The Border Collie Dog Breed

Written By: Lindsay Giguiere

Editor: Julie Zawadzki

Dog Breeds
felicitails breed guide about the border collie dog breed, breed traits, breed standards, felicitails founded by lindsay giguiere

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Unleash the boundless energy and brilliance of the Border Collie, a canine genius revered for its unmatched herding prowess and incredible agility. This breed's combination of intelligence and athleticism makes it a remarkable companion for active families and dedicated working partners.

Did You Know these Facts about the Border Collie?

  • Border Collies are widely regarded as the most intelligent dog breed, known for their problem-solving abilities and quick learning.

  • The breed originated from the border region between England and Scotland, where their exceptional herding skills were honed.

  • Border Collies have been featured in movies and TV shows due to their impressive tricks and talents.

  • Their eyes are mesmerizing – Border Collies often possess a distinctive "herding eye" that can command livestock with just a glance.

  • Their intense work ethic can sometimes translate to a strong desire for mental and physical stimulation.

In 2022, the Border Collie ranked 31st in popularity among formally registered dog breeds, largely due to its versatility in various roles such as herding, agility, obedience, and as a cherished family member.

felicitails breed guide about the border collie dog breed, breed traits, breed standards, felicitails founded by lindsay giguiere
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Traits of the Border Collie Breed

Overall Personality. Border Collies are highly intelligent and thrive on mental stimulation. They are diligent, enthusiastic, and known for their unwavering focus and drive.

Family Life. This breed's loyalty extends to its family, and it often forms strong bonds. Their herding instincts might lead them to chase children, but with proper training, they can be gentle and loving companions.

Physical Appearance. With a sleek body, expressive eyes, and a variety of coat colors – including black and white, red and white, and more – Border Collies boast a distinctive appearance that reflects their working heritage.

Sociability. Socialization is essential to help Border Collies interact well with other dogs and pets. They may sometimes exhibit reserved behavior around strangers, but they are ultimately friendly and loyal.

Average Sizes & Life Expectancy

  • Height: 18 to 22 inches tall (45 to 55 cm)
  • Weight: 30 to 45 pounds (14 to 20 kg)
  • Life Expectancy: Around 12 to 15 years

Detailed Description of the Border Collie Breed

The Border Collie, often hailed as the ultimate herding dog, combines boundless energy, intelligence, and versatility into one remarkable package. Originating from the border region between England and Scotland, this breed's history is deeply intertwined with its exceptional herding abilities. Today, Border Collies continue to captivate hearts with their agility, mental acuity, and unwavering dedication to their tasks.

Physical Appearance. With an appearance that exudes intelligence and athleticism, Border Collies are medium-sized dogs known for their lean bodies, well-muscled build, and keen expression. Their eyes are particularly striking – often displaying an intense "herding eye," where their gaze alone can control livestock. Their coats come in a variety of colors and patterns, including black and white, red and white, tricolor, and merle, which adds to their unique charm.

Temperament and Personality. The Border Collie's intelligence sets it apart from other breeds. Renowned as the most intelligent of dogs, their ability to assess situations and adapt to new challenges is unparalleled. This breed thrives on mental stimulation and craves tasks that engage their sharp minds. While their drive to work is undeniable, they also make wonderful companions, showing loyalty and affection to their families.

Adaptability. Despite their roots as herding dogs, Border Collies possess a surprising adaptability that allows them to excel in various roles. They're equally at home on a working farm, in canine sports, or as active family members. However, their incredible energy levels necessitate regular exercise and mental engagement to prevent boredom and the development of undesirable behaviors. Border Collies are best suited for homes where they have a purpose and outlets for their energy. They thrive in environments that challenge their intellect and physical abilities. Active families, outdoor enthusiasts, and individuals seeking an intelligent, loyal companion will find a perfect match in the Border Collie. However, their high energy levels may not be the best fit for sedentary households.

Care Guidelines. Regular exercise is paramount for Border Collies to maintain their physical and mental health. Engaging them in activities like agility, obedience training, and interactive play helps channel their energy constructively. Their double coat requires regular brushing to keep it in good condition and minimize shedding. Additionally, their ears should be checked regularly to prevent infections.

Training Strategies. Training a Border Collie can be a gratifying experience due to their eagerness to learn. However, they thrive under positive reinforcement techniques and fare poorly with harsh training methods. Providing mental challenges such as puzzle toys and obedience training can keep their brilliant minds engaged.

Notable in History and Pop Culture. Border Collies' history traces back to their work as shepherds, herding sheep in the hilly border region between England and Scotland. Their herding instinct, intelligence, and agility made them indispensable on farms. These qualities have led to their presence in various media, including movies like "Babe," where a Border Collie named Rex played a pivotal role. Their exceptional skills have earned them a place in the hearts of dog lovers and farmers alike.

The Border Collie's unwavering dedication, boundless energy, and remarkable intelligence make it a truly extraordinary breed. Whether herding livestock, competing in agility trials, or snuggling up with their families, these dogs exemplify the epitome of canine excellence.

What to expect when living with the Border Collie Breed

Personality. Owning a Border Collie can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it's important to understand their unique needs and characteristics. Border Collies are renowned for their intelligence, loyalty, and boundless energy. They are highly trainable and excel in various dog sports and activities. However, their intelligence can also lead to boredom if not mentally stimulated, potentially resulting in unwanted behaviors.

Ideal Environment. These dogs thrive in active environments where they have plenty of opportunities for exercise and mental engagement. They're ideally suited for homes with yards or access to open spaces. Border Collies require daily physical and mental challenges to keep them happy and well-adjusted.

Maintenance Level. Border Collies have a double coat that requires regular brushing to prevent mats and maintain their healthy appearance. During shedding seasons, more frequent brushing may be needed. Their ears should also be checked regularly to prevent infections. Due to their high energy levels, they need ample exercise to prevent obesity and boredom-related issues.

Overall Health Expectations and best Health Tests for the Border Collie Breed

Health Considerations. Border Collies are generally a healthy breed, but like all dogs, they can be prone to certain genetic health issues. Some of the common health concerns to watch for include:

  • Hip Dysplasia. A condition where the hip joint doesn't develop properly, leading to pain and mobility issues. Health tests such as hip evaluations can help identify potential problems.
  • Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA). This genetic disorder affects the eyes and can lead to vision impairment. Regular eye exams can help detect and manage CEA.
  • Epilepsy. Border Collies are susceptible to epilepsy, a neurological disorder that causes seizures. Veterinary care and medication are essential for managing the condition.
  • Deafness. Some Border Collies can be born deaf, especially those with predominantly white coats. Regular hearing checks can help identify any hearing impairment.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). A degenerative eye disease that leads to blindness. Regular eye exams can help monitor and manage PRA.

Recommended Health Tests. Routine veterinary visits and health screenings are crucial for maintaining your Border Collie's well-being. Responsible breeding practices and health testing can contribute to healthier puppies and a longer, happier life for these remarkable dogs.

Best Nutrition, Diet & Supplements for the Border Collie Breed

Nutrition and Diet. Border Collies have high energy levels and need a diet rich in protein and essential nutrients to support their active lifestyle. Look for high-quality dog food formulated for active breeds, with real meat as the primary ingredient. The right balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins fuels their boundless energy. Protein is essential for muscle development and overall health. Aim for a dog food that contains around 20-25% protein. Lean meats like chicken, turkey, and fish are excellent protein sources. Avoid dog foods with excessive fillers like corn or soy.

Healthy fats provide a concentrated source of energy and support your Border Collie's skin and coat health. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil and flaxseed, contribute to a shiny coat and may reduce inflammation. Carbohydrates are a source of energy, but opt for complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, brown rice, and whole grains. Avoid foods with excessive sugar or artificial additives. Incorporate fruits and vegetables into your Border Collie's diet for added vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Blueberries, carrots, and spinach are good choices.

Hydration is Key. Ensure your Border Collie always has access to fresh, clean water. Proper hydration is vital for digestion, temperature regulation, and overall vitality.

Supplements. While a well-balanced diet should provide most of the necessary nutrients, there are some supplements that can benefit Border Collies. Consult your veterinarian before adding any supplements to your dog's diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for maintaining healthy skin and coat, as well as supporting joint health. Fish oil supplements can be added to their diet. Glucosamine and chondroitin can help support joint health and prevent issues like hip dysplasia. Probiotics can aid in digestion and promote a healthy gut, which is important for overall well-being.

Foods to Avoid. Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to dogs. Grapes and Raisins can lead to kidney failure. Onions and Garlic can damage a dog's red blood cells. Xylitol, this artificial sweetener is found in many sugar-free products and can be toxic. Excessive fatty foods can lead to pancreatitis. Processed and Sugary Foods contribute to obesity and other health issues.

Grooming Requirements for the Border Collie Breed

Coat Maintenance and Shedding. They have a double coat with a dense, weather-resistant outer layer and a soft undercoat. While their coat is not excessively long, it does require regular maintenance. Border Collies benefit from regular brushing, at least a few times a week, to prevent tangles and mats. This also helps remove dirt, debris, and loose hair. During shedding seasons, more frequent brushing is necessary to manage shedding. Border Collies are moderate shedders, and shedding can increase during seasonal changes. Regular brushing helps minimize loose hair around the house.

Paw Care and Hygiene. Regularly check and trim their nails to prevent overgrowth, which can cause discomfort and affect their gait. Also, inspect their paws for any cuts, debris, or signs of irritation.

Bathing Frequency. Bathing should be done as needed, usually every two to three months or when they get particularly dirty. Using a dog-specific shampoo helps maintain the coat's natural oils

Exercise Required for the Border Collie Breed

Border Collies are one of the most active dog breeds and have high energy levels that need to be channeled appropriately. They require daily vigorous exercise to keep them mentally and physically engaged. Activities like fetch, jogging, hiking, and agility training can help satisfy their need for physical activity.

In addition to physical exercise, Border Collies thrive on mental challenges. Puzzle toys, obedience training, and interactive games can help keep their minds sharp. Aim for at least an hour of physical activity every day. Mental stimulation can be incorporated throughout the day to prevent boredom.

Training Tips for the Border Collie Breed

Training a Border Collie requires patience, positive reinforcement, and understanding of their unique personality traits.


  • Begin training and socialization from a young age to shape their behavior and interactions positively.
  • Use positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats, praise, and rewards, to motivate your Border Collie during training sessions.
  • Border Collies are quick learners, but they can also be sensitive. Be patient and avoid harsh training methods, as this can lead to fearfulness or anxiety.
  • Use consistent commands and cues to avoid confusion. Repetition helps them learn and understand what is expected of them.
  • Keep training sessions interesting by introducing new challenges and activities. This prevents boredom and keeps them focused.
  • Socialize them early with various people, animals, and situations.


  • Use harsh training methods or punishment.
  • Neglect their exercise needs; it can lead to behavior issues.
  • Overlook mental stimulation; Border Collies thrive on mental challenges.
  • Skip regular grooming and paw care routines. 
  • Forget that they need a strong bond with their owners to excel in training.

The Border Collie Breed is Suitable For

Border Collies thrive in homes with active individuals or families who can provide them with ample exercise and mental stimulation. These dogs need room to run and play. A spacious yard or access to open areas is ideal. Border Collies require significant mental and physical stimulation. Owners with time for daily walks, playtime, and training will enjoy a rewarding relationship. They excel in dog sports, obedience, and agility. Homes, where training is a priority, can harness their potential.

Given their herding instincts, Border Collies adapt well to rural environments where they can engage in natural behaviors.

The Border Collie Breed is Not Suitable For

Apartments with limited space can be challenging for Border Collies. They need room to move and play. If you're not committed to providing daily exercise and mental challenges, this breed may not be the best fit.

Border Collies' intelligence can make them challenging for novice owners. They thrive with experienced handlers. These dogs may become bored or anxious if left alone for long periods. They require companionship and mental stimulation.

Border Collies need more than just walks. If you can't offer regular play and mental exercises, it's not the right fit.

Famous Border Collie Owners

  • Queen Elizabeth II - The Queen of England is a notable Border Collie enthusiast. She has owned several Border Collies and Corgis over the years.


  • David Beckham - The famous soccer player is known to have a Border Collie named Olive. He often shares pictures of Olive on his social media.


  • Emily Blunt - The actress has a Border Collie named Finn. She is often seen walking and spending time with her beloved pup.

Accomplishments of the Border Collie Breed

Border Collies are renowned for their herding abilities and excel in dog sports like agility and obedience. Their intelligence and scenting prowess make them valuable search and rescue dogs, locating missing individuals in various environments.

Border Collies hold numerous world records in dog sports, showcasing their exceptional athleticism and intelligence. They have appeared in various movies such as “Marley and Me”, TV shows, and advertisements, showcasing their versatility and iconic appearance.

These dogs have been featured in literature and art, celebrating their role as working dogs and beloved companions. Border Collies' incredible abilities and versatile nature have earned them a place in various aspects of human society, from farm work to entertainment. Their accomplishments and presence in different fields make them a breed of enduring fascination and admiration.

felicitails breed guide about the border collie dog breed, breed traits, breed standards, felicitails founded by lindsay giguiere
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The History of the Border Collie Breed

The Border Collie's history is richly intertwined with the pastoral landscape of the British Isles. This intelligent and versatile breed has evolved over centuries to become one of the most skilled herding dogs in the world.

Creation and Purpose. The Border Collie's origins can be traced back to the border region between England and Scotland. The breed's name itself, "Collie," comes from the Scottish term for sheepdogs. Developed during the 19th century, Border Collies were bred for their exceptional herding abilities and intelligence.

Border Collies were primarily bred for their unmatched herding prowess. Farmers in the hilly and often challenging terrains of the border region required a dog that could handle livestock with precision, respond to whistles, and navigate the rugged landscapes. The breed's keen intelligence, agility, and natural instinct made them the perfect partners for these tasks. The selective breeding of Border Collies was focused on preserving their working abilities rather than their appearance. This emphasis on skills led to a wide range of coat colors and patterns, reflecting the breed's diversity.

Early Roles and Evolution. As agriculture evolved, the need for herding dogs changed. Mechanization and changes in farming practices led to a shift in the role of Border Collies from herding livestock to participating in dog sports and activities that showcased their agility, intelligence, and versatility. They excelled in obedience trials, flyball, and dog agility competitions.

Changes and Modern Impact. In addition to their continued excellence in herding, Border Collies have found a place in various roles. They serve as search and rescue dogs, therapy dogs, and even excel in canine sports like agility, obedience, and frisbee.

The Border Collie's popularity soared due to their remarkable abilities, leading to formal recognition by kennel clubs. Their intelligence and agility made them valuable assets in various working and recreational settings.

The Border Collie's journey from its humble origins as a working sheepdog to a globally adored breed is a testament to its exceptional abilities. Their history is a story of adaptation, excellence, and the enduring bond between humans and their four-legged partners. Today, the Border Collie continues to thrive as a versatile, intelligent, and loving companion, embodying the essence of a true working and companion dog.

The Border Collie Breed Standard

The Border Collie is classified under the Herding Group by the American Kennel Club (AKC). This designation highlights their exceptional herding instincts, intelligence, and agility.

The American Kennel Club's formal Breed Standard for the Border Collie outlines the ideal characteristics that define this breed. It emphasizes their balanced and athletic build, intelligent expression, and keen herding abilities. This Standard serves as a reference for judges at dog shows to evaluate Border Collies.

The Border Collie Society of America (BCSA) is the recognized National Breed Club for this breed. For more information about the BCSA and their activities, you can visit their official website:

General Appearance

Head, Muzzle, Nose. The Border Collie boasts a well-proportioned head that's considered its hallmark. The skull is moderately broad, with a distinct stop. Their intelligent eyes, often varying in color, express alertness and keenness. The muzzle of a Border Collie tapers to a black nose, which is integral for their superior scenting abilities. This well-developed sense of smell is an asset in herding tasks.

Teeth. With a complete set of strong, white teeth meeting in a scissor bite, Border Collies possess a formidable bite force, reminiscent of their history as herding dogs.

Neck. The neck of a Border Collie is strong, muscular, and moderately long, providing balance to its overall structure. This feature enables the breed to move with grace and precision.

Body. A Border Collie's body showcases a harmonious blend of strength and agility. Their deep chest and well-sprung ribs accommodate the lung capacity needed for enduring activities.

Tail. The breed's tail is of moderate length, often reaching the hock joint. Set on low, it serves as an extension of their expressive body language while working.

Coat. Border Collies exhibit a double coat that varies in texture. The outer coat is dense and weather-resistant, offering protection from the elements, while the undercoat provides insulation.

Size. In terms of size, Border Collies are typically medium-sized dogs. Males stand around 19 to 22 inches (48 to 56 cm) at the shoulder, while females measure around 18 to 21 inches (46 to 53 cm).

Gait. The breed's gait is a sight to behold—effortless, purposeful, and fluid. Their agile movements stem from their herding heritage, and their efficient stride allows them to cover ground with remarkable speed.

Border Collies epitomize the essence of a working dog through their distinctive appearance. From their expressive eyes to their well-proportioned structure, every aspect of their physique complements their exceptional intelligence and natural herding abilities.

Reputable Breeders

For those seeking a well-bred Border Collie, there are reputable breeders who prioritize health, temperament, and the breed's standard. Here are a few notable breeders:

  1. PuppySpot’s Border Collies

  2. Embrace Border Collies

  3. Wilsong Border Collies

Top Shelters for Adoption

Adopting a dog can be a rewarding experience. Here are five shelters where you might find a Border Collie in need of a loving home:

  1. Arizona Border Collie Rescue (AZBCR)

  2. Border Collie Save and Rescue, Inc. (BCSAVE)

  3. Glen Highland Farm (GHF)

  4. Look Back Border Collie Rescue, Inc. (LBR)

Top 5 Frequently Asked Questions & Answers about the Border Collie Breed

Are Border Collies good family pets?

Yes, they are known for their loyalty and affection toward families.

Do Border Collies require extensive exercise?

Yes, regular physical and mental activity is essential for their well-being.

Are Border Collies easy to train?

Yes, their intelligence makes them highly trainable, but consistent training is important.

Do Border Collies shed a lot?

Yes, they have a double coat and shed moderately year-round.

Are Border Collies good with children?

They can be excellent companions for children, but early socialization is key.

A Final Tip for Bringing a Border Collie into Your Life

 If you're considering welcoming a Border Collie into your life, you're embarking on a journey with a breed that offers boundless energy, intelligence, and companionship. With proper care, training, and dedication, a Border Collie can be a truly rewarding addition to your family. Their unwavering loyalty and enthusiasm for life will enrich your days and bring joy to your heart.

Valuable Resources for Your Journey to Parenting a Border Collie

At Felicitails you will find many wonderful services, supplies and guides for your life ahead with a loving pup at your side.

Hope You Enjoyed The Read!

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Hello, I’m Lindsay!

A warm welcome from Lindsay & Huck (my English Pointer). Hope you enjoy the read and find just what you are looking for when it comes to living your best life with your loved pets.

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