Dogster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How Aggressive Are Border Collies? Breed Facts & FAQs

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 15, 2024 by Dogster Team

Border Collie

How Aggressive Are Border Collies? Breed Facts & FAQs

The Border Collie was originally bred to help farmers herd sheep. In fact, that’s the sole reason why they were named “Collie”—a name that literally translates to “sheepdog.”

Are Border Collies aggressive in nature? Typically, no, but it depends on the particular dog. But to better understand what we’re getting at, let’s give the dog a better introduction.

What’s the Border Collie Known For?

The first thing that you’ll be told by anyone who’s ever owned this breed is that they all have an intense stare—popularly known as the “eye”. They’ll sit and just stare at the livestock grazing, waiting for you to give them a command.

For generations, these dogs have been considered the premium herding breed, due to their stamina and inexhaustible energy. To be a perfect match for a Collie, you have to be someone who’s active and ready to deal with a highly intelligent pooch—these dogs are very smart and don’t fit the “laid-back family pet” mold.

In short, what we’re saying is that the Collie’s workaholic attitude can be an asset or a liability, depending on how you look at it.

border collie dog lying on couch under a blanket
Image Credit: Julia Zavalishina, Shutterstock

The Border Collie’s Disposition

If we had to pick words that best describe this breed’s personality, we’d pick smart, industrious, energetic, and as mentioned before, very alert. If you’re looking for a pet that’s going to be independent and strong-minded, then you’re in the right place.

You must always remember that this dog has a compulsion to herd. So even if there are no sheep around, they’ll “herd” whatever they can find. We’ve seen them try to herd cars, kids, and even other pets. Of course, this behavior can be tamed, but only if you start training them as a puppy.

How Aggressive Are Border Collies?

First off, it’s important to acknowledge the fact that any dog can exhibit disruptive behavior when left unsupervised, or if they aren’t properly trained. So, it’s not fair to assume that all Border Collies are aggressive, just because you met one that was.

They may become aggressive if they are grappling with an undiagnosed health condition, or if they no longer view you as the alpha in that relationship.

Speaking of, right from a young age, you have to let the dog know that you and all your family members are leaders in the pack. They’ll only be cordial, cooperative, and obedient, if they get the sense that you’re relatively stronger, hence making them the beta.

Side Note: Before moving on to the probable causes of aggression in Border Collies, we feel obligated to remind you that more often than not, dogs usually cause problems due to a lack of understanding.

They’ll show tendencies of aggression towards kids, strangers, or other pets, possibly because they weren’t properly socialized as pups. Suffice it to say, the Border Collie is no different.

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

Dogster_Website dividers_v1_Jan 18 2024-03

What Are the Probable Causes of Aggression in Border Collies?

Alpha Aggression

Border Collies need owners who are ready to step up to the plate as leaders. If they sense you’re not taking a position of leadership, they’ll immediately try to offset that balance of power. In other words, that sort of aggressive behavior they are suddenly developing is their way of asserting dominance over you.


Every stimulus that they experience has to be met with an appropriate response. If they see something that makes them feel threatened or scared, they’ll respond with aggression. It’s a fundamental instinct for them.


Animals often feel pain the same way humans do. And whenever they are in pain, they also experience a lot of stress.  If your Border Collie is wounded, be gentle while addressing the issue at hand. A Border Collie in pain is certainly capable of biting, nipping, or growling.

Health complications might also be one of the causes. So, watch out for signs such as restlessness, loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, confusion, etc.

a border collie dog looking sick covered with blanket on couch
Image By: Lindsay Helms, Shutterstock

How to Deal with Situations Involving an Aggressive Border Collie

Shouting is a no-no in our books. Don’t even yell, or worst of all, try to hit the dog. This will only make the situation worse when your prime goal should be to de-escalate the tension.

Do not pressure the dog to do something while it’s still growling. The growl alone is enough to tell you that they are disinterested in whatever you want them to do. Respect their wishes and take it as a sign that they need more room to breathe.

Lastly, you shouldn’t get them involved in any aggressive dominance-based activity, while they are still in that state. Such activities include tug of war and any other form of game that requires the dog to chase a moving target. Instead, focus on games designed to stimulate them mentally.

Dogster_Website dividers_v1_Jan 18 2024-03


Generally, the Border Collie is not an aggressive dog. They’ll only be aggressive if they aren’t properly socialized, if they feel threatened, scared, sick, or if they think you aren’t fit to be a leader.

A lot of people fear getting them as family pets because their herding instincts are ridiculously strong, and while this can be an issue, this can be mitigated with proper training and socialization.

Featured Image Credit: ForeverNaturalPhotography, Shutterstock

Get Dogster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Dogster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.