Border Collie Dog

Written by:

PetMD Editorial
Published: January 20, 2009

If you are looking for the perfect companion to play beach Frisbee with, the Border Collie is for you! The Border Collie is characterized by its incredible agility, high level of energy, intelligence, obedience, and incredible sense of loyalty to his master. Its training ability and responsiveness to praise, meanwhile, are due to its eagerness to please.

Physical Characteristics  

The Border Collie is a medium-sized dog with a body that is a bit longer than it is tall. Always alert and aware of its surrounding, the Border Collie has an intelligent expression. When a Border Collie has short hair, its coat remains smooth; as it grows longer, however, the texture of the coat becomes to slightly wavy to rough.

The Border Collie dog appears in many different colors and color combinations, including solid color, bi-color, tri-color, merle, and sable. Random white patches are occasionally found scattered on the dog's body or head, but are usually clear white or ticked.

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 allows it to remain active for long periods of time.

Personality and Temperament

Highly energetic and enthusiastic, the Border Collie is intelligent, obedient, and loyal towards its master(s). Eager to learn, the Border Collie is most in its element when challenged with difficult tricks and tasks. A lack of activity, conversely, may lead to frustration in the breed.

The Border Collie often keeps its distance from strangers, displaying a guarding instinct. It also has a tendency to stare at other animals and chase them.


Although the Border Collie can live outside, it prefers be indoors, spending time with its family. The breed is generally not suited for apartment living and should be given regular access to the outdoors.

To avoid having a frustrated or ill-mannered Border Collie, provide it plenty of physical and mental exercise daily. An occasional brushing of the hair is recommended, as the Border Collie's coat may become tangled with dead hair.


This breed, which has a lifespan of 10 to 14 years, is prone to minor health problems such as seizures, progressive retinal atrophy, osteochondritis dissecans, lens luxation, hypothyroidism, patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), and Collie eye anomaly (CEA), and major ailments like canine hip dysplasia (CHD). The Border Collie may also occasionally suffer from compulsive behavior, cerebellar abiotrophy, and ceroid lipofuscinosis. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may run hip, DNA, CEA, and eye exams on this breed of dog.

History and Background

While the exact origins of the Border Collie remain unknown, it is believed the breed may have developed from various sheepdogs used to protect flocks of grazing animals along the border of England and Scotland (and thus the origin of the breed's name).

During the 1800s, various herding dogs were present in Great Britain. Among them, "fetching" dogs would organize cattle and bring them back to the shepherd by barking at the cattle or nipping at the animals in order to keep them in line.

In 1873, a sheepdog trial took place whereby Hemp, often considered the progenitor of the Border Collie, skillfully gathered the cattle in a calm manner without nipping or barking at them. The breed continued to be referred to as sheepdogs until 1915, after which they came to be known as Border Collie.

This breed gained huge popularity in the United States as a herding dog, sought after because of its proven obedience during trial shows. After much effort from Border Collie fanciers, the breed was finally recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1995.

Today, the Border Collie is loved for many of its characteristics, including its extraordinary instinct and uncanny ability to reason.