What to Know About Border Collies (2023)

Border collies are herding dogs that were bred to herd livestock like sheep. They’re an intelligent, obedient breed. Border collies are energetic, smart, and athletic dogs. Consequently, they need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. There’s even been one case of a border collie who learned to recognize over 1,000 words.

What Is a Border Collie?

Border collies are workaholics who need a lot of time and energy from their owners. They’re athletic dogs who like to have a purpose. Once they’re worn out, though, they’re great cuddlers and love to be with their families.

Border collie traits.These dogs have rough and smooth coats that come in different colors. They have intelligent almond eyes with an intense gaze. This is called their ‘herding eye.’ Border collies are highly trainable and love agility training.

Their coats range from black, black-and-tan, and reddish-brown. They usually have white markings. Some border collies can be merle, brindle, or mostly white in color. Coat colors, though, aren’t linked to working characteristics.

Border collie characteristics.Border collies are medium-sized dogs that are muscular but nimble. Males are usually 19 to 22 inches tall at the shoulder. Females are slightly smaller, between 18 and 21 inches tall. Male and female border collies both weigh around 30 to 55 pounds.

Border collie life expectancy.A happy, healthy border collie can live between 12 and 15 years. As a medium-sized dog, they can have a longer lifespan than larger breeds.

Border collie temperament.Border collies were selectively bred to gather and fetch livestock. Through this breeding, they became intense, energetic, trainable dogs. They have great instincts and the ability to reason at an impressive level.

Border collie personality.They’re keen, alert dogs who can work and problem-solve independently. They love a good challenge and are pretty down-to-earth.

(Video) BORDER COLLIE 101! Everything You Need To Know About The Border Collie

Caring for Border Collies

Building a routine for your border collie will help them stay healthy and be happy. A proper diet and exercise are also great for their overall health.

Their coats need brushing weekly to keep them from knotting up and shedding. Their rough coat is medium-length. Their smooth coat is shorter and coarser. Both coats are weather-resistant.

Grooming is the same for both. Border collies need a pin brush once or twice a week. This helps remove mats, tangles, and dirt they may collect outside.

Because border collies are so smart, they need to stay active to keep away boredom.

Border collies can also be sensitive to sound, so they may get anxious during thunderstorms or national celebrations where fireworks are involved. Make sure to keep an eye on them and help them feel secure and safe. Don’t let them out unattended at such times because they may run away.

Feed your border collie a high-quality diet that’s right for their age. Give them a consistent diet to avoid upsetting their stomach. Avoid giving them human food.

Border collies are highly active and want to serve a purpose. Use positive reinforcement during training. This will work well with their personality. They’re alert, curious, and like to stay busy. You’ll need to keep their body and mind stimulated. Without that, they can develop problematic behavior.

Health Problems to Watch for with Border Collies

When looking into border collies, you should ensure their parents have been properly screened. This reduces your puppy’s chances of inheriting conditions that can shorten their life.

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Border collies are generally healthy dogs and very hardy since they spend a lot of time working. Certain genetic conditions can occur. Routine evaluations will keep you updated on any treatment your pet may need.

Hip dysplasia.This condition causes arthritis in your dog’s legs because their joints fit together correctly.

Collie eye anomaly.This is a border collie-specific condition that causes an abnormality in the back of their eye. This condition can be tested for.

Epilepsy.Border collies are prone to epilepsy, inducing seizures earlier in life. There is no cure, but there are medications that can help manage the symptoms.

Periodic blood testing will monitor how well your dog is doing on medication and if it’s working for them. Seizures typically start between six months and three years of age.

Imerslun-Gräsbeck Syndrome. This inherited blood disorder can cause problems for your border collie.

Multi-drug resistance.This is common in medium-sized herding dogs. It’s a condition that causes your dog to be sensitive to certain common medications. Genetic screening is available for this condition.

Bone disorder.When border collie puppies grow too fast, the cartilage in their joints doesn’t attach right. This condition is called osteochondritis dissecans. Surgery may be required to fix the issue. If your puppy grows faster than four pounds per week, they could be at risk.

(Video) 5 Things You Must Never Do to Your Border Collie

Thyroid problems.Border collies are prone to hypothyroidism, making their bodies not produce enough thyroid hormone. Treatment includes replacement hormone pills. Signs include:

  • Dry skin and coat
  • Hair loss
  • Other skin diseases
  • Weight gain
  • Fearfulness
  • Aggression
  • Behavioral changes

Separation anxiety.Border collies can become bored or anxious if you leave them alone for too long. Getting them on a scheduled routine with plenty to keep them occupied can help ease their anxiety.

Cancer.This is a leading cause of death in older dogs. Because border collies have longer lifespans, they’re more prone to different types of cancer as they age. Early detection, though, allows vets to treat cancer with surgery or chemotherapy.

Overheating disorder.Some border collies don’t have a proper internal cooling system and can overheat easier. This can lead to heatstroke, muscle rigidity, and organ damage as the result of a condition called malignant hyperthermia.

Special Considerations for Border Collies

Border collies are wonderful dogs, but they have some traits you should consider before adding them to your family.

Border collies need a lot of activity and mental stimulation. Without it, they could start becoming destructive in their boredom. They’re also prone to separation anxiety, so they don’t work well in homes where they’re left alone for the majority of the day. They need a lot of attention from their family.

If irritated, they can be snippy toward children. They may also try to herd children or smaller pets as part of their instinctual drive.

Border collies can also bark frequently. Though they’re not as loud as huskies, they vocalize their feelings. Some border collies may be louder than others. Barking may be tied to how worn out they are or how bored they are each day.

Since border collies are so intelligent, they can easily be trained with experienced owners. If this is your first dog, you may want to visit a trainer to help you establish the basics with your dog. Training sessions could be really fun, and learning new commands to teach your dog will keep them engaged. Training classes are a great way to earn advanced commands for you and your border collie.

These classes are also a great time to socialize with your dog. Socialization at a young age helps make them well-behaved, confident dogs. If, on the other hand, they’re not appropriately socialized, they can become aggressive with other dogs and children.

If your border collie is properly socialized and trained out of their herding instinct, they won’t be a problem around small children. However, if they’re not, they may bump your child to try to herd them, knocking them over. Border collies are great for adult households or ones with teens.

Supervising your border collie around children and other pets helps keep both safe and protected. Border collies typically prefer human company over other dogs. Still, if your border collie grows up with another dog, they’ll likely get along well.

Border Collie History

Border collies have a long, rich history. The breed can be traced back to the Roman Empire. When herding dogs that Romans brought to Britain were introduced to Viking herding dogs, the border collie was producedas a result of their breeding.

Border collies were a cross between old Roman dogs and Viking spitzes. Their combination created a smaller, agile herding dog that worked well in the rocky highlands of Scotland and Wales.

Border collies have been given the title of the world’s greatest herders because of their stealth, creeping, and sweeping runs to guide livestock. Their explosive bursts of focused energy helped them become great shepherding dogs. They often make the top lists of the world’s smartest dog breeds. They joined the AKC Herding Group in 1995.

Queen Victoria loved border collies. By 1860, she became an active border collie enthusiast. Border collies and modern collies were also starting to be distinguished by that point.

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One famous border collie was featured in a Scottish poem. Poet Robert Burns wrote about the special bond between a border collie and man after losing his beloved dog Luath.

Border collies have a long world history, but they’ve proven time and time again that they’re great working dogs and wonderful companions. A border collie will be a good dog for you if you enjoy an active lifestyle.

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What do you need to know about Border Collie? ›

Border Collies are highly intelligent and highly trainable and are superstars at canine activities such as herding, obedience, and agility. Due to their tendency to herd animals and people, they do best with older, well-behaved children. They love their families but may be somewhat reserved with strangers.

Are border collies good house dogs? ›

Do Border Collies make good house pets? Yes, Border Collies make brilliant family pets, but will need a home with a large garden where they can stretch their legs regularly. With intense herding instincts (they were developed to gather and control sheep), they are best for active families who head outside often.

Do border collies tend to bark a lot? ›

The Border Collie is a barking breed. They are easily visually stimulated which is often why they bark so much. They will bark at anything that moves quickly, such as bikes, skate boards and the like.

Do border collies pick one person? ›

Border Collies usually prefer to bond to one person. They have an inherited instinct to do so because they are designed to work with one person as a team. In family situations this can cause problems when the chosen leader is absent.

Should Border Collies be left alone? ›

It is not recommended that you leave a border collie alone for more than 4 hours. They can develop separation anxiety or even be destructive. Crate training them, playing music while you are gone, and getting another dog are three great ways to help alleviate their stress while you are not at home.

Which is better male or female Border Collie? ›

Currently, there is no solid scientific evidence on the difference between male and female Border Collie temperament. However, anecdotal evidence does suggest that male Border Collies tend to be easier to handle and are more devoted to their owners.

Are 2 Border Collies better than one? ›

Two border collies are great company for each other when you cannot be with them. They can also provide each other with much of their daily exercise as long as they are of a similar size. Supervise their play in the beginning because they can get too rough if you are not careful.

What age do Collies calm down? ›

Most Border Collies tend to calm down when they become around the age of six. However, the attitude of the dogs mostly depends on various factors. Border Collie dogs are easily trainable and respond to multiple forms of training pretty well.

Where should my Border Collie sleep? ›

Where do Border Collies Like to Sleep? Border collies like to sleep in the comfiest spot they can find. A soft, quality dog bed will help keep them off your furniture. Some border collies like sleeping in an enclosed space, so a crate or a cave bed are good options for them.

Can Border Collies be cuddly? ›

Border Collies' heritage stems from sheep herding, making them excellent watchdogs; they're well suited to anyone who loves a good walk and has time to spend outdoors. But many forget that they also love cuddling and bonding with their owners, making them the best of both worlds!

Are Border Collies easy to potty train? ›

First things first, yes Border Collies are easy to house train. This is because they are extremely intelligent dogs, who will quickly learn what is expected of them. If you combine this fact with positive and friendly training approaches, then you'll soon see just how easy it is to house train your Border Collie.

Why do Border Collies put their paws on you? ›

When you are petting your dog, and he puts his paw on your arm or leg, it is kind of like petting you back. While most dogs can't do an actual stroking action, laying their paw on you is a sign of affection, closeness and trust This is his way of creating a special bond with you.

How do you discipline a border collie? ›

7 Compassionate Ways To Discipline a Border Collie
  1. Adopt positive reinforcement.
  2. Redirect your Border Collie from bad behavior.
  3. Use a calm, composed tone.
  4. Give your dog time-outs, but don't overdo them.
  5. Be consistent in your punishments.
  6. Introduce alternatives to your dog.
  7. Be careful with your reactions during training.

Do Border Collies run away from home? ›

As with any dog, Border Collies don't run away from a place they consider their home sweet home — unless of course, things went sour and they finally have a good reason to leave. A dog roaming around is different from a dog running off and never returning.

Can I leave my Border Collie alone for 8 hours? ›

While there is no cut-and-dried rule for the maximum amount of time you can leave your collie alone at home, you must not leave your dog for 10 or 12 hours. That duration is too long for a single stretch. Still, some people would insist that they have always left their collies that long without issues.

How often should a Border Collie be walked? ›

Your Collie will need a minimum of two hours exercise every day, but with Collies the more, the better! We'd recommend spreading this across the day in several walks with off-lead exercise in a secure area. On top of this, Collies love to keep their brains active, too!

Why are Border Collies not good with kids? ›

However, while the Border collie may be a good family dog, it's not good for every family. This dog is high maintenance -- it needs training, stimulation and plenty of exercise. Without these, this pet can be destructive or hyperactive. A Border collie is best with older kids who won't chase their pet.

Are Border Collies clingy? ›

Collies are prone to clinginess and needy behavior. They might follow you around from room to room or whine to sit next to you all the time. While these behaviors may seem endearing, it's important to manage neediness in collies to prevent them developing separation anxiety.

Do Border Collies protect you? ›

Although border collies are not natural guard dogs, they do happen to be exceptional watchdogs. Not only are collies hyper-aware, alert, and sensitive to their surroundings, but they're also the world's most intelligent breed.

Do Border Collies bark at other dogs? ›

Yes, Border Collies are aggressive. They bark at other dogs.

Which dog is smarter than Border Collie? ›

Well known for working on farms, Border Collies are highly trainable and have great levels of understanding. This breed of dog scored 39% in votes for being the smartest, followed by the other working breeds, the German Shepherd (29%), Labrador (28%) and Golden Retriever (18%).

What age should you start training a Border Collie? ›

For those who want to teach their Border puppy new tricks or commands, you can start as early as 3 to 4 months. When you want to move up to more advanced training, it's best to wait until your dog's more able to comprehend and more physically developed to do them. 6 to 8 months is considered a suitable age.

Do Border Collies get jealous? ›

Collies are emotional beasts and can be prone to jealousy if they feel you aren't giving them your full attention. Luckily, collies are also highly intelligent and it's easy to manage their jealousy by altering their environment and with some simple training.

Why do Border Collies hug? ›

As we have seen, border collies hug for two reasons: mostly as a sign of dominance and sometimes because they are trained to do so as a trick or for affection.

How long can a collie be left alone? ›

Collies don't like being alone and can develop behavioral and phycological issues if they are left alone for long periods regularly. As a general rule, collies are perfectly fine to be left alone for around four hours each day, but you should avoid leaving them for extended periods.

How do you relax a Border Collie? ›

How to Calm a Border Collie
  1. Book the dog an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out possible health concerns. ...
  2. Place the dog on a low-protein, low-fat diet. ...
  3. Allow the dog plenty of exercise throughout the day. ...
  4. Set up a safe room in your home for the dog when you leave.

How do I stop my Border Collie from jumping up? ›


Are Border Collies attached to their owners? ›

As a Border Collie owner, you are probably able to answer “yes” without hesitation. Border Collies are known for their unwavering devotion to their owners, They are affectionate, loving, and loyal creatures, sometimes to a fault. They are also bred to be working dogs and to look to their owners for directions.

Should Border Collies sleep in a crate? ›

Most Border Collies love their crates as they see it as their very own den. It is a place they feel safe once they understand what the crate is for. Some people have a crate setup in the house for their Border Collies to sleep in and they never need to shut the doors as their Border Collies choose to sleep in there.

Do Border Collies sleep through the night? ›

How long before a border collie sleeps through the night? It can take quite a while before a Border Collie sleeps through the night. They usually begin to do this at around 3 to 4 months old before expecting them to sleep for longer than 5 or 6 hours in a row during the night.

Why does my Border Collie bark at me? ›

When your Border Collie is barking for attention, it's likely because they are bored. Border Collies are an extremely active breed, and need physical and mental stimulation to be satisfied. Be sure to play lots of mind stimulating games with your BC, as well as at least two training sessions per day.

Are Border Collies good for walks? ›

Border Collies are excellent hiking companions and always eager to hit the trails. They have endless energy, a low prey drive, and love to accompany their owners on adventures of all kinds. As an added benefit, they will keep the group together and moving forward using their strong herding instincts.

Why does my Border Collie stand on me? ›

One of the most common reasons our dogs love to stand on us is because they want attention. Dogs are social animals. They also become very attached to their humans. When we spend too much time on our laptops or have been out all day, our dogs miss us.

How long can Border Collies hold their pee? ›

Adult dogs can hold their pee for up to 10-12 hours if needed, but that doesn't mean that they should. The average adult dog should be allowed to relieve itself at least 3-5 times per day.

Are Border Collies sensitive to discipline? ›

Most Border Collies can be very sensitive and will get their feelings hurt, thus sometimes “less is more” when it comes to discipline. Hitting only instills fear so never use physical force to train or discipline any dog, but especially with a Border collie.

Can Border Collies be trained not to bark? ›

Collies can be taught just about anything, but they tend to be a bit on the stubborn side. If you want your pup to stop barking, you have to decide which method you are going to use and stick with it.


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