Historically collies were purely working dogs, working the hills of sheep farms across the world. That all changed on 12th September, 1954.
Ever since Lassie burst on to the silver screen and stole the world’s heart, collies of all types have been thrust in to the public consciousness, and it’s become very trendy to own a collie given their unmatched intelligence, agility, and loyalty.
You can usually find a great breeder by contacting reputable organizations like your local Kennel Club, your local vet, people you know who already have collies, and animal shelters near where you live.
Once you’ve found a breeder, it’s important to look out for red flags to make sure you’re not getting conned and that your new collie will be in the best of health.
In this article I’m going to explain how to find a great collie breeder, some organizations you might be interested in, what you can expect from a proper breeder, and I’ll go over some red flags to look out for to make sure you don’t end up buying from a puppy farm.
Where to find a good collie breeder
Finding a great collie breeder is vital to ensure your collie has been properly looked after as a puppy and will live a long and healthy life.
Sadly, collies popularity means there are now a lot of disreputable breeders raising collie pups for profit, and skipping out on important and vital care that is necessary for all pups.
Finding a breeder can be a daunting task, especially for collies and other working dogs which are so often still bred on farms, so here are my tips for finding a great breeder so you end up with a happy and healthy pup.
1: Look up Kennel Clubs or registered organizations
Organizations such as The Kennel Club in the UK, American Kennel Club (USA), Australian National Kennel Council (Australia), Canadian Kennel Club (Canada) keep a register of qualified breeders in your country.
Many of these organizations keep a list of breeders, and might be able to put you in touch with someone in your area.
2: Ask existing collie owners where they got their pups
Perhaps the best way of finding a collie breeder is to ask someone you know who already has a collie.
A personal recommendation from a trusted friend is valuable, and they might also be able to provide you with an introduction to the breeder, since many breeders have long waiting lists and can be very selective about who they give their pups to.
3: Check with Local Farms
Despite collies being popular pets now, most of them are still working dogs and local farmers keep collies around to help.
Occasionally when a farm dog has a litter of pups, the farmer will sell them on either to other farms looking for working dogs, or as pets.
If you live in the countryside or if you have any farmer friends, it might be worth checking with them if they know anyone who is about to have pups.
4: Ask your local vet
Your local vet will be very connected to lots of different dog owners and breeders in the area. It’s worth asking around at your local vet if they can recommend a breeder for you, or if they know anyone with a dog who is expecting pups soon.
How to choose a good collie breeder
Once you’ve found some potential breeders, it’s time to check them out and decide which one is the best fit for you.
Every breeder is different, but here are a few tips to help ways you find a good collie breeder:
1: Pick a breeder who asks you lots of questions
A good collie breeder will be a dog lover at heart. They care a lot about their puppies and won’t let them go to just anyone.
It may seem like they are prying or being nosey, but it’s actually a really good sign if your breeder asks you lots of questions before they commit to letting you have one of their pups. It shows they care about where the puppies are going and aren’t just raising them for money.
Expect your breeder to ask you about your previous experience with collies, your lifestyle, your family and any other pets you have, and even your financial situation.
Collies are a huge commitment, and are more difficult to look after than some other dogs. Sadly collies often end up in animal shelters when their owners can’t look after them, and a good breeder knows this.
2: Only use a breeder who is KC registered
If you’re looking for a breeder the first thing to check is whether or not they are KC registered.
Kennel Club breeders are held to a higher standard than most and must meet extremely strict care requirements, ensuring any pups are wormed and have had the necessary protections.
3: Use a specialized collie breeder
Typically, kennel club registered breeders are specialists in a particular breed.
Especially for collies and other dogs that require more training than other breeds, it’s important to use a breeder who is specialized in raising collies.
If you see someone offering five different types of puppies at any one time, it’s a very bad sign that they are most likely raising pups all year round purely for profit.
Buying a puppy from a puppy farm has really dire consequences, so it’s best to avoid this if possible.
4: Join the waiting list
Any breeder worth their salt will have a long waiting list, often a few years in advance.
While this can be disheartening, it’s a really great sign that you’ve found a fantastic, competent breeder who is sought after in your local area.
Don’t be put off by long waiting lists, because people’s circumstances change all the time and even if you are not at the top of the list, you can move up quickly as people change their minds.
A long waiting list is a positive thing to look out for when selecting a breeder.
5: Ask lots of questions
Any breeder who truly cares about finding their puppies a good home will be happy to answer any questions you have about the breed or about their process.
Asking lots of questions shows the breeder that you’re genuinely interested in learning how to be the best owner possible, and is a great way to introduce yourself.
6: Visit the breeder in person
Most breeders will be very happy to let you come and see their facilities and meet them face to face to answer any questions you might have.
Great breeders really love their dogs and are proud of their high standards. If a breeder is unwilling to allow you to see the puppies in person at their home, it can be a sign that they have something to hide.
Occasionally puppy farms or for-profit breeders will try to get you to agree to meeting the puppies elsewhere if they think you might not approve of the conditions the pups are being raised in.
It’s a good idea to ask to see the parents too, although don’t forget they will be incredibly busy nursing their litter!
Breeder Red Flags to watch out for:
While the vast majority of collie breeders are excellent breeders, it’s important to make sure you don’t get tricked in to buying from a puppy farm, for your sake and for the sake of your pup.
Here are seven red flags you should look out for when you’re selecting a breeder for your collie.
1: Puppies are for sale all year round
Most breeders have a few select dogs, which may have a litter every couple of years.
If you find a breeder who has puppies for sale all year round, they must have a large number of dogs and are probably more interested in extracting as much profit as possible than ensuring they raise healthy pups and send them to a good home.
2: They offer popular dog breeds
While this isn’t always a sign that you’re buying from a puppy farm, many Kennel Clubs do not recognize breeds with serious defects like Pugs and French Bulldogs, which are bred solely for their looks as “designer dogs”.
If you come across a breeder who is offering several different pups from expensive breeds like Pugs, they are probably another for-profit breeder and you should avoid them.
3: They won’t let you visit the site
This is a huge red flag for unscrupulous breeders.
Any competent breeder will be happy to show you around their facility, let you meet the puppies beforehand, let you see the parents with the rest of their litter, and give you a chance to ask any questions.
If you find a breeder but they are being evasive about letting you meet the puppies in their facility, it may be because they don’t want you to see the conditions they are raising the puppies in.
Sometimes breeders try to get around this by inviting you to meet the puppy in a public place like a cafe or at a park. If possible, try to meet at the breeder’s facility so you can get a good sense for whether they are above board or not.
4: They have outdoor kennels for breeding puppies
If you do get to see the breeder’s facilities and you notice they have a lot of outdoor kennels, run far away and never look back.
Outdoor kennels stacked high like lobster pots are a telltale sign of a puppy mill, which is a cruel for-profit operation raising puppies with no regard for their welfare for profit.
5: They will sell without any qualifying questions
Any good collie breeder will know that collies take a lot more care and attention than some other breeds, and they won’t be willing to let their puppies go to just anyone.
Although breeders sell their puppies, most of the time it’s not their full time income and they are just experts who love the collie breeds.
Many breeders will want to see previous ownership of collies, a suitable lifestyle (where the dog won’t be left home alone for long periods), and a willingness to train them before they will consider selling you a puppy.
Good breeders are very invested in their dogs and they won’t just let them go to anyone who turns up willing to pay.
If you find a breeder willing to sell you a puppy with no questions asked, that should raise alarm bells in your head.
6: They advertise on craigslist or Gumtree
While this isn’t always a reason to disqualify a breeder, it’s definitely a red flag.
Most good breeders will have no problems finding people for their puppies through word of mouth and based on their reputation.
If a breeder has to advertize their puppies for sale, especially on public online forums like gumtree or craigslist, it’s a sign that they are having trouble finding buyers for their pups, or that they are not well known or new to breeding collies.
Should you get a collie from a shelter instead?
It’s better to rescue a dog from an animal shelter if possible, instead of going to a breeder.
Collies are often given away at a young age to shelters because of how much exercise and attention they need over and above what you would expect from some other breeds.
Rescuing a collie can really save their lives, since being locked up in a confined space is extremely detrimental to a collie’s wellbeing.
Collies take a long time to trust, but once they do they will stick with you like a limpet and they are an incredibly rewarding dog to live with.
If you can’t find a collie at a rescue center, you could consider some other breeds with similar personalities and temperaments which are also often given away to shelters such as spaniels. Spaniels are very active, and very intelligent similar to collies.
How to buy a collie from a breeder
Once you’ve selected a breeder, there are a few different things you should do before picking up your new collie puppy.
1: Meet your puppy beforehand
Ask to meet the puppy at the breeder’s place.
Pay attention to how the collies interact with the breeder and with its parents. The pup should not be scared of the breeder, although they might still be a bit apprehensive about you.
This is a good chance for you to meet the breeder, have any questions answered, and for the breeder to find out a bit more about you.
2: Get appropriate documentation
Any good breeder will have a few different forms and documents for you to read over before you’re ready to go.
Take some time to check the documentation, because it’s important to understand exactly what has been done already and to see if there’s anything left for you to do once you take your puppy home.
You will likely be given confirmation of veterinary check ups, confirmation of protection against common problems for puppies, kennel club documents confirming the parents/lineage of your puppy, and a document confirming the puppy has been microchipped in case they ever get lost.
3: Ask lots of questions
Your breeder will be happy to answer any questions you have before you take your puppy home.
Breeders care about their animals and want to ensure their puppies are going to a good home. If you have any questions about the process, about your new puppy, or about collies in general, the breeder is the best person to ask.
4: Sign a contract
A responsible breeder will probably ask you to sign a contract of care, which lays out some terms and conditions of you taking one of their puppies.
It usually goes over things like how to look after your new collie, what extra steps you’ll need to take at your first vet visit, and covers any additional terms or limitations such as whether or not you are allowed to resell the puppy, or use them for breeding further puppies.
5: Your first vet visit
Once you have your puppy, your breeder will tell you when your first vet visit is required.
Puppies require a few shots to protect them against common illnesses, so you’ll need to get those at your local vet. (Your breeder will tell you the timescale for this)
In addition, it’s a good idea to get your collie microchipped if they haven’t been already. This means if they ever run away or get lost, someone will be able to scan the microchip and return them home safely.
Dangers of buying from a disreputable breeder
Sadly, every year thousands of puppies are raised on puppy farms and sold to unsuspecting buyers.
With collies becoming more popular as family pets, they are being targeted by some farms now too.
There are countless dangers of buying from a puppy farm or a disreputable breeder, not least of which is that your puppy may not last more than a few weeks.
1: Your puppy may not last longer than a few weeks
This tragic outcome is all too common with puppies from disreputable breeders and puppy mills. As the standard of care is low and the breeder hasn’t arranged for the puppy to have their protections against disease, unfortunately some pups succumb to illness after they go home.
2: Your puppy may become unwell
Without the necessary protections (which all puppies are supposed to receive) your collie pup may end up being seriously unwell.
Puppies from a reputable breeder are protected against common illnesses and parasites, but a disreputable breeder may not take the time or spend the money to do this.
3: Your puppy won’t be KC registered
I don’t think it really matters if your pup is KC registered for the sake of a family pet, but if you have any plans to enter your collie in agility competitions or to show them off at dog shows, you need to be able to prove their lineage.
If you end up getting a pup from a local farm, the chances are they are probably not KC registered either, since the farmers are more interested in the utility of the dog than the lineage. It’s worth keeping this in mind, especially if you’re planning on showing or entering them in to agility competitions.
4: Your puppy may be too young
Collie pups should never be given away before they are at least eight weeks old.
They need this time to feed off their mother, and to become socialized with other pups and humans.
If the pups are taken away from their mothers too early, it can lead to lack of socialization. Collies are already quite anxious breeds and this won’t help them.
Puppies need 24/7 care before they are eight weeks old, so it’s incredibly risky and reckless to give away or to accept a pup before this age.