Border Collie Dogs

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.

Border Collie

Border Collie Pictures

  • Border Collie dog named Red Dog RIP Jan 12/08
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Quick Facts

  • 30 - 50 pounds
  • 18 - 21 inches

Ideal Human Companions

    • Singles
    • Agility trainers
    • Families with older children
    • Shepherds

Border Collies on Dogster

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Trademark Traits

    • Long, two-toned mane
    • Smart and independent
    • Eager to please
    • Suspicious of strangers
    • Great herders
    • Perfectionists
    • Tireless workers

What They Are Like to Live With

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

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.

The Look of a Border Collie

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.

Talk About Border Collies 

Beautiful and amazingly intelligent

My favorite breed is the Border Collie. Not only are they beautiful to look at but they're simply the most intelligent dog I've ever known. Their attention, trainability and ability to care for their home and family make this breed the best!

However, not everyone can own this breed of dog. They need owners who can devote their time and attention, exercise and mentally-stimulating games/training for this breed to be truly at its finest. Even better if you have a farm or place where they can work animals, perhaps going to regular classes such as agility or flyball, which they readily excel at. Also read about possible genetic issues they are prone to and expect the unexpected.

~Dina, owner of a Border Collie

Great with children and other pets

The GREATEST DOG in the entire universe is the Border Collie. I'm on my second one, the first grew up with our 3 kids and passed on to the Rainbow Bridge at 12 years. It was heartbreaking but we honored this incredible animal with another. Collies are everything their reputation states; great with children of all ages, excellent around all other pets in the house, only bark when necessary, healthy, and easy to keep groomed despite the double coat because the top coat resists dirt.

These dogs are faithful to family, brave, as good indoors as they are outdoors, playful and puppylike through life when you want, but when it's time to rest they know to settle down. What more does anyone need in a dog. The Collie is as perfect a dog as nature can provide!

~Kate M., owner of a Border Collie

You'll need a decent yard!

I had a Border Collie as a child and she was very loyal. I remember her waiting for me to come home from school each day. Now in my 50s, I have another Border Collie rescue dog. The breed is still the same! My dog has great markings and is lots of fun.

What I had forgotten is how much consistency these dogs need. Exercise, good food and things to do. She naturally tried to dominate me and its important to be firm. That eye staring thing and growling is normal as she tries to get her way! I can now stare back when she is obstinate and use a firm voice and it works. I couldn't train her in everything all at once, but it is possible over several months. You also need to "listen" to this breed, are they just playing or do they actually want something, or are they telling you something? Strangers tend to get her excited so I have a good size wire crate in a quiet area inside or I let her out into a good-size back yard. A small yard is not good for these dogs.

Once you learn that these dogs will also herd you if you are weak, then you must assume a firm but loving and consistent stance. In the evening I can watch TV or work on the computer and she will readily lie at my side but she is not a lap dog.

~David C., owner of a Border Collie

My love for Border Collies

I grew up with Border Collie crosses and German Shepherd Dogs, I'm a dog trainer and it took me some time before I owned my first dog, I was so busy working with other people's dogs. I finally opted for a Border Collie, and I now have 4 of my own.

These dogs are amazing, super intelligent, energetic, willing to please and above all, sweet and funny. When owning such a breed, you need to have a sense of humor or else you won't enjoy them as they truly are.

Border Collies aren't for everyone and certainly aren't for the first time dog owners. They have so much energy. I can go running with my gang for about an hour and a half, then go to the dog park and then head back home jogging, and when we arrive, they still go and play rough or run outside (thank god we have lots of land for them to run freely on).

You also need to be firm with them, they will easily herd you and nip your heels if you don't correct them, it's in their instincts, it's what they do. You also need to be careful around children and your BC.

I also recommend research and of course, going through BC rescues before going for a breeder. You probably should get your dog from a reputable breeder who health tests, because BCs can have hereditary diseases or malformations (such as non educated breeders breeding merle x merle, creating double merles which leads to blind and deaf pups) so make sure the person breeding the BCs know what they are doing, don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions and see the parents!

~Laurence T., owner of four Border Collies

Get one if you love playing Frisbee

I rescued my Maggie last year and she is just the light of my life! My Border Collie and I hike, play Frisbee, and just goof off everyday! She is wonderful with my nieces and the whole neighborhood has "adopted" her as well. I would recommend a Border Collie to anyone who loves being outdoors and loves to throw a Frisbee.

~Terri B., owner of a Border Collie

A very intelligent and loyal friend

I had a border collie when I was 14 and she was an amazing friend. This breed, like any dog, is more than a pet. And I can truly say Ashley was my best friend.

As a breed they are very dependable, but require a great deal of space to run around and ample opportunities for long walks on the beach or to the park. They do not like strangers but can warm up to children when families provide their child with proper guidance. Border collies are excellent with older children.

If you are getting a border collie, be prepared for a 15-year commited relationship because they truly are a beautiful dog.

~Sylvia S, owner of a Border Collie

Curled tail and pricked ears

I have had a rescue Border, Jack, for eight years. He's bright, fast, and very tenacious. He sometimes herds my cats, which they don't like. He always tells me if someone is outside the house!

Note: This article says collies' tails never curl up, but Jack's does. He also has fully pricked ears.

~ChristieH, owner of a Border Collie

A super dog for dog sports

Collies are so loving, and love doing anything with you. Mine is a sweet boy, but he needs some form of exercise -- a daily half-hour minimum of Frisbee, ball throwing, or doing agility. We also do flyball, practice new tricks, and work on our obedience training. In addition to attending flyball tournaments and agility trials, he attends classes for these three times a week, with shows on the weekends. Doing all this makes him a very easy boy to live with as we are quite busy.

Collies love to be with their owners all the time and do require lots of attention. Be prepared to do some kind of dog sport. They like to be busy, and if you have time to give that attention and activity, they are very easy to live with. If not, you will have one depressed, destructive dog.

~Lucille M., owner of a Border Collie