The Border Collie: Your complete guide!

The Border Collie, a picture of intelligence, unwavering loyalty, and remarkable herding abilities, has become a treasured favorite among dog lovers and shepherds. With origins in the British Isles, distinctive physical features, and a wide range of temperament traits, this breed is celebrated as an agile and dedicated herding and working dog.

Border Collie portrait
Highly Intelligent | Energetic | Agile
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    Everything you need to know about the Border Collie!

    Category (Explanation)Breed Information
    Year of Breed Conception19th century
    Country of OriginUnited Kingdom
    Weight (lbs & kg) (Male)30-45 lbs (14-20.5 kg)
    Weight (lbs & kg) (Female)27-42 lbs (12-19 kg)
    Coat TypeMedium-length double coat
    Color VariationsVarious colors, typically black and white
    Shedding Level (Low, Moderate, High)Low to moderate
    Height (cm & in)18-22 inches (46-56 cm)
    Breed SizeMedium
    Trainability (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Mental Needs (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Intelligence Level (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Energy Level (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Agility (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Loyalty (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Playfulness (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Exercise NeedsHigh-energy, requires regular exercise and mental stimulation
    Guarding Proficiency (Low, Moderate, High)Low
    Sociability with Children (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Barking Level (Low, Moderate, High)Moderate
    Digging Tendency (Low, Moderate, High)Low
    Destructive Behavior (Low, Moderate, High)Low
    Drooling Level (Low, Moderate, High)Low
    Obedience Level (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Apartment Friendly (Yes/No)Can adapt to apartment living with sufficient exercise
    Inherent Prey DriveHigh
    Physical Risk to Others (Low, Moderate, High)Low
    Travel Fatality Risk (Low, Moderate, High)Low
    Allergen PotentialLow
    Health Concerns (List of Common Health Concerns)Hip Dysplasia, Eye Issues, Epilepsy
    Average Life Expectancy (Life Expectancy in Years)12-15 years
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    History of the Border Collie

    The Border Collie’s history is a testament to their unrivaled herding skills. Originating on the border between England and Scotland, these dogs were meticulously bred for their herding abilities.

    Their intelligence, agility, and work ethic set them apart. Border Collies were known for their ability to control and guide livestock with precision.

    Today, Border Collies are celebrated for their herding talents and their unwavering loyalty as family companions. They remain iconic in the world of herding and agility competitions.

    What makes the Border Collie so special?

    Border Collie jumping gate

    What sets the Border Collie apart is its unmatched intelligence and agility. These dogs are legendary in the world of herding and dog sports. Their loyalty and work ethic make them exceptional working dogs and beloved family members.

    Border Collies have a rich tradition as herding dogs in the United Kingdom. Their agility, intelligence, and herding instincts made them exceptional at managing livestock. They were known for their dedication and strong work ethic. Today, they continue to excel in herding competitions and serve as active and loyal family pets, preserving their heritage as reliable working dogs.

    Border Collies are celebrated for their exceptional personalities. They are renowned for their intelligence, agility, and herding instincts, making them legendary in the world of herding dogs.

    Their intelligence and trainability set them apart as quick learners and diligent workers. Border Collies are characterized by their energy, determination, and a loving nature, epitomizing the perfect blend of intelligence and companionship.

    Border Collies are highly intelligent and energetic. They are often good with children and other pets but may be reserved with strangers. Early socialization is crucial to ensure they are well-adjusted and not overly protective.

    They require both mental and physical stimulation to stay content.

    Border Collies are medium-sized dogs with a well-proportioned and athletic build. They have a well-defined head with expressive, oval-shaped eyes and semi-erect ears.

    They have a double coat with a dense, weather-resistant outer coat. Coat colors can vary widely and include black and white, red and white, tricolor, and merle patterns. Their tail is often straight and can be naturally bobbed.

    Males typically stand between 18 to 22 inches (46-56 cm) at the shoulder and weigh between 30 to 45 pounds (14-20 kg), while females are slightly smaller and lighter.

    Border Collies have an agile and attentive presence, reflecting their herding and working abilities.

    Border Collies come in various coat colors, including black and white, red and white, and merle with white markings. They may not have distinct coat colors.

    Border Collies come in various coat colors, including black and white, red and white, and merle with white markings, reflecting their herding heritage.

    Border Collies have a moderate shedding level. They shed year-round, with increased shedding during seasonal changes. Regular grooming and brushing can help manage shedding and maintain their coat.

    Border Collies have a medium-length double coat that requires regular grooming. Grooming habits for this breed include:

    1. Brushing: Regular brushing, at least once or twice a week, is essential to prevent matting and remove loose fur. Use an undercoat rake or slicker brush for thorough grooming.

    2. Bathing: Bathe Border Collies when necessary using a dog-specific shampoo and ensure thorough rinsing.

    3. Ears: Check and clean their ears regularly with a veterinarian-recommended solution to prevent wax buildup or infections.

    4. Nails: Keep their nails trimmed to a comfortable length to maintain proper gait and prevent discomfort.

    5. Teeth: Brush their teeth regularly to ensure dental health and prevent bad breath. Dental chews or toys can be beneficial.

    6. Tail and Paw Care: Maintain cleanliness in the tail and paw areas, inspecting for any signs of irritation or injury.

    Border Collies have a very high activity level and thrive on physical and mental challenges. Key points about their activity level include:

    1. Exercise Needs: Border Collies require daily, high-intensity exercise to stay happy and healthy. Activities can include running, herding, and interactive play.

    2. Energy Level: They are known for their very high energy levels and need regular, intense exercise to prevent boredom.

    3. Herding Heritage: Historically, Border Collies were bred for herding livestock. They excel in activities like herding trials, obedience, and agility.

    4. Mental Stimulation: In addition to physical exercise, mental challenges through training and problem-solving activities are crucial.

    5. Outdoor Enthusiasts: They enjoy outdoor activities and make excellent companions for hikers and active individuals.

    Border Collies are often regarded as one of the most intelligent dog breeds. They are known for their exceptional problem-solving abilities, trainability, and work ethic. Here are some key points about their intelligence:

    1. Trainability: Border Collies are highly trainable and excel in obedience training. They quickly learn a wide range of commands and tasks.
    2. Problem-Solving: They are exceptional problem solvers and are often used in herding and dog sports that require quick thinking.
    3. Adaptability: Border Collies adapt well to different environments and routines.
    4. Work and Utility: Historically bred for herding, their intelligence and work ethic were crucial for managing livestock.
    5. Social Intelligence: They form strong bonds with their owners and are attentive to human emotions and needs.

    Border Collies’ intelligence is a hallmark of the breed, but it also requires mental stimulation and engagement to keep them happy and well-behaved.

    Border Collies are highly intelligent and require mental stimulation. Engage them in obedience training, herding activities, and complex tasks to keep their minds active.

    Social Interaction: They are social dogs and require regular interaction with their human family. Loneliness can lead to anxiety and destructive behavior.

    Exercise: Mental challenges are as important as physical exercise. Provide them with tasks that require problem-solving and focus.

    Training and Obedience: Border Collies thrive on obedience training, herding activities, and mental challenges. Consistency and positive reinforcement are essential in shaping their behavior.

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    What to look out for, before you get a Border Collie!

    black and white dog on road

    If you’re considering a Border Collie, here are important factors to know:

    1. Activity Level: Border Collies are highly active and need daily exercise and mental stimulation.

    2. Training Needs: They are exceptionally intelligent and excel in obedience and agility with consistent training.

    3. Space: Border Collies need space to move around comfortably, making them better suited for homes with yards.

    4. Shedding: They have a moderate shedding level, and regular grooming can help manage their coat.

    5. Work or Activities: Border Collies thrive in work, herding, or dog sports that challenge their minds and bodies.

    Border Collies, known for their high intelligence and herding instincts, may pose a physical risk to others if not properly socialized, trained, or managed. The risk assessment factors include:

    1. Herding Instinct: Border Collies have a strong herding instinct, which may lead to chasing or nipping at people or other animals. Proper training is essential to manage this behavior.

    2. Socialization: Early and thorough socialization is crucial to ensure Border Collies are comfortable around people and other animals. Poor socialization can lead to fear or aggression.

    3. Training: Obedience training is essential to teach Border Collies appropriate behavior and ensure they respond to commands. Well-trained dogs are less likely to engage in aggressive behavior.

    4. Owner Responsibility: Responsible ownership involves being aware of the dog’s behavior and taking necessary precautions in public settings.

    5. Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL): Border Collies are generally not subject to BSL, but owners should be aware of local regulations.

    6. Individual Variability: Each dog is unique, and behavior can vary. Responsible ownership, proper training, and socialization are key to minimizing the potential physical risk to others.

    Border Collies are typically good with children. They are energetic and intelligent, making them great playmates for kids. Their herding instincts may lead to them trying to herd children, but this behavior can be managed with training and socialization.

    Border Collies are often excellent swimmers, thanks to their herding heritage and athleticism. Their coat patterns, such as black and white or merle, do not affect their swimming ability. Many Border Collies may enjoy swimming and have a natural instinct for it. However, individual comfort levels and preferences for water activities can differ. Always supervise them when they are in or around water.

    1. Early Training: Commence training your Border Collie puppy early to make the most of their learning potential.
    2. Socialization: Expose your puppy to various people, animals, and environments to ensure they become well-adjusted adults.
    3. Positive Reinforcement: Use treats, praise, and toys to reward good behavior and strengthen your bond with your puppy.
    4. Consistency: Maintain consistency in your training methods and cues to prevent confusion.
    5. Basic Commands: Teach essential commands like “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “leave it” for obedience and safety.
    6. House Training: Establish a regular routine for potty breaks and offer praise for outdoor elimination to housetrain your puppy.
    7. Crate Training: Use crate training to create a secure and comfortable space for your puppy, building positive associations with the crate.
    8. Social Skills: Encourage positive interactions with other dogs and people to develop strong social skills.
    9. Exercise and Play: Ensure your Border Collie puppy receives ample exercise and playtime to prevent restlessness.
    10. Chewing: Provide suitable chew toys to satisfy their need to chew and protect your belongings.
    11. Patience and Persistence: Training may take time; be patient and avoid punitive methods.
    12. Professional Training: Consider professional training classes if you encounter challenges or need additional guidance.

    Positive training practices will help your Border Collie puppy become a well-behaved and loyal companion.

    Border Collies are often moderate in terms of noisiness. They may bark or use vocalizations during herding activities, alerting their owners, or when they have excess energy to expend. However, their barking is usually purposeful.

    Border Collies thrive in homes that provide:

    • 1. Active Lifestyle: They do well in households with active individuals or families who can provide regular exercise and playtime.
    • 2. Space: A house with a yard where they can exercise and explore is ideal.
    • 3. Socialization: Early and consistent socialization is crucial to their well-adjusted behavior.
    • 4. Routine: Establishing a routine helps them feel secure and reduces anxiety. Predictable daily schedules are beneficial.
    • 5. Training: They respond well to positive reinforcement training methods and thrive in environments where training and mental stimulation are prioritized.


    • 1. Lack of Exercise: Without sufficient exercise and mental stimulation, Border Collies can become bored and may develop behavioral problems.
    • 2. Isolation: They are social dogs and may struggle in homes where they are frequently left alone for extended periods.
    • 3. Lack of Socialization: Poorly socialized Border Collies may exhibit fear or aggression towards strangers or other animals, which can lead to challenges in public settings.
    • 4. Owner Experience: Inexperienced owners who are not prepared for the breed’s specific needs and characteristics may face challenges in raising a well-behaved Border Collie.

    When traveling with Border Collies, consider the following:

    1. Exercise Needs: Collies need ample exercise. Plan for breaks and opportunities to stretch and play during travel.
    2. Size: They are a medium-sized breed. Ensure their security with suitable travel crates or seat belt harnesses.
    3. Anxiety: Some Border Collies may experience travel anxiety. Gradual introduction to travel and familiar items can help alleviate stress.
    4. Air Travel: Choose airlines with pet-friendly policies and suitable crate requirements for air travel.
    5. Identification: Ensure proper identification for your Border Collie during travel.

    Border Collies are generally healthy, but they may be prone to certain health concerns, including:

    • Hip Dysplasia: A genetic condition that affects the hip joints and can lead to arthritis and lameness.
    • Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA): An inherited eye condition that can affect vision.
    • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): A group of inherited diseases that can lead to blindness.
    • Epilepsy: A neurological condition that can cause seizures.

    Proper nutrition is essential for Border Collies. Follow these nutritional habits:

    1. High-Quality Dog Food: Choose dog food with high-quality animal protein as the first ingredient.
    2. Age-Appropriate Food: Feed the appropriate life stage formula.
    3. Protein: Opt for a diet with moderate to high protein content.
    4. Balanced Diet: Ensure a balance of protein, fats, carbs, vitamins, and minerals.
    5. Portion Control: Prevent overfeeding with proper portion sizes.
    6. Fresh Water: Always provide clean, fresh water.
    7. Avoid Table Scraps: Refrain from feeding human food.
    8. Treats: Use treats in moderation for training and rewards.
    9. Consult Your Veterinarian: Seek guidance from your vet for the best diet.
    10. Special Dietary Needs: Address dietary restrictions or allergies with your vet.
    11. Weight Management: Maintain a healthy weight through exercise and portion control.
    12. Regular Check-Ups: Schedule regular veterinary check-ups for monitoring.

    Proper nutrition is essential for the health and well-being of Border Collies.

    Breed-specific laws (BSL) may affect Border Collies in certain areas, and it’s important for owners to be aware of these regulations. BSL is typically enacted at the local or municipal level and can vary widely from one jurisdiction to another. Here are some types of restrictions that Border Collies may face under BSL:

    1. Mandatory Spaying/Neutering: Some areas may require owners of Border Collies to spay or neuter their dogs.
    2. Special Licensing: BSL may require special licensing for Border Collie owners, often involving additional fees and regulations.
    3. Liability Insurance: Owners of Border Collies may be required to carry liability insurance as part of BSL.
    4. Muzzling in Public: In certain regions, BSL may mandate that Border Collies be muzzled when in public spaces.
    5. Ownership Bans: In extreme cases, BSL may ban the ownership of Border Collies altogether in certain areas.

    The rationale for BSL is often based on concerns about public safety and perceived risks associated with specific breeds. While Border Collies are not inherently aggressive, they can be affected by BSL due to their physical resemblance to breeds that are sometimes included in these laws.

    It’s important to note that BSL is a controversial topic, and many advocates argue that it unfairly targets breeds rather than addressing individual dog behavior. They emphasize that responsible ownership, training, and education should be emphasized instead of breed-specific restrictions.

    To determine if there are breed-specific laws or restrictions regarding Border Collies in your area, you should check with your local animal control or government authorities. Be aware of and comply with any local regulations to ensure that you are in compliance with the law while owning a Border Collie.

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    If you’re interested you can read more about our affiliate policy here.

    We appreciate your support and always insure that the products and services we recommend are high-quality, helpful and relevant to the subject at hand!

    Fun Facts About The Border Collie

    Myth 1: Border Collies Need Constant Work

    Truth: While they are highly intelligent and active, Border Collies can adapt to a variety of activities. They enjoy work but also thrive as family pets with proper exercise and mental stimulation.

    Myth 2: They are Always Hyperactive

    Truth: Border Collies are active but not constantly hyperactive. They are known for their ability to focus and can be calm when appropriate.

    Border Collies are renowned for their herding and working abilities, and some famous examples include:

    1. Old Hemp: Old Hemp, a historic Border Collie, is considered the foundation of the breed. His exceptional herding skills and intelligence set the standard for Border Collies.
    2. Rico: Rico, known for his remarkable vocabulary of over 1,000 words, gained fame for his intelligence and ability to understand human language.
    3. Striker: Striker was a renowned Border Collie who excelled in dog sports and agility competitions, showcasing the breed’s athleticism and agility.
    4. Blaze: Blaze, a Border Collie, gained recognition for herding trials and obedience competitions, highlighting the breed’s herding instincts and trainability.
    5. Chaser: Chaser, celebrated for her extensive vocabulary and understanding of object names, became a famous example of the Border Collie’s intelligence.

    These Border Collies have demonstrated the breed’s exceptional herding skills, intelligence, and trainability, earning them recognition and admiration.

    • Herding Competitions: Border Collies are celebrated participants in herding competitions, showcasing their herding instincts and agility.
    • Working Dogs: They are used as working dogs in herding and livestock-related tasks.
    • Companionship: Border Collies are appreciated as loyal and highly intelligent family pets.

    Border Collies have been cherished by shepherds and farmers for their exceptional herding skills. Specific historical owners may not be widely known, but these dogs have played a vital role in traditional herding practices.

    Border Collies, like all breeds, face certain challenges and dangers. Some of the greatest dangers and concerns for the breed include:

    1. Misunderstanding: Misconceptions about the breed’s exercise needs and intelligence can lead to misunderstandings and potential challenges for owners who are not prepared for the breed’s requirements.
    2. Health Concerns: Border Collies are susceptible to specific health issues, including hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and certain eye conditions. Responsible breeding and regular veterinary care are essential to address these concerns.
    3. High Energy: They have a high energy level and need regular exercise and mental stimulation. Insufficient activity can lead to restlessness and destructive behavior.
    4. Herding Instincts: Border Collies may exhibit herding behaviors, which can be challenging to manage without training and appropriate outlets.
    5. Climate Sensitivity: Their coat may make them sensitive to heat. Owners in warm climates must take precautions to prevent heat-related issues.
    6. Breed-Specific Legislation: Border Collies may be affected by breed-specific legislation (BSL) in certain areas, leading to restrictions or bans on ownership.
    7. Irresponsible Breeding: Irresponsible breeding practices can result in health and temperament issues. Ethical breeding is crucial for the breed’s well-being.
    8. Training Needs: Proper training is essential to manage their intelligence and herding instincts and to provide mental stimulation for the breed.
    9. Socialization: Early and consistent socialization is necessary to ensure Border Collies are well-adjusted around strangers and other dogs.
    10. Coat Care: Their double coat requires regular grooming to prevent matting and maintain skin health.

    By understanding these challenges and providing responsible ownership and care, many of these dangers can be mitigated to ensure the well-being of Border Collies.

    The Border Collie originated in the border region between England and Scotland. It was bred for herding livestock, particularly sheep. The breed’s development involved various British herding dogs selectively bred for their herding skills and intelligence.

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    Why you're going to love the Border Collie

    The Border Collie is a breed known for its exceptional intelligence, agility, and herding skills. They excel in herding and dog sports, captivating dog enthusiasts with their remarkable abilities and affectionate nature.

    Being a Border Collie owner involves providing mental and physical stimulation, grooming, and regular veterinary care. Responsible ownership includes addressing potential health concerns and embracing their herding instincts through training.

    With their alert expression and boundless energy, Border Collies continue to capture the hearts of those who appreciate their intelligence and unwavering companionship.

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