Border Collie: dog breed appearance, character, training, care, health


Among the characteristics of the border collie, it stands out that it is strong, resistant and extraordinarily intelligent. It is a breed of sheepdog  with a cheerful, hard-working character and very close to its master. At Petlifey, we explain everything about the border collie dog breed.


Character of the Border Collie breed

Regarding the character of the border collie, say that its temperament is alert, vigilant, receptive and intelligent. It shows a behaviour in which it is never nervous or aggressive. It is tenacious, hard-working and very docile.

It is the most intelligent of all the sheepdog breeds. Very observer, and is equipped with a great memory. Qualities and aptitudes that have allowed them to adapt to modern uses to become the best of dogs for sporting disciplines.

The border collie stands out for its high degree of energy, as it needs to move continuously. Even when at rest, its expression is vigilant and alert, waiting to receive an order from its master and rush to execute it as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Sedentary people do not have to give up, a priori, owning this type of collie dog, as long as they are willing to change their lifestyle. In fact, in this breed they can find a good reason to go for a walk and stay active.

  • Energy: Very high level. It is an agile and muscular dog that needs to do physical exercise daily to be in shape.
  • Temperament: It is a tenacious, hard-working, alert, vigilant, receptive and very intelligent dog. In general it is peaceful and tolerant.
  • Adaptability: Medium. It needs to run outdoors, so it is happier living in the country than in the city.
  • Sociability: High. It is affectionate and docile, sociable with people and friendly with other animals. It is faithful to its master and to the members of the family with which he lives.
  • Health: Good. It shows a certain predisposition to suffer some typical ailments of the family of collies.
  • Longevity: High. You can live 12-15 years in good health. You can see our article how long do dogs live for more information.
  • Utility: Very versatile. Due to its character, it is able to carry out many activities: shepherd dog, companion dog, obedience, agility or flyball.

Behaviour of the Border Collie

The border collie is an always vigilant and stealthy dog. It has a behaviour that makes it remain attentive to any strange movements that the herd may make.

Likewise, it is always in a position of alert, ready to rush to defend the animals from possible threats or to reprimand and return any stray or rebellious sheep to the flock.

The mother of the border collie, showing off her nature, subjects her puppies to constant vigilance, without forgetting for a moment to dedicate the appropriate care and attention to them.

A restless and observant dog, the border is also a curious dog that likes to constantly learn. Giving them chores frequently and showing them that it is useful to its master is one of the things that makes them the happiest.

The border collie doesn’t just stand out as a sporting dog. Its fine intelligence and strong attachment to its master make it an extraordinary companion animal. As a good shepherd dog, it is also an excellent guardian animal.

What’s more, if it doesn’t have a herd to take care of, he spends a large part of his daily efforts controlling his territory and the people in it.

Ostensibly warning of the presence of strange people or events that alter the normal course of their daily routine.

It should be borne in mind that, despite all those skills of the border collie that we have explained to you, it is not the most suitable animal to be trained as a defence dog.

Is it suitable for apartment or city living?

It should be noted that Border Collies do not adapt well to life in the city, as they need open spaces and a good dose of exercise.

But this does not mean that it is impossible to have it if you live in a city. If you can make it possible for themto run and play loose in a park or similar every day, he will have no problem adapting.

How do you behave with children?

The border collie is a good family dog, very balanced and sociable, that they tolerate children and the elderly without problems.

In fact, it loves sharing time and space with the little ones in the house and being an accomplice in their games and adventures.

However, children should also be educated to respect the pet’s space and that it is a living being and not a giant stuffed animal or toy.

How does it behave around other dogs and pets?

The Border Collie does not need the company of other dogs, as it happens with other breeds, to lead a balanced life. In fact, its only requirement is to be in continuous contact with its human family, and especially with that person whom it considers its master or guide.

In any case, it tolerates the presence of other dogs perfectly, especially if it has been in contact with them since it was a puppy or if they are not excessively dominant dogs.

In addition, with this specimen of the collie breed, with the rest of the domestic animal species (cats, rabbits, birds, ducks, etc.) something similar happens.

If you are going to live with them, it is very important that you do so from the first months of life and that you immediately understand the role that these animals play within the family nucleus.

Otherwise, and due to its marked herding instinct, the dog can develop attitudes of dominance over other animals and even cause them some damage.


Border Collie characteristics

The Border Collie is an extremely resistant, agile and fast breed of dog, so its work is very efficient.

It is a medium-sized animal, with a light complexion and elongated and flexible muscles.

This allows you to move at high speed and maintain a very high level of activity for as long as your job requires, even for several days.

How is the Border collie breed physically?

Let’s see in detail both the physical characteristics of the border collie:

If there is something that stands out within the physical characteristics of the border collie, it is that it is a well-proportioned dog. The nobility, elegance and perfect balance of its harmonious silhouette are combined with great energy to give the impression of resistance.

Its body is that of a rectangular dog as the length of its body slightly exceeds the height at the withers. It is well proportioned, harmonious and denotes strength and endurance. Its body attitude is vigilant, active and intelligent.

The head has a broad skull, with the occipital bone not very marked and the stop is evident. The strong muzzle is not very short, it measures almost like the skull, and the nose can be black or brown .

Their eyes are oval, medium-sized and brown in color, except in blue-blackbird dogs, where they are blue. The expression is sweet, intelligent and alert.

The ears are medium in size and can be erect or semi-erect. Set quite high and far apart on the skull, they appear well covered with hair.

Their feet are oval and have very thick pads. The fingers, which are close together and well arched, are provided with short and strong nails.

The tail is of medium length. The last vertebra reaches the hock. Very well covered with hair, it curves a little at the tip. The demeanour is cheerful when the dog is on the move.

Here is its description, what the Border Collie is like and the breed standard :

Border Collie breed standard

  • General appearance: harmoniously proportioned, its silhouette is noble, elegant and balanced. The Scottish Border Collie combines these qualities with an intense impression of resistance.
  • Origin: United Kingdom.
  • Other names: border collie.
  • Size and size: Medium / large.
  • Height at the withers: between 50-55 cm for males and between 46-52 cm for females.
  • Weight: between 17-20 kg for males and between 15-18 kg for females.
  • Body: it is a dog with a rectangular structure, it has a very athletic appearance, as the length of its body slightly exceeds the height at the withers. It is well proportioned , harmonious and denotes strength and endurance.
  • Back: it is broad, muscular and proportionate to the rest of its anatomy.
  • Head: broad and powerful, it is proportionate to the rest of the body.
  • Skull: It is quite broad, with little pronounced occiput and lean cheeks.
  • Muzzle: tapers towards the tip of the nose, is moderately short and strong. It is almost the same length as the skull.
  • Nose: it is black, except for the brown (chocolate) specimens, which may be brown. And in the blue-toned specimens it adopts a certain slate color.
  • Eyes: wide apart, oval in shape and medium in size. The brown color predominates, except in the blue blackbird specimens, in which either one of the eyes, or both, may be totally or partially blue. His expression is sweet, awake, alert and intelligent.
  • Ears: they appear well covered with hair. Medium in size, they are set well apart on the skull. The dog wears them erect or semi-erect and moves them at the slightest noise.
  • Nose-frontal depression (stop): it is moderate.
  • Jaws: Jaws and teeth are strong, with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite. That is, the upper incisors closely overlap the lower incisors and are positioned vertically in the maxillae.
  • Neck: of good length, strong and muscular, slightly arched, widening towards its insertion in the back.
  • Chest: broad and deep, with well sprung ribs.
  • Forelimbs: seen from the front, they are parallel and strong but not heavy. His shoulders are well tilted back. The forearms and arms are robust and with the elbows close to the body.
  • Hind limbs: they are muscular and very poised. Viewed from behind they are parallel. Their legs are strong and well established, they have broad, long and muscular thighs. The knees are well bent and the hocks are strong and well lowered.
  • Feet: oval in shape, they have thick, strong and healthy pads, and the toes are close together and arched. The nails are short and strong.
  • Hair: short or moderately long, some differentiate it by calling it a short-haired border collie. The covering hair is thick and of intermediate texture, and the undercoat is very dense and soft, quite resistant to inclement weather. There are two varieties of coat or fur, one moderately long and one short. In both, the outer layer is dense and has a medium texture, while the inner layer is soft and dense, which gives it good protection against inclement weather. Dogs that have a moderately long coat, thick hair may form manes, fringes and a brush tail. On the face, the ears, the forelimbs (except for the fringes) and the hindlimbs, from the hocks to the ground, the hair is short and straight.
  • Color: in terms of border collie colors , there are specimens of all colors, including the tricolor border collie . Almost always combined with white areas; these, however, never prevail. Very appreciated is, for example, the border collie blue merie .
  • Skin: flexible and well adhered to the body.
  • Tail: it is moderately long, since the last vertebra reaches the joint formed by the tibia and the tarsus. Set low, it is well stocked with hair and ends in an upward curve, which completes the grace of the silhouette and the harmony of the dog’s proportions. In action, the animal usually wears it raised, but never so much that it exceeds the line of the back.
  • Movement: The collie dog has a loose, regular and easy gait and movement. He raises his feet very little, so he gives the impression that he is moving stealthily, without apparent effort and at high speed.
  • FCI classification: Group 1 – Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs (except Swiss Cattle Dogs). Section 1 – Sheepdogs.

Border Collie puppies

If you are considering adopting or buying a border collie puppy, apart from the price and the breeder, there are a kind of aspects that we believe it is important that you take into account to know if it is the right dog for you.

If the person who decides to acquire a border collie lives in a house or in an urban apartment, it must be aware that one of its obligations will be to provide its dog with the possibility of exercising on a daily basis. A good part of this exercise will have to be carried out in freedom, as well as oriented towards a specific task that the dog has to perform.

It is not enough to take it to the park or drop it off in the field, you have to assign it a job to do, something that completes its physical development with an essential mental balance to maintain it as a fulfilled animal.

Medium in size and weight, it is a manageable dog suitable for experienced owners and neophytes alike. It does not matter too much if its owner is young or old, and it is also an ideal breed of dog to be in the company of children, always, of course, under the supervision of an adult.

The relationship between dogs and children should be fostered by educating both parties on how to behave with each other.

If you proceed like this with this dog, it will never cause any problems. Unfortunately there are many times that the least educated part of the binomial is that of the child. But it is undoubtedly a good dog for children.

If the Border Collie is kept inactive, its strong desire to please its master and to be useful to them can lead to states of nervousness and somewhat noisy behaviour.

Its exacerbated herding instinct can also cause some problems if it is not educated well from puppyhood, it is common to see specimens that try to herd bicycles, children, people and even cars.

The owners of a border collie shepherd must be aware of the needs of this animal, for this reason it is good and almost essential that they are fans of sports and long walks in the open field, and that they are willing to play with their dog and give it dedication what do you need.

This way they will get a cheerful, affectionate, dedicated and attentive companion that will delight everyone. Many families do not have a single pet.

Homes in which more than one dog lives, as well as other pets, such as cats, birds and a whole miscellany of the most varied animals, are becoming more and more frequent. In short, it is one of the best dog breeds.

The prices of a border collie puppy vary greatly depending on the country and if you buy it from a breeder or from a private individual. But we are going to give some indicative prices to give you an idea.

On the other hand, you can buy a border collie from a breeder. The prices are usually higher, but they offer more guarantee and they tend to take special care when selecting specimens without hereditary genetic diseases.

They must also give you the corresponding documentation and you can buy a border collie with pedigree or descendants of champions . Naturally this means that prices range from 809.31 dollar to 1040.54 dollar.


Border Collie education and training

It is an extraordinarily hard-working dog. For all these reasons, it is an ideal dog for fans of dog sports, especially agility or flyball, specialties in which it has stood out as the most important breed for years.

It should be noted that this intrinsic genetic capacity would be worthless without adequate training. It is not uncommon to see entire border collie teams at the most important championships in the world for both sports.

In fact, in recent times, the border collie dog is the one that almost completely dominates sports work in disciplines that do not contemplate guarding or defence, such as, for example, the aforementioned agility and flyball, obedience or dancing with dogs.

If you want to get the best out of this breed, you need to start their training at a very early age. After seven weeks, when the future ties of the dog with its family and its environment are established through imprinting, its different natural capacities can begin to develop.

Obviously, by history and by nature, herding work is the most suitable for the border collie, so whenever possible it should be dedicated to this task.

In this case, the puppy must be introduced to its environment from the beginning, as it is advisable that it has an early contact with the different species of animals with which it will have to work in the future.

It is also very important to coexist with other specimens of the same breed that are already working, so that he learns the art of herding from them.

The secret to getting a great shepherd dog is to make the young border collie’s first contact with work seem like a game.

As you overcome small tests, increasingly ambitious challenges, you will receive a reward. In this way, it will strengthen its instinct and strengthen in them the desire to please its master, whom it always considers as its maximum vital reference.

If the dog is engaged in any other form of sports work, the tactic to follow with its early training is basically the same.

Only instead of having to accustom it to different farm animals, it will be necessary to do it to other dogs, either of the same breed, well of others, and to many people, both the participants in the competition and those present among the public.

Therefore, although the work of educating a shepherd dog is something that you can do yourself, to get a good specimen of agility or flyball it is convenient to go to an association or club of this specialty that organizes classes for beginners .

Unlike other breeds of shepherd, the collie dog works slowly and stealthily. It stares at the sheep and moves cautiously, almost crawling. Cut off their potential leak points and you hardly ever need to bite their paws or harass them. It is imposed by its mere presence and forces the animals to move in groups towards the point that marks them.

Identical precision and mastery shown when grazing the most diverse species, from sheep and goats to pigs, cows and even geese. Most common modality in France and that arouses great enthusiasm among the public that attends these events.

The technique that follows is always the same. The shepherd orders its border to group the flock, more or less dispersed throughout the field.

The dog begins to prowl around the animals, narrowing the circle more and more until he manages to gather them into a compact herd.

Then, without changing the way they move, it forces the group to move in the direction of the corral indicated by the shepherd, who waits at the door, which closes when the last of the animals enters the fold.

Likewise, it faithfully obeys the orders of the pastor, its guide or its master, whom it is aware of at all times and whom it seeks as a reference.

There are also numerous border collie dog clubs and associations, such as this one. There are regional, national and also international ones. They run a contest and offer resources and advice to the owners of this breed of dog.


Border Collie feeding

As an active and working dog, the Border Collie needs a complete and rich diet that provides it with the doses of energy necessary to perform its functions.

It may be convenient to feed it by dividing the ration into two intakes, in order to avoid heavy digestions or any digestive problems, or to use a food with a high protein content and with a high degree of use.

This will allow the portion size to be reduced while still giving the dog everything it needs to be well fed. It is not advisable to uncontrollably increase the percentage of fat in the diet or use the wrong foods, because this can lead to liver and skin problems

Thus, although it may seem that it is not easy to educate and maintain a Border Collie, all efforts are compensated by the pleasure of owning a faithful, cheerful, athletic and very affectionate animal.


Border Collie breed health and diseases

Being a shepherd dog that has remained fairly pure and close to its work, the border collie is a healthy animal, with little tendency to suffer from hereditary diseases.

However, there are some conditions to which you are genetically more predisposed, but if you choose a puppy from a responsible breeder, the appearance of them is partly avoided.

The best prevention to keep the Border Collie in good health is to adhere to a schedule of regular visits to the vet to monitor annual vaccinations. Including the general condition of the dog, the maintenance of nails and teeth, and little else. In fact, it is an animal with few aesthetic requirements, beyond good hygiene.


Specific care of the Border Collie

Regarding how to care for a border collie, it is important to maintain its rich, dense and double coat in the right conditions, a regular brushing program using a rake or a king coat is enough .

With this brush it is possible to aerate and work the undercoat, avoiding the appearance of knots, and a good metallic bristle brush to comb the covering layer.

As for bathing, if you ask yourself how often to bathe a border collie? As a rule, it should only be done when the dog is dirty. You must use a shampoo with the appropriate pH, placing great emphasis on rinsing the hair thoroughly to avoid soap residues on the body.


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