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Border Collie Dog Breed Info: Pictures, Personality & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Border Collie Dog

Height: 18-22 inches
Weight: 30-45 pounds
Lifespan: 10-15 years
Colors: White and Black, Merle, Lilac, Blue Merle, Chocolate, Tan, Red, Sable Merle
Suitable for: Active families with children, outdoor enthusiasts, farm living, rural/country living, experienced dog handlers, competitive dog trainers
NOT Suitable for: Apartments, sedentary families, inexperienced dog handlers, individuals who are gone for long periods of time, families with young or rowdy children
Temperament: Highly intelligent, driven, focused, energetic, expressive, responsive, obedient, loyal

Border Collies are the crème de la crème of the working and herding dog group, often considered the smartest dog breed in the world. They’re hardworking dogs devoted to their jobs, and known for their Einstein-level intelligence. Not only can they remember dozens of tricks with ease, but Border Collies can also excel in most athletic competitions. While they’re not meant for apartments and sedentary living, Border Collies can be great companions if their needs are met. Let’s take a closer look at the Border Collie and what it takes to own one:

Divider 1Border Collie Puppies

border collie puppy lying on grass
Image Credit to: stevelancaster, Pixabay

Border Collies can be considerably expensive since they’ve been bred for specific purposes. While every breeder has their own standards of quality, the breeder you choose must be highly knowledgeable in this breed. It’s especially important to find a breeder that specializes in Border Collies due to possible temperament instability from poor breeding standards.

When you bring a Border Collie home, expect to have a loyal and obedient dog by your side. They’re very active due to their herding instincts and will need plenty of outdoor exercise and activities to balance their hard-working attitude and high energy.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Border Collie

1. The name “Border Collie” is a reference to their region

Border Collies come from Northumberland, an English county that sits against the Scottish border. Their lineage can be traced back to a few notable Border Collies, but also farther back to other collie breeds.

2. Border Collies were a favorite of Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria was known for her fondness of dogs, especially a select few breeds. One of her favorites was the Border Collie, which, at the time, was at the first stages of becoming its own established breed.

3. Border Collies can be vocal

Border Collies are not known for barking, but they may surprise you. They use barks, yips, and other sounds to communicate, especially if they’re from a strong herding lineage.

Image Credit to: James Hime, Shutterstock

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Border Collie 🧠

Border Collies may be the star students of the dog world, but they’re far from being easy to handle. Because of their extremely high energy levels and intelligence, Border Collies need a job and a confident leader to follow. If they do not have these two things, they will take over the household by herding and nipping everyone at the heels. These sheepdogs absolutely have to have something to do, else your house will become an outlet to vent their restlessness.

One of the first traits anyone will notice about Border Collies is their tenacity, which is due to their strong herding instincts. When Border Collies are working or competing, they’re fully devoted and will not stop until the job is done. These dogs thrive off of work and physical activity, so they require a specific purpose to stay content. If this isn’t fulfilled, they become restless, anxious, and sometimes resentful due to pent up energy and boredom. That being said, this is an ideal breed for very busy individuals and families that enjoy hiking and spending a lot of time outdoors.

While it may sound like Border Collies are all work and no play, that can’t be farther from the truth. If their needs are truly met, Border Collies will repay it with unyielding loyalty and companionship. These are herding animals, so they view family members and any household pets as something to protect. Though they’re rarely standoffish and aggressive towards unfamiliar people and usually greet people politely, Border Collies will still be wary on anyone on the property.

Lastly, Border Collies are not just smart and active, but they’re extremely reliable if trained properly. They’re less likely to bolt and take off, which can be a huge relief compared to other breeds that take off on a whim. However, they need to have a leader to follow or they will go off to do their own thing. If given the chance to succeed, Border Collies will amaze anyone with their ability to work, learn, and play.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Yes and no- it depends on multiple factors: the individual Border Collie itself, how busy everyone is during the day, and how active the family is. If your family is highly active and at least one family member is home during the day, a Border Collie can be a great family dog.

However, if your family is either sedentary or gone from the house for long periods of time, a Border Collie will be an expensive lesson to learn. They do not do well alone and can easily destroy the house, so we do not recommend this breed unless you have plenty of time for them.

These dogs are not recommended for families with small children, which is due to the Border Collie’s natural instinct to herd. One nip is all it takes to create an unfortunate situation, so it’s better to find a breed more suitable for younger children.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

It really depends on the individual Border Collie. In general, Border Collies are not interested in other dogs, but some can be flat out aggressive towards them. If you already have dogs in your household, you may want to consider a less dog-aggressive breed. Even with early socialization, some Border Collies simply don’t want anything to do with other dogs.

As for cats and small animals, they’re generally able to get along with them. The problem lies in their desire to herd the other pets, which can cause tension and even a scuffle. If you’re able to curb their herding habits, a peaceful household can be achieved. Slowly introduce each pet to make sure your Border Collie is comfortable to avoid tension and fighting.

Border Collies
Image Credit to: TheOtherKev, Pixabay

Divider 4Things to Know When Owning a Border Collie:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Border Collies are on the high end of activity levels, so they’ll need a diet rich in nutrients to keep them fit and active. We recommend finding a high-quality dry kibble that has at least 25% crude protein and multiple sources of fats and carbohydrates. For a more tailored diet, look for dog food brands like Sport Dog that create fortified diets specifically for herding breeds.

Exercise 🐕

Exercise is not only important for all dogs, but it will make or break your relationship with your Border Collie. If your Border Collie is going to be a companion and won’t be working the fields all day long, you’ll need to find ways to burn off their energy. At a bare minimum, you should expect to take your Border Collie on three walks a day at around 2 to 3 miles each, plus a few hours of off-leash running. This will most likely not be enough, but it’s a start. However, since they’re highly trainable, there are many different outlets for exercise that you can do with your Border Collie.

Border Collies are incredible athletes, so consider taking up a canine sport. They’re great with fetching games, so dock jumping competitions can be great for them. Other sports like agility, freestyle frisbee, sheepdog trials, and flyball are all examples of sports that Border Collies can easily take up. As long as your Border Collie has something to do, you’ll have a happy and healthy companion.

Training 🦮

With a heavy emphasis on confidence and positive reinforcement training methods, Border collies are one of the most trainable breeds to date. They can learn a large variety of words and commands, with little to no stubbornness when learning. The problem that new Border Collie owners have is not having enough experience training dogs in general, so it’s crucial that you’re prepared to teach them more than the basics of obedience. Because of their needs, we highly recommend hiring a professional dog trainer that has experience with Border Collie.

Early socialization is essential for Border Collies, especially with other dogs. Most Border Collies are civil and amiable around other dogs, but they will rarely show interest in them. Group puppy classes can help with socializing your Border Collie and they’ll learn the basics quickly. If they’re comfortable around other dogs and people, they can easily become dog obedience competitors. However, some Border Collies’ herding instincts are too strong and may lunge at strange and unfamiliar dogs.

border collie puppy
Image Credit to: Pickpik

Grooming ✂️ 

Border Collies have thick, long double coats that need to be maintained properly to prevent matting and snarls. They should be brushed out at least once a week and twice a week during shedding seasons. The occasional bath is crucial to prevent odors, but overbathing can lead to dry, itchy skin. Their nails will also need to be trimmed every 4 to 6 weeks, or as needed.

Health and Conditions ❤️

Border Collies are relatively healthy dogs, but they do have a few minor and more serious conditions that they’re prone to. It’s crucial to prepare for your puppy’s future, which includes vet bills and any possible conditions your Border Collie may face later in life.

Minor Conditions
  • Obesity
  • Arthritis
  • Hypothyroidism
Serious Conditions
  • Epilepsy/Seizures
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Collie Eye Anomaly
  • Canine Hip Dysplasia
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus

Divider 3Final Thoughts

Border Collies are hardworking dogs that require a lot of time and energy, but they’re fiercely devoted to their families. They may be a lot of work and will take up multiple hours of your time each day, but they repay it in obedience and companionship. Border Collies simply need a purpose in life, which is not something many families are prepared for. However, if you’re truly ready to meet their daily exercise and training needs, Border Collies will amaze you in what they can accomplish. If you’re ready for a canine Einstein, the Border Collie can be one of the most rewarding dogs to own.

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Featured Image Credit to: vyasphoto, Shutterstock

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