About The Breed: Border Collie

border collie in the grass

The Border Collie is widely recognized for its high intelligence, stunning athleticism, and strong work ethic. Originally bred in the border counties between England and Scotland, the Border Collie is a naturally adept herding breed.

This dog breed has boundless energy. Border Collies thrive in families leading an active lifestyle, and they also love being given a job to do – they are capable of performing many feats that would be a significant challenge for many other dogs. Like many herding breeds, Border Collies were bred to work alongside humans, which oftentimes makes them easier to train.

In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the Border Collie, studying their characteristics, their origin, and answer some frequently asked questions.

Border Collie Breed Characteristics

  • The Border Collie is a medium-sized dog breed. They typically stand 18 to 22 inches at the shoulder and weigh 30 to 45 pounds.


  • Border Collies are full of energy, and naturally, require lots of exercise. It is essential for Border Collie owners to provide adequate amounts of physical activity to keep them active and prevent destructive behavior.


  • The Border Collie has two types of coat: rough and smooth. The rough coat varieties have long hairs on the chest, belly, and legs. The smooth variant has short hairs without feathering.
  • This breed comes in several different colors. The most common colors are black and white, but they can range from white and red to blue merle, with some featuring tricolored coats.


  • Working Border Collies uphold many duties. Most commonly, Border Collies are used in search and rescue operations, herding sheep, detection work, and many other fields. They are considered workaholics and excel in obedience and agility competitions.


  • Loyal, affectionate, and with an inherent desire to please their owners, Border Collies get on well with children.


  • Border Collies consistently rank as the most intelligent dog breed in the world. They pick up new things quickly, but their intelligence also means they need plenty of mental stimulation.
kipper border collie

History of the Border Collie

The Border Collie descends from the landrace collies. They were bred through selective breeding that promoted intelligence and an intense work drive. The Border Collie gets its name from the area it was bred, along the border counties of England and Scotland. Over time, these dogs were renowned for their work drive and incredible ability to herd livestock.

The breed’s name was first referenced in 1915 by James Reid, the International Sheep Dog Society secretary. This organization was also the first to describe the breed standards and establish a registry.

The Border Collie was introduced to the United States in the early 1900s, but the popularity of the breed didn’t gain much traction until the late 1940s. They were primarily used in ranches and farms to herd livestock. Border Collies started receiving more recognition after standing out in various sheepdog trials. In 1983, the American Border Collie Association was formed, and the AKC officially recognized the breed in 1995.

Current uses of Border Collies

The unique combination of athleticism, intelligence, and drive make the Border Collie a versatile dog breed that can uphold many duties. Aside from herding livestock, which they have excelled at for over a century, Border Collies are professionals at obedience and agility trials. In fact, the crowned champions at the 2022 AKC National Agility Championship from 16 to 24 inches were all Border Collies.

This high drive makes the Border Collie an adaptable dog breed that is ideally suited to a variety of jobs, from law enforcement to search and rescue. They also make excellent service dogs that guide and help disabled individuals, and can provide emotional support as therapy dogs.

Other than working out in the field, Border Collies enjoy the companionship of their families as pet dogs. They are affectionate, loyal, and protective of their own family, but not aggressive. This breed thrives in active families where they can get the physical exercise and mental stimulation they need to live a happy, fulfilling life. When their needs are met, Border Collies are exceptionally playful and loving dogs with bundles of energy.

Border Collie FAQs

The Border Collie has a double coat with long, smooth hairs. They shed moderately year-round, but particularly heavily in the fall and spring. Brushing a Border Collie at least three to four times a week is enough to keep shedding under control.

The breed origins, high energy, and drive to stay active requires Border Collie owners to provide their dogs with a lot of daily exercise. This breed needs an hour or two of physical movement on a daily basis.  Border Collies can become bored – and destructive – when their exercise needs aren’t satisfied.

Border Collies are quick and agile dogs that are among the fastest dog breeds. They can run up to 30 miles an hour and maintain their speed for quite some time, with incredible athleticism and stamina. 

The ears usually stand up by the time a Border Collie puppy is ten weeks old. However, it can take months for them to stand up fully. As they grow, their ears may be partially floppy, or with one ear down while the other is up.

The Border Collie is generally a healthy dog breed with an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years. They are prone to typical ailments like hip dysplasia and joint problems. Some dogs may also inherit the Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) that can lead to blindness. If you are considering acquiring a Border Collie, make sure you speak with reputable breeders who perform health testing to check for genetic issues.

Border Collies eat a little more than an average, medium-sized dog. An adult Border Collie should eat one to two cups of dog food, split into multiple meals. Monitoring the Border Collie’s weight and adjusting their food intake as needed is recommended to maintain their overall health.

A few ways to tire out a Border Collie include going out for long walks, playing fetch, and dog sports like agility or Fast CAT. While a Border Collie needs physical exercise, it is also important to provide the mental stimulation they require; interactive toys and puzzles can help to keep their mind active.