In the United States, many people have never even heard the terms "rough coated collie" or "smooth coated collie". This is because the vast majority of the collies we see here in the US are what is known as "rough coated collies", meaning that they have long hair. However, there is a short haired collie, most often known as the "smooth coated collie". They are rare in the United States, but quite common in the United Kingdom.
The American Kennel Club considers rough and smooth coated collies to be the same breed, and they are judged by the same breed standards, so that the only difference is the length of the coat.
The smooth coated collie has a soft and very dense undercoat with an outer coat that is somewhat harsh. The outer coat is typically about 1-2 inches long, though there is often a ruff around the neck containing longer hair. There is also sometimes longer hair on the backs of the thighs. Smooth coated collies come in four colors: sable, tri-color and blue merle. All collies have some white markings on the chest, neck, feet, legs and the tip of the tail. You'll also occasionally find all white collies, sometimes called color headed whites. These usually have a few markings of one of the other collie colors. Rough coated collies are found in the same colors, but have much longer coats. Their fur should be abundant on their bodies, particularly around the ruff and on the hips and tail. They should have feathering on the legs, as well. This version of the collie will require regular grooming, as their coats can be subject to matting if they are not properly groomed. Collies shed significantly twice a year, and shed small amounts at other times of the year.
The two types of collie coat were developed to cope with different climates. The rough coated collie was developed to withstand the harsh Scottish highland weather. However, in Scotland's low lands, the weather was not so cold and windy, but was very wet. The smooth coated collie was developed for this area so that the coat would dry out quickly after being in the water.
Regardless of whether you choose a smooth or rough coated collie, you can expect the intelligence and sweet disposition that collies are known for. Both varieties are eager to please their owners and love being part of the family. They get along well with children and with other pets and can be trained to do nearly anything. They make good watchdogs, as they are quick to bark at approaching strangers and they are a breed that likes to work. You can't go wrong with a collie - and you can choose the coat that suits you best!