Many would argue that the Border Collie is the epitome of the herding dog. With their well-muscled and compact bodies, unmatched agility and speed, and intelligence and focus, this breed knows how to get the job done better than most. But when they aren’t being overachieving workers, they love to snuggle up with their families and are affectionate with those that they love.
This bright, charismatic, and energetic breed is a great choice for those looking for a diligent worker or a companion for adventures. Read on to learn more about the Border Collie.
Description of the Border Collie
Athletic and graceful, the Border Collie moves with stealth, purpose, and balance. These durable dogs love to work and do best in the field or when given a job.
Bred from ancient Roman and Viking herding dogs, the Border Collie is prided on both its well-balanced physical body, intensity, intelligence, and ability to reason. One of the famed characteristics of this breed is its “herding eye,” which is the intense gaze it gives its herd in the field.
The coat of this breed comes in either rough or smooth, but both types have a thick double coat – with a coarse outer coat, and soft downy undercoat. They come in any variety of colors that make for some spectacularly beautiful dogs.
Life Expectancy and Size
These extremely hardy dogs often live an average of 12 – 15 years. They are usually a very healthy breed, but can have health problems that may affect their lifespan. Always work with a reputable breeder to ensure the quality of your puppy’s stock and so that you are aware of potential genetic problems. But know your dog can become sick at anytime so always be prepared.
These compact herders are the perfect medium size, and are rugged without being large. Males stand 19 – 22 inches tall, females are 18 – 21 inches, and both weigh 30 – 55 pounds.
With their natural instinct to herd and protect, the Border Collie is an excellent watchdog and guards his flock carefully – whether that flock is sheep or his family. He is a loyal and alert dog who is always keeping an eye on things. These dogs tend to be aloof with strangers, but are also very sweet and are protective without being overbearing.
Intelligent, eager to learn, and able to think well on his own, the Border Collie is a truly trainable dog. His natural instinct for work helps him quickly pick up commands, and these dogs excel at canine sports, such as agility and herding.
The best approach in training your dog is to use positive reinforcement. Treats, games, consistent and positive praise, and patience are all critical tools in training your Border Collie. They love to learn but giving them some motivation with a tasty snack or a fun activity will make them go the extra mile.
Just be sure to watch how many treats you give your dog as they can become overweight quickly!
As a breed that tends to be reserved with strangers, it is important to begin socialization early. This will expose your dog to many new people and situations, and help him develop into a well-mannered and open dog.
Energetic can be an understatement when it comes to this breed. Their natural drive for work makes them a true star in the herding arena and in other canine sports. They love to be on the move and it is vital to their health and happiness that they get plenty of opportunities to be physical everyday.
This breed makes an excellent companion for those that love to be physical. But if you are hoping to get a dog that loves to laze around all day, you may be in for a bit of a shock with this breed.
While this dog loves to snuggle up with his family after a long day of work, the Border Collie needs an outlet for his energy before he is ready to plop down. Be prepared to invest a significant amount of time and energy into working out your dog’s boundless energy and need for mental stimulation.
But, if you are looking for a dog that will help get you active, and bring you endless amounts of joy and fun, the Border Collie is an excellent breed for you. Just be prepared to get creative with different games and activities to keep your dog busy. They need a job and won’t stop until they get one.
What Living with a Border Collie is Like
This is an energetic breed, which tops the list of intelligent dogs.
For this breed it is all work and then play. They love to have a job and won’t be satisfied with just laying around all day. While this is an affectionate breed once they are tuckered out, it takes a bit of effort to get them to this point. Be prepared for lots of playtime and activity with your dog everyday.
More sedentary families may find that they have bitten off more than they can chew with this breed. The Border Collie’s natural instinct to herd and work may lead him into some mischief if he is not given a good outlet for his energy. But once his exercise needs are satisfied he makes a loving and calm companion.
Care of the Border Collie
While the Border Collie is a friendly and easy going breed that isn’t too picky, he just needs plenty of physical and mental stimulation everyday to be happy. These highly intelligent dogs need their minds challenged every day. Be sure you are ready to spend lots of time with your dog, or he may become miserable and destructive.
These adaptable dogs do well in both hot and cold climates. Their thick double coat does a good job of keeping them warm in the winter months, but sheds to cool them down during the summer. Just keep an eye on them in extreme temperatures, and when they are working long days out in the field during tough climates.
You will be hard pressed to find a dog more excited to play than the Border Collie. These dogs are athletic and energetic, always excited to play a game of go for a long walk. They need plenty of daily exercise and mental stimulation.
While herding is their natural skill, this breed also excels at agility and other canine sports. These activities are a great way to get your dog moving and thinking.
Backyard playtime is also a great supplement to your dog’s exercise, and they will get to bond with you, which is an extra bonus. But don’t expect one walk or game of fetch to satisfy your dog’s need. They crave real work and won’t be satisfied without sustained physical and mental stimulation.
Shedding and Grooming
Despite there being two different types of coat, the rough coat being longer and feathered, and the smooth coat being shorter and coarse, the grooming for both is the same. Brushing should occur a few times a week, and daily during shedding season. This will keep their coats looking healthy and mat-free.
This breed sheds moderately.
Regularly trim your dog’s nails to keep them from causing him discomfort, and be sure to regularly check and clean his ears.
Ideal Home Environment
These dogs are great with families and can do well with kids and other dogs they are raised with. Just be ready to provide your dog with lots of daily exercise and mental stimulation. They do best when they have a job, so canine sports are a great way to keep your dog busy.
Border Collies make loyal protectors and tend to be wary of strangers, but are always sweet and gentle.
While often healthy, this breed can have problems that may be costly or time consuming to deal with.
The most common problem for Border Collies is hip dysplasia. Having them screened can prepare you for this potential disease.
Other problems include progressive retinal atrophy, deafness, epilepsy, collie eye anomaly, neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, trapped neutrophil syndrome, and ear infections. Regular checkups may help catch, treat, or prevent these issues.
The Border Collie needs a job and if he isn’t given one he will task himself with something to do. Whether this is herding after the kids or anything that moves, barking, or chewing, he will find some way to be useful. Involving your dog in canine sports is a great way to provide them an outlet for their natural desire to work.