The German Shepherd Rough Collie mix, also known as the Shollie, is a hybrid designer dog that brings together two of the most popular and beloved breeds – the German Shepherd and the Rough Collie. This crossbreed combines the best traits from both parent breeds, resulting in an intelligent, active, and loyal companion that makes a wonderful addition to an active family.
The Origin of the Shollie
The Shollie is one of many new hybrid dogs that have become popular over the last couple of decades. As the demand for designer dogs has grown, breeders have begun experimenting by crossing two purebreds to create a dog with unique, complementary characteristics.
The German Shepherd breed dates back to 1899 in Germany, when Captain Max von Stephanitz began developing the ideal herding dog. He started with existing herding dogs and selectively bred them for intelligence, loyalty, and working ability. The German Shepherd quickly became one of the most popular breeds due to their trainability and use as military and police dogs.
Rough Collies originated in the Scottish Highlands and were used as herding dogs. The breed became famous in the early 1900s after featuring in Albert Payson Terhune’s book “Lad: A Dog” and later as the star of the “Lassie” TV and movie series. Collies are known for their sweet, gentle nature and fabulous coats.
By breeding these two purebreds, Shollie breeders sought to blend the best attributes of both lineages – the intelligence and trainability of the German Shepherd with the sweet, family-friendly temperament of the Rough Collie. The Shollie is believed to have first appeared in the 1980s or 1990s in North America and has grown in popularity since then.
The Appearance of the Striking Shollie
The Shollie is a medium to large dog, ranging in height from 22 to 26 inches for males and 20 to 24 inches for females. They typically weigh between 60 to 95 pounds. The German Shepherd genes tend to make Shollie males larger than females.
The most distinctive feature of the Shollie is the beautiful, lush coat. Most commonly, the fur will be a mix of tan, black, cream, blue, red, sable or white. The colors can combine in unique patterns and many Shollies have the signature black and tan pattern of a German Shepherd. Some Shollies inherit the magnificent rough collie coat, with a mane of fur around the neck.
The coat is medium to long in length and soft to the touch. A heavy seasonal shed can be expected. Shollies with the rough collie coat require extra grooming to prevent matting.
In body, the Shollie takes more after the German Shepherd with their muscular, athletic build. They have a long muzzle and triangular, erect ears. The eyes are almond-shaped and dark. The tail of a Shollie is long and bushy.
The Temperament of the Loyal, Intelligent Shollie
One of the reasons the Shollie makes such a great family companion is their wonderful temperament. From the collie side, they get their devotion, gentleness, and affection. From the German Shepherd side, they gain intelligence, confidence, curiosity and courage.
Shollies form extremely strong bonds with their family. They want to be constantly at your side, following you from room to room. With proper socialization, they get along well with children and thrive when given a job to do. They can be reserved around strangers but are not usually aggressive.
These hybrids are highly intelligent and trainable with the eagerness to please that both parent breeds are known for. Like German Shepherds, they excel at canine activities like agility, obedience trials, and herding. Positive reinforcement brings out their best skills.
Shollies are energetic dogs who need daily exercise and mental stimulation. Long walks, jogs, hikes, or romps at the dog park help them burn off steam and prevent boredom or destructive behavior. Many Shollies also love to swim or play fetch. Without activity, these dogs can become mischievous.
Training Tips for the Smart Shollie
The Shollie is eager to learn new things and responds extremely well to training. Early socialization and obedience classes are highly recommended to nurture their natural intelligence and trainability.
Positive reinforcement is the best approach with this sensitive breed. Shollies want to please their owners and gentle guidance helps them reach their potential. Punishment or harsh scolding can shatter their confidence.
Patience and consistency are key when training a Shollie. Their intelligence means they can be quick to pick up on cues and behaviors, but they may test boundaries and require extra repetition of commands. Use short, engaging training sessions to hold their interest.
While food rewards can be used sometimes, Shollies often respond best to praise. Things like belly rubs, playing with toys, and happy words let them know when they have done a good job.
Crate training assists in housebreaking a Shollie and gives them a quiet space of their own. Leash training establishes control and manners during walks. Socialization prevents skittishness and teaches proper interactions with people, children, and other animals.
Obedience training is ideal for Shollies since it provides plenty of mental stimulation. Practice basic cues like sit, stay, come, down, heel and shake. More advanced classes can teach clever tricks that show off their smarts.
The Exercise Needs of the Energetic Shollie
To live happily and healthily, the energetic Shollie needs plenty of daily activity and exercise. Long walks, jogging, hiking, swimming, agility classes and active games are some great ways to meet their needs.
Without sufficient exercise, Shollies are prone to restlessness, whining, furniture chewing, digging, and other mischief. Pent up energy leads to trouble with this breed. Make sure to give them at least 60-90 minutes of vigorous activity per day.
Shollies love having a job or task to complete. In lieu of herding sheep, they can participate in dog sports like agility, flyball, tracking and obedience trials. These activities provide both physical and mental exercise.
Fetch is a favorite game of most Shollies. They will happily chase after balls or toys tossed for them. Playing frisbee is another great option.
Shollies should be leash walked and have access to a securely fenced yard where they can run freely. Visits to a dog park allow them to dash around off-leash. Supervise interactions with unknown dogs.
The ideal home for a Shollie has ample outdoor space for activity. Apartment living is not recommended unless owners commit to providing daily walks and play time. A rural or suburban home with room to roam is best.
As working breeds, Shollies want to be busy. Provide them with interactive toys stuffed with treats, food puzzles that make them think, new tricks to master, and other engaging activities. This prevents boredom and destructive tendencies.
The Ideal Home for a Shollie
Though Shollies form close bonds with families, they are not the right choice for everyone. Their high energy level and size means they require specific living conditions.
Ideally, Shollies need a home with a spacious, securely fenced yard where they can expend energy. Apartments and small living spaces often do not work well, unless owners are extremely committed to providing outdoor time.
Families with active lifestyles tend to be the best match for this energetic hybrid. Joggers, hikers, and those who spend time outdoors are great companions. Retirees, singles, or couples with enough time to devote to exercise are also suitable.
Shollies should be housed indoors, as they crave closeness with their family. Outdoor kenneling or long periods of isolation results in bored and unhappy dogs prone to barking or digging. They will participate happily in outdoor adventures but want to come inside for cuddles at day’s end.
Homes with small children or the elderly should consider if a large, rambunctious Shollie is the best choice. They are generally good with kids but may accidentally knock over toddlers. Supervision is key.
Properties that ban certain dog breeds should be aware the Shollie may fall under restrictions applied to German Shepherds. Their intimidating appearance also deters some housing associations.
First-time dog owners may find the Shollie’s high intelligence, activity needs and strength a challenge. An experienced owner able to provide structure and training is best suited to a Shollie.
Potential Health Issues to Watch For
As a larger breed, the Shollie can be prone to health conditions common to their parent breeds. Being aware of potential issues and providing preventative care helps ensure a long, happy life.
Hip and elbow dysplasia are two common orthopedic diseases in German Shepherds that Shollies may inherit. Ensuring proper nutrition, avoiding obesity, and supplying joint supplements helps minimize risks.
Certain heart conditions like cardiomyopathy are sometimes seen in Collies and passed down to Shollie offspring. Annual vet checks can diagnose heart issues early.
Bloat is another concern, as deep-chested dogs are susceptible. Feeding smaller, more frequent meals, not exercising too soon after eating, and preventing gorging or gulping of water reduces chances of this life-threatening issue.
Allergies, eye problems, and seizures are additional disorders Shollies may potentially face. The health risks of poorly bred designer dogs may also be a factor if adopting from an irresponsible breeder.
With proper care, exercise, training, and veterinary attention, the average lifespan of a healthy Shollie ranges from 10 to 14 years. Staying informed on breed-specific conditions allows owners to keep their dogs happy and healthy as long as possible.
Finding a Reputable Shollie Breeder
For those set on getting a Shollie puppy, finding a responsible breeder is crucial. Poor breeding can result in behavioral issues or health problems down the road. Ask to see health clearances for both parents.
Quality breeders focus on improving the breed and will not repeatedly breed the same dogs. They do not have multiple litters available and often have waiting lists for puppies.
The puppies are raised in a clean home environment, socialized, and started on house training. The breeder cares about matching personality and energy levels between puppy and owner.
Avoid breeders who seem focused solely on making a profit. Never buy a Shollie puppy from a pet store or puppy mill. Be wary if you are not allowed to see the puppy’s home and parents.
Adopting an adult Shollie from a reputable rescue allows skipping the puppy stage. Make sure to ask about medical history, behavior, and previous training. Adult Shollies can make wonderful additions to active families.
Is the Loving Shollie the Right Dog for You?
For active individuals and families looking for a loyal best friend, the Shollie has much to offer. Their affectionate nature combined with their enthusiasm for outdoor adventures makes them a fun companion.
Potential owners should honestly assess if they can meet the daily exercise needs of this energetic breed. Those with limited time or living space may struggle to keep a Shollie occupied and content.
This crossbreed thrives when given lots of attention and training. If you enjoy spending time exercising, playing, and cuddling with your dog, the Shollie will eagerly return your affection. Their intelligence allows them to succeed at virtually any canine sport or activity.
While their hybrid status gives them unique qualities, Shollies do tend to have strong guarding instincts. Socialization and obedience classes are a must for managing any wariness around strangers.
For those able to provide proper exercise, training, socialization and veterinary care, the loyal Shollie promises to be a faithful, fun-loving member of the family for years to come. Their spirit and work ethic is unmatched. If you appreciate both beauty and brains in a dog, the German Shepherd Rough Collie mix may be your perfect match.