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11 Fascinating Border Collie Facts: Understanding the Breed

Written by: Keri-Beth Clur

Last Updated on April 5, 2024 by Dogster Team

border collies couple

11 Fascinating Border Collie Facts: Understanding the Breed

The Border Collie is a playful, alert, and intelligent dog that is up for any outing and activity. They love long walks, a good game of fetch, or rounding up a flock of sheep. However, these dogs can adapt to pretty much any environment and can be kept in apartments, in a home with children, and even with other pets. As long as you keep your pup exercised and well-trained, you can expect a happy, loveable, and affectionate Border Collie that you’ll feel lucky to have.

There’s a lot more to this faithful, patchy dog breed than just a great personality. So, whether you’re interested in this breed or have one of your own, let’s dig a little deeper and discuss 11 fascinating Border Collie facts.

The 11 Most Fascinating Facts About Border Collies

1. The Border Collie Was Recognized as a Breed in 1995

Isn’t it incredible that this popular, well-known, and loved dog breed was only recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1995?1 Before that, it was only recognized as part of the Miscellaneous class from 1955.

Interestingly, the Border Collie is the club’s 139th registered dog breed out of their current 200 dod breeds.2 A dog breed is registered by the club when it agrees that there are enough dogs of that breed in America with enough people interested in it. It’s a long process to get a breed recognized by the AKC, but the Border Collie had enough support behind them.

Female Border Collie
Image Credit: Lucia Horvath Photography, Shutterstock

2. They Were Developed in Scotland

Border Collies were developed in Scotland over many years for the purpose of herding sheep. They were valued and used widely by flock owners to manage their sheep in a successful attempt to make their jobs much easier.

Due to this breed’s roots in Scotland, it got the name “collie,”3 a word used in rural areas for anything regarded as useful, hence “collie dog.” This breed was popular and most useful in the Border Regions of Scotland and England and was given an additional name, “border,” completing the name we now know them.

3. The First Border Collie Was Called “Old Hemp”

Family trees can become complicated the further back you look, but all Border Collies can be linked back to their common ancestor, who was born in 1893 in Northumberland. “Old Hemp”4 was the name given to this dog by his owner Adam Telfer. He looked a little different from the Border Collie standard of today, but he was known for his brilliant herding abilities—the same impressive abilities that have been passed down to all his descendants.

Old Hemp’s skills were admired and sought after, and he became a stud, fathering around 200 puppies.

border-collie puppy_Steve Lancaster_Pixabay
Image Credit: Steve Lancaster, Pixabay

4. Border Collies Are Great Actors

Border Collies have been used as actor dogs in many films throughout the years. Some popular films and TV shows featuring this breed are Snow Dogs, Babe, Mad About You, Little House on the Prairie, Animal Farm, Blue Peter, and Heck’s Way Home.

Border Collies make such excellent actors because they’re incredibly intelligent and easy to train. They learn new skills quickly and pick up on gestures and different voice tones without much effort, making them an easier breed to work with on a movie set.

5. They’ve Been Owned by Important People

One of the most important and well-known Border Collie owners was Queen Victoria, who reigned for 64 years. She was known to be a Border Collie enthusiast and had a few of her own, but her favorite one was called Sharp. She often wrote about him in her journal and was known to spoil him quite a bit.

With the queen being so fond of this breed, Border Collies grew in popularity. Since then, celebrities such as Bon Jovi, Tiger Wood, Ellen DeGeneres, James Franco, Jerry Seinfeld, and more have been proud owners of Border Collies.

female border collie standing on grass
Image Credit: Arnold.Petersen, Shutterstock

6. They’ve Broken Guinness World Records

Border Collies aren’t just great at acting but breaking dog Guinness World Records too! They’ve broken records for being the fastest dog to open a non-electric car window, achieving the most basketball slam dunks in a minute, having the most jump-rope skips in one minute, performing the most tricks in a minute by two dogs, crossing a tightrope the fastest, and a whole lot more.

They’ve even broken the record for being the most expensive sheepdog. The Border Collie that holds this record is called Kim, and she’s got a red-and-white coat. She was auctioned online in Wales for $38 894. That’s a pretty pricey dog!

7. Border Collies Are Incredibly Intelligent

We’ve mentioned how intelligent Border Collies are already, but according to the Guinness World Records, they’ve also broken the record for being the most intelligent dog breed. This title was determined by 200 professional dog obedience judges, and the measurements were created by Stanley Coren, a well-known dog psychologist.

What is most impressive about this top-ranking breed is their understanding of 250 words, which is around the same vocabulary extensiveness as a two-year-old child. The Poodle and German Shepherd were the dog breeds ranked just below the Border Collie, with the Afghan Hound ranking last.

Brown border collie dropping the ball to a person's hand
Image Credit: Anaite, Shutterstock

8. They Use “The Eye”

A fun fact about Border Collies is their use of what is referred to as “the eye.” This is exactly what you might imagine it to mean—intimidating their “victims” by staring intensely at them. Only with Border Collies, their “victims” are the sheep they’re trying to round up. “The eye” is just one of the many tactics Border Collies use that makes them such excellent herders.

Border Collies are still used as working dogs today and are used on farms with cattle, poultry, hogs, goats, and sheep. Their obedience, training, athleticism, and intelligence are all attributes that make them perfect for the job.

9. They’re Used in Search-And-Rescue Missions

Border Collies are fast, intelligent, agile, and easy to train when young. They’ve also got a good sense of smell and are able to pick up on a person’s scent and follow it. All these qualities are needed when someone is missing and in potential danger, which is why Border Collies make such great search-and-rescue dogs.

For the dog, their training will feel like a game at first, as they’ll be rewarded for their obedience and successful searching skills. As they improve, their training will become more challenging until they’re considered ready for a real search-and-rescue mission.

female border collie lying on grass
Image Credit: Elayne Massaini, Shutterstock

10. They Can Become Destructive

Owning any dog takes a lot of work and is a big responsibility. If you’re going to own a Border Collie, you need to be prepared to cater to their needs—if you don’t, you may have a very destructive dog on your hands.

Due to Border Collies being so intelligent, they become bored easily and need mental and physical stimulation. Food puzzles, problem-solving, training, games, hikes, and runs will release a lot of their energy and keep them content. If your work schedule is too busy to fit time in with your dog, they’ll find their own ways to release energy which will likely be through chewing, digging, and barking.

11. They’re Official Goose Masters

If you’ve never heard of Goose Masters, they’re a company that uses trained Border Collies for goose control services. Geese can be a big problem in some areas because they tend to be aggressive, make a mess, cause erosion, and be an obstruction for planes at airports.

These Border Collies have the know-how on how to remove geese from just about any environment in a humane way, whether in or out of the water. Goose Masters have even been recommended by PETA and the Humane Society, so you can trust that these Border Collies act in a professional, safe manner.

female border collie lying
Image Credit: Tepepa79, Shuterstock

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Border Collies are a fascinating dog breed with many achievements under their belt. They’ve broken many Guinness World Records, are an excellent addition to search-and-rescue teams, hold the title for being the most intelligent dog breed, and are official Goose Masters.

This faithful breed won the heart of Queen Victoria, as well as many well-known celebrities. They even made it onto the AKC’s list of registered dog breeds in 1995. Impressive, fun, and affectionate—these are just a few of the qualities that make Border Collies wonderful companions to have.

See also:

  • When Do Border Collies Go Into Heat? Vet Approved Facts & Tips

Featured Image Credit: Andraž Cerar, Shutterstock

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