border collies dog breed information

Border Collies: What You Need to Know About The Athletic Dog

The Border Collie is a fantastic working dog that is also a great family pet for the right fur parent. If they’re surrounded by people with whom they can constantly interact and engage, they will make the best fur companion.

Most of the time, they prefer keeping busy and always have something to do, so if you’re the kind of pet parent who’s just as adventurous, curious, and active as them, you two will make the perfect pair!

What is a Border Collie?

a border collie
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If there’s a school for dogs, the Border Collie breed would probably be the top of the class and the MVP of every school sport. This breed is the definition of hardworking dogs who constantly loves being on the job.

They are among the smartest and most energetic dogs with a general inclination for dog sports. As I said, Border Collies are the MVPs of the school. Their insane determination and focus drive them to be great competitors.

Border Collie Origin

border collie origin
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The origin of the Border Collie dog breed (first known as the “Scotch Sheep Dog”) came about at the border of England and Scotland, hence the term “border” on its name. Meanwhile, the word “collie” was translated from the old Gaelic word meaning “useful,” which greatly defines a Border Collie.

Every Border Collie today is a common descendant of the dog, Old Hemp. It all started in AD 43, during which time the Roman conquest of Britain took place. When the Roman invaders dominated the British Isles in the 1st century, they also brought their dogs and used them for herding livestock.

The Border Collie dog breed then spread across Britain, occupying other countries, including Wales, Ireland, and Scotland.

Later on, the Vikings came replacing the fallen Roman Empire. They also brought along a small herding dog that resembled the Spitz. You can probably guess the next thing that happened.

The large Roman dog and the small herding dog were bred together, producing the great ancestor of Border Collies today, popularly known today as Old Hemp.

In 1995, American Kennel Club officially proclaimed the Border Collie as part of the Herding Group.

What Was the Border Collie Originally Bred for?

The Border Collie began as herding dogs. Their strong herding instinct and qualities like determination, intelligence, high stamina, and impressive work ethic qualify them as excellent herding breeds. They even competed and dominated countless sheepdog trials, starting from the first sheepdog trial held in Wales in 1873.

Their participation in these sheepdog trials, accompanied by their other achievements like consistently earning the highest place in the sport of agility and leading the list of the world’s smartest dog breed, has helped Border Collies get the recognition they deserve.

You can also choose a Border Collie depending on their working ability. Some Border Collies excel as herding dogs for their natural herding instincts, while others are bred for show and performance training.

What Does a Border Collie Look Like?

athletic build border collie
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The Border Collie is a medium-sized dog with many beautiful physical attributes to boast. Among them is their athletic build that’s made to triumph over various canine sports and physical exercises like swimming, free-running courses, obstacle courses, herding competitions, flying discs, and more.

Here are the other physical attributes of a Border Collie.


Border Collies are double-coated dogs featuring two types of coats: rough (medium length) and smooth (short length). Their coat also comes in various colors and combinations; black and white are the most common.

Based on AKC, the standard colors of the Border Collie are as follows:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Blue Merle
  • Brindle
  • Gold
  • Red
  • Sable
  • Sable Merle
  • White & Black
  • White & Red
  • Red & Merle
  • White & Blue
  • White & Blue Merle
  • Lilac
  • Saddleback Sable
  • White & Red Merle
  • White Ticked

Meanwhile, the non-standard colors include:

  • Seal
  • White and Sable
  • Slate
  • White and Seal
  • White and Gold


A Border Collie’s eyes can come in different colors, with brown being the most common. However, some Collies also feature green or amber eyes and, on rare occasions, blue eyes, which they can also be born with. Most of the time, their eyes are bicolored or tricolored, and only a few instances where their eye is a solid color.

Their intense gaze, also known as the “eye,” is a breed hallmark that holds a certain expression of intelligence and alertness, something that’s highly associated with their nature of work. This expression came from their herding style of “giving eye,” which is part of their sequence in herding sheep.


A distinct feature of the Border Collie is their long ears. Their ears can appear in two ways: pointy or droopy. There’s no sure way of knowing what type of ears your Border Collie puppy will have. They can either be pointy, droopy, or a combination of pointy and droopy. As they mature over time, their ears can still change.


A purebred Border Collie sports a long, white-tipped tail. Their tail is set low on the body while working and slightly curled upwards whenever they are happy or excited.

How Big Does a Full Grown Border Collie Get?

big and full-grown border collie
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Border Collies are medium-sized dogs that can weigh between 27 to 45 pounds.

The average weight of a full-grown male Border Collie is 35 to 45 pounds, and they can grow anywhere between 18 to 23 inches tall.

Meanwhile, female Border Collies can weigh between 37 to 40 pounds and stand at 17 to 20 inches tall.

Different Types of Border Collies

Border Collies are one of the best furry companions you can get. Like some dog breeds, this breed also has different types with each having its own characteristics and features. Find out about the four different types of Border Collies and see which personality fits you best.

Northumbrian Type

northumbrian type
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Old Hemp served as the foundation of The Northumbrian Type and where the modern Border Collies bloodline originated. This breed was developed in Northumbrian, England, hence the name type, way back in 1894 by Adam Telfer. Old Hemp was known as a determined, hardworking, and focused dog. Qualities of which he passed on to the Border Collie bloodline. You can easily distinguish the Northumbrian Type with a medium build, rough coat, and white coat trimmings.

Wiston Cap Type

wiston cap type
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Next, we have the Wilson Cap Type, which was early developed by J.M. Wilson and taking inspiration from his dog, Cap, also known as Wartime Cap. This type has one of the biggest influences on Border Collies today. Like the Northumbrian Type, they have rough coats but are much larger in size, big head, and white trims located in their collars, chests, and forelegs.

Nap Type

Nap Type
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The Nap Type is the only one with a smooth coat among the four different types. Its name came from the Whitehope Nap. They have shorter coats, longer legs, and shorter bodies. The Nap Type is incredibly strong and speedy, making them the ideal working cattle dog used by Americans from the western part of the US. Although the Nap Type Border Collies have shorter coats, they have an undercoat that provides insulation from any weather.

Herdman’s Tommy Type

herdman’s tommy type
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Lastly, Herdman’s Tommy Type was inspired by Old Hemp’s grandson, Herdman’s Tommy. Tommy has a medium-sized bone structure with a typical coat color of black and white patterned with some tan markings. The Herdman’s Tommy Type is known for being amiable, strong-headed, and efficient.

How to Take Care of a Border Collie?

border collie running and exercising
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Border Collies are high maintenance when it comes to training, exercise, and diet. They’re naturally born to be workaholics, so they value spending their time in activities that encourage physical and mental stimulation. However, they don’t require much when it comes to grooming.


If you’re someone who loves to be active, then taking care of a Border Collie will not be a problem for you. They can match your energy while going out for a run or walk. They also enjoy most dog sports and make the best sport fur companion. Keep your Collie happy and healthy by doing exercises with them for at least an hour or two.


Border Collies require moderate attention in grooming. They tend to shed seasonally to cope with temperature and more frequently during the fall and spring seasons.

You can give them a bath once every 3 to 4 months and brush their hair weekly to avoid mats, tangles, or debris stuck on their fur.

During fall and spring, where they shed the most, you may need to brush their hair daily to maintain their coat.

Like with other dogs, you need to trim their nails weekly. A good indication of when their nails need to be trimmed is when you hear their nails scratching or clacking on your floor. Lastly, have their ears checked and cleaned regularly and their teeth brushed routinely or at least three times a week.


Border Collies have no special dietary requirements. However, they will thrive especially well on high-quality dog food with higher protein, calcium, and vitamin levels. This breed lives a very energetic and active lifestyle.

So they need a good amount of protein, healthy fats, and carbs to keep them energized for the whole day. They can keep themselves physically and mentally healthy and ready to overcome any obstacle with the right nutrients.

Related Review: Best Dog Food for Border Collies

1. How much to feed

The amount of food you need to feed your Border Collie will depend on their weight, age, metabolism, and activity level. Ideally, a standard adult Collie can have 1.5 to 2 cups of high-quality dry food daily and about 1000 calories per day to meet their caloric requirements.

Meanwhile, a Border Collie puppy who’s much more energetic and active than an adult dog needs about 1200 to 1400 calories to consume each day and 1 to 1.5 cups of dry food.

2. How often to feed

It’s recommended to feed your adult Border Collie two meals a day, split for morning and night. While your Collie puppy needs to be fed three to four times a day.

One thing to always remember is to not overfeed them. Any breed is susceptible to obesity, and the best way to keep your Border Collie at a healthy weight is to watch the portions you give them. Giving them treats is okay as long as you don’t overdo it.

3. Common food allergies

Any dog breed can be susceptible to food allergies, and the Border Collie is no different. Your dog can develop food intolerance to various food allergens. The most common food allergens for dogs are chicken, beef eggs, wheat, dairy, or soy. Artificial additives or ingredients can also cause an allergic reaction.

Avoid this by opting for dog foods with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, and no corn, wheat, or soy.

The signs and symptoms of allergies include:

  • Irritated skin like itching, rash, or skin sores
  • Skin inflammation
  • Hair loss
  • Dry and dull coat
  • Glassy eyes
  • Teary eyes
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Chronic ear infection
  • Upset stomach or diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Biting or scratching of their own skin

Are Border Collies Easy to Train?

border collie and a trainer
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The answer to this shouldn’t even come as a surprise. Border Collies are fast learners and intelligent dogs, and training them is almost a breeze. Whether it’s teaching them basic commands, potty training, obedience training, or agility training, they can excel fast and do a pretty good job.

This is one of the most commendable qualities of a Border Collie.

With any dog, it’s always better to start conditioning them at a young age. Border Collie puppies, in particular, can be trained as early as 3 to 4 months for basic tricks and commands.

While for advanced training, you can start training them at 6 to 8 months. You can probably see the full result of your training within 4 months. This should be accompanied by a good training routine, consistency, and positive reinforcement.

Border Collie Temperament

Where do we start? There are so many things about the Border Collie that makes them great dog in general.

They’re incredibly loyal, intelligent, keen, athletic, energetic, and alert at all times. A great partner is what they are, and they’ll make sure to never leave you behind as their beloved owner.

The real question is, how do they do with other pets or people?

Does this breed do well with children?

Border Collies are quite the playful bunch, and pairing them with kids ensures a good time for both parties. They’re most likely to establish a wonderful bond, especially if they grow up together.

However, early socialization and training are still a requirement, and their first introduction should be well-supervised by an adult. What’s most important in their relationship is their mutual respect for each other and should probably be the first thing you teach your dog and the children.

Always keep in mind that the Border Collie was bred as a sheepherding dog, and their natural herding instincts may kick in with children around. Your Collie might get the urge to herd kids, especially if they see them being naughty and out of control.

This can be a problem with adult Collies as it can provoke their predatory instinct and drive them to bark, nip, or nudge the children. If this is the case, your dog needs to know that this type of behavior they’re exhibiting is bad behavior and should be corrected.

Does it do well with other pets?

Border Collies are usually friendly with other dogs or pets, even strangers. However, this is not always the case. Again, an early introduction with other dogs or pets helps with their relationship.

If your Border Collie seems aloof or snarky with a certain pet, one of the reasons could be jealousy. Border Collie pet parents need to make sure that they give their Collies the same attention and affection they give to other fur parents’ pets to prevent jealousy issues from the Collie.

Are Border Collies aggressive?

No, Border Collies are not aggressive by nature. However, they are excitable and overactive dogs that can sometimes be confused with aggressive behavior. There may be instances where they show signs of aggression.

Some possible reasons could be that someone violated their boundaries, didn’t receive proper training, or grew up in an unsuitable environment, therefore not allowing them to grow up with good manners and attitude.

What Environment is Ideal for a Border Collie?

what environment is ideal for a border collie
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Border Collies are not made for apartment living or small living spaces where they’re isolated. They thrive better in areas where they have a lot of space to exercise, train, or play. It’s important for this breed to have constant physical and mental stimulation. Take a look at some of these great toys for Border Collies for playtime.

However, it’s also worth knowing that they can’t function very well in high-traffic areas where many people or other animals are around. This kind of environment can affect them psychologically and instigate unwanted behavior.

Can the Border Collie tolerate cold and warm weather?

Yes, Border Collies can withstand cold or warm weather. They do well in dry and humid places, but they are susceptible to overheating if it gets any hotter than 85°F (30°C).

Meanwhile, they can still survive the winter season with colder temperatures because of their double coats. However, their limit doesn’t go lower than 32°F (0°C). In conclusion, the Border Collie is not designed to withstand extreme weather conditions.

What is the Average Life Span of Border Collies

what is the average life span of border collies
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A Border Collie can live as long as 10 to 17 years, in some cases even more than 17 years. However, their life expectancy can still be affected by health problems and genetic conditions. There’s no definite way to ensure they live a long and healthy life other than to arrange regular vet visits and checkups.

Border Collie Common Health Issues

border collie with a common health issue
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Border Collies are quite the healthy breed in general. However, some Collies are still susceptible to various health problems. As a fur parent, it’s good to know the different health issues that can affect your fur baby, so you can easily recognize some of the signs and symptoms.

More than that, It’s also recommended to have regular vet visits and checkups to help your Collie live a healthy and happy life.

Hip Dysplasia

Canine Hip Dysplasia is a genetic disease most prevalent in larger dog breeds but can also affect medium and small dogs. Hip Dysplasia happens because of a malformation in the hip’s joints where the ball and socket do not fit properly. This causes huge discomfort and pain because the ball and socket keep rubbing instead of sliding smoothly.

As it progresses over time, the dog’s hip bone and cartilage start to get overwhelmed by the constant pressure and get inflamed. This can result in the dog developing arthritis, muscle atrophy, or limited mobility.

The common signs and symptoms of Hip Dysplasia are:

  • Reluctance to running, jumping, or climbing the stairs
  • Limping
  • Lameness in the rear leg
  • Bunny hopping
  • Stiffness
  • Pain
  • Decrease in activity levels
  • Difficulty standing or lying down
  • Limited range of motion

Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA)

Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA), also known as “collie eye defect,” is a congenital genetic disease that affects Border Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Australian Shepherds, among others.

This occurs when a gene mutation causes several eye defects such as choroidal issues, retinal detachment, retinal folds, and underdeveloped eye blood vessels.

Signs and symptoms of this condition can vary, but the common signs include:

  • Vision loss or blindness
  • Smaller eyeballs than normal or Microphthalmia
  • Sunken eyeballs or Enophthalmia


Primary or Idiopathic Epilepsy is an inherited condition that commonly affects Border Collies. Unfortunately, there’s no known underlying cause for Idiopathic Epilepsy as of today. Affected dogs can experience this as early as 1 to 4 years old.

The obvious symptoms of epilepsy are:

  • Collapsing
  • Jerking
  • Stiffening
  • Muscle twitching
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Drooling
  • Chomping
  • Tongue chewing
  • Foaming at the mouth

Treatment can include medication, however, traditional medications can have a long-term effect on their health. If your pooch is suffering from epilepsy or seizures, you can try a natural alternative to help alleviate symptoms of seizures such as CBD oils or CBD treats.

Progressive Renal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Renal Atrophy (PRA) is an inherited eye disease that can cause partial day or night blindness. This occurs because of the deterioration of the photoreceptor cells found in the retina of the eye, which leads to blindness. First, the affected dog can experience night vision loss and eventually daytime blindness.

It’s hard to see the signs of PRA during its early stages, but the common telltale signs of PRA include the following:

  • Frequent bumping into things
  • Reluctance to going in dark rooms
  • Dilated pupils
  • Clumsiness

Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome (TNS)

Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome (TNS) is a fatal genetic autosomal disease that mostly affects young Border Collies. This condition lowers the immune system function due to the displacement of the neutrophils, a type of white blood cell.

Neutrophils are typically distributed in the blood by the bone marrow, but with this condition, the neutrophils get trapped instead, hence the name for the disease. It’s a life-threatening disease that makes the victim prone to chronic illnesses or infections. Unfortunately, it kills most puppies in development.

Here are the signs and symptoms of TNS to watch out for:

  • Joint inflammation
  • Lameness
  • Leg pain
  • Smaller than the other puppies in the litter
  • Abonormally long head and legs
  • Does not develop or grow properly
  • Depression
  • Frequent illnesses and infections
  • Higher than normal body temperature

Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (NCL)

Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (NCL) is an inherited storage disease that targets your dog’s neuronal cells, causing various behavioral and psychological problems. Its primary cause is a defective gene brought by BOTH the puppy’s parents. Also, note that both male and female Border Collie is just as likely to develop this disease.

The symptoms of NCL can be observed as early as 15 to 18 months, which are the following:

The best form of prevention is to avoid breeding dogs that are carriers of the disease. Therefore, the breeders should mandate genetic testing of the disease for all breeding stock.

  • Trouble. climbing or jumping
  • Abnormal walking
  • Hyperactivity
  • Dementia
  • Aggression
  • Manic
  • Sight disturbances
  • Eventual blindness

The best form of prevention is to avoid breeding any carrier of the disease. Therefore, genetic testing of the disease should be mandated by the breeders for all breeding stock.

How Much Does a Border Collie cost?

how much does a border collie cost
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A Border Collie puppy can cost between $500 to $1200 if it’s coming from a reputable breeder.

You can also opt for adopting a Border Collie rescue from your local rescue group or animal shelter for a price between $100 to $350.

Regardless of where they came from, it’s always an amazing feeling to be able to give a puppy a new home.

Similar Dog Breeds to the Border Collie

Border Collies are fun, smart, and loyal fur companions. They have a great temperament, and they can adapt well. But, if you think they’re not the perfect fit for you or your lifestyle, there are other dog breeds that hold a resemblance to Collie’s personality and appearance.

Other BreedsSimilaritiesDifferences
1. Australian Shepherdsmart, rough coat, active, requires, regular grooming, adapts welldocked bobtail, coat pattern
2. Shetland Sheepdogpart of the Herding Group, easy to train, friendly with most children, energetic, requires regular exercisedoesn’t need supervision with other dogs, half the size of the Border Collie
3. Scotch Collieeasy to train, obedient, agilegentle, sweet-natured, no supervision needed with kids,
4. Belgian Sheepdogrequires regular grooming and exercise, energetic, long rough coat, intelligent, sensitive
5. New Zealand Heading Dogagile, active, attractive, rough or smooth coat, coat pattern, energetic, requires regular exercise

Tips on Finding the Right Breeder

Before you can welcome your Border Collie pupper to the family, you need to find a Border Collie breeder first. The most important thing about finding a reputable breeder is to do your own research.

There are many places to look for reputable breeders starting from your local Border Collie website or in marketplaces like the AKC Marketplace where you can find responsible dog breeders, trainers, and groomers.

Qualities to look for in a responsible breeder

Whether you’re looking for a purebred Border Collie or Border Collie mix, here’s what you should look for in a responsible dog breeder.

  1. The breeder is part of parent breed clubs (i.e. Border Collie Club USA, Inc. or National Breed Club)
  2. Great background in breeding
  3. Shows genuine concern for animals
  4. Provides necessary documents such as Hip Certification, Genetic Testing, Registration, and Bloodline
  5. Open to answering questions
  6. Implements health screening to ensure puppy’s health is in good condition
  7. Schedules a visit or video call to see the puppy
  8. They make sure that the puppy will live in a good home with good fur parents

What to avoid when looking for a breeder

Make sure to avoid these kinds of breeders whenever you’re thinking of buying a new puppy.

  1. Backyard breeders and puppy mills… enough said
  2. They sell two to three litters of puppies at the same time
  3. Making false undocumented claims about the dog’s character
  4. Defensive when asked about their breeding practices
  5. Doesn’t allow visits
  6. If visits are allowed, the place where the puppies are bred doesn’t satisfy comfortable living conditions
  7. No pedigree information and registration documents available
  8. No medical history provided


There’s no doubt that the Border Collie is some of the fun dog breeds out there. They are people pleasers, fun, smart, and loves spending time with their owners. With a Border Collie by your side, you two will always have a blast doing things together.

Personally, one of the things I love most about this breed is they are very adaptive and eager to learn new things.

Now that you have reached the end of the article, I hope you found all the things you need to know about the Border Collie. Hopefully, you find the perfect furry friend of your dreams with the Border Collie.

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