Easy to Train
- Weight: 12–20kg
- Height: 46–56cm
- Lifespan: 12–15 years
- Breed size: Medium
- Dog breed group: Working/herding dog
- Shed level: Average to high
Originating from England and Scotland in the 1700s, Border Collies were bred to herd.
In fact, the word ‘Collie’ was a Scottish word to describe sheepdogs.
Their claim to fame came later in the mid-19th century when Queen Victoria herself raised several Border Collie puppies – boosting their popularity as pets.
But even then, it wasn’t until 1995 that Border Collies were recognised as their own breed. Before, they were known as a ‘Scotch Sheep Dog’.
Nowadays, Border Collies have made a name for themselves for their showmanship, loyalty and intelligence. And it’s these qualities that set them apart.
When it comes to Border Collies, things aren’t always black and white. At least, when it comes to their coat, that is! They can actually be black, white, blue, tricolour, red merle, blue merle, sable merle, brindle, chocolate, liver, red or gold.
But thanks to their (brown or blue) eyes, alert (or semi-alert) ears and their long, low tail – you can always tell how a Border Collie is feeling. For example, if a Collie’s ears are up and forward, they’re feeling alert and curious.
Their loyalty and protectiveness are two of their strongest characteristics. So much so, that you may need to keep an eye on their aggression levels if you’re around strangers or other dogs.
Luckily, with this highly intelligent and obedient breed, you can train them from a puppy to play nicely with others.
Border Collies are not small-space friendly. So generally, they’re not compatible with apartment living – especially because of their need to always be doing something. And if there’s nothing to do? Furniture, shoes and house plants may pay the price.
Wide, open spaces are a Collie’s dream come true. So a farm, countryside or property where there’s room to run is their idea of paradise.
Border Collies are most suited to pet parents who have the time to train, walk and play with them – every day. They especially appreciate routine, and prefer these activities to happen at a similar time each day.
Extremely family friendly, a Border Collie will shower you with love – and be a great addition to your home life.
For a Border Collie, ‘work time’ is synonymous with ‘play time’. So teaching them commands, from sit to stay to speak, is a fun experience for both dog and owner.
But due to their high intelligence, short, daily training sessions are far more effective than longer, sporadic sessions where they may lose interest – especially Border Collie puppies. Complex training shouldn’t start until they’re about 8 months old.
Extremely high in energy, if a Border Collie’s not being put to work, they’ll need another outlet. That’s why agility training is so popular!
But how much exercise does a Border Collie need? At least an hour or two a day – whether it’s running, walking or playing fetch.
Just keep in mind that they live to please, so they need plenty of positive reinforcement with pats and treats.
Whether they have short, sleek hair or longer, courser hair, Border Collies are double coated. So they’ll require daily brushing and occasional bathing to avoid matting, knots and tangles.
They’re average-to-high shedders, especially during autumn and spring – where they ‘blow coat’ to grow a thicker or thinner coat for the cooler or warmer weather. During this time, they’ll require extra grooming to keep their coat under control.
But whatever you do, do not shave a Border Collie. Their topcoat and undercoat protect them from insects and the elements. So removing this barrier will do more harm than good.
Border Collies are also prone to waxy build-ups in their ears – so they need to have regular ear inspections and cleans.
And just like all dogs, Border Collies can grow long claws. So regularly clipping their nails does everyone a favour.
Bred for work, a healthy life expectancy is in a Border Collie’s DNA. But with that being said, they are more susceptible to the following health issues:
- Food allergies: Border Collies may experience a dry, itchy coat or sore stomach because of something they ate.
- Epilepsy: When a Border Collie reaches around 2 years old, they become more prone to seizure conditions like epilepsy (which can be hereditary).
- Collie Eye Abnormality (CEA): CEA is a congenital eye problem, resulting in cloudy, sunken eyes.
- Border Collie Collapse (BCC): After exercise, a Border Collie may become dazed, disorientated or confused. They don’t need to actually collapse to have BCC.
- Hip dysplasia: Sometimes, a Border Collie’s hip joint doesn’t fit together properly. This can be painful and cause your Collie to lose mobility.
- Other: Border Collies are also prone to hypothyroidism, cancer and noncancerous growths.
If a Border Collie is displaying symptoms of any of the above, if they’re urinating less than normal and ignoring their food, or if they have a growth or tender spot on their body – they’ll need to see a vet for treatment.
Border Collie FAQs
How high can a Border Collie jump?
Up to 6 feet from standing.
Are Border Collies good with cats?
Mostly. Border Collies are bred to herd. So while they are cat-friendly, you’d need to make sure your feline is okay with being corralled to bed from time to time.
Do Border Collies bark a lot?
In the quiet and in the chaos, a Border Collie may bark excessively. That’s what makes them great guard dogs! But with early training, you can teach them to use their inside voices.
Did you know…
Border Collies are revered in pastures everywhere for ‘the stare’?
Legend has it, a Border Collie has the power to hypnotise sheep into herding with a single look. Talk about pulling the wool over their eyes!