Border Collie Overview

Dog Breed:
Border Collie
Breed Group:
Herding Group
Energetic, intelligent, alert, playful, fun loving
Males=19 to 22 inches, Females=18 to 21 inches
30 to 55 pounds
Life Span:
12-15 years
Coat Colors:
Black, Blue, Merle, brindle, gold, lilac, red, sable, white, seal, or slate. Markings can be tan, white, brindle, ticked, or Merle
Area of Origin:
Best For:
Active families with dog experience
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for Border Collies
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for Border Collies

Border Collie Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Border Collie

  • A herding breed

  • Extremely high energy

  • Is happiest with a job to do

The Border Collie is a dog of medium build whose original purpose was to function as a herding dog. A working breed, the Border Collie possesses a strong desire to fulfil its job coupled with the well-muscled frame and sharp intellect to accomplish it. The Border Collie comes in many coat colours, but only two coat types: smooth and rough. 

One of the defining characteristics of the Border Collie is the dog’s almond shaped eyes. Much like the Australian Shepherd, this breed is renowned for the intensity of its stare which is most often employed when herding sheep. 

The Border Collie has a flexible body, enabling the dog to move in swift, efficient strides. The breed is truly an athlete at heart and excels at many different activities including agility, obedience, and herding trials. 

The Border Collie is both loyal and loving to its family. However, this breed takes time to warm up to new people and approaches them with reticence. 

A high energy dog, the Border Collie needs a job to do or will need to engage in vigorous exercise on a daily basis. The breed is well-renowned for its ability to work tirelessly in terrain that was rugged and challenging, often travelling up to 50 miles per day. With such an intense drive needing to be satisfied, it is not difficult to see that the Border Collie is not suited to life with a family that prefers a more sedentary lifestyle

Because the Border Collie is a herding breed, this dog type will attempt to corral anything it can find multiples of; whether they are human or animal in origin. Some Border Collies have been known to try to herd cars in parking lots. To assist with herding its flock, the Border Collie will engage in such behaviours as barking, nipping, and even shoving. Families must realize ahead of time that these actions are inherited, and no amount of training will eliminate them

The Border Collie makes a wonderful family companion. The breed takes well to training, looking forward to opportunities to bond with its owner. So long as sufficient exercise is provided on a daily basis, the Border Collie can thrive in nearly any environment though a home with a securely fenced yard is most ideal. 

To truly thrive, the Border Collie needs a family committed to living an active lifestyle. This dog breed excels at performance sports which can be an excellent outlet for the dog’s natural energy. 

Border Collie Breed History

  • Developed in Britain from dogs of Roman and German descent

  • Name is taken from its roots as a working dog in Scotland

  • Prized for their working ability


During the Roman invasion and subsequent occupation of Britain in the year 43, the armies brought their livestock with them from Rome to the region. With such vast resources of livestock, herding dogs were needed to help keep them safely corralled. When travelling from Rome to their newly conquered land, the Romans carried with them the big herding dogs favoured in their homeland. 

Subsequent years saw Britain overtaken by other warring factions. When the Vikings invaded the countryside, they travelled to the region with their own dog breeds. These dogs were also herding dogs which more closely resembled the Spitz-like working dogs from Germany. In general, the Vikings’ dogs were smaller of size and quicker of movement. 

Soon, settlers to the region realized that judicious breeding between the Roman’s large herding dogs and the Vikings’ herders of Spitz descent could produce the ideal worker. It is through these efforts that the Border Collie was born. 

Through the years, the Border Collie underwent variations to make the dog best suited to the work it was required to do and the area of the world where it lived. Over time, these different variations each took their own names and became distinct breeds in their own right. The Border Collie’s name is taken from its roots as a working dog in Scotland. 

In 1876, a proponent of the breed named Mr. R.J. Lloyd Price established trials in which herding dogs could display their skills. Onlookers were amazed by the sheer dedication, speed, and working ability of the Border Collies trialing that day. Of particular amazement was the fact that the dogs fulfilled their jobs without even a single word being spoken from their masters. The dogs worked on a system of hand gestures and whistles alone.

Border Collie Size & Weight

  • Males stand between 19” and 22”

  • Females stand between 18” and 21”

  • Weights range from 30-55 pounds and should be proportionate to height


The average mature male Border Collie stands between 19” and 22” at the shoulder. Adult female Border Collies can reach heights ranging from 18” to 21.” Weights should be proportionate to height and can span from 30-55 pounds. 

Though the Border Collie is considered a medium sized dog, the breed’s size is the only thing that is moderate about this pooch. Potential puppy owners must realize that the Border Collie is a very high drive dog and must be exercised vigorously on a daily basis. This is not the dog for families who prefer a more laidback lifestyle. 

Border Collie Personality & Temperament

  • Loving and affectionate

  • Bonds very deeply to its family

  • Has a low tolerance for boredom


The Border Collie is a whirlwind of activity and is bursting with energy to spare. The breed is well known for its hard work ethic and incredible intelligence. Easy to train and a willing learner, the Border Collie delights at learning new skills and having a job to do. 

The Border Collie bores easily and is not a breed that should be allowed to be idle. Left to their own devices, Border Collies will develop nuisance behaviours and can become neurotic. This breed needs daily vigorous activity to remain physically and mentally content. This is a very serious commitment that families must be prepared to fulfil. 

Border Collies are highly in tune with their people and can be trained to obey commands from a hand signal or even a facial expression. Intensely loyal and affectionate with its family, the Border Collie is a friendly dog that enjoys the company of its family and friends and other pets but maintains a natural wariness with strangers.  

In general, Border Collies do well in homes with other pets. However, to ensure a happy home, it is recommended that all introductions be done in a neutral setting to avoid any displays of territorialism by established family animal companions. 

The Border Collie enjoys the company of children and is patient and loving with them. However, the breed will attempt to herd them if not taught that it is not acceptable. For the safety of the dog and the child involved, all interactions should be carefully supervised

The Border Collie is a breed that bonds very deeply with its family, they do not excel when left alone for long periods of time. Though the Border Collie can adapt to apartment living if given sufficient daily exercise, a property with a fully fenced yard is preferable. 

The Border Collie’s coat allows it to enjoy time spent outdoors in all weather conditions. However, the Border Collie should dwell indoors with its family. 

Border Collie Health & Grooming

  • Two coat varieties: rough and smooth

  • Minimal grooming requirements

  • Sheds but not excessively


The Border Collie is a dog breed that typically enjoys excellent health. However, as with any other dog type, the breed can be predisposed to a number of different health problems. All breeding dogs should be carefully screened prior to mating to ensure no genetic illness is passed to any subsequent offspring. The hereditary conditions common to Border Collies are hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, epilepsy, collie eye anomaly, allergies, and osteochondrosis dissecans. 

When it comes to coat type, the Border Collie comes in two different variants: the smooth and the rough. This dog breed’s coat is comprised of a plush undercoat and a rough outer coat. The rough differs in appearance from the smooth through a feathered tail as well as more hair on the legs, chest, and undercarriage of the dog. 

The Border Collie’s grooming requirements are minimal. His coat is designed to resist water and cold temperatures. To keep it in good condition, regular brushing is required. This will also help to reduce the shedding which occurs twice yearly when the Border Collie blows coat. 

The Border Collie should be bathed only when necessary which is typically when the dog rolls in something unpleasant, or the coat looks and feels dirty. The Border Collie does shed but not excessively

Nails should be trimmed at least once a month. Regular ear cleaning and dental care are also an important part of keeping the Border Collie healthy and well. 

The Border Collie is such a highly active breed that it is highly unusual for it to ever become overweight. The dog losing weight from its activity level is a more serious concern in the breed

The Border Collie is not known to be a drooler. 

Border Collie Training

  • Easy to train

  • Should be taught to use its mouth appropriately

  • High prey drive


The Border Collie is a delight to train. A breed of exceptional intelligence, the Border Collie loves learning new things, particularly if it means time spent with its favourite people. The average Border Collie can learn the basic obedience commands in as little as a few weeks’ time. 

Since the Border Collie is a herding breed, it is very common for them to nip. Teaching the dog how to appropriately use its mouth is critical. This can be accomplished through redirecting the dog’s attention to a toy, bone, or ball when the dog attempts to nip or bite skin. It is important to note that the Border Collie will continue to nip at heels to herd children, family pets, etc, as this is part of the breed’s nature. 

A herding dog, the Border Collie has a high prey drive and may roam if given opportunity to do so. The breed is strongly drawn to herd moving objects including cars. The breed is not known for being particularly vocal. 

Border Collie Exercise Requirements

  • Easy to train

  • Should be taught to use its mouth appropriately

  • High prey drive


The Border Collie has extremely high activity requirements and must be exercised on a daily basis. The breed thrives when given a large space to freely run and play in; however, a fenced yard should not be a substitute for taking the Border Collie on daily walks or hikes. 

For the Border Collie, exercising the dog’s mind is equally as important as keeping its body active. Puzzle toys and dog performance sports are an excellent means to keep the Border Collie mentally stimulated. 

Exercising a Border Collie on a daily basis is non-negotiable. Failure to provide this dog breed with the activity it needs will lead to disaster. 

To keep the Border Collie in good physical condition and mentally satisfied, it is recommended that the dog participate in 45-60 minutes of vigorous exercise daily at an absolute minimum. The Border Collie excels at many dog performance sports which can also help burn off its reserves of energy. These include such events as agility, obedience, rally, tracking, flyball, and disc dog. 

The Border Collie is a highly playful breed that enjoys time spent roughhousing and having fun with its family. 

Border Collie Diet & Feeding

  • Puppies should eat puppy food

  • Adults should eat adult food

  • Monitor weight carefully to ensure the dog is receiving adequate amounts of food


To ensure the nutritional needs of the Border Collie are met, it is important to consult the advice of a veterinarian. A highly active breed, the Border Collie requires a diet that is up to the challenge of properly fuelling a high drive dog. In general, the breed thrives on a diet that is made of high-quality proteins, and that is properly balanced. 

Puppies should eat a puppy food to support their growing bodies. Adult dogs should eat an adult formulation which best addresses their age, activity level, and health condition. 

To help determine the correct amount to feed the Border Collie, it is best to follow the suggested serving sizes on the bag of food. These should be adjusted to reflect the specific activity level of the Border Collie. The dog’s appetite and weight will help serve as helpful guidelines. 

Care must be taken to ensure the Border Collie does not become underweight. 

You may also be interested in:

Border Collie Rescue Groups


For more information about Border Collies available for adoption near you, we recommend the following comprehensive resource:

Border Collie Society of America