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the search for a dog
Border collies in field

Breed overview

  • Breed group – Herding group (American Kennel Club) 
  • Height – 18 to 22 inches
  • Weight – 27 to 45 pounds 
  • Coat length & texture – Coarse, layered, variable 
  • Coat color – More than  17 recognized coat colors including blue, blue merle, black, lilac, brindle, gold, red, sable, red merle, sable merle, saddleback sable, white and blue, white and black, white and blue merle, white and red, white and red merle, and white ticked. 
  • Exercise needs – High 
  • Intelligence – High intelligence
  • BarkingOften
  • Life span – 10 to 17 years 
  • Temperament – Intelligent, energetic, loyal, alert, responsive 
  • Hypoallergenic – No
  • Origin – Scotland

Border collie fun facts

  • Used on search and rescue missions, border collies can communicate effectively with rescuers to identify downed people or aircraft. 
  • Once known as the Scotch sheepdog 
  • Double dutch champ Geronimo made the Guinness Book of World Records in 2018 for the most double dutch jumps by a dog in a single minute. 
Border collie fun facts

Border collie temperament and characteristics

Border collies are incredibly playful and friendly medium-sized dogs. They are very high energy and need at least two hours of rigorous play each day to meet their needs for exercise and movement. They’re intelligent and love people, making them a great choice of dog for those with larger families and friend groups. They are sweet with children and quickly accept other dogs into the pack after a short introductory period. They are skilled watchdogs and fearlessly loyal, making them a favorite breed of choice for families.

If you’re considering a border collie but have other dogs or children in the home, train your new border collie from puppyhood to help it socialize and cohabitate with your other furry friends and family members.

Common border collie health problems

Border collies are generally physically healthy and known for their low-maintenance attitude. They’re predisposed to mental health conditions such as littermate syndrome due to their high intelligence and emotional awareness. Here are a few genetic health issues to be aware of to help your border collie have as healthy and happy a life as possible.  

  • Hip dysplasia. When an abnormality in the hip joint prevents a portion of the thigh bone from aligning correctly in the joint socket, the resulting hip dysplasia can cause discomfort and stiffness. 
  • Progressive retinal atrophy. This condition slowly limits your pet’s vision. While it does not cause pain, it can eventually lead to total blindness. 
  • Epilepsy. Characterized by recurring seizures, this neurological disorder may be caused by structural problems in the brain, stem from an unknown cause, or be traced to a genetic mutation in the breed. It’s most commonly diagnosed and seen between 1 and 5 years of age. 
  • Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which your pet’s thyroid gland isn’t functioning as well as it should and causes weight gain and a balding coat. Your vet can diagnose and treat this condition effectively with lab work and thyroid supplements. 

Cost of caring for border collies

The average annual cost of caring for a border collie is about  $1,000 to $2,000 for food, toys, grooming supplies, and veterinary care. It also includes puppy training and socialization sessions for your highly-energetic border collie. 

Your exact costs may be more or less, depending on your lifestyle, location, and other factors, but owning a pet can be expensive. That’s why we recommend investing in pet insurance to offset many out-of-pocket medical expenses. A  pet savings account  is another great way to keep money available for any unexpected medical needs you might encounter with your border collie.

History of the border collie

The border collie was bred in Scotland to shepherd farm animals, descending from Landrace sheepdogs found across the British Isles. They became so valuable over time that border collies were bred and exported to help others around the world. This resulted in the launch of many protective organizations such as the Border Collie Society of America and  International Border Collie Association. Today, this breed is more than a century old and celebrated for its empathetic, high-energy, and loving personality.

Border collie history

Caring for your border collie

Caring for your new border collie puppy can be overwhelming. Line up key care tools and resources to give your pup the best experience possible. Book your dog’s first trip to the vet and finish any incomplete vaccinations. You’ll also need to puppy-proof your home to prepare your space in advance for teething. This is especially important for your border collie pup, as you may see more chewing due to their high energy levels and clinginess.

Read on to learn more about other care basics for your border collie pup. 

Exercise 

Border collies require a minimum of two hours of exercise per day. They are an energetic breed and love to romp and play indoors and outside. Dog sports, toys, and any other forms of play that cater to their ability to learn and master is a good idea. The border collie breed is very intelligent, so play and physical exercise that challenges them is always a  good idea. 

 If you’re considering a border collie for your next pet, it will need lots of room to run and explore and does best with wide open spaces. Take a look at your schedule and consider how much time you have to show your border collie attention and love. Border collies are emotionally attached to their human pals. Their high intelligence makes this need for attention and love even more intense than other dogs, so block plenty of time in your schedule for your furry friend.

Border collie exercise

Grooming 

Border collies have a relatively simple grooming routine with minimal trimming and brushing needed for their double-layered coat. The exterior side of this coat can be smooth or rough, layered on top of a soft, dense undercoat filled with fine fur.

Frequent brushing is a must for your collie. Due to the length and structure of its coat, build in brushing time at least once a week to keep the shedding under control and support your dog’s comfort. 

Border collies are clean dogs who do a lot of the grooming themselves, but they still need a little extra help with tasks that require thumbs: ear cleaning, teeth brushing, and the occasional nail trim.

Diet and nutrition 

Border collies are highly active dogs, which means they need a little extra nutrition compared to smaller or more sedentary breeds. On average, however, border collies eat about 2 cups of dry dog food across two to three meals daily. Border collies enjoy a balanced diet of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats.  

Your dog’s actual intake and food type may vary depending on their size, life stage, and other factors. Check with your veterinarian — they can help you with the proper portions and types of food your border collie should be eating.

Training your border collie

Border collies are extremely trainable, which is great for owners who want to work with their dogs on certain skills. Border collies do equally well with professional trainers or at-home exercises. If you choose at-home training, keep your collie’s attention with treats, toys, clickers, or other incentives, motivating them to push through some of the most difficult parts of the learning process. 

You can also train in different environments after a period of exploration, engaging and satisfying your collie’s need for adventure. 

Border collie training

Breeds similar to the border collie

Not quite sure that a border collie is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  1. Papillon. These dogs are happy, playful, and extremely friendly. It’s a smaller breed with similar characteristics to a collie, which is perfect for pet parents with limited space at home.  
  2. Shetland sheepdog. Shetland sheepdogs (also known as Shelties) are bonded to their humans and share the high-intensity intelligence and emotional awareness of collies. They also look similar, and have the same playful personality and demeanor. 
  3. Keeshond. Keeshonds are playful, adventurous, and independent, the perfect adventure buddy for the outdoorsy pet parent. This breed is affectionate and calm around strangers and groups, making it a good choice for larger families.

Frequently asked questions

Do border collies make good pets? 

Border collies make excellent pets, and are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and kind personality. They are fiercely devoted to their human pals, and will enjoy every minute of time they can get to play, love, and learn with you. 

Do border collies bark a lot? 

Border collies are very vocal and bark often to communicate their needs. You can work with a trainer to reduce excessive barking. 

Are border collies well-behaved? 

Border collies are obedient, especially once trained. However, they are also highly independent and intelligent, which means they may choose to do things their way when possible. 

Are border collies one-person dogs? 

Border collies bond with their humans closely and may feel jealous of other family members or pets. Generally speaking, they do well in smaller families but can acclimate well to larger groups with introductory periods, training, and time spent together. Their intelligence makes them incredibly versatile and resilient even during periods of stress or change.