timid nature means they often up being very sweet and thrive with tactile support from their owners.

Collies Therapy Dog
Collies are very gentle dogs, they love to cuddle.

5. Collies are Active

Collies are super high-energy and active dogs that need plenty of mental and physical exercise.

They’re bred to be able to work all day so their physical needs are very demanding. They’re not the sort of dog that can just have one on a lead walk a day and sleep the rest of the day away, they need long walks and to be challenged.

Collies make great hiking partners but if owners don’t have the time to take them on walks that span several hours, they need some other kind of activity like toy play or trick training to keep a healthy balance.

Collies are very active dogs. They will run for hours, and love playing fetch.

6. Collies are Loving

Collies love to be close to their owners and despite their size will often try to curl up next to if not on their owner’s lap to be as close as they can get.

Though aloof to start, collies are prone to becoming very attached to their owners which can lead to being overly attached.

Collies are prone to suffering from separation anxiety and can fall apart when they have to spend time away from the people who give them their confidence.

From a young age, collies should very gradually learn to spend time alone, minutes at a time before considering longer periods of separation.

Collies are very loving. Sometimes they will just come and rest their head on you to say hi.

7. Collies are Nervous

All that energy and intelligence has also given us dogs who are genetically predisposed to be nervous in new environments or around new people.

Collies don’t often deal well with new people and a naturally suspicious of those who aren’t in their immediate family.

They are bred to be very high alert dogs which can sometimes creep into being anxious. Common behavior caused by their nervous nature includes barking at strangers which needs to be dealt with gradually and only ever at a pace they’re comfortable with.

Collies tend to be more comfortable meeting new people outside of their home as it’s their safe space and they’re more likely to want to protect it.

Collies can be nervous around strangers or in new situations.

8. Collies are Hard-working

Collies are bred to work which gives them an innate drive to always be doing something, especially if it pleases their owners.

Even if they’re physically drained, collies will push on to continue working for their owners. When breeding collies to make them what they are today, they would have selected only the best workers to continuously breed better herding animals.

Collies want to work which is why owners need to be aware of their needs before selecting the breed. Collies who don’t have something to do can develop behavioral issues if their need for mental and physical stimulation aren’t properly met.

Collies are extremely hard working. They love learning new tricks and playing games!

Collie Personality FAQs:

What Dog has a Similar Personality to Collies?

There are a variety of dogs that share similarities with collies like the Poodle with its intellect but then lack other areas of their personality like how heavily they rely on their owners for emotional support.

Spaniels are the breed they share the most personality traits with. Their high energy, intellect, love of people, and how hard they work make them quite similar, but the jobs they’re bred for are very different.

Do Collies Like To Cuddle?

Collies love people and really enjoy a cuddle from the people they trust. They’re not likely to want to cuddle with someone they don’t yet trust but with their owners, they can be very cuddly.

Do Collies have an Aggressive Personality?

Collies do not have an aggressive personality. Even in high-pressure situations collies usually do everything they can to avoid being aggressive.

The only instances where a collie is more likely to show aggression is if they’re not properly socialized or when they are scared.

Collies are not aggressive, they are playful and boisterous.


Collies are one-of-a-kind dogs with how hard they’re willing to work for the people they bond so closely with.

They are not usually suitable for first-time owners as collie puppies can be so sensitive and prone to being anxious but when properly trained and socialized they become well-rounded, amazing companion animals.

Collie personality traits:

  • Friendly
  • Loyal
  • Intelligent
  • Gentle
  • Active
  • Loving
  • Nervous
  • Hard-Working

About the author:

About the author:

Hollie and Border Collie

 Stuart MacPherson

Colliepedia Editor

 Stuart MacPherson

Colliepedia Editor

I'm an experienced collie owner from Scotland. I started Colliepedia to share everything I know about collies. All the pictures you see on colliepedia are of my beloved collie Luna

Learn More about me and Luna's story on the about page!