A medium-sized dog with a light frame and long hair, the typical Border Collie has a slightly wide head with a tapered muzzle, half-perked ears and dark, oval eyes. The long tail sometimes raises but never curls over the back. They have two types of coat: sleek and coarse (which is slightly longer than sleek). Colors include black, black & white, red & white, tri-color and black & gray. Overall, Border Collies have an athletic body—strong and agile, quick and coordinated—that seems always ready for action.
Border Collies are loyal, trainable, whip-smart pets with an oversupply of energy; i.e. they won’t just hang out on the couch. They need lots of space to run, so a big backyard (or even a farm) suits them best. These dogs are the ideal companions for those who work outdoors or across wide-open spaces.
Easily trainable and eager to please, Border Collies can sometimes be perfectionists when it comes to learning and executing new skills. Always give them tasks and they will serve you until the day is done. They form a strong bond with their owners but can be standoffish with strangers. Border Collies will let you know fairly quickly if someone is approaching the house.
They have natural herding instincts that can sometimes come into play in the household: Young children and small pets may get “herded” from time-to-time. These are tough, busy and sometimes high-strung dogs with a determined drive and focus. People who like dog sports will love Border Collies. They are great competitors.
If you’re just looking for a nice family pet, a Border Collie might not be the ideal choice. These are demanding dogs requiring dedicated owners. They need lots of attention, plenty of outdoor exercise and—if possible—something to do: This could be a task, training exercise or a “herding” game. Border Collies are so crafty, intelligent and full of energy that it would be a shame to leave them alone all day in the house.
Border Collies also like direction. A firm (but friendly) owner who can keep up with obedience lessons and training is necessary. They have a tendency to dominate weak-willed owners, so make sure your Border Collie knows who’s the boss. However, severe punishment or harsh treatment can elicit strange, irrational reactions. Regular doses of positive reinforcement will help them thrive.
Always remember to keep your Border Collie active and challenged: If bored or neglected, they can cause trouble by being destructive in the yard or with personal property.
A healthy Border Collie can live as long as 15 years. Common health problems include hip dysplasia, deafness and epilepsy.
Considered the world’s best sheepherder, Border Collies originated on the Scottish/English border in Northumberland, derived from a mixture of Spaniel and early droving breeds. While no one knows for sure how long they’ve been around, some experts say English sheepdogs have been tending herds since the Romans landed in Britain. Their keen intelligence and adaptability has made them a top choice for narcotics and bomb detection, not to mention guiding the blind and assisting the handicapped.