Surely everyone knows the adorable and speedy border collie, the breed sometimes called ‘The Shepherd’s dog’. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, they have a body slightly longer than they are tall. This monochrome mastermind is really, really intelligent – topping Stanley Coren’s list ‘The Intelligence of Dogs’. Bred to herd, border collies enjoy sprinting across fields and returning gleefully to their master. Friendly to the people they know, border collies can be wary of strangers and need plenty of exercise to stay happy.
- Origin: Scotland
- Weight: 30-55 pounds
- Lifespan: 12-15 years
- Breed group: Herding group
- Activity level:
- Barking/howling level:
- Good with dogs: yes
- Good with kids: yes
- Good with cats:
- Easy to groom:
- Easy to train:
The border collie is medium sized, nimble dog boasting a trademarked black and white coat, built lower to the ground than some other breeds, which aids them in their sheepherding duties.
A dog with a double coat, the one they’re famous for, is their water resistant outer coat of black and white, which is usually straight or slightly curly. Border collies can also have coats with speckled or merle patterns. A border collie’s face is well proportioned, distinctive (some would even say handsome) and easily recognisable, with somewhat / semi standing up ears, which are sometimes adorably forward-flopping ears.
Always alert and raring to go, collies love running and fetching. A long, morning jog would be their idea of a perfect start to the day. Remember to bring a ball and strong throwing arm. Reward and praise them when they come back, and give you back the ball, or it’ll quickly turn into a game of chase instead.
If you’re looking for a coworking companion then the border collie is an obvious choice. Fiercely intelligent, collies can be trained to carry out tasks–which is why they’re a firm favourite with farmers. Games and exercise are important to keep their minds healthy active–collies have lots of energy and can become erratic if they aren’t challenged.
Named after the border regions between Scotland and England where they were originally bred as a fast-footed herding dog. Head up to Northern England and you can still spot a flash of white and black fur rounding up sheep, seemingly responding telepathically to a series of whistles and commands from the farmers. With such a lineage of high energy and intelligence, a border collie will be best suited to a lifestyle with access to plenty of outdoor space to stretch their legs and will need to be kept mentally stimulated, too.
If you have a garden, a ranch, paddock, or perhaps several paddocks, all the better for a collie. But collie’s can adjust to apartment and city life, as long as they get the exercise they need. If you’re a city dweller, make sure you have access to outdoor space where your collie can run off all that energy.
Are you looking for a four-legged, loyal companion for long hikes, trail running, or agility training? The border collie is surely a dog to put through their paces, they don’t just need a quick stretch of their legs – we’re talking about at least a couple of hours of exercise a day – preferably more if you can give it to them. If you love spending hours rambling, playing outdoors, hiking trails – then perhaps a collie is the canine companion for you.
You’ll need to show plenty of confidence and when training a border collie, and you’ll be rewarded by their natural gentleness, affection and attentiveness, which makes them wonderful family pet, suited to a household with children, other dogs and cats, provided they’re introduced carefully and a watchful eye is kept, especially with toddlers. You might find your border collie attempting to round your children up (which, let’s face it, could be handy at times)!
Routine, discipline, and consistency are key to training border collies. Their keen intelligence makes them fantastic working dogs but they need firm leadership from a young age. Your border collie will pick up on new skills and learn lessons quickly, and this is where consistency comes in–they’ll quickly associate your gestures, tone of voice and commands with the trick your teaching, so it’s important to keep to the same
Border collies frequently top lists of the most intelligent dog breeds around, and some have been proven to recognise literally hundreds of unique commands, plus all the proof you need is to see them in action in their original herding role to see the capabilities of collies is pretty much limitless. Because of their mental sharpness it’s important to keep them stimulated and make sure training sessions begin when they are focused and relaxed.
Some border collie owners have found their dogs a useful helpmate around the home; why not give this a try? This eager-to-please and sharp as a pin dog could help you with chores, or you could equally teach them to clear away their own toys.
That famous and hardy weather repellant coat does mean these dogs are fairly heavy shedders. What’s more, the combo of their low-sitting frame and longer outer coat mens they can pick up all sorts of dirt and debris, especially if you’ve let them off leash for a countryside caper. A weekly brush, or a quick wash or brush after a particularly dirty walk, should help keep their coat looking healthy.
Double coated dogs also shed seasonally in spring and fall, their undercoat will actually completely shed, so be prepared to do plenty of brushing and vacuuming with a border collie in your home.
Due to how popular these dogs are, finding a breeder shouldn’t be a problem. High energy dogs like border collies are often surrendered to breed rescue centres because the owner was no longer able to provide enough exercise or stimulation to keep their pooch happy and healthy.
Border Collie Rescues
Adopting a dog is a rewarding and life-affirming experience, and there are a few, but important, things to consider before welcoming any rescue dog into your home.
If you’ve got your heart set on rescuing a border collie, a quick Google will throw up local results, or start with this list of collie centres across the country. Other notable collie rescue organisations include Border Collie Save and Rescue, and the aptly named Come Bye BC Rescue.
Border Collie Breeders
If you’re set on getting a border collie pup, the first thing you’ll need to do is plenty of research. Talk to breeders and get to know them, hear about their experience rearing their dogs. And make sure you check that they’ve got all the proper credentials. If you can, go and visit the puppy litter, meet the dog’s parents, and see for yourself the way the puppies interact with each other.
Responsible breeders will offer a written contract, and guarantee a home for dogs they breed if the owner becomes unable to care for them.
Preparing your family, your home and even yourself to welcome a new border collie puppy into your life is a big step to take – make sure you are ready for a truly loveable, adorable, and did we mention energetic, dog.