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Border Collie: Pictures, Facts, Traits & More

Written by: Jordyn Alger

Last Updated on July 18, 2024 by Dogster Team

border collie dog sitting on floor and looking up

Border Collie: Pictures, Facts, Traits & More

There are many remarkable dog breeds in the world, but few are as easily recognized as the Border Collie. This medium-sized dog has a thick, wavy double coat, and they make an excellent pet for an experienced owner. They come in various colors and patterns but are often seen in black and white or brown and white.

Breed Overview


18–22 inches


30–55 pounds


12–15 years


White and black, white and red, white, black, blue, red, sable, seal, white ticked

Suitable for:

Active households, outdoorsy owners, affectionate families, houses with plenty of yard space


Affectionate, energetic, intelligent, biddable, vocal, playful

The Border Collie dog was bred to herd livestock. As a result, they’re nimble, hard-working, and energetic. They will thrive in an active household but will quickly bounce off the walls in an idle one. As a herding breed, their mind constantly seeks stimulation, so having a task to complete is essential for their mental well-being.

These dogs are the definition of workaholics, and owners must provide a constant stream of activities and challenges to keep their Border Collies happy and healthy. If that sounds like a dynamic you would enjoy, keep reading to learn more about the breed’s personality and care needs.

Border Collie Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Border Collie Puppies

Border Collie puppy dog lying on grass looking at the camera
Image Credit: stevelancaster, Pixabay

The Border Collie is a popular dog that ranks in the top 50 of the American Kennel Club’s registered breeds.1 Such great popularity makes it easier to find this dog, whether you search through your local animal shelter or a reputable breeder.

Responsible breeders should provide genetic testing, but Border Collies at animal shelters may have unknown genetic profiles. A Border Collie puppy is bound to be a hyperactive ball of fluff, so make sure you have plenty of toys and space in your yard to keep the little pup from racing laps in your living room (which they may still do).

Since they have so much energy and drive to perform tasks, getting a jump on obedience training is a productive way to burn off energy. If this part of their upbringing is neglected, you may have an unruly dog on your hands.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Border Collie

Border Collies are energetic and require lots of activity to stay healthy. They are also incredibly intelligent, so constant mental stimulation is also essential. If either physical or mental enrichment is lacking in your Border Collie’s life, they may resort to destructive behaviors to release their pent-up frustration.

Therefore, Border Collie owners must stick to a routine with plenty of exercise and mental challenges. Since Border Collies were bred as herding dogs, they have a strong herding instinct. They may try to herd other animals or humans in their household, going so far as to nip at a person’s heels if they don’t stick with the “herd.”

Solid obedience training is crucial to keep things from getting out of hand. Luckily, the Border Collie is clever and eager to please, making them a delight to train. Another reason training is so vital is that they are incredibly vocal. They will bark for almost any reason, and training a Border Collie dog to know when it is appropriate to bark is essential.

The typical Border Collie personality traits are that they are loving, playful dogs that adore their family members. While they may be somewhat wary of strangers at first glance, it doesn’t take long for the dogs to warm up to them. They are highly adaptable, and with proper socialization, they welcome new people, places, and experiences.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Border Collies are great family dogs. They are affectionate, good with kids, and highly entertaining. Family members should take the Border Collie out for runs or games of fetch frequently to keep them healthy and happy. At the end of the day, Border Collie dogs often like to snuggle with their favorite humans.

Red Border Collie dog stands in the park
Image Credit: volofin, Shutterstock

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

Typically, Border Collies get along fine with other animals. All pets should be adequately trained and socialized to ensure that new animal arrivals go as smoothly as possible. As mentioned, the Border Collie may want to herd other animals, so ensure you have this instinct in check, or tensions may run high.

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Things to Know When Owning a Border Collie

Owning a Border Collie is a delight, but it’s also a huge responsibility. Before bringing one into the home, it is essential that you know how to provide for their basic care needs.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Border Collies need high-quality food. Since they are so active, they need a high-protein formula to sustain their energy. It’s also a good idea to look for a brand containing omega-3 fatty acids since it can support your dog’s joints and nourish their skin and coat. Your vet can provide recommendations and determine how much to feed your Border Collie.

Border Collie puppy dog walking and sniffing the grass
Image Credit: Pic Media Aus, Shutterstock

Exercise 🐕

The Border Collie is active and athletic, and their exercise needs are greater than the average breed. They will need more than a simple walk each day and prefer exercising with their owners.

Border Collies need tasks to complete and a lot of yard space to run around in. Some of the activities you can participate in with your cog include agility training, fetch, frisbee, and other quick-moving activities.

Training 🎾

The high intelligence of the Border Collies makes them quick learners, and their biddable nature makes them easy to train. They need to start training as soon as possible so they don’t make a habit of destructive behaviors.

Training the Border Collie to redirect their herding and barking instincts will take time and patience. It isn’t good to try to stop the behavior entirely since these instincts are important for the Border Collie. Instead, encourage your dog to focus their instincts elsewhere. Positive reinforcement is a great way to divert this behavior into something productive.

Man petting a black and white border collie dog
Image Credit: Tadeusz Lakota, Unsplash

Grooming ✂️

Border Collies don’t require more grooming care than the average dog, but they should be brushed regularly to keep their medium-length double coats looking their best. Monthly bathing will keep their fur clean and free from matting.

Due to their high activity level, Border Collies don’t need their nails trimmed as frequently. However, their ears should be checked and cleaned frequently to manage debris or wax buildup. They also need to have their teeth brushed a few times a week to keep them healthy.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Border Collies are prone to a few health conditions. Some of the more serious conditions to watch out for are trapped neutrophil syndrome, epilepsy, and Collie eye anomaly. Trapped neutrophil syndrome is caused by a genetic mutation that only Border Collies develop.

This condition is fatal and incurable, and it usually affects Border Collies within the first few months of life. Epilepsy and Collie eye anomaly, however, are not strictly fatal. Epilepsy causes seizures that are hazardous to your dog’s health, but the seizures can be managed with medication. As for Collie eye anomaly, it results in vision issues such as blindness.

Other conditions the Border Collie can suffer from include hip dysplasia and multidrug resistance mutation. Multidrug resistance mutation occurs commonly in herding breeds and makes them sensitive to medications.

Minor Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Multidrug resistance mutation (MDR1)
Serious Conditions
  • Trapped neutrophil syndrome (TNS)
  • Epilepsy
  • Collie eye anomaly

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Male vs. Female

Spaying or neutering your Border Collie has health benefits. Spayed females will have a lowered risk of mammary cancer, whereas neutered males will have a lowered risk of testicular cancer. Although males are slightly larger than females, there isn’t much of a difference in their temperaments.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Border Collie

1. Border Collies Are Remarkably Smart

Border Collies are so smart that some dog experts believe they are one of the smartest breeds in the world!

2. They’ve Broken Plenty of Records

Various Border Collies have world records in several categories, including the world’s most intelligent dog and the world record for dog skateboarding.

3. They Can Perform Unique Jobs

Border Collies excel as actors and search and rescue workers, but some perform incredibly unique jobs. Some Border Collies are “goose masters,” and they keep geese off a particular property. At the University of North Florida, a Border Collie was hired to chase geese off campus.

Brown Border Collie dog lying outside with a curious face and looking at the camera
Image Credit: BIGANDT.COM, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Border Collies are energetic, intelligent dogs with plenty of affection for their loved ones. They do best in active households and will always be eager to exercise with their owners. They are hard-working and love to help around the house, and without a task to perform, they can become destructive.

Early training is essential to redirect their herding instinct so they don’t try to corral other animals or young kids, but once trained, they are biddable and eager to please.

The Border Collie is a popular breed for all these reasons and more. If you think the Border Collie is the right fit for you, contact your local animal shelter or search for a responsible, ethical breeder specializing in the breed.

See also: 

Featured Image Credit: smrm1977, Shutterstock

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