Border Collie Dog Breed Info: Facts, Traits & History

Happy border collie dog outdoors
Herding dog breeds were bred to gather and protect livestock and are part of the AKC’s Herding Group. Popular dogs like the Border Collie (pictured here), German Shepherd Dog and Australian Shepherd are part of this group. These breeds make pawfect pets for active families, who give them plenty to do. © Purple Collar Pet Photography/Getty Images
Last Updated on October 31, 2023 by Dogster Team

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

Featured Image Credit: Pet Photography/Getty Images

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