When agility, athleticism, and intelligence collides with an intense gaze; you have the world’s premiere herding dog, the Border Collie.  The Border Collie is a muscular but exceptionally nimble breed that has unlimited energy and stamina.  Don’t own a herd of sheep, no problem he is an exceptional competitor in canine sports such as obedience, agility, flyball, Frisbee, and tracking. Not to mention he makes a fabulous family companion as well.


Did You Know?

  • The Border Collie almost has a sixth sense. They are very sensitive and respond to even the subtlest command.  Owners claim that they often know what they are going to need to command prior to the command being given.
  • Border Collies are workaholics. They have unlimited stamina and are highly intelligent, those traits are what makes him such an amazing herding dog.  He needs plenty of physical and mental stimulation to help him reach his full potential as a premiere dog breed.
  • The innate desire to herd animals is fabulous if you have sheep, if not the Border Collie will herd children, cars, bikes, cats, essentially anything that moves. If you do not properly train your Collie and keep him in a securely fenced yard this trait, which is fabulous for ranchers, could become a problem.
  • Normally the Collie doesn’t roam, but he is a very intelligent dog and if something sparks his curiosity on the other side of the fence he can likely become an escape artist.
  • A Collie uses nudging, nipping, and barking to herd animals. If children are noisy and squealing he may begin to use those same actions on children.  It is important to train him that those actions are not acceptable to use on children.  
  • Collies need a job, they are workaholics that are very intense. They are known for their epic gaze and the epic and the epic havoc they wreak when they get bored.  Keep him active, challenged and involved and you will have a companion of a lifetime.

Adaptability: 3/5

  • Adapts well to apartment living: 2/5
  • Good for first-time owners: 2/5
  • Sensitivity level: 5/5
  • Tolerates being alone: 1/5
  • Tolerates cold weather: 4/5
  • Tolerates hot weather: 4/5

All Around Friendliness: 4/5

  • Affectionate toward family: 5/5
  • Kid-friendly: 4/5
  • Dog-friendly: 3/5
  • Friendly toward strangers: 5/5

Health & Grooming: 3/5

  • Amount of shedding: 3/5
  • Drooling potential: 1/5
  • Easy to groom: 3/5
  • General health: 2/5
  • Potential for weight gain: 3/5
  • Size: 3/5

Trainability: 4/5

  • Easy to train: 5/5
  • Intelligence: 5/5
  • Potential for mouthiness: 3/5
  • Tendency to bark or howl: 2/5
  • Wanderlust potential: 3/5

Exercise Needs: 4.5/5

  • Energy level: 5/5
  • Intensity: 3/5
  • Exercise needs: 5/5
  • Potential for playfulness: 5/5


Collies of one sort or another have been used to guard and herd sheep in Britain for centuries.  Most of the herds were kept in the hilly countryside between England and Scotland.  Particular herding breeds became known for the region of which they tended flocks in, such as Welsh Sheepdogs, Northern Sheepdogs, Highland Collies, and Scotch Collies.  Herding dogs quickly became the most valuable asset a sheepherder could have to tend, guard and herd sheep in the rough terrain of the country.  The best herding dogs were bred with each other to develop a premiere herding breed. Border Collies were a type of Collie used to herd sheep on the border of England and Scotland, hence their name Border Collie.  

It was at the Royal Castle of Balmoral that Queen Victoria first saw a herding Collie at work.  She was very impressed with their abilities and fell in love with this particular breed. It was during this time that distinctions began to be made between show Collies and the working Border Collie as we know it today.  It was also at this time that sheep herding competitions began and were gaining popularity.  It was in 1876 that a demonstration of herding wild sheep took place at the Alexandra Palace in London, it was after this first demonstration that Border Collie’s really started to become their own distinct breed.  An account in the Livestock Journal described the astonishment of the spectators at the keenness of the dogs, whose only assistance from their handlers was in the form of hand signals and whistles.  However, that being said Border Collies were not officially recognized as their own separate breed until after WWI.

The Border Collie continues to be recognized internationally for its premiere herding skills and is often referred to as the best herding breed in the world.  They repeatedly earn top marks in worldwide herding competitions.  The Border Collie has been advocated that breeding be continued to achieve working traits not conformity.  It has become a separate breed from the show Collie.


The Border Collie is considered a medium sized dig with males standing between 19 to 22 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 35 and 45 pounds.  Females are slightly smaller standing between 18 to 21 inches at the shoulders and weighing between 30 to 40 pounds.


Border Collies can have either a rough or smooth coat, both varieties have a double coat.  Collies with rough coats have medium length hair with feathering on the legs, neck and belly.  The smooth variety has shorter hair all over and the general texture is courser.  Their coat is generally black with a white blaze in the face, neck, feet and tip of his tail.  They can have tan markings but generally do not.   One of the unique traits of the Border Collie his intense stare, he uses this to herd sheep. It is little surprise then that his facial expression is very intense with dark oval eyes that seem to be all the language he needs to use to get his job done. His ears should be about 3/4 erect and forward facing. The overall expression is that of intelligence, interest, and confidence. The Border Collie has a medium sized muscular body that is hard and well shaped under his coat. His body is well proportioned with strong parallel legs and a deep broad chest. His back slopes slightly into his low set tail.  



One of the hallmark traits of the Border is his ability to focus like no other dog. It is often referred to as the “eye,” that penetrating stare he gives to sheep to get them to move where he wants them to be. Border Collies are highly intelligent and learn extremely quick, sometimes so quick, owners may have a hard time keeping him challenged mentally. He is also a very sensitive breed, they will respond to quiet commands, hand signs, and even just the raise of an eyebrow is all it takes for them to know how you are feeling. It is important to remember this when training them and to be firm but gentle while training him, he learns quick and wants to please. Remember he was bred to herd, and is exceptionally good at it, that being said he will herd children, ducks, even cars. He needs a job to do every day to help keep that herding instinct in check.

This is an incredible breed and is capable of amazing things but he does need to be trained or he can develop obnoxious traits just like any other dog. Without proper socialization Border Collies can become shy and very reserved. To prevent this and help build your Border Collies confidence give him plenty of opportunities to socialize at a young age with other people and other dogs.

Some Borders may exhibit compulsive behaviors such as chasing a shadow or spinning for long periods of time. They may exhibit other behaviors such as waiting for a cat to wake up or chasing bugs but those behaviors have a purpose. A behavior that is considered compulsive is one in which there is no purpose. If a Border Collie is exhibiting these behaviors it is because he is not getting enough mental stimulation to keep his mind challenged with more important things.

Children and Pets

The Border Collie is a great family dog and does well with children. That being said that is if he is trained properly form a young age. As a herding dog he will try to herd young children by nudging, nipping, and barking if he is not taught otherwise. A well trained Border is a fabulous family dog. They get along well with other animals and pets. Once again he may try to herd them though if he is not taught otherwise.  As with any dog be sure to observe interactions between your Border Collie and children to be sure children are taught how to properly play with him and he in return learns how to interact with children as well. 


Border Collies are generally a fairly healthy breed but, as with all breeds, there are some health conditions they are more prone to.  It is important to note that not all Border Collies will have any or all of these conditions, but it is good to be aware of possible health conditions they may have. If you have access to your dog’s parental health records that would be a great place to do some research and see what he may be prone to having.  You can obtain health clearances for both of the parents of your dog to make sure they’ve been tested and cleared from the following conditions. Health clearances can be confirmed by checking the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) website.

Hip Dysplasia: This is a genetic condition passed down from parents in which the femur does not fit snugly into the pelvic socket of the hip joint.  This condition can exist without clinical signs so it is important to have X-ray screenings done.  Dogs with this condition can be in pain and exhibit lameness in one or both rear legs. Ask the breeder for proof that the parents were tested and cleared for hip dysplasia. 

Epilepsy: Another hereditary disorder, this causes seizures.  It cannot be cured but it can be controlled with medication.  Border Collies that suffer from Epilepsy can live long healthy lives with proper management. 

Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD):  This is an orthopedic condition in which there is an improper growth of cartilage in the joints, typically the elbows, but it has been seen in shoulders as well.  It results in stiffening of the joints that can be painful, to the point that the dog is unable to bend his elbow.  Early detection can happen as soon as four to nine months.  A possible contributor to this condition is overfeeding “growth formula” puppy food or other high protein foods. 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This is a degenerative eye disorder that eventually causes blindness from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye. PRA is detectable years before the dog shows any signs of blindness. Fortunately, dogs can use their other senses to compensate for blindness, and a blind dog can live a full and happy life. Just don’t make it a habit to move the furniture around. Reputable Aussie breeders have their dogs’ eyes certified annually by a veterinary ophthalmologist and do not breed dogs with this disease.

Allergies: This is a common ailment in all dogs, they can have food allergies or contact allergies.  Each is treated by eliminating whatever is causing the allergy from the dog’s diet or removing the contact item giving the dog the allergy.  Inhalant allergies can also effect dogs, some can be alleviated by medications.  Ear infections are a common side effect of inhalant allergies.

Collie Eye Anomaly: This condition occurs by the time the dog is two years old.  It is an inherited condition that causes changes and abnormalities in the eyes. These changes can include choroidal hypoplasia (an abnormal development of the choroids), coloboma (a defect in the optic disc), staphyloma (a thinning of the sclera), and retinal detachment. This can lead to blindness in one or both eyes.  Fortunately dogs can live long and normal lives even with blindness.



Border Collies can be fairly adaptable living in a city with a securely fenced yard or out in the country on a ranch.  One thing that remains constant is his need for physical and mental exercise regardless of where you live.  Collies need a minimum of an hour of intense physical exercise every day, that can be given in the form of a run, herding sheep or other livestock, participating in flyball or agility competitions etc.  He also requires mental stimulation every day as well.  This can be achieved with obedience activities, herding, and training exercises.  It is highly recommended that he be placed in puppy kindergarten and continues training courses.  The Border Collies innate herding trait can prove obnoxious if not fatal if he tries to herd cars and doesn’t learn to differentiate what he can and cannot herd.


As with any dog purchase high quality, nutrient dense dog food.  Ask your Veterinarian what food and blend would be best suited for your dog.  Factors such as age, size, activity level will make a difference on what kind of food he needs and how much.  Typically,  Border Collies will need 1 1/2 cup to 2 cups of dry food a day.  It is recommended that that amount be divided into two separate meals, one in the morning and one at night.


The coat of a Border Collie does not require very much work to keep hi looking good, even if he has been herding sheep all week.  They shed heavily twice a year during the spring and fall and will require more brushing during those times to keep his shedding to a minimum.  During other times of the year he will need a weekly brushing to help evenly distribute oils and prevent matting.  He can be bathed as needed, usually when he is dirty, he can be bathed once every few months. 

His nails will need to be trimmed if he doesn’t wear them down on his own.  Typically they will need to be trimmed once or twice a month.  If you can hear them clack on the floor when he walks then they are too long.  You can trim them or have a groomer trim them.  Be aware that they do have blood vessels in their nails so if you trim them too short they will bleed and he won’t be so keen on getting them trimmed again. 

To prevent dental problems daily brushing is a habit to have with your Border Collie.  Ask your Veterinarian what toothpaste would be best for your Border Collie. 

When you brush through his coat each week take a look in his ears and check for redness or odors which may be an indicator of an infection.  Wipe his ears out with a clean cotton ball that has a pH balanced ear cleaning solution on it.  Do not insert anything into his ear while cleaning it, no Q-tips etc.

Common Questions

Are Border Collies a good family dog?  Like any other breed some are the best you could ask for and others are not the best for families.  A well trained Border Collie makes a energetic loyal family companion that will follow you everywhere, literally he will follow you everywhere.  They love people and are very social dogs when they are socialized at an early age. 

Do Border Collies like water and are they good swimmers?  Border Collies are generally good swimmers and can swim better than people.  They have been trained to work as water search and rescue dogs and are capable of diving down in to the depths of lakes to retrieve drowned victims.

Why are Border Collies so smart? Border Collies are considered one of the most intelligent breeds there are.  A dog’s intelligence is determined by their ability to learn, remember and act.  Border Collies can learn more words and commands than most dogs, they respond to verbal commands, whistles, and even hand signals.

Do Border Collies bark a lot?  They are herding and working dogs they innately bark to herd sheep.  If they are not challenged and have a job to do they may turn to barking out of boredom.  If they are properly trained and kept physically and mentally challenged they will bark a lot less.

Are Border Collies aggressive?  Generally, No, Border Collies are not an aggressive breed.  They are not a hunting dog or guard dog, they are bred to guard and herd sheep but not attack.  It is rare for a Border Collie to be aggressive but with any dog it could be possible.

Vital Stats

Dog Breed Group

Working Group


18 to 22 inches


27 to 45 pounds


10 to 17 years


Unfortunately, not everyone that purchases a Border Collie fully understands everything that goes into raising and training a well behaved Border Collie.  There are many Borders in need of a loving home whether that be through adoption or fostering.  Below is a list of Rescue agencies that have Border Collie.  If you do not see a local rescue below you can contact a local or nation Border Collie Breed Club and ask them.