The Border Collie is widely considered to be the most intelligent dog breed in the world. These bright, intense workaholics love to be kept busy and thrive on companionship. Originally bred as herding dogs, Border Collies are beloved for their intense focus, sleek appearance, and active nature. So, it’s perhaps no surprise that they’re one of the most popular dog breeds in the world today.
Border Collies are highly trainable so they tend to excel at dog sports, including obedience, flyball, agility, tracking, and flying disc competitions. These dogs also make wonderful family companions, as long as you take the time to ensure they get plenty of physical and mental stimulation. Border Collies are known to try and outsmart their owners from time to time but don’t worry; they will still stay devoted to you and your family.
Border Collies are best suited to owners who are just as energetic and active as they are! With proper training, this dog breed can excel in any activity, whether that’s learning new tricks or competing in agility training courses.
If you've ever seen a Border Collie herding sheep, you will know that you have witnessed a master craftsman at work. Their stealth and focus is truly breathtaking. If you like the sound of an intelligent, fun-loving, and energetic dog, a Border Collies could the soul mate you’ve been looking for.
- Exercise Needed Daily: 2 hour 10/10
- Training: Easy 2/10
- Grooming: Once a Week 2/10
- Shedding: Medium 6/10
- Hypoallergenic: Medium 6/10
- Watchdog Ability: Intensive 10/10
- Barking Level: Medium 6/10
- Environment: Countryside 10/10
- Type of home: House with a Garden 10/10
- Good with Children: Yes 10/10
- Good with Other Animals: Yes 10/10
- POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS: No 2/10
Border Collies were originally bred to be sheepherders. However, these dogs can guide just about any kind of herd. They have even been known to lead children around!
This dog breed originated in the border counties of England and Scotland. There is some debate over the exact origin of this breed. However, it's thought that they could date back over 2000 years, when they would have been used as drover dogs by the Romans.
Their ancestors are believed to be other types of collies, such as the Bearded Collie and the Scotch Collie. Some dog breed historians also think the Spaniel might be in the mix somewhere.
It’s believed that all modern Border Collies can trace their origin back to a rough-coated tri-colour dog named Old Hemp. In 1893, his owner, Adam Telfer trained Old Hemp to herd sheep. However, he was noticeably more polite and quieter than other sheepdogs at the time. As a result, he was bred extensively, siring over 200 puppies!
The term ‘Border Collie was first coined in 1915 by James Reid who was the secretary of the International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS).
Border Collies became even more popular after Queen Victoria became acquainted with the breed at her Balmoral Estate. They became a firm favourite of hers and she owned many during her lifetime. This changed the perception of Border Collies from pure working dogs to elegant, devoted family companions.
Nowadays, Border Collies are recognized as the premier sheepherding dog as well as loving family pets. Their superior intelligence has also seen them become a popular choice for police, narcotics units, bomb detection, and search and rescue missions. Due to their high trainability, they also make great guide dogs for the blind.
The Border Collie breed was first recognized by the United Kennel Club in January 1961. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed on October 1, 1995.
Border Collies are athletic medium-sized dogs with a feathered tail that reaches down to the hocks and a sleek, muscular body that is slightly longer than it is tall. These dogs have an elongated muzzle and erect ears. However, the ears often fold over at the tips, giving them an endearing cheerful look.
Some Border Collies have a rough coat that’s about three inches long. Smooth-coated varieties have a sleeker coat that’s about one inch long. Longer-haired Border Collies typically also have a plush mane and tail.
This dog breed comes in a wide range of colour variations including black and white, black and grey, red and white, and tri-colour. However, the black and white variety is considered to be the most common and distinct coat colour of this breed. According to the Border Collie breed standard, random white patches on the body and head are allowed and they can be clear white or ticked to any degree. However, white should not be the dominating colour.
One of the Border Collie’s most prominent features is their intense almond-shaped eyes that come in shades of brown or light blue. Border Collie eyes constantly convey intense focus and attention which is a hallmark of this intelligent breed. In fact, Border Collie dogs are known to gaze keenly into an animal’s eyes, seemly using mind tricks to guide the flock.
Border Collies are energetic working dogs that are well-suited to country living. These are not your average lap dogs! If they’re not provided with adequate activity and company, these dogs can develop destructive behaviours such as digging, chasing cars, or excessive barking. Remember, Border Collies were bred to be working dogs, so they must be provided with constant stimulation to thrive.
Because of their herding nature, Border Collies are very protective of their family and territory. This makes them excellent watchdogs. You may even see them looking after the kids, which many dog lovers find endearing.
Border Collies are bright dogs full of energy and they have a solid desire to herd whatever it is around them. They will be at their happiest on a big farm or ranch, where they can run around all day and learn different tasks. This loved dog breed can also make a great family pet for a dynamic owner who is eager to put daily effort into exercising their Border Collie.
Nowadays, Border Collies are arguably most famous for their agility and skill in a variety of canine sports. This keen dog breed is a fast learner and is one of the most trainable dogs in the world. Saying that, Border Collies can be determined and independent, despite their interest in learning compliance and tricks, but they respond well to praise.
Border Collies are known to have a bit of an independent streak and their compulsion to herd can sometimes lead them into trouble! If they are not given something to do, these dogs will likely chase children, other pets, and even moving cars.
Early socialization is crucial for Border Collies to prevent behavioural problems from developing. So, you will need to expose them to a variety of situations and people when they are young puppies, to ensure they become adaptable adults.
Obedience training that begins early and continues through a Border Collie’s life will also keep them content and give them the mental stimulation they crave. Border Collies are brilliant and highly trainable. They are rockstars at dog activities such as obedience, herding, agility and obedience.
They generally get along well with older, well-behaved kids due to their playful and approachable natures. However, supervision is necessary with younger children in case things get out of hand. Border Collies tend to adore their families; however, they can be reserved and cautious with strangers.
Border Collies that have not been adequately socialized as puppies, tend to become shy or fearful. So, make sure you enroll them in puppy classes and expose them to different situations to help build their confidence.
Coat & Care
The hardworking Border Collie has a weather-resistant double coat that requires weekly brushing to keep it in good condition. Regular brushing is especially important in the rough-coated variety to prevent matting. You may also want to brush more regularly during the shedding season. However, bear in mind that these dogs are known to shed all year round. Bathe these dogs only as required — about every four months or when they have gotten themselves particularly dirty.
Brush your Border Collie’s teeth at least two or three times a week to eliminate tartar buildup. Daily brushing is ideal to avoid gum disease and bad breath.
In addition, you will need to trim their nails once a month or so and check their ears at least once a week. Excess dirt, redness, or a foul odour can signal an ear infection. Wipe them out weekly with a damp cotton ball and a gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to prevent ear problems.
As you groom your Border Collie, make sure to check for rashes, sores, or signs of infection such as tenderness, redness, or inflammation of the skin, mouth, eyes, nose, and paws. Their eyes should be clear and healthy, with no discharge or redness. A weekly health check will help you identify any potential health problems early.
Border Collies are generally a robust and healthy breed. However, its essential that you only purchase a puppy from an ethical and registered breeder because they will be able to check for the presence of any health conditions and diseases. In Border Collies these can include hip dysplasia, deafness, progressive renal atrophy, epilepsy, neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, collie eye anomaly, and trapped neutrophil syndrome.
Here are some of the more common health issues in Border Collies that you need to watch out for:
- Hip Dysplasia – An inherited health condition where the thighbone does not fit snuggly into the dog’s hip joint. Some dogs will show pain by limping on one or both back legs. However, others may not show any outward signs of discomfort. Hip dysplasia can cause joint and bone problems later in life.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) – A family of eye diseases characterised by the slow deterioration of the retina. Affected Border Collie dogs can become night-blind early in the condition. They may also lose eyesight in the day as the disease progresses. Many affected dogs adapt well to their partial or complete loss of vision as long as you cater to their needs and keep their environment consistent.
- Epilepsy – A neurological health condition that’s frequently genetic-based. It can cause mild or severe seizures that may show themselves as unusual behaviours such as staggering, hiding, stiff limbs and even a loss of consciousness.
- Collie Eye Anomaly – An inherited health condition that causes abnormalities in the eyes, which can lead to blindness. These changes may include choroidal hypoplasia - abnormal development of the choroids, coloboma - a defect in the optic disc, staphyloma - a thinning of the sclera, and retinal detachment. Collie eye anomaly typically occurs by the time a Border Collie is around two years old.
- Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD) – An orthopaedic condition caused by improper growth of the cartilage in the joints. It typically occurs in the elbows but it can also develop in the shoulders.
Children & Other Pets
Border Collies make excellent family dogs, as long as they have been well-socialized and appropriately trained from puppyhood. They get along well with both children and other pets. Border Collies have been known to display dominance towards other dogs of the same sex. However, confident owner can usually quell this assertive behaviour with consistent training.
As with every dog breed, you should always explain to children how to approach and touch a dog. Explain to your child that he or she should never approach any dog while they are eating or sleeping. They should also never attempt to take a dog's food away. No dog should ever be left unsupervised with a young child, no matter how approachable they seem.
With sufficient exercise, training and socialization, Border Collies can make wonderful companions, as long as you are willing to put in the effort!