Border Collie

At a glance
border collieBorder Collies are medium sized, high-energy dogs. Traditionally, they are commonly used for work on farms. Healthy Collies require regular daily exercise, are popular participants in dog sports, and work closely and cooperatively with their human handlers, trainers and owners.


  • Names – The Border, Farm Collies, Working Collies
  • Group – AKC: Herding Group; KC: Pastoral
  • Size – medium
  • Life expectancy – 9 – 15 years, average of 13 years
  • Cost of ownership – low
  • Ease of ownership – medium
  • Aggressive tendency – low
  • Amount of Exercise – high
  • Amount of Grooming – low
  • Ease of Training – high
  • Obedience level – high
  • Suitable for Children – low
  • Amount of Care Required – low
  • Susceptibility to Health Problems – low

The Border Collie is a dog with a well-balanced form, combining agility and efficient proportion. The coat has a substantial, water resistant undercoat. The most familiar working posture of this breed is a crouching stance, their alert eyes keenly focused on the job in hand. The ‘hypnotic’ eye characteristic may possibly be found in other breeds, but it is most pronounced in the Border Collie, raising it to a class of its own in herding sheep, using their eyes to control a herd with almost no need for nipping or barking.

dog/bitch min/max

  • Dogs: 30 to 45 pounds (14 to 20 kg.)
  • Bitches: 27 to 42 pounds (12 to 19 kg.)

dog/bitch min/max

  • Dogs 19 to 22 inches (48 to 56 cm.)
  • Bitches 18 to 21 inches (46 to 53 cm.)


  • Color – black, blue merle, and sable, marked with varying amounts of white and/or tan
  • Coat – weather resistant, close fitting and thick; the outer coat is either wavy or straight and coarse in texture. The under coat is dense, short, and soft.
  • Shedding – medium
  • Suffers from Allergies – low
  • Causes Allergies – low

The Border Collie is an exceptionally gifted athlete and its unassuming frame packs is conducive a high level of stamina. This breed is most inclined toward tasks and assignments involving herding livestock. With an inclination toward such a mentally demanding activity, the Collie is naturally endowed with confidence and perseverance. They are quick to their feet, have a flowing movement, and are all-purpose, multi-talented pets.

  • Separation Anxiety – high
  • Barking tendency – medium
  • Aggressive tendency – low
  • Compatibility Other Animals – medium
  • Suitable for Children – low
  • Watchdog suitability – medium

The Border Collie is a brilliant and responsive dog. It excels at obedience, agility and Frisbee (TM), and is a singular competitor at various sports such as sheepdog trials. They thrive on positive reinforcement training, are sensitive and are very trainable. The Border Collie is highly energetic with great stamina. The best way to keep a Collie happy – especially among kids and other dogs – is to provide them with adequate attention, extensive daily exercise, and activities to keep them from getting bored. If the owner does not demonstrate proper leadership and dominance, a Collie may behave with hostility toward other dogs of the same sex. While they must not be left unsupervised with small non-canine pets, there are nevertheless many Border Collies that live harmoniously with family cats. Socialization of the puppy is the solution to prevent timidity from taking root in the dog.

Collies are restless in the pursuit to please. This is most obvious when they try to respond to requests or commands. This also means that they will tire of the owner who does not provide an adequate amount of attention. Prospective owners who are looking for a family pet should consider other similar but calmer breeds, such as show line Australian Shepherds and Shetland Sheepdogs. If there is insufficient activity, or if the dog is left to grow bored or restless, then it will create its own ways to keep busy – often resulting in varying degrees of destructive behavior. If left alone for long periods with nothing to do, they may also develop a host of behavioral problems. Boredom and separation anxiety may also lead to attempts to escape from the yard. Strong herding instincts may also impel them to try to herd children and strangers; training to discourage these behaviors is critical. Lastly, dominance issues vary from dog to dog, which means that the Collie is certainly not an ideal breed for first-time owners, much less for owners with easily-swayed authority.

Socialization and obedience during the puppy years of the dog are ideal. The Border Collie is quick to soak in its training, especially when positive reinforcement methods are utilized.  The dog learns most effectively through encouragement, fairness, consistency, and respect. Their sensitive nature clams up when they are treated in an ill-mannered way. Their brilliance shows in activities such as police work, herding, Frisbee trials, Flyball, search and rescue, and competitive obedience. Border Collies are also used successfully as therapy dogs and guide dogs for the blind.

  • Obedience – high

Exercise required
In order for a border Collie to be happy and healthy, plenty of exercise is needed. Furthermore, the activity keeps the dog’s brain occupied. The breed best thrives in the countryside, where they have ample space to burn off their seemingly never-ending energy.

  • Energy – high
  • Amount required – at least two hours of work or exercise per day

Since a regular bathing is not necessary, bathe or dry shampoo only if needed. A bath will be beneficial at times when the dog has become dirty enough that regular grooming (such as brushing) does not eliminate the visible dirt or odor. This breed is an average shedder. If your dog has an unpleasant odor after a bath, visit the Vet to have the source of the odor traced and treated.

Keep in mind to give regular checks for skin abrasions, fleas, rashes and scabs, and check for ticks during tick season.  Do not let the dog’s claws grow too long. If the dog runs on a lot of hard surfaces such as concrete or the pavement, they will wear their own nails down. Otherwise, you will have to take care of them yourself, or get a professional groomer to do them for you. Overgrown nails can be very painful to the dog and can make it hard to walk.  Overgrown nails should be treated by a veterinarian and should not be clipped at home as the quick may be much longer than usual.

Adult Border Collies are hardy dogs that do not need that much food to stay fit. It’s different in the case of growing puppies, which need appropriate proportionately large feedings during their growth phase between the 4th and 8th months. Moreover, proper diet at this phase of their growth will help to prevent bone problems later on. A good regimen to feed a puppy is to break the food into two meals during the day.  Examples of healthy treats are small amounts of raw carrots and other vegetables.

A good brushing every day will help maintain the coat’s tidy appearance. The brushing will also be important during the dog’s shedding season, to reduce the amount that is spread about your home. A coat similar to a Collie’s can actually tangle, mat, and snarl, so keeping up on the grooming is very important. Use care brushing when the soft undercoat is shedding. Trimming may be needed sometime later on the feathers on the front legs and tail or to remove nasty knots.

  • Ease of grooming – medium
  • Amount of grooming – medium

The primary motive behind a decision to breed a Border Collie must be the improvement of the breed. The breeder also needs to put a priority on health, herding qualities, good temperament and sound structure. Too many Border Collies are already being bred and produced these days, so you should be cautious not to settle for simply a “good” dog and should ensure that you are breeding only champions of the breed.
In line with this, both the sire and the dam need to have proven themselves in herding, obedience, agility, etc. and should have obtained significant titles in those efforts as they are some of the only evidence available to demonstrate the dog’s keen abilities in herding up to the breed’s skill standard. Breeding plans must only cover dogs that have a competitive herding instinct, are intelligent, and are enthusiastic workers.
A current CERF evaluation is a requirement for both the sire and dam. Epilepsy is becoming increasingly frequent among Border Collies, so any dogs with a history of epilepsy should automatically be eliminated as breeding candidates. The same goes for all dogs with diseases that may be genetic. Lastly, any breeder needs to be responsible enough to discuss the breeding in-depth with a veterinarian, check information with other breeders and do your research to effectively minimize the chances of a litter of unhealthy puppies.

  • Litter size – average of six and range of four to eight
  • Other expenses – In general they are a healthy breed, costing little in the way of veterinary fees. Thus, for some households, an important fraction of this dog’s expenses may be in the form of much needed training.

They are generally a tough breed. The Collie is acknowledged as one of the healthiest breeds with hardly any genetic problems. At the same time, some of the stubborn health concerns for some of these dogs are hip dysplasia, PRA and an eye disease common to Collies known as Collie Eye Anomaly. Some border Collie allergies are triggered by fleas.  Collies are becoming increasingly susceptible to epilepsy and deafness.

  • Life expectancy – average of 13 years, and a range of 9 to 15 years,
  • Susceptibility to illness – low
  • Common health problems – deafness, allergies, primary ciliary dyskinesia

The ideal Collie owner is experienced with dogs, and has the intention of spending plenty of time with the dog. The teen or the adolescent Border Collie often experiences a familiar and predictable stage where it seeks a loophole its master’s dominance. The degree of dominance tendencies varies from dog to dog. The ideal owner of a Border Collie is a firm, confident, and consistent pack leader; otherwise, the dog owner will only experience repeated “coup d’états” by the dog. If the dog is indeed allowed to take over, its anxiety over having to lead the pack, coupled with the lack of socialization and mental and physical exercise, result in a highly reactive and sound-sensitive dog, that can have undesirable aggressive tendencies – especially in families with young children.

Living conditions
The Border Collie will not thrive in small houses or apartments. They appreciate activity and play indoors, and require wide open spaces outdoors. Kennel life is also fine, but the dog needs daily activity and needs regular interaction with its handler-trainer. The last thing this dog breed needs is to be chained up in the back yard all day.

  • Children – Younger children may be frightened or jostled by the Collie’s inclination to herd them.

The Collie traces its roots from the British Isles, in the border country between England and Scotland. The source of the name Collie is still debatable, with the a major claim alleging that it stems from the Gaelic word for “useful.” Others allude to the color of the dog, saying the name came from “coalie” which means black. Still more claim that Collie was the name of a breed of sheep.

Whatever the case, literature about the Border Collie goes back all the way to 1570. The first to refer to the breed as Border Collie was James Reid, the Secretary of the International Sheepdog Society in Great Britain in 1915. Sheepdog trials were first held in 1873 in Wales and in 1880 in the USA.

  • County or origin – United Kingdom
  • AKA KC name and group – Herding, AKC Herding

Some famous Border Collies:

  • Fly and Rex, herding dogs in the movie, “Babe.”
  • Jag, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer’s dog, that regularly accompanied him on work days at the Capitol, as well as some other official occasions.
  • Ziggy, a wedding present to Frederik and Mary, Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark.

Some celebrities (and their Border Collies):

  • Isaac Mizrahi and Harry, a Golden Retriever-Border Collie Mix
  • Kate Nicholas and Gin, a dancing dog and finalist on the second series of Britain’s Got Talent

Two amazing Border Collies:

  1. Rico is a fifteen year old Collie who was proven in a scientific study to be capable of recognizing up to 200 objects by name.
  2. Striker, is the current Guinness World Record holder for “Fastest Car Window Opened by a Dog” at 11.34 seconds.
  • Winsor Pilates

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