Known for their unparalleled intelligence, Border Collies are one of the most sophisticated and trainable dog breeds. Best suited for active owners, these dogs make for loyal, loving, and highly trainable family companions.
Some dogs prefer lives of leisure, spending their days sleeping, cuddling, and forever lying on laps. Others, like the golden retriever, are fairly active but can be entertained in a pinch with a toy or a quick walk around the block. And then there’s the Border Collie. This breed is task-oriented, boiling over with energy, and always on the hunt for new activities.
Border collies—similar in demeanor to Australian Shepherds—were originally bred to work on farms herding sheep. It’s therefore no surprise this breed is happiest with ample space to run and something important to do. These highly athletic dogs thrive in open fields which offer them the freedom to roam, play, and explore to their heart’s content.
If you don’t happen to live on a sprawling cattle farm, however, don’t fret. Border Collies will be just as happy with a decent backyard or a good run around the neighborhood. Plus, their loving, affectionate nature makes them ideal family companions. It’s no wonder they’ve become the 35th most popular AKC dog breed. 
Given their energetic and task-oriented nature, Border Collies are well suited for active and athletic families. Folks looking to adopt one of these exuberant pups will want to have access to either a backyard or a nearby park for regular exercise.
City-dwellers dead-set on adopting a Border Collie should prioritize regular runs and trips to the park; this breed requires at least 2-3 hours of daily exercise. Finding ways to exercise a city dog requires some creativity. Dog sports are a great way to give your pup a good run without exhausting yourself in the process. Triebball, for example, can be played within the confines of a smaller dog run. Flyball and Disc Dog are also ideal games for herding breeds.
Owners with busier lifestyles might consider hiring a reliable dog walker, or enrolling in a reputable doggy-daycare (just be sure to do adequate research beforehand). Adequate exercise is key to preventing destructive behaviors and keeping your Border Collie happy and healthy.
Border Collies are highly intelligent; they practically exude confidence and esteem. With the right amount of time, energy and dedication, they will quickly grow into well-trained, highly-skilled animals capable of performing complex tricks. This impressive intellect, combined with their energetic nature, makes the Border Collie ideal breed for agility-based competitions.
Busier families should think carefully before adopting a Border Collie. The breed’s insatiable appetite for stimulation has its downsides. Under-stimulated Border Collies will channel their unspent energy into destructive activities, such as digging, chewing, and barking. In fact, when left with nothing to do, herding breeds are famous for “finding their own tasks.” An aimless Border Collie, for example, might decide to be the family watchdog. He’ll plant himself by the window to bark at every person, pet, car, or bike that happens by. This can create a chaotic home environment. Aspiring Collie owners should thus be prepared to shower their pup with loads of love, attention and exercise.
Build and Appearance
Border Collies are sizeable, trim, and athletic. Their medium-large dogs, and typically grow to be 30-55 lbs. This eye-catching breed sports a medium to long coat, which can range in texture from coarse to shiny-smooth. Typical Collie fur is composed of two thick layers, which provide water-resistant insulation to keep dogs warm throughout the winter.
Unfortunately, such thick, long fur has its downsides. Like most long-haired breeds, Border Collies shed relatively frequently. Owners can mitigate excessive shedding with regular brushing, which proactively removes excess hair so it doesn’t fall throughout the day.
Families looking to adopt a Border Collie should be prepared to brush their pup on a regular basis, potentially as often as 1-2 times per week. There are many de-shedding tools on the market that can help expedite this process, though it’s impossible to eliminate shedding entirely. Those with allergies might want to opt for shorter-haired breeds, as shedding can trigger allergic reactions.
Compatibility with Children
Border Collies are wonderful dogs overflowing with love and loyalty. That said, they can be a mixed bag with younger children. While the breed is typically gentle and affectionate, herding breeds often attempt to herd young children, who run and behave unpredictably. Unfortunately, herding can sometimes involve nipping—although this is rare for Border Collies, who chase more than they nip. Still, no matter how rare, nipping can be dangerous for kids. Families with young, energetic children should thus consider setting their sights on non-herding breeds. Alternatively, specific training techniques can help reduce herding behavior. Keeping your dog busy will also help redirect their unspent energy, and will indirectly reduce herding behavior.
If you do have young children and have your heart set on adopting a Border Collie, don’t be discouraged. Every dog is different. During the process of adopting a new dog, it’s always a good idea to feel out the situation and do what feels best for your family. Regardless of breed, families should always spend ample time with a potential new dog in a natural setting before making a long term commitment. Pre-adoption visits are useful because they allow owners to directly observe how a dog interacts with their loved ones. Spending time with a dog prior to adopting ensures the dog is a good fit for your family.
Border Collies have a typical life expectancy of 12-15 years. Health conditions most commonly associated with this breed include Epilepsy, Hearing Loss, Hip and Elbow Dysplasia, and Collie Eye Anomaly. Regular exercise and a balanced diet will also help ward off obesity, which can be an issue especially for breeds that require lots of exercise. Taking your dog to the vet regularly is vital to keeping them healthy. Regular visits will allow you to catch potential health issues as early as possible.
Getting a new dog is no easy task. We hope this article helped. Check out some of our other articles like The best small dogs for families.