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Are Border Collies Aggressive? Triggers & FAQs

Jeff Weishaupt

By Jeff Weishaupt

a close up of Border Collie with collar

Border Collies are highly intelligent dogs. They have a natural instinct to respond well to training, which is why they are common sniffer dogs and mountain rescuers. Border Collies also herd, which means they have a natural urge to collect a flock. Their flock could be children, cats, sheep, squirrels—pretty much anything that can move.

If you plan to get a Border Collie as a pet, you might wonder if their instinctual behaviors also make them aggressive. Unlike some other breeds, Border Collies are generally not aggressive.

However, it’s important to note that every dog can be aggressive if provoked or scared. Dogs also show aggression if they feel threatened. Sometimes, Border Collies may nip—a gesture that some owners confuse with aggression. Let’s look at the nature of Border Collies in detail.

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Are Border Collies Naturally Aggressive?

Border Collies are not aggressive dogs. Rather, they have a calm demeanor and tend to be very smart. Their work ethic is unmatched, especially when it comes to herding. The breed is known for its versatility, so owners have plenty of activities they can do with their pets.

While Border Collies are not naturally aggressive, you might have still heard stories about how some owners had to return their Border Collies to the shelter due to extreme aggression. These are exceptional situations in which the owner’s behavior, external stimuli, or lack of training are more responsible for the breed’s aggression rather than their innate nature.

Why Might Border Collies Become Aggressive?

saddle border collie
Image Credit: Pxhere

If you do not want your dog to become aggressive, you should be familiar with the reasons that could push them toward aggression. Here are some common ones:


Fear is one of the main reasons dogs become aggressive. Just like humans, dogs also experience anxiety and fear. But unlike humans, they do not have the superior cognition to deal with their fear and anxiety in a controlled manner. Due to this, your Border Collie may exhibit aggression. For instance, some dogs are fearful of fireworks. You might notice your Border Collie becoming aggressive during the holiday season.

When dogs get scared, they exhibit defensive displays to drive the threat away. For example, they may bare their teeth, crouch, or growl at anything that comes their way.

You might think this aggression is only limited to humans or animate objects, but this is not true. Your Border Collie may also become aggressive toward inanimate objects, like a hairdryer, vacuum cleaner, or couch.

The good news is that most dogs do not attack as long as they can avoid it. They will only try to scare everyone away by barking or growling. But if they feel like they are stuck and have no way out, they might bite or scratch.


As mentioned above, Border Collies are herding dogs. They also do not react well to seeing unfamiliar faces in their homes. Dogs are also territorial, being unwelcoming toward new people.

Border Collies not only consider their homes a territory but also extend the same possessiveness to their owners too. So, they might get aggressive if they feel like you are not giving them enough attention or are paying more attention to another pet or a guest.

Male Border Collies are more prone to exhibiting this behavior since they have an inherent instinct to establish the pecking order. They believe they have the first right to affection.

border collie and welsh corgi mix
Image Credit: story_of_one_wolf, Shutterstock


In some cases, your Border Collie may be aggressive because of a disease. Dogs typically get aggressive when they are sick. In these situations, they can also be very volatile and may have outbursts of aggression. These outbursts are most common in thyroid and brain conditions.

Resource Guarding

Unlike their ancestors who had to hunt for food in the wild, domesticated Border Collies rely on their owners for resources, such as food and water. Due to this, dogs protect the person who provides them with these resources.

If you have more than one dog in your home, a Border Collie may feel the urge to guard their food against other pets. The situation can get aggressive if the Border Collie is not especially fond of your other dog.

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Can Border Collies Harm Children?

border collie
Image Credit: Jacqueline Galand, Pixabay

When it comes to aggression in dogs, one of the major things owners are worried about is the danger to children. As mentioned, Border Collies do not get aggressive without reason. So, they will likely not harm your children.

But if they are not trained well or do not adjust well in a multi-pet home, they might pose a threat to your little ones. As a rule of thumb, you should not leave a Border Collie alone with a young child.

Besides training your dog, you should also teach your children how to act around dogs. Otherwise, a dog might feel provoked by the child’s actions and become aggressive.

Are Border Collies Aggressive Toward Other Dogs?

Border Collies typically behave well with other dogs. However, this is not their natural trait. They will take some time to get comfortable with another dog in their territory.

If you feel that your Border Collie is nervous when other dogs are nearby, you should give them some distance. For example, if you are in a dog park, sit on a bench a little distant from other dogs. Give the Border Collie some time to observe their surroundings. They will eventually come around.

If they are still exhibiting aggression, do not pressure them to do something they do not want to. Suppose a Border Collie is growling at you. Do not try to get any closer. When a dog growls, it’s a signal that they want you to stay away. Respect their wishes and wait to approach them.

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How to Deal With Aggression in Border Collies

a woman playing with border collie outdoor
Image Credit: Julia Zavalishina, Shutterstock

Even well-behaved dogs get aggressive due to unfamiliar surroundings or a threat.

Here's how to act:
  • Do not yell or shout at them. You should not hit your dog ever. The key is to diffuse the situation by speaking calmly to them or removing the threat.
  • If you feel like the dog might harm you, it is best to remove yourself from the situation.
  • If your Border Collie has shown signs of aggression in the past, do not play dominance-based games with them. That includes chasing games or tug of war. Instead, keep them occupied with walks or fetch.
  • Do not give attention to your dog’s bad or unwanted behavior. You should also not reward them if they show bad behavior.
  • If the snapping, snarling, or growling is getting out of hand, speak to a professional.

How to Prevent Aggressiveness in Border Collies

The obvious way to prevent aggression in Border Collies is to remove all the causes of aggression. For one, keep their food and water bowl away from the other dog in the house. In this way, they won’t feel like they have to fight the other dog for food.

When bringing a Border Collie pup into the house, start training them from day one. Introduce them to other pets, strangers, and children. It will help them become socialized and get used to different kinds of people.

It would be best if you also took your pet to the vet regularly. Make sure you monitor them for any signs of physical pain or illness. The sooner you get them treated for any medical condition, the lower the chances of them being aggressive.

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Border Collies are one of the smartest dog breeds. Although they do not have a natural tendency to be aggressive, they can show aggression in some cases. If they feel threatened, scared, or anxious, Border Collies may resort to aggression.

The best way to deal with this is not to reward bad behavior, train your dog properly, and exit the situation if it’s dangerous. With proper training and the elimination of fear factors, your Border Collie will never be a threat.

Featured Image Credit: Helix_Games, Pixabay

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