Also known as Borders, the Border Collie is renowned as the most intelligent breed in the canine world. This hardworking, athletic, and energetic dog is a shepherd’s dream!
How does the Border Collie snag the #1 spot as the smartest dog, and why are they such a dynamo?
Keep reading to find out if this Collie is the right sheepdog for you.
The Origin: Where do Border Collies come from?
When the Roman Empire occupied Britain, every aspect of British life was greatly influenced, which includes dog breeding. Then, Viking raiders took their turn in invading the country.
The invaders herding dogs were crossed together. Mixing the Romans’ herders and the Viking’s spitz-type dogs resulted in an agile, compact breed, the Border Collie.
The term Collie itself describes sheepdogs in the Scottish dialect. Borders were initially called the Scotch Sheepdog (very different from the Scotch Collie). But this breed got its name from the location where it was developed – Anglo Scottish border.
Border Collie Clubs and Organizations
In 1995, the purebred Border Collie became a part of the AKC Herding Group. And since 1996, the Border Collie Society of America (BCSA) has been the official parent club of the breed.
In the UK, they have two different registries for Borders. The first one (and older of the two) is the International Sheepdog Society (ISDS), where members are encouraged to breed their Border Collies for herding ability.
The second group is The Kennel Club (KC), where breeding is encouraged to keep up a standardized appearance.
ISDS dogs are eligible to register as pedigree Borders with the Kennel Club, but not vice versa.
What does a Border Collie look like?
Overall, Borders are muscular, nimble workers. They’re known for their intense gaze (or the “eye”). Those peepers that show an intelligent expression can vary in color.
Kennel clubs have specifics for the Border Collie breed. They have breed standards where the preferred eye color is brown, but it can vary. Some even have eyes with a different color than the other, which is usually common in merles.
The ears of the Border Collie can be fully erect or fully-dropped. Some have semi-erect ears like those of a Rough Collie, also known as Long-haired Collie.
Border Collies are medium-sized herders where males have a height of 19 to 22 inches (48 to 56 cm) and a weight of 30 to 45 pounds (14 to 20 kg). The females stand 18 to 21 inches tall (46 to 53 cm) and weigh 30 to 42 lbs. (14 to 19 kg).
Just because this breed isn’t a large dog, doesn’t mean it’s okay to live in crowded homes such as a small apartment.
With the Border Collie’s need for a lot of physical and mental stimulation, it’s more suitable to live in a house that has a spacious, fenced yard. But it’s way better if they stay in a place where they get to do what they love, herding and chasing in a ranch or country farm.
If you’re interested in getting this breed to a dog show, Border Collies who have broken teeth and scars that they got from work will not be counted against the dog. It’s a way of showing respect to the canine’s line of duty.
Border Collie’s coat and color
This breed boasts two types of coats. The first one is the rough coat that is medium in length, and you’ll find feathering in the Border’s chest, belly, and legs.
The short- and smooth-haired Border Collie has a coarser coat and has less feathering.
Both types are double coats where the outer coat is coarse, while the undercoat is soft. For colors, Border Collies are commonly found in black with a marking of white on the face and neck, as well as the legs, feet, and the tip of the tail.
The good thing is, this breed’s double coat is water-resistant and doesn’t require a lot of effort when it comes to grooming. Bathing can be done every four months or when needed, and you only have to brush its hair weekly.
Since Border Collie’s aren’t hypoallergenic, it’s best to brush its coat daily to minimize hair inside your house and on the furniture during the shedding season.
The Border Collie’s temperament and traits
This breed is impressive as it can do a lot of work for their owners, but as with any dog, there are pros and cons.
Let’s discuss first the achievements that this breed has done and can do with the right paw parent or handler.
The Border Collie is the smartest of them all!
Borders are the type of pooch that has a working drive, stamina, and unlimited energy. These characteristics make this breed the premier herder.
In fact, being highly active make Border Collies happy. Although they’re used in herding all over the world, they amazingly perform in different canine sports, too! This breed excels in agility, tracking, and obedience competitions, flying disc, and flyball.
The Border Collie is also very responsive. They’re sensitive to their owner’s most subtle commands or cues such as a raised eyebrow, nod, hand signal, or whistle.
This breed doesn’t just herd sheep. Here’s a video of a Border Collie named Shiner, who uses the Collie walk or crouch and stare to herd chickens. You’d also notice how quickly the dog responds to its owner’s signals:
But enough about work, what else can Borders do? Their brains and adaptability make them good sniffers or search and rescue dogs. Not only are they sensitive, add their gentleness, and it’s no wonder that they’re often employed as therapy dogs in hospitals and homes for the elderly.
Are Border Collies good family dogs?
You bet! As with any canine, proper training from puppyhood will help them behave around different people and the environment. That includes supervision.
With the Border Collie’s work origin, they tend to herd anything that moves – people on bikes, cars, other animals such as squirrels, cats, smaller dogs, like English Cream Dachshunds, and of course, kids.
Although this breed doesn’t normally like to roam, keep your dog and the others safe with a securely fenced yard. Make it high enough to avoid his intelligence and curiosity conjure up the escape artist within!
Expect a Border Collie to be faithful among its family and friends, but with strangers, they can either be shy or protective.
Either way, you can prevent that with proper socialization.
Avoid negative behaviors that may develop from being ignored, isolated, or inactive by spending at least two hours of daily activities to satisfy the Border Collie’s high energy levels.
Aside from the usual walks or run, don’t hesitate to step it up by bringing him along to do errands or playing a game of catch using a ball or a disc.
You can take a Border Collie’s barking as a sign. Since they’re intelligent, their bark is a way to tell you what they see. It’s also his reaction if he’s not being challenged and is starting to get bored.
How to take care of a Border Collie?
It’s easy to care for Borders since they’re not high maintenance, except for the mental and physical stimulation they require. But aside from grooming their hair and exercise, overall cleanliness and health shouldn’t be neglected.
Don’t forget to brush your Border’s teeth at least 2-3 times a week, trim his nails monthly, and a weekly check of his ears to make sure there’s no infection.
A diet suited for Border Collies
This breed isn’t picky when it comes to food. Whether it’s dry kibbles or home-made, as long as your veterinarian-approved it and it’s appropriate for the age of your dog, then that’s fine.
Generally, 1 ½ to 2 cups of high-quality dry food is the recommended daily amount for Border Collies. But how much you feed your pet should depend, not only on his age but also on activity level and size.
Some canines can easily get overweight, so it’s best to keep an eye on their weight level and calorie consumption. That includes treats!
Health concerns related to the Border Collie
Overall, Border Collies are healthy, but all breeds are susceptible to some health issues. Remember, not all Borders will get these illnesses. You just have to be aware of them if you just bought this breed or you’re still planning to get one.
Some of the diseases found in Border Collies are hip and elbow dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), and epilepsy. There’s also Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA), which usually happens when the dog is about two years old, and Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD).
A Border Collie can also have three types of allergies: food, contract, and inhalant. They’re easily treated by eliminating an ingredient from their diet, changing anything topical such as shampoo and flea powders, and the last one is keeping your dog away from airborne allergens such as dust, pollens, and mildew.
With proper grooming, a balanced diet, and a healthy lifestyle, Border Collies can have a lifespan of 10 to 14 years.
How to get your own Border Collie?
Always make sure that you’re dealing with a reputable breeder. Find one that shows you health clearances of the parents and litter, and allows you to visit the dogs and where they grew up.
For all those considering this breed, here are some breeders and rescues to start your search.
Border Collie Breeders
We have an article that includes a list of Border Collie breeders in the US, Canada, and the UK. You just have to ensure that the sellers you choose are screened and that they follow the code of ethics when it comes to this breed.
Find Border Collie puppies for sale near you and other locations, such as California, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
It also includes a list of a few websites of marketplaces to give you more options to choose a BC puppy.
Border Collie Rescue and Adoption
Open your heart to welcoming an older dog as well. There are Borders who are looking for new homes and still have so much love and work to offer anyone who’s willing to adopt them.
The BCSA also has a list of Rescue Group Contacts all over the US. Here are other Border Collie rescue and adoption sites worth checking out:
Some of them also have puppies, so you’d be able to save a few bucks while also saving an innocent dog’s life.
Also read: 150+ Border Collie names
Border Collie mixes
It’s no wonder that the Border Collie will be used to cross with other dog breeds. With their outstanding characteristics and personality, these are some of the mixes that are definitely impressive and loveable!
Here are five hybrids that have the fantastic traits of the Border Collie and more!
Border Aussie (Border Collie and Australian Shepherd mix)
This breed is a medium-sized dog that resulted from crossbreeding the Australian Shepherd with the Border Collie, but it has more resemblance to the Border. It has a height of 17 to 23 inches (43 to 58 cm) and a weight of 30 to 75 pounds (14 to 34 kg).
Border Aussies have a coat like the Collies, too, but the texture is more of the Australian Shepherd’s hair. But they can inherit the coat colors and patterns of one or both parents.
The Border Collie and Australian Shepherd mix is also prone to heterochromia, where one eye can have a different color from the other. Usually, their striking eyes are either green, blue, or brown.
Like their herding parents, this breed is highly intelligent and very trainable. In fact, they’re quite popular because of how easily they master obedience training, agility, as well as tracking abilities.
Borders and Aussies have high energy levels, so expect an exuberant designer breed. 2 hours of vigorous exercise a day will be sufficient, but you have to be creative in keeping your dog happily occupied.
Aside from that, they love pleasing their human family, and they’re a great companion, has a calm temperament and quiet.
Avoid separation anxiety by avoiding leaving your Border Aussie alone for long periods in a day.
If healthy and is well taken care of, this crossbreed has a life expectancy of 13 to 15 years.
Also read: Australian Shepherd vs Border Collie
Border Jack (Border Collie and Jack Russell Terrier mix)
Mixing a Jack Russell with Borders creates a fox-looking designer dog that is playful, courageous, energetic, and loyal.
Border Jacks are medium-sized canines that have a strong, compact build. They have a height of 16 to 22 inches (41 to 56 cm) and can be as heavy as 32 lbs (15 kg).
They have a small head, floppy ears, almond-shaped eyes, and a strong muzzle. If you have allergies, it’s essential to know that this hybrid is a shedder.
Border Terriers are bred to work but are also proficient in dog sports such as agility and flyball.
They also got their parents’ intense eye contact that’s very useful in herding. They’re another pooch to consider if you’re looking for a family companion as they do well with children of all ages.
With all that energy, this breed can be rambunctious, so don’t leave it alone with little kids. With proper diet and exercise, Jack Russell-Collies can live up to 15 years.
Borderdoodle (Border Collie and Poodle mix)
Doodle lovers rejoice! This breed is a cross between the top 1 and 2 of the smartest dogs list!
The Border Collie and Poodle mix is like their parents – highly intelligent and active, a great companion, and very friendly.
Although Poodles are said to be hypoallergenic, Borders are seasonal shedders. So there is no guarantee that Borderpoos are allergy-friendly.
Borderdoodles can either have the straight, double coat hair of the Border Collie or the curly fur of the Poodle.
They can grow up to 22 inches (56 cm) high and has a weight of 30 to 60 pounds (14 to 27 kg).
Also known as Borpoo or Bordoodle, this breed is an affectionate and protective canine that’s suited for new and experienced dog owners alike. As long as you can provide at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, then any home will do. You’ll also get to enjoy 12 to 15 years of living with this hybrid to make amazing and exciting memories.
Borador (Border Collie and Labrador mix)
The Labrador is a very lovable breed. It complements the intelligence and sensitivity of the Border Collie to make the ultimate family dog, which makes this hybrid a must-have.
Boradors just need a spacious indoor and outdoor space as they are a medium to large-sized breed. They can grow up to 25 inches (64 cm) in height and 45 lbs (20 kg) in weight.
Their coat is short and coarse, but very glossy. Having this pet means having an owner who’s active and can provide a creative outlet to exercise the dog for 45 to 60 minutes a day.
Inherited by the Border Collie and Labrador parents, the Borador is also intelligent and task-oriented.
They can easily be trained with minimal repetition and serves in different fields such as competitions, police work, and as service dogs.
Having a Borador in the family means happiness for everyone. This pooch is commonly described as “a naturally happy breed.” They’re playful, sweet, and always eager to please. Plus, they don’t tend to show aggression and bark!
The Border and Labrador cross has a lifespan of 14 to 15 years that they’ll get to spend with you.
Borderland (Border Collie and Shetland Sheepdog mix)
This small to medium-sized, long-haired dog came from crossing the Border Collie with a Sheltie. Borderlands have a height of 16 to 22 inches (41 to 56 cm) and a weight of 25 to 42 lbs (11 to 19 kg).
Border-Sheepdog cross is a fluffy dog and relatively new to the canine world. They have tall, fringed ears, and eyes that can be dark or light brown.
Of course, the intimidating stare that’s a famous skill Borders have. It’s rare for a Border Sheepdog to have blue eyes, but if they do, there’s a possibility that the dog is deaf in one or both ears.
The Borderland has a soft, long coat and has a variety of colors that they can inherit from their parents. And speaking of the Border Collie and Shetland Sheepdog, their offspring also excels as a herder, a companion, and a show dog.
Whether you’re interested in this crossbreed, address and curb the Shetland Collie’s herding nature.
They’re suited for a home where they have room to run whenever they’re outdoors, and if that’s not enough, make sure your Borderland gets at least 1 hr and 30 mins of daily exercise. Keeping him in tip-top shape and he can live up to 17 years!
There are many more Border Collie crossbreeds that you can find on our list here.
Why should you get a Border Collie?
Exceptionally bright, sensitive, athletic, and workaholic – the Border is a breed that active owners would definitely love having around!
So if you like being up and about, then the Border Collie is the number one breed you should consider. The only time they’ll settle down is if they know that all their work is done. They’d need a paw parent who’d be able to give the exercise they need for their mind and body.
With a proper outlet for such an intelligent and energetic dog, you won’t have any problem with regard to behavioral issues.
And since you have to know what you’re getting into, Borders have their own quirks. A canine this smart can be too independent and strong-minded.
Don’t just stick with puppy classes and a daily run, find a way to often introduce your Border Collie to different people, animals, and environment.
What can you say about the smartest canine in the world? Tell us about your amazing Border Collie dog by commenting below!
Cess is a seasoned dog enthusiast and expert in the field of canine care. With over 5 years of experience in the Pet Industry, she is a go-to resource for dog owners seeking expert guidance.
As the Head of Content Writing at Border Collie Health, Cess shares her extensive knowledge through informative articles and practical tips. Beyond her professional role, she actively volunteers at local shelters and enjoys participating in dog-related events.