Border Collie

November 7, 2022 - 11 min read
Border Collie hero image
Border Collie hero image

Vital stats

  • Breed type: Herding
  • Size: 18 - 24 inches
  • Weight: 26 - 49 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12 - 15 years


  • Size

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  • Intelligence

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  • Trainability

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  • Exercise needs

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  • Good with kids

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  • Levels of shedding

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  • Good for new owners

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  • Overall health of breed

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Originally bred for their working ability, Border Collies were used by shepherds on the border between England and Scotland for centuries, herding sheep and cattle. The breed was exported from Great Britain to farms all over the world as early as the 1800s, including the United States, until the American Kennel Club officially recognized them in 1995.

Although Collies still work on farms today, the breed is now also a beloved household pet. Their loyalty and love of affection make them excellent companions for experienced owners with plenty of time on their hands.

Their lively nature and intelligence allow them to learn new tricks easily, making them fun dogs to have around. In fact, Border Collies are considered one of the smartest dogs in the world.

Find out everything you need to know about this breed in our in-depth guide.

Border Collie lying down

How much is dog insurance for Border Collies?

In 2022, the average cost to insure a Border Collie with ManyPets was $41 per month. That’s slightly more than our average cost across all breeds and ages, which was $37 per month. This indicates that Border Collies may be a bit more prone to health conditions than the average breed (including mixed breeds). Get your price today.

Border Collie Popularity

Border Collies are pretty popular in America today. The American Kennel Club found them to be the 31st most popular dog breed in the US in their most recent ranking.

The breed is very active, so they enjoy long walks and running in open spaces. Therefore, locations with rich terrain often provide the perfect settings in which Border Collies can thrive. In addition to states with high populations like New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas, ManyPets has found Border Collies to be popular in states with lots of wide open spaces, like Colorado and Arizona.

Border Collies are also a popular choice for rescue, sniffer, and tracker dogs, thanks to their intelligence and diligent work ethic. They make great guide dogs for the blind, too!

Border Collie training

Border Collies are among the smartest dog breeds worldwide and can quickly learn new tricks. They're considered an easy-to-train breed.

However, their intelligence and ability to think for themselves can sometimes cause stubbornness. With consistent training from puppyhood and an experienced owner's guidance, Border Collies will follow instructions easily.

Breed bad habits

A Border Collie's intelligence can sometimes cause problems: Just as quickly as they learn new tricks, they can learn bad habits. Giving your dog attention when they bark or beg for food teaches them that bad behavior works in them getting what they want.

Border Collies are working dogs with high energy, so they need lots of playtime to keep their physical and mental health in good shape. They also crave attention and companionship, so behavioral issues usually arise when these needs aren't met. They can resort to chewing on or destroying items around the home out of boredom.

Originally bred to herd sheep, Border Collies can't help but chase things. They can often run after humans, other dogs, and cars. So like any dog, keeping them on a leash when they’re outside is critical to keeping them safe.

Training tips

Border Collies are intelligent, so they should pick things up quickly.

But they can have a stubborn streak, so they’ll respond better to positive reinforcement techniques — like treats for good behavior — than to being scolded for falling short. Instructions stick in the minds of smart dogs, so stick to using short, firm commands.

Border Collies respond well to training from a very young age. You can begin teaching basic obedience as soon as possible to prevent behavioral issues before they start.

Border Collie amongst flowers

Border Collie gender differences


Although personality differences in Border Collies are minor, females tend to be slightly calmer and more focused on training than their male counterparts. Every dog is different, though, and behavior depends more on the quality of training and how they are raised.

Female size information

  • Height: 18-21 inches

  • Weight: 26-42 kg

  • Size: Medium


Although Border Collies are renowned for being a friendly breed, males often find it easier than females to socialize with other dogs and bond with their owner, as well as strangers.

Male Border Collies can be more territorial than females, sometimes defending themselves when threatened and marking their territory. However, this behavior often decreases once they’ve been neutered.

The sexes are usually easier to identify by physical appearance than temperament: Males tend to be slightly bigger, with larger heads, more height, and a more muscular build.

Male size information

  • Height: 19-22 inches

  • Weight: 31-44 kg

  • Size: Medium

Border Collie Breed Health

Border Collies are generally healthy dogs, but hereditary conditions can show up during development when they are puppies.

Border Collie Breed Health

Border Collies are generally healthy dogs, but hereditary conditions can show up during development when they are puppies.

Life Expectancy

A healthy Border Collie is expected to live for 10-17 years, the average being 12 years old.

Common Health Problems

Some of the most common health problems that affect Border Collies include:

  • Osteochondrosis (OCD): Border Collies are prone to osteochondrosis, an abnormal development of cartilage that can affect joints in the ankle, spine, knee, elbow, and — as is common in Border Collies — the shoulder. Symptoms include limping and stiffness, which usually show during growth before the dog reaches one year of age. The condition can be managed through weight control, limiting the amount of exercise they receive before they've finished growing, weight control, and sometimes administering painkillers. For severe cases, dogs may benefit from surgery. Although symptoms may still show after exercise, they will usually be free of pain and limpness after the procedure. Be aware: OCD surgery can be pricey, sometimes costing as much as $2,000 - $4,000 per joint.

  • Epilepsy: Epilepsis is a neurological disease that causes seizures. Border Collies are prone to the condition. Although it’s incurable, medication can help control Epilepsy symptoms and keep seizures to a minimum.

  • Collie Eye Anomaly: Collie eye anomaly is an inherited disease, often seen in Border Collie puppies at around 6-8 weeks when the eye is developing. Although vision impairment is usually mild in this breed, blindness can occur in severe cases. There's no cure for the condition, but vision loss is rare and usually won't worsen enough to cause blindness. Surgery is also available to minimize the effects.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is an eye disease that can lead to blindness in dogs. Although the condition isn't very common, Border Collies are prone to inheriting it. The first sign is decreased ability to see at night, but over time this will progress to a lack of vision in the day. There is currently no cure, but dogs can still live a happy and comfortable life with adjustments to their routine.

  • MDR 1 Gene Mutation: Many herding dogs, including Border Collies, can have an MDR 1 mutation (a multidrug resistance protein). This can cause sensitivity to ivermectin drugs, resulting in neurological symptoms like blindness, tremor, and hypersalivation. The best way to know if your dog has the mutation is to test, and your vet may recommend avoiding certain medications to prevent illness.

Ethical breeders will take steps to minimize the chance that genetic conditions will be passed down. Always find a responsible breeder when purchasing a Border Collie puppy.

Border Collie amongst flowers

Vet tips

“Border Collies are an active breed, but there are some early signs you should look out for in puppies that may hint at joint problems,” says veterinarian Dr. Kirsten Ronngren, DVM MRCVS.

“Changes to a puppy's gait, such as limping or "bunny hopping" on their back legs, may indicate early signs of joint issues. Speaking to your vet earlier if you are concerned can help catch conditions like osteochondrosis in the beginning stages and help you create a proactive management plan together.”

Dr. Ronngren adds: “Keeping your border collie on a quality diet and at a healthy weight is massively impactful when it comes to joint health and comfort!”

Border Collie Colors and Variants

There are four different variations of the breed, including:

  • Northumbrian Type: Also known as Old Hemp, the Northumbrian variety was bred in Northumberland, England, in the 1800s — hence the name. This variation is medium size with a rough coat and white markings. The majority of Border Collies can be traced down to the Northumbrian type.

  • Wiston Cap Type: This variation also has a rough coat but is larger than the Northumbrian type, with bigger heads and more white markings.

  • Nap Type: The only smooth-coated variation, Nap type Border Collies usually have longer legs and shorter bodies than the other types. They're known for being powerful and fast.

  • Herdman's Tommy Type: A medium-sized variation with a sturdy build, Herman's Tommy type have a rough coat and usually come in black and white, with tan markings. Similar to the Nap variation, these dogs are renowned for their power and strong-headedness.

Solid color is rare in Border Collies, and they usually have blaze, points, ticking, brindle, or speckled markings.

The standard colors for Border Collies include:

  • Black

  • Blue

  • Blue merle

  • Brindle

  • Gold

  • Red

  • Sable

  • Sable merle

  • White & black

  • White & red

  • Red merle

  • White & blue

  • White & blue merle

  • Lilac

  • Saddleback sable

  • White & red merle

  • White ticked

Caring for a Border Collie

Border Collies are an extremely high-energy, intelligent breed that needs lots of care and attention, so they may not be the best option for first-time owners.

Like most dogs, daily walks will keep them in good shape and burn energy to help them sleep. Plenty of playtime will also keep them stimulated and keep their mind active to avoid boredom.


Border Collies, notoriously, are very energetic dogs. They often require at least 2 hours of walking per day, as well as lots of playtime. Originally bred to herd sheep, they are fast runners, reaching up to 30 miles per hour when sprinting.

Border Collies are adaptable to a range of different climates. They have a double coat that sheds in autumn before growing back thicker and fuller in preparation for winter. They can usually tolerate walking in cold conditions as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit. However, once the temperature dips below freezing, Collies are at risk of hypothermia or frostbite. Unlike large, thick-coated dogs like Alaskan Malamutes, a Collie’s coat is not thick enough to withstand extremely icy temperatures.

Although their coat becomes lighter in spring after shedding, you’ll need to be careful in hot states like Texas and California, as Border Collies may be prone to heat stroke. With access to plenty of water, they can withstand temperatures up to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s best to take your pooch for a walk in the morning or when temperatures have cooled in the evening.


The right amount of food to feed your Collie will depend on their size, activity, and individual needs. However, providing meals filled with meat, grains, fruits, and vegetables will ensure they’re getting a balanced diet.

Building a healthy diet and feeding schedule on your own can be tricky, so consult your veterinarian for advice to ensure your pup is getting the nutrients they need.

Remember to check your dog’s water bowl and fill it up whenever necessary to keep them hydrated.


While most dogs sleep for 12-14 hours per day, Border Collies are working dogs that are highly active, so they rest less than other breeds. Adults sleep for around 9 hours per day, but puppies need to spend 18-20 hours sleeping to encourage healthy development and growth.

If your Collie isn’t sleeping enough, they may be at a greater risk of obesity or illness due to a weakened immune system. Therefore, you must ensure they are getting enough exercise and nutrition. You may also need to visit the vet, as a lack of sleep could be due to illness.

Healthcare tips

“Border Collies are lively dogs by nature, so a quality diet and sufficient exercise will help them sleep, control weight gain, and keep them happy in general,” says Dr. Ronngren.

“Because Border Collies are highly intelligent and originally bred to be working dogs, scheduling the right amount of playtime based on your puppy's age is an excellent way to also sneak in training time each day!

Collies tend to have fewer behavioral issues when they have enough mental stimulation throughout the day. Pairing a short training session for a new trick followed by an appropriate length walk or run can be a winner for these pups!”

Border Collie temperament

How good are Border Collies with Kids?

Their affection and loving nature make Border Collies excellent companions for kids, as long as they are correctly socialized and trained to get along well with children when they’re puppies.

They’ll need to be watched around younger kids, however. Due to their natural strong herding instincts, they can sometimes try to herd children, knocking them over.

How Affectionate Are Border Collies?

Border Collies are sweet dogs that are keen to please humans due to their working nature. They can be very protective and stick close to their owners, wanting to follow them anywhere they go. Because of this, Border Collies will need someone who is around often to ensure their enrichment and exercise needs are met.

Border Collies can be reserved around strangers but will warm up quickly if they've been socialized well from a young age.

How territorial are Border Collies?

Like most herding or sheepdogs, Border Collies can be territorial and protective of their food, toys, and owners.

Border Collies are not aggressive dogs, but they can be protective if a stranger enters their home or walks up to the front door. They will mainly warn people off by barking, which makes them excellent guard dogs. However, this noise can be problematic with neighbors if consistent, so good training and socialization will help them calm down and stop barking quickly.

How friendly are Border Collies with other dogs?

Due to their protective nature, Border Collies may initially see other dogs as a threat, possibly barking or growling at them during walks. Although no two dogs are the same, this usually won’t be as much of an issue if your Border Collie is effectively socialized and trained from puppyhood.

Although Border Collies prefer human companionship, they tend to get along best with other working dogs like Labrador Retrievers and often enjoy learning new tricks alongside them.

Will Border Collies tolerate other pets?

Border Collies usually chase anything that moves due to their natural herding instincts. Cats tend to run away when frightened, but Collies often enjoy chasing them. But with proper introductions and training, they can be trained out of this tendency and live happily in a multi-pet household.

How much attention do Border Collies need?

Border Collies love human companionship and attention, so it’s best not to leave them alone for too long. As lively dogs, they ideally need someone who can be around most of the day to keep them active and entertained. Like most dogs, if alone for too long, they can often develop separation anxiety and resort to chewing things around the house or barking.

Border Collie coat and grooming

Coat type

Border Collies have two different coat types: a rough, medium-length coat and a smooth, shorter-length coat. Both types of Border Collie have a double coat which consists of a soft undercoat and longer, thick fur on top.

Shedding levels

Due to their thick, double-haired coats, Border Collies are high shedders. This shedding happens throughout the year, mainly during spring and autumn, helping them adjust to weather changes.

Brushing your Collie a couple of times a week will help to remove dead hairs and keep their coat in good condition.

Border Collie running

How often to groom a Border Collie

Border Collie coats are pretty easy to maintain, but regular grooming will keep their fur looking healthy. Rough, medium-length coats should be brushed a couple of times a week to keep them tangle-free, whereas smooth coats, which are shorter, need bruising once a week.

Border Collies only usually need bathing every three months. As working dogs, Border Collies like to be outdoors, so more frequent washing may be necessary if they get muddy. Due to their double coat that can hold a lot of water, owners should blow dry their Collie after a bath. This will prevent irritation from moisture left on the skin for a long time.

Additionally, it’s essential to check the nails of your Collie regularly. Long nails can cause pain, so if you can hear them touching against a hard floor, they may need a trim. This can be done at home with dog-safe clippers or at a groomer/vet.

Are Border Collies hypoallergenic?

No, Border Collies are not hypoallergenic. Their thick, double coat sheds a fair amount, causing dander — dead skin cells present in the hair — to spread around the house. This can cause reactions in people who are allergic.

Border Collie bark sound

Border Collies have a high tendency to bark due to their herding instincts. Their bark can be pretty loud compared to other breeds, so this is something to consider if you have neighbors nearby.

Barking habits

A Border Collie is a very vocal dog that tends to bark at anything that moves fast. This can include cars, bikes, other dogs, and even children playing. As a herding breed, Border Collies can also be territorial, barking or growling as someone approaches or enters the house. Although getting your dog to stop barking is difficult — especially with puppies — their intelligence allows them to be trained to bark less.

Border Collies also use barking to communicate how they're feeling, whether they’re excited, hungry, or just want their owner's attention. Excessive barking may occur when your pup is bored or hasn't had their exercise needs met. Therefore, as high-energy dogs, ensuring your Collie gets the physical and mental stimulation they require will keep barking to a minimum.

Border Collie popularity

Frequently asked questions about Border Collies

When Do Border Collies Stop Growing?

Border Collies usually reach their adult size by around 12 to 15 months. However, this depends on the size of your dog: Larger Collies can take up to 18 months to be considered fully grown.

Are Border Collies High Maintenance?

While Border Collies aren’t usually high maintenance when it comes to grooming, they require a lot of attention. Due to their high energy and love for companionship, they need someone who has time to walk and play with them often.

Do Border Collies Like to Cuddle?

Border Collies love to be close to their owner, so you’ll often find them leaning against you or cuddling up to you when they’re sleeping. Jumping up and putting their paws on your shoulder is the ultimate sign of affection for Collies!