If you love dogs for their natural intelligence, then you will be absolutely captivated by the Border Collie. This breed is considered to be the most intelligent of all dog breeds.
The dogs from this herding breed are known for their intense stares, which they use to keep an eye on and control the flocks.
They have limitless energy levels and are considered to be the best sheep herding dogs in the world.
One of the unique features of these dogs is their ability to understand the gestures and facial expressions of their owners or handlers and act before a vocal command is given.
The Border Collies are also highly trainable and will excel in all canine sports, including obedience, agility, flying disk, tracking, and of course, herding competitions.
While they are affectionate dogs, they do have a strong herding tendency and can try to herd children or other animals.
But just watching a Border Collie in action with its flock is sheer joy.
Temperament: intelligent, energetic, bright and loving
Height at the shoulder: 19-22 inches for males and 18-21 inches for females
Weight: 30-55 lbs.
Life expectancy: 12-15 years
Breed group: Herding
About the Border Collie breed
The Border Collie is a gifted herding dog with an amazing and almost intuitive response to the shepherd’s commands even when they are not said aloud. In fact, these dogs can successfully move sheep only based on commands with gestures or with a whistle.
It is always a pleasure to watch a dog from this breed confidently move its flock from one spot to another.
Border Collies are medium-sized dogs that have almost supernatural stamina and energy levels. They are hardy dogs, developed to work all day in the valleys and on the hills of the rough terrain around the Scottish border country. In some cases, dogs from this breed will run 50 or more miles per day.
The dogs from this intelligent breed are workaholics and need to be kept busy and working in order to thrive. This is why they are suitable for active owners and families who are willing to exercise, train and keep them mentally and physically active on a daily basis.
The pups from this dog breed are not suitable for couch potatoes or for people who are looking for a cuddly or laid-back pet.
Its strong herding instincts will make the dog want to herd everything in sight, including other dogs or pets, small animals, children or even moving cars.
The Border Collie uses barking, nudging, and nipping for herding, and this behavior is very difficult, if not impossible, to curtail. Instead of trying to tone down the dog’s natural instincts, the Border Collie owner needs to direct it and give it tasks to do.
Also, a securely fenced backyard is a must if you want to let your dog outside unleashed because it will run and herd anything that moves.
Very noisy children will further trigger their herding instincts, so if you have kids who like loud games, you can expect your dog to start trying to herd them too.
Borders are also suspicious to strangers, which is why early socialization is a definite must.
Just a simple brisk walk and a quick game of fetch are definitely not enough for the Border Collie.
Its inborn intelligence and its manageable nature make it easy to train.
The Border Collies are not only highly intelligent, but they are overly sensitive as well. Your dog will know exactly what you want from it even before you say it.
When socialized and trained from early puppyhood, the Border Collie can adapt to any living situation and home and will be an amazing and affectionate pet as long as you provide it with the mental and physical stimulation it needs.
The dogs from this breed are often winners in all kinds of dog sports and events and are definitely suitable for owners who have the time, energy and the desire to train them and keep them busy on a daily basis.
These dogs come with two different coat types – smooth or rough. Both types can be in a wide variety of colors and patterns.
The almond-focused eyes of the dogs have an intense gaze and a human-like intelligent expression.
They are among the most balanced, agile and durable dogs in the world and have been used to herd sheep in the US for many generations.
Today, they are still among the top preferred herding breeds, but more people are choosing to adopt them as companion dogs and family pets.
All Border Collies are descendants of a tri-colored male called Old Hemp bred by Adam Telfer, that was known as the absolute best herding dog.
The Border Collie is an amazingly smart dog with endless energy and drive to work and herd. This hardworking dog breed learns very fast, which makes keeping it mentally and physically challenged quite difficult.
The dogs from this breed want to stay busy all of the time because when bored can start barking, digging, chasing bicycles or cars or lead to other unwanted behavior.
These pups are known for their heightened sensitivity to their owner’s desires and have an astounding ability to read their minds and know what the command will be before it is actually spoken. Borders will read your facial expressions and gestures and will know exactly what you want from them without saying.
That being said, it is worth noting that these dogs can be quite a handful for inexperienced owners, as they have constant needs for working, training and being kept busy.
Also, they can be pretty independent and strong-minded animals with a herding instinct which can easily get out of control if not handled properly.
Their intelligence can have a downside, as these dogs will learn bad behavior just as quickly as they learn the desired good one.
The Border Collies are also prone to becoming shy and suspicious of strangers if they are not socialized properly from a very early age.
This is why enrolling the Border to puppy classes and taking it to different settings and meeting new people and dogs should start immediately after it has had all its shots and it is safe for the dog to go out and socialize.
Border Collies are not only superb herding dogs, but they are often used as trackers, sniffers and rescue dogs, and as mentioned previously, often win the different canine sporting activities they participate in.
In order to become a well-rounded, well-behaved and happy dog, the Border Collie requires significantly more exercise and work than most other dog breeds.
This makes them unsuitable for people who prefer the indoors and lead sedentary lives.
Overall, these dogs need to know their place in the pack and need to have an established Alpha Dog at home, or they could become overly dominant and very hard to control.
Borders tend to get strongly attached to a single person in the household, and even though they are affectionate to all family members, they are definitely one-person dogs.
They are not the perfect dogs for first-time dog owners.
They have a natural prey drive and will chase just about any animal or anything that is moving with the desire to control and herd it rather than hurt it.
Otherwise, they are playful companion dogs that will enjoy playing all kinds of interactive games, even when they are in their golden years.
They are also very attentive pups, so they will always let you know if a stranger is entering or if something is going on around the house.
The recommended daily amount of food for a Border Collie is from 1.5 to 2 cups of premium quality food. You should divide it into two separate meals.
Of course, the exact quantity of the food your dog needs to eat depends on its age, metabolism, activity level and build. Also, it depends on the quality of the dog food you choose for them. Higher quality food can be fed in smaller portions and will still provide the dog with the nutrients and fuel it needs to be healthy, happy and energetic.
You can buy commercial dog food or prepare the dog food at home yourself. It is important to provide food that is suitable for the age of your dog. The food for puppies, adults, and senior dogs differ in caloric values and in the balance of the nutrients.
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Some Border Collies can become overweight or even obese, so always measure the food portions and be careful with the number of treats you give to your dog. This problem can become more serious as the dog ages and becomes less active, so make sure you are careful about feeding the Border Collies.
As with all other dogs, excessive weight and obesity can lead to serious health conditions and can shorten the Border Collie’s lifespan.
Like with all other dogs, it is not recommended to feed it table scraps, bones or high-fat meals.
Be careful if you decide to change the diet of your Border Collie and don’t do it drastically. Instead, start by adding some of the new food to the old one and increase its quantity gradually and slowly to avoid digestive problems or other negative reactions.
You should always provide your dog with access to fresh and clean water.
Border Collies can have either smooth or rough double coats. They can be various colors and patterns, including merle, bicolor, tricolor, or any solid color except for white.
The rough coats are featured and are of medium length, while the smooth ones are coarser and shorter. Both coat types are dense and weather resistant. The grooming requirements are the same for both types. They include brushing the dog with a pin brush to remove the dirt and any tangles, mats or debris.
During the shedding seasons in the spring and fall, you may need to brush your dog’s coat on a daily basis to remove the dead hair.
Overall, these dogs do not require too much grooming and are easy to maintain when it comes to grooming.
You should check your dog’s ears regularly for any signs of infections. Keep them clean and dry because moisture in the ears can lead to infections.
The Border Collies are often allergic to fleas, so taking proper care of their coats and treating any flea bites or infestations is essential.
You should also brush your dog’s teeth several times a week and provide it with dog chews which will help remove the tartar buildup and prevent dental issues.
If needed, the nails of your dog should be trimmed once a month.
In order to make the grooming sessions easier for you and for your pup, you should start training the dog to get used to sitting calmly when you are brushing it, trimming its nails or brushing its teeth.
Bathing the Border Collie should be done when it needs a bath or smells but do not bathe it more often than once every four months. Its coat is weather-resistant and has natural oils which protect it and which can be damaged or removed by excessive bathing.
When you groom your dog, always inspect it for any sores, rashes, redness, or any signs of inflammation of the skin, the eyes, mouth, and all other body parts.
The earlier you spot any health problems, the easier it will be to treat them.
As we stated earlier on, the Border Collie has almost endless energy, so a brief walk around the block or a quick run in the backyard won’t do it for it.
The dogs from this breed thrive when they are busy and have jobs to do. If your Border Collie doesn’t have work to do, you should provide it with vigorous exercise – physical and mental every single day.
If left without anything to do, the Border Collie can start barking, chasing things, digging and doing other things which you will not be happy about.
This is why the dogs from this breed are definitely suitable for highly active owners who do not travel frequently and who prefer to spend most of their time outdoors.
Borders are common winners in dog sports and events like herding, agility, obedience, rally, tracking as well as in flyball and flying disc competitions.
A dog from this breed will be happy if you can provide it with at least 2 hours of exercise per day. The more you give it – the happier the pup will be.
Since they are so intelligent, they also need to be mentally stimulated, which can be done with interactive games, agility and obedience classes, and other similar activities.
As a whole, Border Collies are highly adaptable dogs that can easily fit in every home and environment, but they will feel better if they live in a home with a securely fenced yard rather than in a small-sized apartment.
So, makes sure you are ready to spend at least 2 or much more hours keeping your dog active and happy if you are planning on adding a Border Collie to your family!
They are dogs that want to be with their families, so do not leave your Border Collie to live outdoors only. In fact, many of the dogs from this breed tend to suffer from separation anxiety, so if you travel a lot, then a dog from this breed may not be the most suitable choice for you.
They have average lifespans of 12 to 15 years so this means that you will be staying busy for quite a long time, which is something to keep in mind.
Border Collies are recognized as the most intelligent breeds in the canine world, which means that they are incredibly easy to train. They also like to please, so chances are you will teach your Border Collie everything you want it to know and do pretty easily and quickly.
Although they are hyperactive, these sensitive herding dogs have the amazing ability to keep their focus on their owner and will be happy with the one-on-one contact you have together during the training sessions.
They are eye dogs that can read your mimics and gestures and it is difficult to break this focus when they are with you. Border Collies also respond very well to positive reinforcement and as long as you are consistent and fair with them, they will happily respond to your commands.
It is important that you set yourself as the Alpha dog and leader of the pack with these dogs because they can easily become the dominant ones if given the chance to do so.
You will need to start training and socializing your Border Collie as early as possible if you want a well-behaved and well-rounded dog later on.
They are prone to being suspicious and shy of strangers so meeting them with different people and taking them to different settings from early puppyhood is vital as well.
The first commands you should teach your Border Collie are: sit, stay, come/here, down, heel, quiet and leave it.
These will help you curb their herding and chasing instincts as well as their desire to nip, bark and nudge everybody and everything they see moving in front of them.
Once the dogs grow to be 1 year old you can start teaching them neater tricks like “speaking” or rolling over on commands. These dogs react very well to visual commands, and not only to verbal ones.
These pups are almost always champions of all obedience, agility, herding or other canine trials and events so you can keep your dog happy with agility or obedience training, as well as with participation in any other interactive dog sport.
Border Collies are affectionate dogs that love all family members, but because of their strong herding instincts, they will do better in homes where the children have grown and are well behaved.
They may also try to herd the other pets at home, which is why you should socialize them and teach them to refrain from chasing, nipping and biting everybody and everything at home.
Developed as a hard-working herding dog, the Border Collie is a very hardy and sturdy dog. Responsible breeders will make sure the parents are screened for common health problems such as hip dysplasia, deafness, progressive renal atrophy, epilepsy, collie eye anomaly, trapped neutrophil syndrome, and neuronal lipofuscinosis.
The AKC recommends that dogs get hip and ophthalmologist evaluations before being used for breeding.
While many of the common health issues in Border Collies are inherited, some can develop later on in life.
Here are the common health problems you should be aware of if you own or are planning to own a Border Collie:
This is a genetic condition that affects one or both rear legs of the dog. It causes the thighbone to not fit properly in the hip joint. This can cause pain and lameness in one or both legs. Some dogs with hip dysplasia do not show any signs of discomfort even when the condition is diagnosed. Others will be affected. The condition can get worse as the dog ages and develops arthritis.
Since dogs that have hip dysplasia should not be bred, always ask the breeder for clearance for this condition by a certified authority.
Progressive retinal atrophy
This is an entire group of diseases affecting the eyes which cause the gradual deterioration of the dog’s retina. Early on, the condition can cause night blindness in dogs, and later on, they will start losing their eyesight during the day as well.
Dogs adapt pretty well to partially limited or completely lost eyesight and can live normally and get around on their own if you don’t move the furniture around or change the settings at home.
Epilepsy can be inherited but, in some cases, can occur later on in life due to other causes such as a blow to the head. It causes seizures which can be mild or severe and may be exhibited in different types of unusual behavior, including falling down, running like the dog is being chased, hiding, staggering or others.
Although they are frightening to watch by the owners and others, seizures are usually not dangerous and your dog can live normally with the proper treatment.
Collie Eye Anomaly
This condition is also inherited but begins displaying itself after the dog has turned 2 years old. It causes abnormalities in the eye, which in some cases can lead to permanent blindness.
The changes include abnormal developments of choroids, optic disc defects, or a thinning of the sclera or even detachment of the retina. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Collie Eye Anomaly.
It is a genetic disease, so ask your breeder to provide you with health clearance by an ophthalmologist too.
Dogs can have allergies, which can be caused by food, by contact, or by inhaling an allergen. Border Collies are prone to flea allergy, which causes skin irritation and itching as a result of flea bites. The most common symptom is the dog biting the base of its tail. The treatment is applying coconut oil for dogs to soothe the itching and of course, making sure that the fleas are destroyed with a flea repellant product.
Other allergies can be caused by pollen, shampoos, dust, chemicals, drugs and different foods.
If your dog has a food allergy or intolerance, it is essential to single out the allergen and avoid feeding it to your pup.
Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD)
This is an orthopedic health problem that is caused by the abnormal growth of cartilage in the joints. It usually affects the elbows, but can occur in the shoulders too.
This condition can be detected at the age of 9 months and is found to be caused by overfeeding young puppies with high protein foods and growth formula which promotes uncontrolled, rapid growth.
Like other dog breeds, Border Collies can become overweight or obese if you are not careful about their portion sizes. This problem is especially common among dogs that have been neutered or spayed.
It is also more likely that a Border Collie will gain extra weight in its golden years when it is not as active anymore. This is why you should feed your dog with age-appropriate foods, measure the food, and don’t feed it any leftovers from your food or overdo it with the treats.
Obesity in dogs can significantly shorten their lives. It can cause bone and joint problems, diabetes, heart conditions, and others.
It is safe to spay or neuter a Border Collie when it is 6 months old.
The Border Collies originated from the Northumberland county, located at the Scottish Border between Scotland and England.
They are decedents of the first herding dogs used in the country from ages ago.
Border Collies became the most important assets that the local shepherds could own, and owners made sure to breed the best working dogs in order to continue improving the breed’s capabilities.
The dogs varied by type depending on the specific region and terrain they were used. They became known as Northern Sheepdogs, Welsh Sheepdogs, Scotch Collies, and Highland Collies.
The word “collie” is a Scottish dialect word for a sheepdog.
In 1860, dogs from this breed were shown for the first time at the second dog show held in England. Even Queen Victoria, who saw one of these dogs in Balmoral, became an enthusiast and fancier of the breed.
R.J.Lloyd Price has been recognized as the one to begin the sheepdog trials in the country. He brought a flock of 100 wild Welsh sheep and the dogs for a demonstration at the Alexandra Palace in 1876.
Records from then show that the entire audience was fascinated by the capabilities of the dogs when managing the wild sheep with only hand signals and whistles used by their handlers.
It comes as no surprise that the Border Collie is considered the best sheepdog breed in the world today.
These dogs were bred to be excellent herding dogs that work with sheep flocks and human shepherds.
Although the name of the breed has been mentioned in the records of dog trials held in 1873 in North Wales, the name Border Collie was officially first used in the 1900s when the Secretary of the International Sheep Dog Society James Reid registered the breed to differentiate them from the other collie breeds.
The fabulous male dog named Old Hemp won the top prize at the North Wales show and proceeded to win many more competitions, which made him one of the most famous herding dogs in history. As mentioned previously, Old Hemp, the tri-colored Border Collie is the ancestor of all of today’s dogs from this breed.
The breed was first recognized by the Kennel Club in the UK in 1977 when the first breed standard was accepted. It was amended in 1978 and has remained the same since then.
The International Sheep Dog Society is the registry that promotes the development of working Border Collies, while the Kennel Club promotes the development of show dogs with good appearance.
Border Collies have always been highly appreciated and preferred as working dogs and as companion dogs, due to their strong herding drives, their intelligence, and their natural abilities to work all day with flocks of sheep.
Today, they are still used as herding and working dogs around the world but are also very popular companion dogs and pets.
The dogs from this breed are preferred because of their intelligence, their desire to please and work with humans, and their amazing capabilities to herd flocks of sheep.
Border Collies are incredibly versatile dogs and are often used in rescue and sniffer operations or for other jobs.
Famous poem Robert Burns had a Border Collie named Luath and even wrote a beautiful poem about it when it died.
The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1995.