Traits and Characteristics
This is a medium dog of strong bone, slightly longer than tall, combining grace, agility, substance, and stamina. The Border Collie’s trot is smooth, ground covering, and tireless, moving with stealth and strength. They are able to change speed and direction suddenly. This breed can display incredible agility even after working for long periods. The coat can be either smooth or rough. The smooth coat is short all over the body; the rough coat is medium to long in length and flat to slightly wavy in texture. The BC’s expression is intelligent, alert, eager, and full of interest, a reflection of its temperament.
Ready to see what dogs fit you best? Take our short quiz to find out!
Friendliness to Dogs
Friendliness to Other Pets
Friendliness to Strangers
Ease of Training
Disclaimer: While the characteristics mentioned here may frequently represent this breed, dogs are individuals whose personalities and appearances will vary. Please consult the adoption organization for details on a specific pet.
The Border Collie is a bundle of mental and physical energy awaiting a chance to be unleashed on the world. Among the most intelligent and obedient of breeds, the BC is nonetheless a disastrous family member if not given a challenging job every day. Given sufficient exercise, they are dependable and loyal companions. They are intent on whatever they do and tend to stare, which can be unnerving to other animals. They also like to chase other animals. They are reserved, even protective, toward strangers. Without a job, BCs can be destructive and can develop harmful, compulsive habits.
Few dogs are as work oriented as the Border Collie. These are dogs that need a job and a lot of physical and mental activity every day to satisfy their quest for work. This is a dog that cannot live in an apartment and that should preferably have ready access to a yard. The coat needs brushing or combing twice weekly.
- Major concerns: CHD
- Minor concerns: PRA, lens luxation, CEA, PDA, OCD, deafness, seizures, hypothyroidism
- Occasionally seen: cerebellar abiotrophy, ceroid lipofuscinosis, compulsive behavior
- Suggested tests: hip, eye, (thyroid), (DNA for CEA)
- Life span: 10–14 years
The consummate sheepdog, the Border Collie is the result of over a century of breeding for function above all other criteria. In the 1800s, a variety of sheep herding dogs with differing herding styles existed in Great Britain. Some were “fetching” dogs, dogs having an innate tendency to circle sheep and bring them back toward the shepherd. Most of these were noisy dogs, tending to nip and bark as they performed their job.
Boasts of the superiority of certain dogs were only natural; in 1873 the first actual sheepdog trial was held in order to settle some of these boasts. This contest would indirectly lead to the first Border Collies, by way of a dog named Hemp, so distinguished himself in trials. He herded not by barking and nipping, but by calmly staring at the sheep (“giving eye”) intimidating them into moving. Hemp is considered to be the father of the Border Collie.
In 1906, the first standard was drawn up, but unlike the physical standards of most breeds, this was a description of working ability, with no regard to physical appearance. This emphasis has shaped the breed ever since. In fact, the dogs were still referred to simply as sheepdogs; only in 1915 was the name Border Collie first recorded, in reference to the dog’s origin around the English and Scottish borders.
Border Collies came to America and instantly dazzled serious shepherds with their quick herding and obedience capabilities. In fact, the latter opened a new door for the breed as one of the top competitive breeds in obedience trials. Having worked hard to gain the reputation of one of the smartest breeds of dogs, a breed unspoiled by cosmetic emphasis, many Border Collie fans actively fought AKC recognition as a show dog. In 1995, however, the AKC officially recognized the breed.