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Border Collie

Border Collie
Border Collie
Puppy

Seemingly the most intelligent dog of his species, the Border Collie is made for working, whether on a farm, through educational tasks or canine sports. Resilient, intelligent and willing, he would make the perfect pet for energetic and available owners who are able to cater to his number of physical and mental needs. A very sensitive dog, he is well matched with owners who are concerned with the physical and mental wellbeing of their animals.

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Key facts about the Border Collie

  • Life expectancy : Between 13 and 16 years
  • Temperament : Affectionate, Playful, Intelligent
  • Size : Medium
  • Type of coat : Short, Long
  • Price : Between £360 and £580

FCI Group

FCI Group

Group 1 - Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)

Section

Section 1 : Sheepdogs

Physical characteristics of the Border Collie

Adult size

Female dog Between 19 and 20 in
Male dog Between 20 and 22 in

Weight

Female dog Between 33 and 44 lb
Male dog Between 33 and 44 lb

Coat colour

All colours and shades are accepted according to this sheepdog’s official standards. For the majority of dogs of this breed, the coat is black and white. However, it is also not uncommon to see three-toned coats, blue merle, red merle or red and white coats.

However, white will never be the predominant colour.

Type of coat

There are two varieties: medium-haired and long-haired Border Collies.

His outer coat is dense, while the undercoat is also dense but soft.

Eye colour

While his eyes are generally brown, they can also be blue, particolour and even odd.

Description

The Border Collie is a well-proportioned and balanced dog. Boasting a resilient frame, this dog is born to be at the side of farmers and their herds. His impressive physical and mental abilities allow him to excel in a number of canine activities, such as agility and obedience training, racing and treibball.

Temperament

Affectionate

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Utterly devoted to his master, all this dog wants to do is please his master. This personality trait can make him very sensitive and at times, even difficult to manage. 

At home, as long as his needs are met, he is a very loving pet due to his strong attachment to his social group.

Playful

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This sheepdog loves to play with both young and old, and will particularly appreciate games that mentally stimulate him. 

You should engage this natural worker in intellectual rather than physical games. Not only does he enjoy this type of play, it is also what he needs to stay stimulated.

Calm

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Often considered as hyperactive, the Border Collie is the opposite of a calm dog who will happily spend the day in his basket. He needs constant stimulation to be content in himself.

However, as long as his needs are met and respected, he will appreciate taking some respite in a comfortable setting, but he will always be on alert. The smallest gestures from his master will be observed, scrutinised and analysed.

Intelligent

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This sheep whisperer is considered one of the most intelligent breeds of his species, and for good reason; the Border Collie is thirsty for knowledge and always eager to please his master. He very quickly absorbs the material he learns during training. 

It is even the case that the Border Collie can overtake his master, meaning that it is necessary to very quickly amp up the difficulty level, or else risk boring him and resulting in a loss of motivation.

His advanced intelligence allows him to excel in a number of areas. As a result, he is often found at the top of agility and obedience competition podiums.

Hunter

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This sheepdog prefers to round animals up rather than hunt them, but it’s also not uncommon to see this dog exhibiting a predatory instinct. This trait often manifests itself in dogs that have not shown much of an interest in herding.

Fearful / wary of strangers

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His sensitivity and attachment to his owner makes this companion relatively distrustful towards strangers.

His herding instinct can also mean that this dog may try to encircle a stranger while barking, in an attempt to entrap him. It is therefore important to control this character trait so that it doesn’t transform into aggression.

Independent

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The Border Collie’s unconditional attachment to his master and social group makes him a very dependent dog. 

Despite his ability to take initiative during herding tasks, once it is finished, he will go back to awaiting orders from his master.
 

Behaviour of the Border Collie

Tolerates solitude

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In constant need of stimulating activities, this dog is not adapted to spending time alone, and can even develop behavioural issues if he finds himself bored and alone too often.

Many Border Collies end up in dog shelters, once their owners find themselves overpowered by this dog’s energy and intense exercise needs.

Easy to train / obedience

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Many people think that an intelligent dog equals a dog that is easy to train; however, it is not quite as simple as this. On the contrary, intelligent dogs can be more difficult to train if they do not see sense or coherence in their training sessions. 

However, if his training is adapted, coherent, fair and respectful of the principles of positive education,  the master-dog relationship will be very enriching.

If all of these criteria are respected, he will be a pleasure to educate thanks to his speed in understanding what is expected of him. If you achieve this, his educational capacities will be almost limitless.

Barking

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Like all sheepdogs, the Border Collie will have no qualms in barking if he is unhappy. It’s his instinct to bark to encourage movement in a herd, for example, or even to exert some energy if he is not sufficiently exercised.

Tendency to run away

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Running away is not in the nature of this dog. Creating distance between himself and his social group goes against his nature, unless it is necessary as part of a task.

Destructive

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The Border Collie can get destructive if his needs are not met, especially during time alone.

Greedy / Gluttony

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The Border Collie is not especially greedy, but he will nonetheless appreciate treats during training as a motivational tool.

Guard dog

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This dog’s sensitivity can make him a good guard dog if he senses a threat, real or not. 

Many sheepdogs have a strong protective instinct. While it’s present in the Border Collie, it is not overly strong.

First dog

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The Collie can make for a great first companion, as long as his masters understand his needs and dedicate the necessary time to him. 

A well-educated Border Collie puppy can be a great pet, but if he has lacked training, he can rapidly become a handful for novices.

This sheepdog is not for everyone. He is best suited to experienced and devoted owners.

Lifestyle

Border Collie in a flat

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While the Border Collie can adapt to a number of lifestyles, he is not suited to live in a flat. 

This dog is born for life outdoors, whether on a farm or with a big outside space to roam. A house with a garden would also be adequate for him, as long as he is walked and stimulated on a daily basis and is never kept inside for an extended period of time.

Need for exercise / Sporty

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In constant need of activity, this sheepdog needs to be regularly stimulated. These activities should primarily be mental, so that he is able to exercise his hardworking nature. 

You should also prioritise activities that are aligned with his innate instincts, such as herding or treibball. However, this resilient dog would also make a great companion for running or cycling enthusiasts.

Travelling / easy to transport

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His medium size allows him to accompany his master quite easily in a range of situations, whether by car or train.

That said, a calm traveling experience will only be attainable if this Collie has been trained properly from an early age.

Compatibility

Border Collie and cats

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If the Border Collie has been brought up around cats, he will have no issues getting along with them.

Border Collie and dogs

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If he has been properly socialised from an early age, a cohabitation with other dogs will not be a problem. 

However, be aware that unneutered males will not be able to tolerate the presence of other unneutered males.

Border Collie and children

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The Border Collie will get along perfectly well with children, especially when it comes to playing. However, house rules should always be established to guarantee everyone’s safety and foster a harmonious living space.

Be aware that Collies who are especially sensitive may not appreciate the intense energy of children.

Border Collie and the elderly

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Working dogs are not suitable for inactive people. This dog needs an owner who can be available, active and energetic to be able to meet his many needs.

Price

The price of a Border Collie varies depending on his origins. You should budget around £580 for a dog that’s registered with the KC. The highest quality Collie breeds can be sold higher if they hold rankings in competitions.

As for your monthly budget, you should set aside between £30 and £50 to cater to the needs of this energetic dog, taking into account his diet and other expenses related to his well being.
 

Grooming

His level of grooming will depend on his length of hair: for short-haired dogs, a simple regular brush will suffice to eliminate excess hair and maintain the beauty of his coat.

On the other hand, for long-haired Border Collies, regular brushing as well as detangling will be essential to avoid the formation of knots.

Hair loss

This dog loses a considerable amount of hair, notably during spring and autumn, the annual shedding seasons.

Nutrition of the Border Collie

This dynamic dog will need a diet adapted to his physical nature, especially if he works on a farm.

His diet can consist of dry, wet or raw food. However, be aware that tinned wet food will not be good enough on its own!

Health of the Border Collie

Life expectancy

The lifespan of this dog is between 13 and 16 years.

Strong / robust

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This dog has the potential to be robust, however, his numerous genetic flaws make him one of the most sensitive breeds.

Withstand heat

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Very energetic, this sheepdog can tolerate the heat as long as it’s not excessive, especially if he is constantly engaged in tasks.

Withstand cold

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His soft and dense undercoat provides him with good protection against adverse weather conditions, especially the humidity. However, he won’t be able to withstand the extreme cold.

Tendency to put on weight

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His sensitivity and level of physical activity mean that he is not prone to obesity. However, it is important to pay attention to dogs that do not get enough exercise.

Common illnesses

  • Hip dysplasia 
  • Eye problems (atrophy of the retina)
  • Dilatation and twisting of the stomach
  • Epilepsy
  • Genetic flaws

As with all Collie dogs, it is strongly advised to test him for the MDR1 gene, as if he is a carrier, certain medication can be toxic, including treatments for worms and fleas.

Good to know

The Border Collie is the only dog that is a member of the KC based on his herding abilities, as opposed to physical features.

Origins and history

The Border Collie’s history is perhaps the strangest in all of the dog world. He is an ancient breed, as proved by quotes from the 17th century that refer to this dog by his current name, during a time period in which “breeds” did not exceed according to its current definition. In reality, “Border Collie” has quite a general meaning; the word “collie” refers to all Scottish sheepdogs, while the term “border” refers to the “borders”, a large geographical zone located at the border between Scotland and England. What’s extraordinary is that, at the beginning of the century when the need for working dogs in England came about, all the Border shepherds had almost identical dogs, which is what we call a “type” in the dog world. However, the shepherds never instigated a breeding process, as they were only interested in getting the work done. Therefore, the breed wasn’t officially recognised until 1982, making him one of the oldest official breeds, but also one of the newest known to us.

Names

Good names for a Border Collie: Flash, Joy, Loki, Skippy

Find out more dog name ideas here