The Border Collie is a working and herding breed that is smart, energetic, and highly affectionate. As of 2019, it ranks as the 35th most popular breed for the American Kennel Club. Makes stand up to 22 inches in height, while females average about an inch less. The average dog can weigh up to 55 pounds, and they have plenty of energy to spare. You will need a lot of time to dedicate to this breed because they need time to stay occupied.
These dogs present with a look that is muscular, yet nimble, and it remains unspoiled by the passing trends that happen in breeding. Their expression of intelligence comes from the herding eye, which is a trademark of the Border Collie. They move with balance, are highly agile, and quite durable for a dog of their size.
Most Border Collies succeed when there is a job for them to perform. Anything that involves obedience work or herding will help to unlock the happiness of the dog. They’re not very partial to strangers or people that they feel are threatening, but the dogs are happy to get some attention from your friends. After a long day of working there is nothing that the Border Collie likes more than a nap.
List of the Pros of Border Collies
1. This breed loves to play games with you.
Border Collies love to have structured time to play. If you want a dog that will play fetch with you for endless hours anywhere, then this is the breed to pursue. They love to play with frisbees as well, or anything else that you can throw which lets them show off their catching ability. You will often see these pups performing in shows, agility trials, and similar events because they are highly motivated to learn new actions and behaviors as a way to stay active.
2. Border Collies can learn almost anything.
If you have never had Border Collies at home before, then you will be surprised by their high level of intelligence. There is arguably no other breed right now that is as versatile with its learning capabilities as this one. It takes some time to teach them how to perform specific actions, but then the dog will not forget them if you provide the correct cues. They can learn to do almost anything, which is why they can be such a terrific companion.
3. These dogs thrive on getting lots of exercise.
Border Collies were bred to be working dogs in the fields of Scotland. Their herding instincts have never gone away. If you have small children at home, then your pup will make sure that they stay where they need to be. This breed is also accustomed to significant levels of exercise, so you’ll need to take a couple of walks each day and get in some time for play unless you want to see the unwanted chewing or scratching behaviors come out.
4. Border Collies have two different types of coats.
If you want to bring home a Border Collie to join your family, then there are two different coats from which to choose. The smooth coat is popular because it is short and coarse, making it less of a shedding problem during the seasonal changes that happen. There is also a medium-length and feathered rough coat that requires brushing about 2-3 times per week. Because these dogs love to be adventurous, you’ll be picking out tangles, debris, and matting quite often.
Both of the coats are weather-resistant double coats that are surprisingly dense for a dog of this size. During the shedding season, you may need to do daily brushing.
5. Border Collies are a very hardy breed.
As a breed, Border Collies are one of the healthiest and hardiest breeds that you can find in the canine world. Part of the reason for this resiliency is the fact that breeders have not really tinkered with the genetics over the past couple of centuries as they have with most of the other ones. You can expect an average lifespan of approximately 12-15 years.
There are some health issues that are common to this breed, so you will want your Border Collie to go through a hip and eye evaluation before taking the pup home. The breed tends to suffer from epilepsy, deafness, and progressive renal atrophy more often than others. These dogs need regular ear checks to avoid infection, and then they should have their teeth regularly brushed.
6. The breed standard for Border Collies is very forgiving.
The Border Collie is one of the few breeds in the AKC and other clubs where the full breed standard for showing is very forgivable. “Honorable” scars and broken teeth that occur because of the dog’s work are considered to be acceptable, and sometimes even favored, because it shows that the dog is being given opportunities to embrace its natural instincts. The goal is to have a true working sheepdog who meets the appearance standard. Any behaviors that are outside of the herding temperament or would impede the dog’s ability to function as a herder are severely faulted during competition.
7. It was only recently recognized by the American Kennel Club.
Because it took the American Kennel Club until 1995 to recognize Border Collies as an official breed, their popularity levels are not as high as they are with other dogs from the herding and working group. That means you can usually find a pup for a price that is reasonably affordable. You can expect to pay about $600 to $800 for a puppy that comes from a licensed breeder and papers. You can find them for as little as $200 in some places.
Because of their high intelligence levels, Border Collies tend to get surrendered at local animal shelters more often than some other breeds. Meeting one there might help you to bring a dog home for an affordable price as well.
8. If you are a quick thinker, then your dog is going to love you.
It is really easy to think that giving a Border Collie a lot of space to run will be enough to satisfy their energy requirements. When this breed joins your family, then there is a high level of mental stimulation necessary for their health as well. These dogs will reward you if you are a fast thinker who can keep the pup on their toes. There will always be time for snuggles at the end of the day. What is needed from you is an approach to life that is fun, exciting, and surprising in ways that are entirely unexpected.
You can help this advantage by offering puzzle toys and challenging games to your daily routine. Anything that makes the Border Collie think will be a positive asset to bring home.
List of the Cons of Border Collies
1. Some Border Collies have natural nipping behaviors that are challenging to stop.
The herding nature of Border Collies makes them start nipping at people and other animals if they feel like no one is listening to them. There are compulsive staring behaviors that can be unnerving sometimes since it feels like the dog is guarding something that they don’t want you to know. Chasing and poking behaviors are also common. When small children or other pets refuse to listen to the dog, then small bites on the heels or the back paws are a common outcome.
2. Border Collies can be highly territorial.
If your dog hasn’t met someone that is coming over to visit, then your Border Collie is going to start pinging off of the walls when the doorbell rings or they hear a knock. That means you’re going to have barking, running behaviors that can become destructive over time. It really helps to socialize this breed before surprising them with an unexpected situation if you wish to avoid this behavior.
The territorial nature of Border Collies extends to whatever property that they think belongs to their clan. It is not unusual for these dogs to nip at joggers who might be running by your home. Some of the pups have even been known to chase down a bicyclist or two.
3. You must get the energy out of the Border Collie.
If you are unable to get all of the energy out of your Border Collie each day, then the obsessive need to get outside or find something to do can lead to many destructive behaviors. This breed requires a creative outlet that allows them to explore. They’ll want to take long walks to explore your neighborhood. Dog-friendly events are a great place to avoid this disadvantage as well. If there is too much energy present, then you’re going to see furniture, shoe, and clothing destruction on a grand scale.
4. There must be high levels of backyard security in place for your dog.
Border Collies use their intelligence to become escape artists. If you think that a simple fence is going to contain them, then think again. You’ll need a fence that is between 8-10 feet high because of the jumping ability of this breed. Your fence line will also need wire or metal sheeting sunk into the ground at least 3-4 feet because of their incredible ability to dig. Your gates even need an extra level of security because the dogs can eventually figure out how to turn knobs and levers.
Because of these behaviors, it is usually better not to leave Border Collies unsupervised outside for an extensive amount of time. They are friendly and love their family, but this breed loves to explore.
5. You will need to give your Border Collie extra socialization time.
Border Collies tend to be shy and standoffish as part of their natural temperament. Although physical traits transfer over more than personalities, pet parents that don’t get their dog out to meet other canines or see other people can develop aggressive tendencies in this breed. You will hear barking at any unusual sights or sounds because of their high levels of natural caution. Even a thump from the upstairs can be enough to make the pup think that someone might be at the door.
6. Your dog will know how to outthink you in time if you allow it.
There is arguably not a smarter dog in the world than the Border Collie. Many of the pups are eager to please, so they learn new skills quickly for someone with breed experience. If you are familiar with canines but have never worked with Border Collies in the past, then you might find the experience to be exceptionally frustrating.
It is not unusual for these dogs to coax you into doing what they want instead of the reverse happening. They’ll blackmail you for treats! There are some individuals who are overly sensitive as well, shutting down if you don’t have perfect reactions to them. This breed loves to anticipate, so keep them guessing if you want to have a successful experience.
7. Continued restlessness can lead to behavioral disorders.
If your Border Collie is not getting enough mental stimulation and this is a chronic issue, then it can lead to an eating disorder. Once you reach this stage, trying to force the dog to eat is usually ineffective. You can even place desirable food in front of them and they will refuse it. This breed misses nothing, and this behavior works as a communication tool to let you know how unhappy they are.
The diet of your Border Collie should involve high-quality dog food and occasional treats, especially if you are doing some training work.
Verdict of the Pros and Cons of Border Collies
Border Collies are one of those breeds that people love to dream about having around, but then feel like taking the step for real would be too much trouble. You need to have a high-energy household to support this dog. If your idea of a good time is to sit on the couch and watch a movie, then your experience might not be a successful one.
You should plan about two hours of activity with your Border Collie every day. That includes three 20-minute walks and a 60-minute session for training or playing. This breed can learn how to use a treadmill, but the constant motion of not going anywhere can also become boring.
The pros and cons of Border Collies will let you decide if you are up for this challenge. The energy levels and intelligence make these dogs fun to have around. It can also be a very frustrating experience if your personalities don’t seem to click.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.