Border Collie

A Quick Look at the Border Collie…

The Border Collie is a bright, energetic, hardy working dog that is longer than it is tall and is medium-sized. Extremely trainable, these dogs are terrific for herding (especially sheep) but are also top competitors in many different kinds of dog sports from Frisbee to obedience, and from sheepdog to agility trials. Border Collies are very friendly and enjoy being around people, children, other dogs, and other animals. Full leadership and dominance training is required among Border Collies of the same sex.

The Border Collie breed was developed specifically for herding sheep along the northern border of England and southern border of Scotland in a region known as Northumberland. Their keen noses make them not only skilled for outdoor work, but have also made them a choice breed for bomb and drug detection work in addition to other police work such as search and rescue. That being said, the Border Collie is also a lovely family companion.

Here are some fast facts about the Border Collie:

Dog Group:
Herding (AKC)
Recognized By:
Dogs – 30-45 lbs. (14-20 kg)
Bitches – 27-42 lbs. (12-19 kg)
Dogs – 19-22 in. (48-56 cm)
Bitches – 18-21 in. (46-53 cm)
Average litter size:
Life expectancy:
9 – 15 years (average of 13 years)
Health problems:
Coat care:
Exercise needs:
Suitable for children:
Pet compatibility:
Barking frequency:


Brief History

The Border Collie comes from the Northumberland region between England and Scotland, having been bred to help in herding the sheep that were commonly raised there.

Though this explains the origin of the “Border” element of its name, the “Collie” portion remains a debate until this day. The most commonly accepted explanation for the term is that it comes from the Gaelic for the word “useful”. That being said, there are still quite a few people who hold to the belief that it is simply an altered version of the word “coalie” which is slang for the black smudges common on the markings in the dog’s fur. And yet another group says that collie is the name of a breed of sheep and that the dog’s name stems from that.

No matter the name’s origin, it is believed that they were first developed in around the year 1570 and that the first man to use the name was the Secretary of the International Sheepdog Society, James Reid. It was coined in Great Britain in the year 1915, well after the original development of the breed.

Today, the breed remains very popular, and though it is still used for herding, it is most often a family pet who performs very well in obedience and sports.

Border Collie Breed Appearance and Characteristics

General Appearance – The Border Collie is a solid, agile, flexible dog that has a body longer than its height. It has a full coat which includes an undercoat which provides effective water resistance. The dog is known for its intense stair, and for its herding posture which lowers the front end challengingly to the ground, ready to react in an instant. This posture, combined with the stare is so effective that nipping and barking are rarely required to assist in herding tasks. The border collie’s coat can be just about any color pattern, with various kinds of markings including black, white, sable, blue merle, and/or tan shades. The coat is coarse but can be either wavy or straight, though the dense undercoat is quite soft. Among most members of the breed, the oval eyes are brown in color, though some merle varieties do have one blue eye. Dewclaws are typically removed from Border Collies.

Typical Temperament – Border Collies are tremendously bright and eager to participate and to please you. Training using reinforcement techniques are highly effective and they learn in a very short period of time due to their intelligence and stamina. These dogs thrive on attention and need both dominance and leadership in order to be a happy family member. Socialization is very important for Border Collies, but they are always eager to make new friends and can easily live in harmony with children and other family pets such as dogs or cats. Caution and leadership must be applied when meeting other dogs of the same sex.

Basic Border Collie Caring Requirements

Grooming – Border Collies are easy to groom and take only a good daily brushing in order to keep the coat clean, keep knots and mats under control, and to minimize the shedding that will occur, leaving fur throughout the house. Border Collie fur can become snarled very easily because of its length and the texture of its undercoat, so it is important to keep up with the brushing every day to keep this manageable. As a last resort, some knots may need to be trimmed away, but with regular consistent daily grooming, this should be a rare occurrence.

Exercise – Border Collies have an exceptionally high energy level and require lots of exercise every single day in order to keep them healthy and happy. Moreover, since this dog is also very bright, exercise will help to keep the Border Collie’s mind active, which is also important to the dog’s overall happiness. The best environment for this breed is a place with large fields, such as the countryside, where the dog has enough space to roar around and burn off enough of their abundant energy. At least two hours of solid exercise or work should be given to this dog every day.

Approximate Food Cost – Depending on the age, activity level, and the type of food that the dog is eating, the average Border Collie will consume around 2 to 3 cups of dry food every day. On average, a typical dog food should cost around $25 per month.

General Health Information

Border Collies are typically a hardy and healthy breed. In fact, they are acknowledged by many kennel clubs as being among the breeds with the highest health rating and fewest hereditary issues. This being said, no dog breed is free of all medical concerns.

Some Border Collies will have hip dysplasia, certain eye diseases – specifically, Collie Eye Anomaly, a disorder unique to Collie breeds – and primary ciliary dyskinesia (PRA). There is a growing occurrence of allergies among Border Collies, many of which are caused by fleas. There is also an increasing risk of deafness and epilepsy within the breed.

Common Illnesses include:  allergies, deafness, and PRA.

Are You the Right Border Collie Owner?

Living conditions – Border Collies require a great deal of space, so they will not do well in apartments or other kinds of smaller homes. They need to be able to have enough room to play both indoors and outside. Though these dogs can also tolerate kennel life, they do need to participate in several hours of regular activity, receiving direct attention every day. This dog breed should never be left inside all day long without getting out for exercise, nor should he or she be tied in the yard all day.

Border Collie Training – Border Collies are eager to please and do very well with socialization and obedience training throughout their puppy years. They learn new training very quickly, especially when the trainer uses positive reinforcement. Negative or punishment-style training methods only hold this type of dog back because it will impact his or her confidence. With the motivation and intelligence already in the breed, it is best to use fair, consistent, encouraging and respectful methods. Keep in mind that these are also very sensitive dogs. As they do wish to please you, when they are shouted at or reprimanded, the impact can be fear and a decrease in self-assurance within the dog. This slows the dog’s learning and makes him or her much more uncertain overall.

Common Problems – Border Collies who are well exercised and kept active are very good pets, but if they are left to get bored, or if they have energy that is not burned off with adequate exercise, several problems can develop. This can include certain neuroses as well as the inclination to try to escape the home or yard, as well as other various types of behavioral issues. Border Collies also have a strong inherent instinct to herd, and unless they are working with sheep and other animals, they may occasionally try to herd kids, strangers, bicycles, cars, or other animals. They must be made to understand that this is not acceptable behavior.

The bottom line…

When you adopt a Border Collie, it is important to recognize that you are not just buying a dog today, but are taking in a new family member for whom you will be wholly responsible for his or her entire life. Since this dog lives for an average of 13 years, you will need to be prepared to love and care for this dog for more than a decade.

Border Collies are bright, high-energy dogs who require your affection, attention, and assistance to help them to get the exercise they need for both their bodies and minds on a daily basis. The Border Collie needs lots of space and should be as much a part of the life of its owner as can be managed. They will not thrive in a small home or apartment, or in a place where they are simply tied outside and ignored as this makes them prone to becoming neurotic and trying to escape.

They are great family dogs and do well with children, other pets, and even strangers who come to visit. Only other dogs of the same sex can cause some aggression in the Border Collie, but this is nothing that proper leadership from the owner cannot repair.

Border Collies are dogs that are best for experienced dog owners, who like to exercise, and who enjoy the outdoors. If an experienced dog owner is looking for a high energy pet to take in as a new member of their family, this dog breed may be a great match.

Filed Under: Border Collie Training


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