Coat Color:BlackBlueBlue MerleRedRed MerleBrindleLilacSableSable MerleGoldWhite & BlackWhite & BlueWhite & Blue MerleWhite & RedWhite & Red Merle
Border Collies are best for experienced dog parents who have ample time to train, walk and play with their pet. They do well in single-dog homes with plenty of space to run.
Border Collie Traits
Border Collie Temperament
Leaving a trail of toys in their wake and seeking constant companionship, Border Collies are known for their intelligence and unwavering loyalty to their humans. This working dog breed thrives on routines and purpose, finding joy in fulfilling tasks. However, without an assigned job, they may create their own unique tasks (think: hunting socks, digging holes, chewing furniture), which may not always align with household rules.
Originally bred for herding sheep, Border Collies take their role as Herder-in-Chief seriously, which is great if they’re out in a field with livestock but tricky to handle when their herding instincts kick in in a home that has small children or other animals. They appreciate order and may get overwhelmed in a chaotic household or a household where they can’t predict their next walk or play session.
But that doesn’t mean the Border Collie breed isn’t a great choice for a family pet. They are extremely affectionate and happy to be part of the pack—they just need guidance on their role. They see humans as equals and want you to tell them everything you’re doing and why. They’ll bring you toys, give kisses and cuddle. You’ll never feel alone with a Border Collie—they’ll follow you everywhere, even to the bathroom.
Despite their strong loyalty and affectionate nature, Border Collies’ protectiveness can lead to aggression around strangers or other dogs. On top of that, their remarkable intelligence can manifest as an “I know best” attitude, and they may appoint themselves as Park Ranger at the dog park, regulating other dogs’ behavior whether it’s appreciated or not. For these reasons, you must train your Border Collie well when they’re a puppy so they learn to play nicely with others.
How to Care for a Border Collie
A Border Collie puppy or adult dog may be highly intelligent, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need a little human guidance. Plenty of exercise, human interaction and a steady routine that includes grooming, training and outdoor “work” will set these natural people-pleasers up for success.
Border Collie Health
A typical Border Collie’s lifespan is between 10 and 15 years, with an average of around 12 years. The medium-sized Border Collie has a robust genetic makeup tailored for working into retirement, ensuring a healthy life expectancy that often extends well into the teens.
That said, Border Collies are prone to certain health issues. Knowing about these issues can help you and your vet keep an eye out for problems, practice preventative care and help keep your Border Collie healthy longer.
- Cancer: Cancer is a leading cause of Border Collie deaths. That’s why it’s important to know your puppy’s parentage or pedigree. Many reputable Border Collie breeders refer to a huge database called the Anadune Border Collie Database, which allows you to test out breeding pairs to see if any DNA issues come up. It can also tell you the inbreeding coefficient.
- Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia, which occurs when the ball and socket of the hip bones don’t properly fit, can be an inherited condition. Factors that may contribute to the condition include poor nutrition and too much or a lack of exercise. Hip dysplasia often results in pain and loss of mobility. You can manage your dog’s hip dysplasia with diet, joint supplements, physical therapy and medication. A vet might need to do surgery, such as a hip replacement, to fix severe cases of hip dysplasia.
- Epilepsy: Epilepsy, a seizure disorder, might emerge in early adulthood (approximately 2 years or older). Seizures can range from mild to severe. Anti-seizure medication may help, and some dogs might experience only a single seizure throughout their life. Conversely, others could face recurrent seizures that interfere with their quality of life. Epilepsy may be inherited, so knowing your dog’s parents’ medical history can be beneficial.
- Eye Abnormality: Collie eye anomaly (CEA) is a congenital eye problem, which means your Border Collie was born with the disease. Diagnosis of CEA often occurs through a puppy eye exam, but some symptoms possibly seen by the naked eye are cloudy eyes and sunken eyeballs. Unfortunately, CEA has no cure. However, genetic testing of potential dog parents can ensure that dogs are not bred with CEA.
- Collapsing After Exercise: Induced Border Collie collapse (BCC) is when an apparently healthy Border Collie becomes dazed, disoriented or confused during or after intense exercise. A Border Collie may seem out of it for 5-20 minutes or so. It’s unclear why this happens, although genetics may be a factor.
Border Collies may be affected by various other health problems, including hypothyroidism and noncancerous growths. Call your vet if you see something unusual (like peeing less than average or ignoring food), feel a growth or notice your Border Collie whimpering or snarling when you touch a spot on their body.
Border Collie History
Amidst picturesque landscapes in Great Britain, on the border between England and Scotland, a remarkable breed of sheepdog emerged: the Border Collie. Rooted in Scottish heritage, the word “Collie” was used to describe useful dogs, such as herders. In the mid-19th century, Queen Victoria raised several of these energetic dogs, which helped separate the Border Collie breed as we know it today from the Collie dog of older times.
In 1995, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the Border Collie as such. Other names the breed is also referred to include: Welsh Sheepdog, Northern Sheepdog and Highland Collie. Their heritage as a sheep dog is never far beneath the surface: You know a Border Collie by their workhorse tendencies and for “the stare”—the piercing gaze they give sheep (or whatever they feel like herding) to get in line.
Today, Border Collies hold a special place in the zeitgeist: They star in dog sports such as sheepdog trials (a trait exemplified in the movie “Babe”) and hold many Guinness World Records, both serious and silly (one notable one is “the fastest time a dog has unwound a non-electric car window”). A dog known as the “World’s Smartest Dog,” Chaser the Dog, was a Border Collie who knew and understood over a thousand words.
It’s no wonder Border Collie enthusiast groups, such as the Border Collie Society of America, love these ultra-intelligent dogs for their showmanship, loyalty, watchdog ability, and companionship.
Where can you get a Border Collie puppy?
The American Kennel Club Marketplace showcases puppies from AKC-registered breeders. What’s the average Border Collie price, you ask? Expect to spend between $600 and $2,000 on a purebred Border Collie puppy, depending on the breeder, but for that price you should be getting a dog who’s been screened for health and behavioral issues. (Double check that the breeder does screen for those.)
Another option is to adopt a dog from a local Border Collie rescue group, like Clancy’s Dream in Central Indiana, or an animal shelter. You can also search Chewy’s database of adoptable dogs in your area. If you are unsure of where to start your adoption search, contact the Border Collie Society of America or talk to local breeders and vets to see what rescues they’d recommend.
When adopting a Border Collie, ask why the former pet parent surrendered the dog and if the rescue has noticed any health or behavioral issues. Once you bring your rescue Border Collie home, be very patient. Border Collies are ingrained to trust and help humans, and when that trust is broken, it can take a lot of time and love to overcome that distrust. But it’s very worth it!
Aside from the initial cost of bringing home a Border Collie, whether purchasing one through a reputable breeder or adopting, you’ll want to budget for the cost of caring for a Border Collie throughout their entire lifespan, including regular vet visits, training, food and grooming. Get a breakdown of the cost of a dog here.
Border Collie Facts
- Border Collies are extremely intelligent and require a lot of mental stimulation. They love games and trying to figure things out.
- They excel at numerous activities beyond herding, such as Frisbee, scent work, obedience, rally, agility, dock diving and flyball.
- Border Collies are stoic; they will hide the fact that they are sick or hurt.
- Border Collies spent centuries learning how to read humans by body language, voice and scent, and, as a result, are highly intuitive.
- The American Kennel Club (AKC) didn’t recognize the Border Collie as a breed group until 1995.
Are Border Collies hypoallergenic?
No, Border Collies are not hypoallergenic. Both rough- and smooth-coat types shed, and shedding may be problematic for people prone to allergies.
Are Border Collies good with cats?
You can train a Border Collie to live with a cat, but their tendency to herd can make them annoying to felines. Many Border Collies and cats establish a live-and-let-live approach but may never become BFFs.
Do Border Collies bark a lot?
A Border Collie can be a great watch dog since they’re protective of their pack. A Border Collie may bark excessively if they’re bored or if there is chaos surrounding them. Early training can help a Border Collie curb their bark, but they aren’t naturally a quiet breed.
Are Border Collies high maintenance?
Border Collies trend high maintenance, but just how much they require from you can vary based on their ancestry. Are they from working stock? Show stock? Working stock dogs tend to need more physical activity than those bred for the show ring. However, all Border Collies need training or else they will train you. Because of their intelligence, work drive and high energy, they need structure and routine, and thrive with at least 2 hours of exercise a day. You can’t passively own a Border Collie—you have to put in the work, but with that comes great reward.
What are the differences between Border Collies and Australian Shepherds?
Border Collies and Australian Shepherds are both highly intelligent working dogs, but they do have distinct differences. For starters, Border Collies originated from the borderlands between England and Scotland, while Aussies were developed in the United States during the Gold Rush era.
Both breeds are herders, renowned for herding sheep and cattle, but their herding techniques differ. Border Collies control livestock from a distance through eye contact. Aussies herd closely, relying on their body and voice for livestock movement.
Additionally, the two breeds have distinct physical differences. Aussies are more muscular compared to Border Collies, though their heights are similar. Also, Aussie colors include black, blue merle, red or red merle with tan or white markings.And Border Collies can have any color as long as white patches are not dominant.
What are the most popular Border Collie names?
Some popular Border Collie names include Oreo (for the black and white coats), Luna, Bella, Lucy, Max, Charlie, Sadie, Finn, Bear, Molly and Cooper. Want some canine celebrity inspiration? Consider Fly (the name of the Border Collie in “Babe”), Murray (the Border Collie mix in “Mad About You”), or Nana (the Border Collie in “Snow Dogs”). Get more dog names here.
What are the most common Border Collie mixes?
The most common Border Collie mixes are:
- Border Collie-Australian Shepherd mix (Border Aussies or Aussie Collies)
- Border Collie-Labrador Retriever mix (Borabor)
- Border Collie-Husky mix (Border Husky)
- Border Collie-German Shepherd mix (Shollie)
- Border Collie-Golden Retriever mix (Coltriever, Golden Border Collies or Golden Border Retriever)
- Border Collie-Poodle mix (Bordoodle)
- Border Collie-Corgi mix (Borgi)
- Border Collie-Beagle mix (Border Beagle)
- Border Collie-American Pit Bull Terrier mix (Border Bull)
- Border Collie-Blue Heeler mix (Border Heeler)
Eager to please, fun to train and happy to help, a Border Collie is an excellent addition to the family—even if you live solo. They value a true partner. They need a lot of attention, a strict routine and plenty of outdoor time to be their happiest—all things that are good for you, too.
Expert input provided by Deb Breitstein, DVM, of Animal Health Care of Marlboro, NJ; Merissa Kriedler, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP, a trainer at Fuzzy Logic Dog Training in Louisa, VA; and and Karen Mull, Treasurer for the Border Collie Society of America, who has raised Border Collies for over 25 years and shown her dogs in Conformation for the last 10.