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Are Border Collies Good Family Dogs? The Surprising Answer!

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Male Blue Merle Border Collie

If you’re shopping around for a family-friendly dog to add to your home, chances are the Border Collie will pop up on your search. If you don’t know much about this breed, they are brilliant, amiable dogs with incredible personalities.

Generally speaking, Border Collies make great family dogs. However, even though they are terrific playmates and excellent watchdogs, they do require a particular lifestyle to be happy and make their owners content as well. Let’s learn a bit about the Border Collie to see if they match what you’re looking for in a new family member.

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Border Collie Fun Facts

Border Collies have quite an interesting history. Here are a few awesome things about the breed you might not know.

1. The Border Collie was used as a key actor in the child’s movie Babe

Rex and Fly flawlessly portray two herding dogs who help the main character, Babe the pig. These dogs were actually trained for the film, shedding some light on the intense intelligence of the breed.

2. Border Collies are the best herding dogs

Even though many dogs are phenomenal herders, Border Collies top the list. This strength might also cause these dogs to nip at your kid’s heels to keep you in line. This action isn’t a sign of aggression but rather to keep everyone on task.

Border Collie with herd of sheep on farm
Image credit: S1001, Shutterstock

3. Chaser, the Border Collie, had the largest canine vocabulary

A Border Collie named Chaser was in the spotlight for quite a while, having the most comprehensive vocabulary recognition of all others in its time. Unfortunately, Chaser passed away in June 2019.

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History of the Border Collie

It might not surprise you a bit that the best herding dog around was literally designed for this purpose. The Border Collie needed to be swift and agile to withstand rugged farmland terrain throughout Scotland and England.

Once their talents fully came into function, the breed flourished. The Border Collie can be found worldwide today—among some of the most favored canines of all.

Border Collie Personality

The Border Collie is one of the most intelligent breeds of all canines. With this intellect comes great responsibility. These guys can outsmart you at every turn, so make sure you have a well-trained dog that is mannerly and obedient. These cheerful dogs have an abundance of energy—they will love romping around with you anytime you’re willing to play. Because they enjoy running around so much, they can make perfect backyard buddies for your kids.

Border Collies are curious, adventurous, and bold. They will be your best buddy on any outing—and they are fiercely loyal to their owners. Border Collies can pick up on the energy around them, learning to read situations with accuracy.

Early socialization is essential for the breed. Even if they aren’t herding livestock, these traits are still genetically passed down. They will need to learn to curb their desire to herd smaller animals or children. These dogs aren’t prone to aggression but might be protective of their home. Some are stranger-friendly, while others might be a bit aloof.

border collie playing with bubbles
Image Credit: 825545, Pixabay

In short, Border Collies are:

  • Energetic
  • Intelligent
  • Herders at heart
  • Brave
  • Loyal
  • Happy-go-lucky
  • Protective and nurturing
  • Possibly aloof with strangers

Physical Attributes of Border Collies

Border Collies are medium-sized, long-haired dogs with an athletic build. Packed with lean muscle, these dogs are built for running, jumping, and speed. Like many dogs in the Collie family, their coat can be rough and wiry or silky and soft.

  • Coat colors: White, blue, merle, brindle, lilac, chocolate, liver, red
  • Coat type: Rough, smooth
  • Weight: 28 to 40 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10 to 17 years

border collie puppy practicing tricks
Image credit: Geertes, Shutterstock


Border Collies are extremely easy to groom. They don’t require a lot of maintenance at all. Because they have long hair, you must brush them several times a week to prevent matting or tangling.

But otherwise, you would bathe them per usual—every 4–6 weeks. Make sure to brush their teeth, clean their ears, and trim their nails, too.

Border Collie Food Requirements

These dogs do best with a high protein, carb-dense diet because of the Border Collie’s activity levels. They burn quite a bit more calories than some other breeds, meaning they need lots of nutrients to replenish what they burn off in a day. Also, it’s best to buy food without common fillers like wheat, corn, and soy.

Even though these dogs aren’t classically fussy eaters, they do best with high-quality dry kibble with an optional wet food topper. You might even try a raw diet but always consult with your veterinarian to determine the best form of nutrition for your pal.

Border Collie Exercise Requirements

One of the most important aspects of keeping a happy and healthy Border Collie is to ensure that they’re getting adequate exercise. This breed is so focused on working hard that they absolutely need a way to channel their physical activity.

Your Border Collie will keep you on your toes, requiring over an hour of exercise per day. It would be best to prepare to take them on plenty of walks and play long games of catch. They make excellent running companions as well.

Border Collie with ball
Image credit: nk, Pixabay

A bored Border Collie is not a happy one. They might develop unwanted behaviors, like destructive chewing, if they don’t have appropriate outlets.


Border Collies train incredibly well, but patience is required. Since these dogs have tons of smarts, they can be a bit stubborn and hard-headed. Once they catch the drift that you’re the boss, they will obey your commands if you remain consistent.

Potty training should be relatively easy since these dogs quickly pick up habits based on repetition. Basic commands such as “sit,” “stay,” and “roll over” should be no problem, either. You can really train these dogs to do just about anything—if you put in the work to make it happen.

Overall Health of Border Collies

Border Collies are typically very healthy dogs. They have life spans ranging from 10 to 17 years, which is a very favorable timeline for dogs. However, certain genetic conditions can show up in the breed, like hip dysplasia, deafness, epilepsy, and renal atrophy.

Always make sure to take your Border Collie for regular vet checkups to get ahead of any issues as they age.

Cost of Border Collies

If you were buying a Border Collie from a reputable breeder, you could expect a pay between $500 to $1,200. To have a champion bloodline, you can spend upwards of $4,500. If you see Border Collies advertised for significantly less, try to resist. These dogs are possibly the product of backyard breeding or intermixing.

Blue Merle Border Collie Laying On The Bench
Image Credit: xkunclova, Shutterstock

If you were looking to give a dog a second chance, plenty of purebred Border Collie rescues and other facilities have this breed. You might even get lucky and find a lovely Border Collie mix looking for a second chance at life. When you do adopt from a shelter, all dogs will come spayed or neutered and vaccinated. You can expect to pay between $100 to $350 for rescues or shelters.

You also have to consider supplies to care for your dog. You need to take them in for regular veterinary checkups, get vaccinations, and save for spay and neuter costs. They will also need plenty of interactive activities, chew toys, food supplies, and bedding.


  • Interactive and devoted to family
  • Make excellent playmates
  • They take herding duties very seriously
  • They can be superb watchdogs
  • Require minimal grooming
  • They love to run, play, and train
  • Will be up for any adventure
  • Incredibly loyal and devoted to family
  • Generally get along well with other pets

Breed Weaknesses

  • May try to herd other animals or small children
  • Require a lot of physical and mental stimulation
  • Require lots of room to play
  • They need to learn to channel energy correctly

Blue merle Border collie catching frisbee
Image Credit: JitkaP, Shutterstock

What to Expect When You Bring a Border Collie Home

Whether you buy a puppy from a breeder or shelter, there is going to be quite an adjustment period nonetheless. All of you are welcoming your puppy home, which is a very exciting time for you. But things can be a little nerve-racking and scary for your furry friend.

Some will take just a short time to fit right in, while others may take several days—it just depends on the individual puppy.

Here is a little checklist to look over to better help you plan:

  • Make sure you have your vet picked out before you bring them home
  • Buy all of their supplies beforehand
  • Choose a reputable breeder that has an excellent reputation
  • If you’re adopting, always do meet and greets to make sure everyone is compatible
  • Allow a few days for your puppy or dog to decompress.
  • Start potty training right away—it’s never too early
  • Create a routine from the start
  • Have a safe place for your puppy to sleep
  • Spend lots of time with your new buddy

The first days will be but a sweet memory before long. Remember that the challenging puppy stages only last a short while.

Introducing Children to a New Dog

Dogs and kids usually pair very well together, but this isn’t without respect on both ends. Many toddlers or small kids might scare dogs because—let’s face it—they are little chaos bombs. So, when you bring a puppy home, make sure to introduce the puppy correctly.

border collie black
Featured Image Credit: Nietosvaara, Pixabay

Many children are old enough to show mutual respect to animals around age 6, but it’s never too early to start teaching them. Not only can little kids hurt puppies, but puppies might also bite too hard during play.

When you mix children and puppies:

  • Supervise all puppy/child interactions
  • Teach the child how to hold the dog appropriately
  • Don’t let the child jump, climb, pinch, or pull on the puppy
  • Limit playtime to avoid overstimulation
  • Teach both the dog and the child boundaries

Your puppy will acclimate well into your home, but it’s best to make sure everyone does their part. It’s never too early to show a child how to handle an animal. The quicker they learn to be gentle, the more positive all interactions with animals will be.

Children and puppies usually pair very well because of their compatible energy levels. If you choose a Border Collie, you can almost guarantee that the kids and dog will wear each other out in the best of ways.

Are You Ready for Your Own Border Collie?

If you think a Border Collie sounds like a breed that’s up your alley, let’s consider if you’re ready. No matter if you choose to adopt or buy a puppy, there are things you should ask yourself before you commit.

People often pick a dog, thinking it will work out great, but wind up needing to find the dog a new home. You can avoid that entirely by learning as much as you can about the breed beforehand.

Border Collie
Image Credit: CC0 Public Domain, Pxhere

  • Do you have the time to spend with your Border Collie? Border Collies require strenuous activity in their daily lives. Before you bring home one of these animals, you have to consider whether you have the time, patience, and energy to deal with their temperament.
  • Do you have the proper yard or enclosure to keep them safe? Because Border Collies are such a high-energy breed, they can get carried away outdoors. You must have a safe, secure fenced-in yard or walk them on a harness every time. They have incredible speed and can get away from you at a moment’s notice.
  • Do you have a suitable living space? A Border Collie, especially a puppy, might not fare well in an apartment setting. They require lots of space to roam and explore. Apartments or cramped living conditions often aren’t suitable for the breed. If you have made up your mind that the border collie sounds like the dog for you and your family, we are so excited for you. Always remember to find a reputable breeder or work with an adoption agency.

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Final Thoughts

Now that you know more about this beautiful breed, you and your family can start the search for your new dog. Some breeds aren’t going to be for everybody. If you reached the end of this article and think that maybe you don’t have the time required for them, that means you’re looking out for the dog’s best interest—and that’s great of you to think ahead!

But if you love everything about the Border Collie, it’s time to seek breeders or adoption centers near you.

Featured Image: ForeverNaturalPhotography, Shutterstock

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