Should I get a Border Collie? (Beginner’s Guide)

A cute tri colour border collie on a white background
Tri-Colour Border Collie Puppy

Getting the right dog breed to suit your living arrangements and family life, whether you are active or like to stay indoors more or maybe you’re a bit older. All these factors will play an important part in searching for the type of dog best suited to you. 

So you’re looking into a Border Collie right now, let’s find out if they are suited to you and learn about Border Collie to understand better the breed and what to expect as a new owner.

The Border Collie dogs best suit an active family, living near open space and having a garden would be a benefit. You will need to dedicate time and effort to the training process and continued mental and physical exercise. If you feel you can offer a Border Collie these basic needs, you are on the right path for a match. 

Let’s delve into more details about a Border Collie that will help you finalise your decision.

Breed Overview

  • Group: Herding
  • Height: Ranges between 18 to 22 inches at the shoulder.
  • Weight: It varies from one dog to the next. However, the average weight ranges between 28-to-48 pounds.
  • Colour of the coat: Border Collies come with a double coat. The outer coat is constituted with coarse hair, whereas the inner coat is created with smooth and soft hair. The coat of these dogs can be of blue, black, blue merle, gold, brindle, lilac, red merle, or red colour. The coat may be of bicolour, tricolour, sable, merle, or rare colour solid.
  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 17 years

Things You Need To Know

A happy dog laying on the grass, with tongue out.
Adult White and Black Border Collie

Border Collies are highly intelligent, energetic, medium-sized dogs that love spending more time outdoors than staying cooped up inside the house. 

The origin of these dogs can be traced back to the sheepdogs found in the British Isles. These dogs are named after a border area between Scotland and England. 

The Border Collies are well known for sheep-herders. They use their agility, fitness, speed, and innate herding tendency to their advantage. 

The Border Collies are also known for their loyalty, obedience, and playful nature. The Border Collie dogs are at their happiest when they are playing with their owners or working outside. Even though these dogs are not the cuddly types, they love to sit with you on the sofa after a hard day of work or playtime.

As these dogs are intelligent, they communicate tremendously and almost always want to please their owners. That makes it extremely easy for the new dog parents to give these dogs proper training. However, even after they get training, the Border Collie requires rigorous physical exercise and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy for a long time.

Their intelligence, loyalty, and sensitive nature makes them a hugely popular pet among dog lovers.

Child Friendly

Border Collie dogs can get along with small children just fine if they are socialised with them early. Border Collies bond the best with slightly older children who can play with them outside. All in all, a Border Collie is a well-loved and celebrated dog breed that creates a strong bond with its human companions easily.

Coat

Generally, Border Collies are considered medium-sized dogs. They have a medium-length coat, which is thick on their bodies. The double coat of these dogs runs from smooth to rough. The outer coat hair of these dogs is often curly or wavy. Even though the black and white-coloured coat are the most common among Border Collies, you can also find dogs of other colours. The colour pattern of these dogs is also not very rigid. Border Collie dogs come with various colour patterns on their coats. You can easily find Dogs with white and black tricolour, red tricolour, liver, and white colour combinations. You can also find Border Collies with red, blue, lilac, blue merle, red merle, brindle, and Australian red. Among all of these, the Australian red colour is the least common one. Some Border Collies also come with single-coloured coats.

Eye Colours

The most common eye colour for Border Collies is brown. Some dogs have dark, almost black eyes, while others might be lighter and more amber in tone. Border Collies are also known to be heterochromia, which means having two different eye colours. Mainly see in merle coloured coated dogs.

Heterochromia dog eyes, one is blue and one is brown
Heterochromia eyes

Ears

The ear patterns of these dogs are also pretty variable. In contrast, some dogs have floppy ears, while others come with very erect ones. You can also find Border Collie with partially erect ears.

Temperament

  • Intelligent
  • Cheerful
  • Independent
  • Loyal
  • Friendly
  • Playful

Border Collie dogs are intelligent, cheerful, and independent breeds and loyal and friendly to their owners. They are one of the easiest dog breeds to train. However, these dogs require more mental and physical exercise and stimulation compared to the other dog breeds. These dogs secure the top rank in the intelligence department. Even though Border Collie dogs were traditionally bred for herding livestock, they are now popular as companion dogs and make a great addition to a family in suitable living arrangements.

Are Border Collies easy to train?

Border Collies are so eager to learn and please their owners that training is usually very straightforward. They love to be given tasks, even if they are role-playing games. 

If you give them the proper training from a young age by teaching them commands such as sit or stay, Border Collies can quickly become obedient family dogs. They will, however, need continued mental stimulation and physical exercise every day for them to not get depressed, bored or destructive.

They Love To Work

The Border Collies were traditionally bred for working, and they love to keep it busy. Border Collies need to feel like they have been given a role outside, even if it’s a play job. They love to work and must have some physical activity to channel their excess energy. It will satisfy them and keep them happy. 

Puzzles and other dog toys can also help the Border Collie to maintain its mental state.

Before deciding on getting a Border Collie dog for your family, you should remember that these dogs were not traditionally bred as companion dogs. They are through and through working dogs. They love to work independently and are intelligent enough to co-operate with their human companions while doing their job.

These working ethics built into a Border Collie indicate that these dogs thrive best in families that can give them a lot of exercise and playtime. If you are a keen runner or hiker, a Border Collie would be a perfect match for you.

Grooming Requirement

Border collie dogs are required to be groom regularly due to their coat variety. As a new owner, you will need to keep the coat of the Border Collie dog free of matting and prevent any tangles. These dogs shed twice a year. During this time, you need to concentrate on their grooming even more. These dogs love to stay outdoors for long hours, and the owners need to check them regularly for ticks and other parasites that they may have picked up whilst outside. The checks should be done, especially around the areas of their ears.

Learn – Do Border Collies Shed A Lot? + Should You Choose A Different Breed because of it?

Living Requirements

Border Collie dogs are not good apartment dogs. They are better suited to a larger property with a garden. They are highly active and need open space to run around. Long walks every day will not be enough to satisfy their exercise requirements. The owners need to keep in mind that these dogs were bred for their sheep herding abilities. That means Border Collies do not require as much affection as other dog breeds. But it would be best if you gave them the mental and physical stimulation needed to keep them happy and healthy for a long time.

Border Collies are amazing sheepherders

Are Border Collies a good family dog?

Border Collies are very people-oriented and make great family dogs. If you have an active outdoor family life, then these dogs will fit in perfectly. Border Collies excel in the field of sheepherding as well as perform activities such as agility and obedience. Some Borders are not good with other animals, but they should be fine if introduced at a young age.

Importance Of Making The Right Decision

Thanks to their need for mental stimulation and independent personalities, these dogs can develop behaviour problems if adopted in a household that cannot meet its exercise requirements. 

In such situations, the Border Collie dogs can often chew on walls, furniture and showcase other destructive behaviour to channel their energy. 

These dogs also have an innate desire to herd cattle or other livestock. This instinct can surface from time to time and may lead the dog to exert dominance over other dogs, cats, and small children if left to their own devices. However, as these dogs are very intelligent and can easily be trained perfectly, they can live with other pets and small children if they are appropriately trained and aware of the ranks within the home from an early age.

This is why it’s crucial that you make the right decision for your family’s sake and, of course, the Border Collie.

Health Issues

Like all dog breeds, they have their common breed health issues. Below might seem like a long list; however, these health issues dont affect all Border Collie dogs. It is just a tiny possibility that your new dog may have one of the below. If you get your new puppy from a reputable breeder, you shouldn’t have any issues. However, as a new potential Border Collie owner, I think you should learn of the possibilities of their health issues.

Epilepsy and Collie eye anomaly (CEA)

Like most other dog breeds, border Collie dogs also suffer from starting health issues. Epilepsy and Collie eye anomaly (CEA) are the two primary concerns for pet owners. Both of these problems are caused by a genetic anomaly. Collie eye anomaly is an inherited congenital disease that creates problems in the retina and sclera of the Border Collie dogs. In most cases, CEA is considered a mild disease.

These days you can get a DNA test to determine whether your border Collie puppy is suffering from CEA or not. More often than not, breeders use DNA tests to ensure that they do not produce puppies affected by such congenital diseases.

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)

However, dogs of these breeds can suffer from other eye conditions like PRA that affect the retina. Primarily, this eye problem affects the night vision of these dogs. If left untreated, this problem can cause daytime blindness as well. 

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Other than that, Border Collies also suffer from hip dysplasia. Although nowadays, several hip testing methods help determine dogs’ elbow and hip quality.

Hearing Loss

Border Collies often suffer from hearing loss as well. There are two types of hearing loss from which these dogs suffer the most. The first hearing loss is associated with pigments and can be seen in the Border Collie puppies. The puppies can also suffer from congenital deafness from birth. 

The second type of hearing loss is known as adult-onset loss. This kind of hearing loss starts from about 8 to 10 years of age. The dogs suffering from this problem have normal auditory brainstem responses as puppies. But as they become old, they slowly start to lose their hearing.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is another problem from which Border Collie dogs suffer the most.

Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis

Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis is another serious health issue from which Border Collies suffer. This disease causes severe impairment due to neurological issues and even death. Border Collies suffering from this problem rarely survive more than two years of age. 

Even though there is no treatment right now, there are DNA tests that can help you to detect whether your dog is suffering from this problem or not. This test also helps to see the carriers, which can be helpful to reduce the number of affected dogs.

Neutrophil Syndrome

Another common problem that is seen among Border Collie puppies is neutrophil syndrome. It is a hereditary disease in which the bone marrow of the dogs produces a white cell named neutrophils. However, these neutrophils do not get successfully released into the bloodstream. 

The affected puppies suffer from an impaired immune system and eventually die due to untreatable infections. The mutation responsible for this problem is found in English working Border Collie, show dogs that have originated in New Zealand and Australia, and other unrelated Australian Border Collies. From this, it can be understood that the gene responsible for this problem is widespread and may be as old as the breed itself. There is no cure for this disease, but a DNA test will spot the carriers and affected dogs.

History

As we have mentioned earlier, the Border Collie dogs originated from the Sheepdogs of the British Isles. The breed was primarily created on the Border of Scotland and England. The name of the dog breed is derived from their area of origination as well. They are very diligent and hardy working dogs. 

1800’s

In 1800, Queen Victoria became quite fond of this dog breed and most likely contributed to its popular sheepherding dog breed legacy.

Over the years, the Border Collie dogs have upheld their reputation as a hard-working and highly intelligent dog breed. 

1906

The first standard about the Border Collie was drawn up in 1906. However, instead of their physical characteristics, the standard of the Border Collie dogs was created depending on their working abilities. This particular emphasis helps to shape the breed even more. 

1915

In 1915, the name Border Collie was first recorded.

The 1980s

This decade, the first Border Collie was brought to ranchers in New Zealand and Australia.

1995

These dogs won the heart of the Americans with their intelligence, herding qualities and obedience. The American Kennel Club recognised the Border Collie breed this year.

Facts

  • Some handlers do not want to deal with the more white-coated Border Collies as they believe that the sheep will not respect the pure white or almost white dogs that are the same colour as the sheep.
White Border Collie
  • American Border Collie Association does not consider the appearance of the dogs that seriously. Instead, the association gives more priority to the ability and the attitude of the Border Collie is to identify with the working class

Words Of Encouragement

Now you have learnt everything of importance regarding the Border Collie dog breed, are you the perfect match? If so, I hope you can make lots of happy memories with your soon to be Border Collie. Good Luck! You will be the perfect dog parent now you have all the information.

If you have decided not to get a Border Collie, don’t worry; there are many other dog breeds for you to choose from. How about the Jack Russell Terrier? These dogs live to a great age, a very healthy breed, they love to cuddle, and they don’t need much space or maintenance. See the article I wrote here on them speaking from my experiences of this amazing breed.

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