Border Collie breed profile

Border Collie. Photo: Mikkel Bigandt/Shutterstock

Border Collie classification

The Border Collie is classed as Group 5 (Working dogs) by the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC).

Border Collie history

The Border Collie as a breed was originated in Northumberland, a place on the very border of England and Scotland. The breed is developed for the purpose of herding livestock, especially sheep. The name “Border Collie” came from the simple fact the breed had been developed in a place on the Anglo-Scottish border.  The breed was originally developed in and for the conditions existing on the vast tracts of land where the terrain varies from mountains to sweeping moorlands, the winter weather conditions being very bleak with snow, wind and sleet.

The Border Collie was first shown in Australia at the Sydney Royal in 1933 as “Any Other Variety”.  Later, they were shown in the non-sporting group and in 1953, a separate group was formed known as the ‘The Australian Working Dog Group’, comprising the Australian Cattle Dog, the Australian Kelpie and the Border Collie.

Border Collie Physical characteristics

The Border Collie is a well balanced, medium-sized dog of athletic appearance, displaying gracefulness, power and agility in equal measure. The male is 48–56 cm in height and the female is 46–53 cm.  The weight for a male is 14–20 kg and female is 12–19 kg.

The Border Collie has two varieties of coat: rough and smooth. Both are double coats, with a coarser outer coat and soft undercoat. The rough variety is medium length with feathering on the legs, chest, and belly. The smooth variety is short all over, usually coarser in texture than the rough variety, and feathering is minimal.

The Border Collie dog appears in many different colours and colour combinations. The black and white is most familiar.  There are also blue and white, chocolate and white, red and white, blue merle and the tricolour (black, tan and white).

Because of its strong bones, the dog is able to run gracefully and have a tireless gait, changing direction and covering ground almost effortlessly. The Border Collie’s stamina and agility also allow it to remain active for long periods of time.

Sheep can be anywhere from nervous/frightened to aggressive. The ‘stealth’ referred to in the Standard is the Border Collies’ ability to ‘work’ his flock in a manner that does not disturb or distress them – a light footed, quiet movement, not drawing attention to itself until required.

Border Collie Personality traits

Border Collie Breed Profile

Photo: Dawid Sobolewski/

The ANKC says the Border Collie has an instinctive tendency to work and is readily responsive to training. It’s keen, alert and eager expression add to its intelligent appearance, whilst its loyal and faithful nature demonstrates that it is at all times kindly disposed towards the stock.

Highly energetic purpose-bred working dog, the Border Collie is eager to learn and most in its element when it has something to do. If your dog doesn’t have something to do they will make up an activity for themselves. This is usually something undesirable, like digging up the yard, but may be potentially disastrous, like herding children!

The Border Collie is known for his intense stare, or “eye,” with which he controls his flock.

Note: All dogs are individuals. While there is a great difference between dog breeds there is also a difference in temperament within breeds. Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialisation.

Care and Exercise for your Border Collie

Diet – Border Collie’s generally need 1.5 to 2 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals. However, how much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference–the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and increase your dog’s longevity.  Discuss with your veterinarian and a responsible breeder about the best diet that is appropriate for a Border Collie’s life stage from puppy to adult to senior. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

Grooming – needs weekly brushing to keep coat oils well distributed, and to prevent matting in the rough variety. More frequent brushing during shedding season is a good idea to minimize hair shed around the house. Bathe only as needed — about every four months or when he’s really dirty or smells terrible.  Their nails should be trimmed regularly to avoid overgrowth and cracking. Their ears should be checked regularly to avoid a buildup of wax and debris which can result in an infection.

Shedding – The Border Collie coat sheds seasonally and will need extra brushing at these times.

Exercise and Games – If you live in the city, you’ll need to engage his mind and high energy with training sessions or dog sports.  Spend time together going for a run or throwing a ball at the dog park.  Dogs should always be kept on a lead when in a public place.

Training your Border Collie

The Border Collie thrives on training!  Start training early using positive reinforcement dog training methods. Socialisation with gradual introductions to dogs, people, other animals and things is essential.

Dog sports are a great way for you and Border Collie to exercise and spend time together. Border Collies are capable of reaching the highest heights in Obedience, Rally O, Tracking, Endurance, Herding, Disc dog and Dances with Dogs titles.

 Common Health Issues for Border Collie

A health Border Collie has a life span of 12 – 14 years. This breed has the possibility of having three hereditary diseases:

  • Ceroid Lipofuscinosis – is not contagious, but it is fatal and cannot be treated. It affects the nervous system including the brain. Ceroid Lipofuscinosis is known as Battens Disease in Humans.
  • Collie Eye Anomaly – also known as CEA, is an inherited disease causing defects in the formation of the eye.
  • Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome (TNS) – is an immune deficiency in Border Collies. There is no cure for TNS and it appears to always be fatal eventually. Antibiotic and steroid treatment can help affected dogs live a relatively active life.

Other health issues that can be found in Border Collies are Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia.

Talk to a veterinarian about health issues for this breed.

Note: While good breeders cannot guarantee the health of their pups, they will utilise genetic testing of their breeding stock to reduce the likelihood of inherited disorders in their puppies.

Suitability of Border Collies

The Border Collie is a high energy breed suitable for active families who can provide their dog with plenty of daily mental stimulation and exercise.  The noisy play of young children can stimulate the Border Collie’s herding instinct and cause him to nip, nudge, and bark.

As it is a purpose-bred working dog, the Border Collie generally needs something to do. If you are looking for a cuddly, couch potato dog, the Border Collie is not for you.  If you don’t have a farm with sheep, dog sports are a good alternative to provide an outlet for his natural energy and mental stimulation.

The Border Collie can live indoors or outdoors – as long as you spend time with your dog!  This breed is generally not suited for apartment living and should be given regular access to the outdoors.

Never leave a puppy or adult dog alone with your young child! If you are unable to supervise, then separate your pup and child. Crate training your puppy to give him a safe and fun space to be on his own for short periods is recommended.

 Border Collie Adoption in Australia

Border Collie Rescue Australia
Working Dog Rescue

More details on Border Collies

Australian National Kennel Council
National Border Collie Council

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