Border Collie – Everything You Need to Know

Border Collie History 

Border Collies originated in the British Isles. The very name “border” takes its coinage from where they were developed, that is, along the borders of England and Scotland. The meaning of “Collie” in the Scottish language is a “sheepdog.”

The term “Border Collie” was first used by James Reid in 1915, the secretary of the International Sheep Dog Society that was newly established. Border Collies are brilliant, acrobatic, high-energy, athletic dogs. They were initially used for herding and were excellent at disc dogs, dog sports, and agility. During the middle 1800s, Queen Victoria remarked them as “The ideal sheep-herding canine breeds.” In 1995, AKC had officially recognized Border Collies. 

Border Collie Overview 

Elegant in gait, high in spirits, Border Collies are well suitable for country living, not apartment living. They are high-energy dogs that need a lot of activities. Otherwise, they can become ferocious. However, their intelligence makes them quick learners, and they respond well to appraisals and rewards. Their herding instincts make them excellent guard and watchdogs for their family and surroundings. They can be reserved with strangers. 

Different Types of Border Collies

There can be color variations in the Border Collies. However, the physical features like height, weight, coat texture, and mental abilities remain the same.     

Black and white border collie

This color variant of the Border Collie makes the signature color of Border Collies; when you think of Border Collies, you end up imagining them in this color. This is the most prevalent coat color in the Border Collies. The black color is the result of dominant genes.   

Black tricolor Border Collie 

The tri-colored Border Collies are the second most well-known color variant born due to the two copies of the recessive genes from each parent. They resemble the black-white colored Border Collies. Thus, a pair of tri-colored Border Collies begets a tri-colored Border Collie. 

Blue and White Border Collies

When a black color in the Border Collie is diluted, it results in a Blue-White Border Collie, so they are not solid blue colored. The recessive dilute gene makes a Blue-White Border Collie. Two copies of the recessive genes from each parent should be present for a Blue-White Border Collie to happen. There is a possibility that this Blue-White Border Collie has a condition called color dilution alopecia. This may cause loss of good skin tone and may lead to skin complications.   

Blue Merle Border Collie

The Blue Merle Border Collie will have a modified dominant gene. The result seen in these Border Collies are patches of pigmentation across the body. The base coat is white-grayish in color with black-bluish spots and patches. The gene affects the fur, eyes, and nose. For example, it may have a pink nose and bright blue eyes, sometimes two different colored eyes. Since the gene – merle is dominant, Border Collie needs only one copy of the gene to make up to this coat. However, the pet parents should consider whether the blue merle has two copies of merle genes while bringing the Blue Merle Border Collie home. This can cause deafness, mild blindness, small abnormal eyes, or overall, a poor-quality health condition. 

Slate Merle Border Collie

Like the Blue Merle Border Collie, the Slate Merle has two copies of diluted recessive genes and one copy of merle. The “slate” color is the dilution of black, blue, white coat. There can also be a slate tri-color Border Collie, for which there should be a pairing of the tri-colored gene with the dilute genes. Unfortunately, AKC doesn’t recognize this as an official Border Collie color.   

Blue tricolor Border Collie

The presence of the dominant merle gene makes Blue tri-colored Border Collies. The Blue tri-colored Border Collie has two copies of tri-color genes and one merle gene. It will have the same base coat color as the Blue Merle Border Collie, with some copper or tan markings in either all these parts or some parts such as the chest, bottom, legs, cheeks, eyebrows, and under the tail. 

Chocolate and White Border Collie

People of the US call this Border Collie fondly by the name “Chocolate.” However, this is not the official name. The Chocolate-White Border Collies have shades that range from light milky chocolate to dark brown chocolate. They have white markings around the chest, neck, and bottom. Its eye color matches its coat color, and this makes Chocolate-White Border Collies stand out. Just as their coat color, their eye color also comes in variants like light to medium brown, golden yellow, or green. So, to get a Chocolate Border Collie, two copies of recessive chocolate genes from each parent should be passed down.    

Chocolate tri-color Border Collie

This color variant Border Collie has recessive genes of chocolate. Therefore, to get a chocolate tri-colored Border Collie, there should be a combination of two copies of chocolate genes and two copies of tri-color genes. The result will be a Border Collie with a chocolate base with tan or copper-colored markings on the chest, cheeks, eyebrows, bottom, legs, and under the body’s tail.    

Lilac Border Collie

As unique as it is, the Lilac Border Collies look similar to Chocolate-White Border Collies or sometimes a combination of Blue and Brown Border Collies. However, they have both the chocolate and dilute genes, which means two recessive gene copies of both colors make up lilac-colored Border Collie. So, depending on the genes, the puppy can be a lilac merle, lilac tri-color, or lilac tri-colored merle. 

Sable border collie

Sable are rare Border Collie colors; however, they are recognized officially. Sable color is a result of the hair that has a combination of all color shades. Therefore, there can be sable patterns on distinct color bases. For example, a black or lilac base can have a sable pattern.    

Red border collie

Red Border Collies are recent fame. The US has recognized this color variant, and the UK refers to them as Golden or Aussie Red. This is because the two red recessive gene copies result in Red Border Collies. 

Border Collie Pros and Cons 

Pros Cons 
They are hardworking and trust-worthy  Can become ferocious if not given enough exercise or left alone. 
They are good at agility and canine sports Not suitable for Apartment Living 
They are brilliant and easily trainable Not suitable for homes with small children due to their herding instincts. 

Border Collie Highlights

  • Since Border Collies are active and herding dogs, they should be kept busy with physical and mental stimulation. Else, they become weary or destructive. So, it is best to let them focus their energy in positive ways.  
  • Always go for a reputable breeder who does health testing and checks for genetic disorders passed from parent dogs to puppies.  
  • Even as a puppy, the Border Collie is very sensitive. They are very responsive to the most exemplary commands and understand their owner’s inclination beforehand.  
  • Border Collies generally don’t indulge in loafing; however, their wit and inquisitive nature can get them out of the fence.  
  • Border Collie’s instinct of herding can be complex at times; they herd whatever comes across, be it other pets and children or any moving objects like cars, bikes. Hence a fenced yard is indispensable.  
  • They can nip, bark, and nudge if they get stimulated by the noises of people.  
  • Early socialization, while they are puppies, can prevent them from shying away. To train your dogs

Border Collie Basic Information 

  • Name: Border Collie 
  • Size: Medium 
  • Height: 18 – 22 inches 
  • Weight: 30 – 45 pounds 
  • Coat: Double Coat  
  • Color: Solid black, blue, blue merle, blue brindle, red, red merle, sable, sable merle, white and black, white and blue, white and blue merle, white and red, white and red merle, white ticked, lilac, and gold. 
  • Markings: Tan, brindle, white, and mixture of white, tan and brindle.   
  • Energy: High 
  • Origin: Borders of England and Scotland. 
  • Activities: Herding, agility, dog sports and chasing. 
  • Barking Level: Low – Medium 
  • Shedding Level: Medium 
  • Hypoallergenic: No 
  • Litter Size: 1 – 6 puppies
  • Group: Working and Herding 
  • Breed’s Original Pastimes: Herding, chasing. 
  • Life Span: 10 – 17 years

Border Collie Personality

The Border Collies are intelligent, sensitive, constantly vigilant, and watchful of their surroundings. They have a smooth coat when their fur is short and wavy or coarse as they grow longer. While males stand 22 inches tall and weigh about 45 pounds, female Border Collies measure 21 inches and weigh about 42 pounds. They have a double coat that is either rough or silky, with either single solid color, bi-color, tri-color, merle, or brindle.   

Friendliness Overview 

Affectionate with family High 
Friendly with Pets Medium 
Friendly with Kids Medium to high 
Friendly with Strangers High 

Adaptability Overview 

Adapts well to Apartment Living Low to medium 
Good to New Owners Low to medium 
Sensitivity Level High 
Tolerates Being Alone Low 
Tolerates Cold Weather Medium to high 
Tolerates Hot Weather Medium to high 

Border Collie Physical Features

  • Head: The head of a Border Collie is somewhat square, has a powerful pair of eyes, and resembles a teddy bear. The head has a white marking from the top that runs down to the anterior end of the body. A black nose, pointed ears that drop at the tips, and a wide mouth gives them a look of a happy face.      
  • Neck: The neck of a Border Collie is broad. It is furry black or other color variants on the posterior and white on the anterior side.  
  • Topline: The topline that starts at the end of the neck is even, has short and smooth hair.    
  • Body: The body of the Border Collie looks squared and consists of fore and hindquarters.
  • Tail: Border Collies have a long, luxuriantly hairy tail, just like Golden Retrievers or German Shepherds.   
  • Forequarters: The forequarters of the Border Collies are muscular. They are covered with white markings on the coat that sometimes extends to either of the feet.   
  • Hindquarters: A sturdy hindquarter with thigh bones that has color variants and helps in running faster.  
  • Feet: Feet of Border Collies comprise forequarter and hindquarter. The feet are relatively lean and have a furry texture at the back.  
  • Coat: There are two varieties of coat in Border Collies – the rough and the smooth. Both are double coated and have a bristly outer coat and a silky undercoat. The rough-coated Border Collies have a medium length of feathery hair on the legs, belly, and chest. On the other hand, the smooth variant has short hair. It is bristly in texture with a minimum feathery hair than the rough-coated Border Collies. The coat length varies somewhere between one to three inches.    
  • There are two varieties of coat in Border Collies – the rough and the smooth. Both are double coated and have a bristly outer coat and a silky undercoat. The rough-coated Border Collies have a medium length of feathery hair on the legs, belly, and chest. On the other hand, the smooth variant has short hair. It is bristly in texture with a minimum feathery hair than the rough-coated Border Collies. The coat length varies somewhere between one to three inches.
  • Color: Border Collies come in many different color coat combinations bi-color, tri-color, solid, sable, and merle, except pure white like black-white, black-gray, blue, blue-merle, blue – brindle, gold, lilac, red-merle, red – white, complete black or tri-colored.   
  • Gait: A border collie has a steady gait, thanks to their strong bones, enabling them to run elegantly and effortlessly.  

Border Collie Temperament  

The Border Collies are brilliant, wise, and obedient dogs. They are trustworthy, reserved, and very protective. They are very energetic and hardworking, so they readily wait for your commands. They inherit their ancestral qualities of chasing and herding. They are easy to train and are quick learners. Thus, it is a challenge for the owners to keep them engaged always. They catch every cue of their pet parents and respond to the stimulus, thus posing them as highly sensitive. Finally, Border Collies are excellent companions to their family. They love their family.   

Border Collie Exercise Needs  

Border Collies are very active, they need a great exercise schedule. Their mind and body should be kept occupied. Otherwise, they may face anxiety issues. A minimum of long walk and on-leash would be suitable for Border Collies. It is suggested to take your Border Collies on a leash since they have herding instincts and may start chasing anything that they find.  

Since Border Collies were initially chosen for dog sports, pet owners can play games like throwing a ball and fetch, disc games like frisbee, and agility activities. Since they have an excellent chase drive, you will have a happy time with Border Collies. They need vast areas to roam. So, apartment living is not suitable for them. Border Collies need an urban or a rural housing area where they are left to run and play in yards. Yards should bear a tall fence since dogs like Border Collies can get distracted by vehicles or people on the other side of the fence.  

When left alone, Border Collies might get bored. Sometimes they engage in activities like chewing furniture, digging, nudging, barking, and nipping. Hence pet owners should be cautious if they breed other smaller breeds or have children.  

Border Collies are very sensitive to unpleasant sounds. This has an advantage and a disadvantage. The advantage is they will alert and caution you of any strange activities or people. The disadvantage is they may become cranky and show undesirable behavior. For example, a baby’s continuous cry or loud noise like thunder or fireworks makes your pet behave unusually.   

Hence, socialization and training at a very early age, as early as a puppy, can make you comfortable while breeding. So why are we here, to discuss all that you need to know about Border Collies. 

Exercise Needs Overview 

Energy level High 
Intensity Medium 
Exercise Needs High 
Potential for playfulness High 

Border Collie Trainability 

Training young Border Collies is an easy task. Still, if you plan to adopt a fully grown Border Collies, you will have to be patient since it is a difficult task. The reason is your adopted adult Border Collies will have acquired some habits that can be unpleasant. In addition, an adult dog would have already been an established dog; however, you may not worry about Border Collies since they are very adaptable.   

While you bring an adult Border Collies home, you must have a list of what skills they already know. It is better to train them to listen to your commands first. Though Border Collies are not aggressive, they might be stubborn and possessive. A good idea will be to be consistent and stay kind to gain the attraction of Border Collies.     

The next thing you should pay concentration – “barking,” their herding instincts and stimulation may lead to barking even when they are inside their home. This “barking” quality can fetch enmity between you and your neighbors. Border Collies may have the impulse to chase things due to their excellent herding instincts. You cannot eradicate this, but training can do wonders. 

To train your dogs to control their herding instincts, here we go with stepwise guidelines:  

  • Choose a dog-safe outdoor area.  
  • It would be best to have a family member who will run past your Border Collies. This will trigger their instinct to chase and herd.  
  • While the dog is about to chase, call out his name and ask him to come to you.  
  • After a few sessions of practice, your Border Collies may automatically respond.  
  • Remember, in the first few sessions of training, you must keep them on a leash.  
  • Once your Border Collie gets to understand that it should chase and herd only when required, you can shower appraisals and provide them with dog-safe treats as rewards.  
  • Once you are confident that your dog would not run without your commands, you can allow them off-leash. 
  • Pet owners must spend plenty of time with adult Border Collies, if this relationship must go on a long run.

Generally, training Border Collies is easy. However, if you find difficulty training the Border Collie that you have adopted, you can enroll them in training schools or bring a skilled trainer home. We hope our guidelines gave you an insight into understanding how to train a Border Collie. 

Trainability Overview 

Easy to Train High 
Intelligent High 
Potential for Mouthiness Medium 
Prey Drive Medium 
Tendency to Bark or Howl Low to Medium 
Tendency to Chew, Nip or Bite Medium 
Wanderlust Potential Medium 

Border Collie Grooming 

The Border Collies bear a double coat, a coarse outer coat, and a smooth under coat, which often doesn’t need grooming, except during shedding seasons. However, it is better to brush weekly once to keep the natural oil distributed and not get matted or tangled.  

Bathing occasionally is sufficient to keep them clean, provided they don’t get dirty and smell bad. Since Border Collies are always on their toes, their nails may be worn-out, regular checking and trimming of the nails is required.  

It is essential to take care of Border Collie’s dental health. Brush their teeth two to three times a week and on occasions when they are given sweet treats to avoid tooth decay and tartar build up. Ideally, daily brushing can prevent bad breath and gum diseases.  

To avoid ear infections or fungal infections, it is better to check the ears near the folds and clean with cotton balls to prevent excess moisture. Also, keep a habit of checking your dog. At the same time, you groom to keep him away from sores, redness of the skin, rashes, or swelling of any body parts to prevent potential health issues later.        

Grooming Overview 

Amount of Shedding  Medium 
Drooling Potential Low 
Easy to Groom Medium 

Border Collie Health 

Though Border Collies are generally healthy, some dogs exhibit diseases or illnesses acquired from the parental genes. So, it is always better to check for any conditions before adopting or bringing a Border Collie home.    

Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is an inherited condition in which the thigh bone would not fit into the hip joints. X-ray screening for hip dysplasia can be done in the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. It is challenging to breed dogs with hip dysplasia. Do not buy a puppy without asking the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested and are hip dysplasia-free.     

Osteochondrosis of Knees and Shoulders: The condition of improper cartilage growth in the elbow, knees, and shoulder joints. The stiffness of the joints makes it unable to move or bend its elbows and knees. Osteochondrosis can be detected in puppies as early as four to nine months. Overfeeding of formulas causes this disease.     

Epilepsy: A disease that causes mild to severe seizures, often an inherited neurological disorder. A long-term prognosis for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy is generally good.  

Hypothyroidism: An abnormality in the thyroid gland secretion can cause this condition. It holds responsibility for medical disorders like epilepsy, alopecia, obesity, lethargy, hyperpigmentation, pyoderma, and other skin-related diseases. A proper diet and medication help treat this issue.    

Progressive Retinal Atrophy: An eye disorder that causes blindness from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eyes. It can be detected earlier; a very later stage is blindness. Dogs with this condition can survive for several years since they have other senses to compensate.      

Allergies: Canines like Border Collies are usually allergic to various substances, including pollen to chemicals like shampoos or dog-body wash, since they are hyperactive and keep roaming. If your Border Collie is licking his paws or rubbing his face, get him checked by your vet immediately.   

Border Collie Specific Health Conditions

Collie eye anomalies: This is a genetic condition seen in Border Collies that causes eye issues and blindness. This problem occurs when the dog turns two years old, and unfortunately, there is no treatment for this anomaly. The disorders include:  

  • Choroidal Hypoplasia: This is an abnormal growth of choroids.  
  • Coloboma: This is a flaw in the optic disc of the eyes.  
  • Staphyloma: Thinning down of sclera and retinal detachment.  

Cerebellar Abiotrophy is an inherited neurological disease that affects certain dog breeds like Brittany Spaniel, Kerry Blue Terrier, and Rough-coated collies. Symptoms include goose-stepping, falling, muscle tremors, and being unable to nurse, to mention a few.  

Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis: They are a kind of inherited disorder especially seen in Border Collies that cause neurodegenerative lysosomal disease. It is seen in cats, dogs, sheep, goats, humans, and cattle. The condition can show symptoms like change in gait, posture, muscle twitching, and even cause premature death. 

Deafness: A genetic disorder seen in Collies. There is every possibility that the mixed breed pup gets inherited.   

Anesthesia Sensitivity: Some Border Collies are sensitive to anesthesia. Hence before you adopt a Border Collie, it is better to check with the breeder and inform your vet accordingly. 

Health Overview 

General Health Low to Medium 
Potential for Weight Medium 
Size Medium 

Border Collie Diet and Nutrition  

The recommended daily diet for Border Collies is one and a half to 2 cups of dry dog food divided into two meals. This might vary depending on the height, weight, age and size of dogs. Consider providing exercise daily to avoid obesity.   

Border Collie Living Condition  

Border Collies are dogs that are to be kept busy with mental and physical activities. They are not ideal for the apartment lifestyle. An urban housing area that has space to move around is perfect. They would do well in a vast fenced yard. Border Collies are herding dogs. Hence, they should be kept in the watch. Else, they may plunge off the fence to chase the vehicles or other animals on the roads. However, they can be engaged with dog sports and agility.   

Border Collies can manage hot and cold weather conditions. However, pet owners should see that they are not left out for longer.  

 Did You Know ? 

  • Apart from Queen Victoria, other famous personalities like Robert Burns, James Dean, Tiger Woods, Bon Jovi, Anna Paquin, James Franco, and Ethan Hawke have owned Border Collies.  
  • Robert Burns, a famous Scottish poet known for his poem – “My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose,” owned a Border Collie named Luath. Unfortunately, Luath met a tragic death. The poem – “The Twa Dogs,” which drew a picture of the bondage between dogs and humans, was written lamenting his pet’s death. Many of Robert Burns statues had Luath, the Border Collie, by his side.  
  • Border Collies were hired as “geese masters.” The University of North Florida had a Border Collie hired to keep geese away from heavy-traffic areas.   
  • Border Collies are cast in many TV shows and movies. The movie – “Babe” has Border Collies featured as actors and herders. Other films include “Snow Dogs” and “Animal Farm” and a popular TV series “Mad About You.” 

 Border Collie Club Recognition 

  • AKC – American Kennel Club 
  • UKC – United Kennel Club 
  • ANKC – Australian National Kennel Club 
  • BCCC – Border Collie Club of Canada 

Adding a Border Collie to Your Family 

Border Rescue Groups 

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The cost of a border collie ranges from $1000 to $2000 

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