Everything You Need to Know Before You Get a Border Collie

Border collies are herding dogs, initially bred in the borderlands between England and Scotland. As a herding dog, they can be very energetic but also very easy to train.

Border collies are still a favorite choice for farmers and ranchers who need a herding dog today. But the Border collie can also be an excellent pet for those who have no herding needs of any kind. 

In this overview, you’ll get all the critical information you need to help you decide whether or not the border collie is the right dog to bring home with you!

Border Collie Characteristics

Border Collie herding three brown sheep

While it is still a popular choice for herding, the Border collie is also a great athlete for competing in dog sports and an excellent family choice.

In this section, you’ll learn more about the physical and personality traits that make the Border collie so unique.

Physical Traits

Closeup of a young Border Collie

Border collies have a lean, athletic build.

Here are some key stats to know:

  • 18 to 22 inches tall at the shoulder when fully grown.
  • 30 to 45 pounds when fully grown.
  • The average life span is 12 to 15 years.

They are very active and have a high level of endurance.

As herding dogs, they needed to run as much as 50 miles in a single day and through the hilly terrain of the Scottish border country. That level of activity makes them physically a very healthy breed.

In terms of appearance, they can have either a rough or a smooth coat. In both cases, they have a dual-layer coat with a coarser outer layer and a softer undercoat.

Their fur varies from short to medium and is most often black with white patches on the face, neck, legs, and feet.

There can sometimes be touches of tan as well. Less common but still possible is a solid black or tan coloring.

Personality Traits

Spunky Collie on yellow background

Border collies have some wonderful personality traits that can make them fantastic pets. However, they can be a little demanding on their owners’ time and attention.

Let’s take a look at the unique personality of the Border collie below:

  • Very alert and energetic.
  • Loves to work and thrives most when given a task to accomplish.
  • Highly intelligent.

These are great qualities to have in a dog that will be an active part of the family.

But if not put to work, a Border collie’s positive qualities can become misdirected.

For example, their high intelligence can make them mischievous and stubborn if not guided adequately into practical tasks and activities.

Their high energy levels can be expressed in recklessness and escape attempts if they do not get enough exercise. And their desire to work can lead to misdirected herding instincts.

A bored Border collie will likely end up trying to herd children, other pets, cars, people on bicycles, or anything else they can find.

So they are the perfect pet if you can keep them stimulated and busy.

But you need to start training early and keep them occupied often with tasks and activities.

Border Collie Care & Grooming

Woman's hand brushing Border Collie

Now that you have a better idea of how the Border collie would fit into your family based on their personality and other traits, it’s time to learn about what they will need from you.

In this section, you’ll learn about feeding, grooming, training, and otherwise taking the best possible care of your Border collie.

Heath Issues

Border Collie with stethoscope on grey background

Every dog breed has its genetic predisposition to certain illnesses and conditions.

While that doesn’t mean that every Border collie will get every condition, a Border collie is prone to get.

However, it does mean that you, as an owner, should be extra alert to the signs and symptoms of the following conditions so that you can get treatment as quickly as possible:

You can also decrease your dog’s risk of getting these conditions by opting for a mixed breed rather than a purebred.

The increased genetic diversity of mixed breeds makes them more resistant to breed-specific illnesses while still letting you enjoy the Border collie’s physical and personality traits.

Training Your Border Collie

Collie in training to lift its paw

Border collies are a wonderful breed to train.

These pups are highly attuned to figuring out what their owner wants or needs - so much so that it can sometimes seem like they are predicting your needs in advance.

To add to this, they are workaholics who thrive when given a task to accomplish.

As mentioned, this makes them ideal for training, but it also means that you have to train them and make an effort to give them tasks to do.

A bored Border collie can become restless and troublesome.

So train early and consider teaching them to do more than just follow basic commands.

If you want a dog that can perform fun or practical tasks, this is the dog for you.

But if you just want a buddy to cuddle up with you on the couch, the Border collie is going to be too energetic for you.

Do Border Collies Need Grooming?

Grooming needs are pretty minimal. They don't shed excessively, except during the shedding season.

During this season, you’ll want to brush the coat daily to minimize the amount of fur ending up around the house.

Outside of that season, weekly brushing is more than enough to prevent their fur from matting and keep their coat glossy and healthy-looking.

You don’t need to bathe them at all unless they are filthy or smell unpleasant.

Brushing their teeth a couple of times a week is also a good idea.

However, if you don’t feel like doing that, you can also opt for giving them a dental chew that helps remove tartar and prevent buildup.

Feeding Border Collies

Small border collie eating from red bowl

An adult Border collie needs somewhere between 1 ½ to 2 cups of quality dry food each day.

Food should be divided into two separate meals - one in the morning and one in the evening.

If they get a lot of exercise in the day, you may need to feed them more.

Because they are such an active breed, you should opt for a protein-rich diet to keep their muscles in peak condition.

Also, a more carb-rich meal in the morning can provide the fuel they need for the day.

Keep an eye on their weight to determine if you are feeding them the right amount.

  • If they are becoming too thin, increase their portion sizes.
  • If they are becoming obese, decrease their portion sizes.

Costs & Buying Tips

A certified purebred Border collie from a reliable breeder will likely cost somewhere between $500 and $1000.

If you don’t need the official certification, you can get a purebred for as low as $200 (but without a certificate, you can’t verify that it is 100% purebred).

If you go for a rescue Border collie, you could pay just $50 or less.

On top of these initial costs, you may need to pay for vaccinations and neutering.

We recommend getting a rescue because it’s just generally a more rewarding experience.

However, if you need a purebred, make sure you are buying from a legitimate and humane Border collie breeder.

Puppy mills are a real threat, and they can sometimes be challenging to identify.

Keep an eye out for these red flags to spot a puppy mill. And if you do come across a breeder that seems suspicious, you should report it to the authorities not only should you avoid buying from them.

Final Thoughts

Border collies are an excellent choice for families who are a little more on the active side.

This dog’s high energy level makes them the perfect motivation to get you off the couch and out of the house.

And they are also very responsive to training, so you can quickly train them to be obedient even when you are out of the house in a new environment.

However, if you don’t train them and give them tasks to do, they can become restless and bored, leading to troublesome behavior.

So you may want to consider a less active breed if you’re hoping for a cuddly friend to veg out in front of the television.

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