Border Collie

Border Collie.
Border Collie. Photography by Kayla Bertagnolli, as captured at the 2018 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Quick Facts

  • Weight: 30 – 50 pounds (13.61 – 22.68 kg)
  • Height: 18 – 21 inches (45.72 – 53.34 cm)

What Does a Border Collie Look Like?

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 Collie Traits

  • Long, two-toned mane
  • Smart and independent
  • Eager to please
  • Suspicious of strangers
  • Great herders
  • Perfectionists
  • Tireless workers

Ideal Human Companion for the Border Collie

  • Singles
  • Agility trainers
  • Families with older children
  • Shepherds

What Is It Like Living With a Border Collie?

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.

Things You Should Know About the Border Collie

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.

Border Collie History

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.

Read more about Border Collies on Get to Know the Border Collie: The Canine Brainiac

11 thoughts on “Border Collie”

  1. 10 – 17 years has a lifespan of a Border Collies, and Border Collie is prone to leave a lot of hair on the coaches due to the long coat.Border Collies are not the Hypoallergenic dogs. Check this blog for more detailed information

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  3. We rescued our border collie blue heeled mix from the age of 10 weeks. She was very shy and timid the first few weeks but that was it. She is the pack leader out of my 3 kids. She herds the kids and plays with them and keeps them active, but is also loving and snuggly. She does Have her need of her own space at times. She has her spot on the couch that she likes to relax on and watch me cook and if anyone interrupts that down time she reminds them to leave her be. She is beyond smart and loves to play games and jump and fetch. She does great with other dogs off the leash, but is timid around other families or people. I do my best to ask people not to try and pet her unless she approaches them and I bring her to dog park without kids usually because she can become protective of the kids towards people. She is an amazing dog, she’s my shadow because she is by my side all day long! This is my first border collie and I never realized how amazing they were! Hope everyone enjoys their beautiful collies too! Keep them moving and grooving and they will be just fine! They love to work for you!

  4. I”m an American, I have a border collie and I don’t run him into the ground with exercise. He absolutely loves playing fetch with a frisbee, kick-ball, throw ball, basketball, etc. anything you throw he will happily retrieve. He loves getting hugs and affection and follows me around the house all day long. We exercise him about 1.5 hours a day, and he’s happy napping or playing with his toys. He protects our house and sends out deep barks when someone approaches. He plays with our 11 year old son and protects him, no one can harm his boy. He sleeps with him at night as well. He is a dream dog and we thank and count our blessings for him every single day!

  5. This is crazy! I don’t know what Americans are breeding collies for (though nice picture of a show dog, taken far from his roots. Collies are much smarter than other dogs because they’re bred for work ethic and brains over coat such a pity what Americans are doing to the smartest breed) but here in Ireland where most collies are bred, they are bred to be calm stable dogs with a off switch until asked to do something, then they give it their 100% and then settle back down for a nap. I’ve seen Americans brag about how their dogs need to be ran for 6 hours a day or else they aren’t content and won’t sleep and that drives me batty, that’s ruining their temperament! Even farm dogs who are allowed to roam as they please stick close to their owners house and the farmers are very nice to them and they only get 2 to 2 and a half hours of exercise a day. Every collie I’ve ever met has thrived on 1 to 2 hours of exercise a day and loves being hugged. They take a while to grow into this calmness yes but collies are much more sedentary here without being useless. I can spend a day inside with my collie except for pee breaks or I can spend a day with him in a car and then the beach and he’s just as content either way. I’ve loved collies and their intelligence for as long as I can remember but everyone keeps saying exercise your collie until they can’t get up but forget about their brains! They love to use their brains and they love it more than being ran into the ground.
    Working collies are not impossible dogs, where I live they are considered ideal pets for those who love to train and are relatively active or can put time into activities. Also, every collie I’ve ever met has preferred playing fetch over running just because.

    1. I have a Border Collie in the States. She’s always watching, but I’m wholeheartedly in agreement: when we settle down, that’s it. She’s good. It’s a matter of training.

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