Border Collie

Border Collie
The ultimate herder, the Border Collie is a medium-sized, well-proportioned dog that is easily recognisable whether working or competing in dog sports. Known for their tireless energy, stamina and working drive, this breed is one of the most active and always wanting to please.
  • Dog suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Enjoys vigorous walks
  • Enjoys walking more than two hours a day
  • Medium dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Non Hypoallergenic breed
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Guard dog. Barks and alerts
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • May require training to live with kids

Border Collie Key Facts:

Lifespan: 12 – 15 years

Weight: 14 – 20kg

Height: 48 – 53cm

Colours: The coat can either be smooth or of medium length and the most common colour is black and white, although other colours with white are also seen – e.g. brown, blue merle, red and tricolour.

Size: Medium

Kennel Club Group: Pastoral


Family-friendly: 4/5

Exercise needs: 5/5

Easy to train: 5/5

Tolerates being alone: 1/5

Likes other pets: 3/5

Energy level: 5/5

Grooming needs: 3/5

Shedding: 3/5

History and Origins

The Border Collie dog breed dates back to the 1700s although it was not given its present name until 1915 being previously known as the Scottish Collie or the Working Collie. There are several theories as to where the word ‘Collie’ comes from but the most likely is that ‘collie’ means ‘useful’ in Gaelic, and these dogs are very certainly that.

Border Collies worked with shepherds in the border area between Scotland and England for hundreds of years, being bred purely for their working ability and quite rightly earning themselves the reputation of being the finest herders of sheep in the world.

The Border Collie works silently - and has a unique way of moving sheep working in harmony with their owner using a combination of crouching, creeping and sprinting that allows them to be very precise in how and where they move their woolly charges. These behaviours have translated well to many of the modern dog sports.


Border Collies are always ready to work, attentive, lively and alert. They will form a very close bond with their owner and family but, unless given plenty of time and exercise, they are not ideal pets for a family with very young children, as it’s in their nature to herd anything that moves - your children included! If not kept physically and mentally stimulated they will become bored, developing behavioural problems or getting into mischief, as their brains are always active.

The Border Collie will suit an extremely active owner who is able to give them plenty of exercise, enjoys training, and who wants a very full-on dog.

Health and Common Issues

The Border Collie is a very hardy breed, generally with few health problems. However, as with many breeds, they can suffer from hereditary eye disorders and hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important. Epilepsy is also relatively common in the breed.

Exercise Needs

With their need to be busy and their great desire to please, the Border Collie thrives on training, which is a great way of exercising their mind and body. They are like a gift from heaven for those wanting to compete in dog sports such as obedience, agility, flyball, freestyle or herding trials. Failure to exercise them can result in the Border developing behavioural problems or making them difficult to live with. For an adult, two hours-plus of daily exercise is needed, along with mental stimulation.

Space Requirements

This is very much a rural dog who needs space for their extensive exercise and training requirements. The urban life is often way too stimulating for a Border Collie as they prefer a quiet country life.

Nutrition and Feeding

Your dog's diet needs to have the right balance of all the main nutrient groups including a constant supply of fresh water. It's also important to conduct regular body condition scores to ensure you keep your dog in ideal shape and remember to feed him at least twice daily and in accordance with the feeding guidelines of his particular food.

Grooming Border Collies

In both the medium-length and smooth variety, the top coat is dense and the undercoat thick and soft. With the longer-haired coat, there is a noticeable mane around the neck and shoulders. The coat is easy to maintain, providing it is brushed a couple of times a week for the medium-length and once a week for the smooth variety and any tangles dealt with on a regular basis.

Training Border Collies

A Border Collie needs training and lots of it. They thrive with a job to do and are a hyper-intelligent breed whose need to work must be appropriately challenged to prevent them getting themselves into trouble. They are also sensitive dogs who need reward-based training and a way to channel their instinctive desire to please their owner.

Try and find a class who understands this breed and who offers training in agility, obedience or other canine sports. For owners who understand the requirements of this breed, they are unbeatable and will shine in every dog training class and amaze everyone with their skills and behaviour, as well as be a joy to own.

Due to their intelligence, this is an easy dog to train – but potential owners shouldn’t mistake ‘easy to train’ for naturally well behaved! By nature, the Border Collie is often a relentless herder, and so will try and round up children, other pets and indeed anything and everything they can find. A Border Collie who is not given a suitable outlet for their passion for work can resort to undesirable behaviour such as aggression, destructive behaviour, nuisance barking and be totally manic around the house.

Best Family Dog Breeds

While Border Collies can live with sensible dog-friendly children, they are not a great family dog as they are way too active and can find children overly stimulating, leading to behaviour problems and even nips, or else want to herd them and their friends!

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with and respect each other, and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them.

Did you Know?

  • There are many theories on how Collies got their names but as ‘collie’ is Gaelic for ‘useful’ perhaps it’s as simple as Scottish farmers recognising one of the key traits of their dogs
  • American psychologist Dr Stanley Coren classified the Border Collie as the most intelligent breed of dog, ranking first out of 133 breeds.
  • Border Collies are known for their intense stare, allowing them to control a flock with a simple glance
  • This breed is highly sensitive and doesn’t respond well to harsh treatment or loud noises
  • If not well socialised, the Border Collie can become very shy and wary of other dogs and people

Similar Breeds:

Rough Collie

Shetland Sheepdog




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