All about the Border Collie

The complete guide to character, health, nutrition, and raising puppies

Photo of author

By Kenny G

The Border Collie is a small to medium-sized dog with a harmonious and elegant silhouette, and well-proportioned. Of British origin, it is often featured in big-screen movies and TV commercials (it was the best friend dog of Babe the Pig, for example), thanks to its sweet looks, and docile and tame temperament.

This makes him today one of the most beloved dogs, especially for children: a faithful playful companion to raise in the family. Let’s learn more about this breed of herding dogs.

History of the Border Collie

Among the various English dog breeds it is one of those recognized by the Kennel Club only in 1976, when it was included in the category of herding dogs.

The birth of this breed is traced back to a cross between reindeer herding dogs and Vallée shepherds. The first are said to have arrived in Scotland during an invasion by Viking people.

Its origins are thus linked to a borderland, between England and Scotland, as its very name, Border, suggests. It is the result of various crosses with the English setter.

We could say that it is the farm dog par excellence: it has always assisted man as a guard dog guarding sheep, in retrieving lost animals, moving livestock from one pasture to another, and driving flocks. The special characteristic of its breed is that it works by crawling at a distance.

Today, they are also employed in other activities unrelated to field life, but of a playful nature, such as dog agility and flyball, or in important contexts such as rescue and drug squad.

What the Border Collie looks like

We all recognize from a distance this black-and-white-haired, viscous-looking, upturned-eared dog.

He is agile and fast, very proportionate in size but also very tough. Its morphology is that of wolves, with well-spaced, brown eyes.

  • Head:I t has a broad skull, a strong muzzle, with a skull to muzzle ratio of 1:1.
  • Eyes: separate, are oval-shaped and moderate in size: they are dark brown in black-white subjects, amber or hazel in red-white subjects and may also be blue (one eye, both eyes or part of one eye or both).
  • Ears: are medium-sized, straight or semi-erect.
  • Dimensions: weighs between 11 and 25 kg and, obviously, females weigh slightly less than the male; height at withers for the male is 50-55 cm and 45-52 cm for females.
  • Hair: it is very long and soft; several colors are allowed, such as lilac tricolor, brown-white, sable merle and sable merle tricolor, seal tricolor, chocolate, red tricolor, brindle, to name but a few of many.
  • Tail: is moderately long and naturally hanging, should reach the hock, very hairy and ends curved upward, straightening when the dog is in action.

How to take care of the Border Collie

It should be brushed during the shedding period at least twice a week, but does not require special care.

As with all dogs, make sure that he has clean ears and eyes and nails that are not too long, and that he is free of parasites, fleas and ticks.

Vaccinations are especially important, since this dog prefers to live outdoors.

border collie
The Border collie loves so much…to play!

Health and life expectancy of the Border Collie

The Collie one of the most robust dogs in the world. It generally has a life expectancy of at least 12-14 years, but it must be kept healthy and cared for in terms of nutrition as well.

However, it can be prone to some congenital diseases and develop health problems typical of its breed.

  • Hip Dysplasia. Like many purebred dogs, he may be prone to dysplasia. On the other hand, proper nutrition and activity throughout life will help limit the risk. A parental radiograph can also be an essential indicator of genetic transmission of this inherited defect.
  • Eye problems. He may develop eye diseases, such as retinal atrophy (RPA) or a disease called collie eye anomaly (AOC) that can lead to blindness. A genetic test and a visit with a veterinary ophthalmologist can usually detect these problems.
  • Stomach Dilation and Torsion Syndrome. The collie is a relatively stress-sensitive breed of dog and may be prone to stomach twisting. It will also be essential not to overstimulate him a few hours before and after a meal.
  • Epileptic seizures. Stress sensitivity may predispose him to seizures, although this is a relatively rare occurrence.
border collie
The border collie is a dog that absolutely needs to move freely

How to feed a Border Collie

It normally consumes a lot of energy. Therefore, it must eat an adequate and balanced diet, rich in protein, vitamins and lipids.

    • 3 meals a day up to 6 months of age
    • 2 meals a day up to 1 year of age
    • 1 single meal per day of about 400 g of kibble is sufficient for adult dogs

As always, for dog feeding you can opt for kibble for reasons of convenience and the possibility of exact portion sizes, but try to take care to choose quality products which can also be bought online.

Border Collie Character and Training

The Border Collie has a special character: it loves to spend his days with his owner and doesn’t want to be put in the background.

This automatically excludes it from all those settings where he is expected to be alone in a corner of the garden.

This dog needs to keep itself busy all the time, this is because of the long genetic selections that have led him to become a lead dog specimen.

It’s still an excellent herding dog, but his main characteristic is that he can be trained very well. This quality makes him an absolute champion in obedience and especially agility competitions, where he is virtually unrivaled.

In return for its docility, it has one small flaw: it is such a dynamic dog that he can be called hyperactive, he does not stop for a second and practically always needs to be on the move.

Particularly alert and smart, he loves to drive and protect what he holds dear, whether it is a herd or a family.

In addition, it is a tireless worker.

Who is the smartest dog in the world

The concept of intelligence in dogs is quite complex and can be measured in different ways…,

We can say that the breed considered to be the most intelligent is indeed the Border Collie! It is indeed able to learn quickly, follow complex instructions, cooperate with humans and perform difficult tasks such as herding.

According to research done by some psychologists, it seems to have the brain developed like that of a 2-year-old child, and can memorize more than 1,000 words in three years.

Undoubtedly it is one of the most intelligent dogs! But other breeds are considered quite smart, such as the Golden Retriever and the Labrador.

Remember, however, that every dog is a unique animal with its own strengths and weaknesses, regardless of breed.

Why get a Border Collie

It is not a dog suitable for elderly or sedentary people, because it is very active, energetic and playful, while it is perfect as a dog for children, provided they leave their living space. No yelling, screaming or climbing on his back.

Unlike a Labrador, it is a very sensitive and instinctive dog that requires real education to master its ardor. And this can lead to behavioral problems if his training is not satisfactory or done by inexperienced people.

Particularly intelligent, it is gentle and sociable; moreover, it is a dog that barks very little. If you live in a large house with a garden, this environment is ideal. Better if there are other animals to keep him company.

Can the Border Collie live in an apartment?

This dog is extremely active, its characteristics as a working dog, for which it has been selected over dozens of generations, always emerge and cannot be ignored! If he no longer has a flock of sheep to control, the Collie will still try to control anything that moves (bicycles, runners, children…).

Therefore, it is not possible to make him a companion and lounge dog. If you live in the city, therefore, be aware thatin an apartment he tends to suffer from the limited space available, ending up being particularly restless.

If he lives in a house, he has to go outside several times a day and run until he loses his breath. He is definitely not one of those companion dogs to be kept in the living room or on a leash…. He needs to be intellectually stimulated throughout his life by rather ‘sporty’ owners.

How much should a Border Collie play

He has been selected to be a tireless worker and therefore needs to exhaust all his physical and mental energy on a daily basis. He will certainly not be satisfied with short walks!

However, his exuberant behavior, thanks to motor patterns typical of the breed, can be managed and channeled. As a docile dog who is attentive to his surroundings, he will need to be trained from an early age to better organize and contain his boundless energy.

That said, guarantee him 2-3 daily outings of at least 1 hour each where he can let off steam. It is also advisable to have him do sports or activities together, such as obedience, agility, dogdance, flydog, and tracking which will allow him to paw together with his beloved master.

You can also try treibball, a fun activity designed for sheepdogs who ‘still’ need contact with livestock. Sheep are replaced by balls that the dogs have to pick up together-a sport that allows them to express their natural instincts.

If the Collie has fun and learns to occupy his energy, he will reduce restlessness and be less agitated during outings. And it is always recommended to enroll him in a training course specifically for this breed.

How much does a Border Collie cost

The price of border collie puppies ranges from 1,500 to 2,000 USD, depending of course on many factors, but we always talk about dogs with a good pedigree.

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Border collie puppies: impossible not to fall in love with them

Border Collie Breedings

When choosing a breeding farm to purchase your Collie, always remember to check a few parameters.

First of all, the breeding farm must be registered regularly and you can easily check this in the section dedicated to breeders.

The dog should be accompanied by an health card where all the vaccines carried out will be indicated.

It will have to be more than 60 days old, the microchip and of course the pedigree. Also make sure that it has had a chance to socialize, otherwise you will have later problems getting it trained.

Other sheepdogs to discover

These are the main sheepdogs to discover:

  • Australian shepherd dog
  • Australian cattle dog
  • Belgian shepherd dog
  • Bergamian shepherd dog
  • Tidal shepherd dog
  • Pyrenean shepherd dog
  • White Swiss Sheperd
  • Schanuzer
  • Pyrenean mountain dog
  • Caucasian Shepherd Dog
  • St. Bernard dog
  • Neapolitan Mastiff
  • Leonberger
  • Tibetan Mastiff
  • Bernese Mountain Dog

Other Cattle Dogs

Here are our guides to other cattle dogs:

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