What is a Border Collie

What is a Border Collie? [is the border collie the world’s smartest dog?]

Border Collies are highly intelligent, highly active, friendly dogs that are known for their amazing ability to herd animals such as cattle and sheep. Border Collies are family-friendly pet choices that are full of energy and possess a happy disposition. 

Keep reading to see why, if you are in the market for a new pet, you may want to get a Border Collie!

what is the smartest dog breed
What is the Smartest Dog Breed?

Border Collies are Special Dogs

The Border Collie is an all-around amazing dog. They are extremely intelligent and have a great work ethic. 

They are energetic dogs that require a lot of outside time with an active family but are still happy to hunker down on your couch for a marathon of cuddles and movie time.

History of the Border Collie

The Border Collie has a rich history, full of culture and diversity. Many people have dearly loved these wonderful canine companions for centuries. 

History of the Border Collie
History of the Border Collie

Border Collie Origins

There has been quite a debate through the years as to the actual origins of this great dog. Many believe that they may trace all the way back to ancient Rome, over two thousand years ago! 

Others believe they originated in the time of the Vikings which would have been around 1200 years ago.

How Did The Border Collie Get Its Name?

The most popular belief though, is that the Border Collie dog breed originally came from Scotland, specifically in the border region between Scotland and England. 

“Collie,” is a Scotch word that was used to describe sheepdogs. So the name came from the dog’s job and their location bordering the two countries. The Border Collie.

How Did The Border Collie Get Its Name
How Did The Border Collie Get Its Name?

What was the Border Collie Bred For?

Border Collies are herding dogs specifically bred to herd sheep as their primary job. 

They are excellent at their jobs due in part to their strength, agility, intelligence, need for mental stimulation, strong work ethic, and dependability. 

Early records discuss a sheepdog trial taking place in Bala, Wales in the year 1873. 

Apparently, the crowd was amazed at the abilities of the Border Collie! These dogs can be directed with whistles and hand signals and they had the crowd on its feet cheering them on.

The Queen and the Border Collie

Queen Victoria, took a keen interest in the breed. In the 1860’s she began her love of the Border Collie and fostered their popularity.

Around the same time, the Border Collie had begun to be recognized as distinct from other Collie types.

What Does a Border Collie Look Like?

The Border Collie is defined as a medium-sized, athletic, herding dog. They are famous for the “herding eye,” and would make a fantastic farm companion. 

What Does a Border Collie Look Like
What Does a Border Collie Look Like?

Fun Border Collie fact: They are also well known for being agile and extremely balanced, making them able to perform quick maneuvers and exceed in agility, herding, and other dog sports. 

These dogs are among some of the most durable around, and for a good purpose! 

Border Collie Colors

Border Collies come in an amazing variety of colors. While Black, Red, and Black & White are the most common colorations in this breed.

Border Collie Coat Colors Include

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Blue Merle
  • Brindle
  • Gold
  • Red
  • Sable
  • Sable Merle
  • White & Black
  • White & Red
  • Red Merle
  • White & Blue Merle
  • Lilac 
  • Saddleback Sable
  • White & Red Merle
  • White Ticked

All of these color combinations are able to have every marking option. Border Collies possess a beautifully diverse range of colors.

Border Collie Characteristics

Border Collies are friendly, lively dogs who love to play and cuddle. They are best suited to an active owner who can give them a lot of physical exercise. 

Border Collie Characteristics
Border Collie Characteristics

Border Collies are notorious working dogs who desire not only the physical aspect of exercise but also mental exercise. 

Border Collies are notorious for their “Collie eye anomaly,” Where they use an intense stare for a duration of time. So don’t be offended if your Border Collie stares you down!

Border Collie Height

19 to 22 inches in male dogs, and 18 to 21 inches in female dogs

Border Collie Weight

30-35 pounds

Border Collie Average Life Expectancy

12 to 15 years

The Border Collie is not suited for families with very young children. They make a great family pet for families with children generally 12 or older. 

They are also a popular choice as excellent watchdogs, especially in relation to herd protection.

Border Collie Temperament

Border Collies are high-energy dogs that love to be on the move! If you bring a Border Collie home remember that they need lots of activity to stay happy and healthy!

Border Collie Temperament
Border Collie Temperament

They are also super friendly and playful dogs that will bring you years of entertainment and joy.

Are Border Collies Aggressive?

Well, it depends on how you define the term aggressive. Yes, Border Collies are working dogs, they are highly active dogs, and they are fast and nimble dogs, so they get around quickly.

Because they are herding dogs it is possible for them to get excited and nip at you in certain scenarios. That is just their natural herding instincts coming out and not really aggression.

Are Border Collies Easy to Train?

Yes! They are well known for being exceptionally trainable dogs who excel at almost everything that they do. 

The key to keeping a Border Collie happy is to keep them among friends and perform different tasks even as simple as playing and working beside you. 

There are many Border Collie training specialists if you wish to work with a dog trainer for advanced training or competition.

Border Collie Grooming Requirements

Border Collies naturally have what is called a double coat. This is a smooth outer overcoat and a rough undercoat.

Do Border Collies Shed?

Border Collies are typically considered medium shedders. For the main portion of the year, they don’t shed too much. It’s important to brush them two or more times per week. 

Around twice a year they will shed quite a bit, this usually happens during the fall and spring months. During this time brushing daily is recommended.

Do Border Collies Shed
Do Border Collies Shed?

Are Border Collies Good for Allergy Sufferers?

No dog is truly hypoallergenic and the Border Collie is no exception. Yes, they have fur that sheds and can cause irritation for some people so keep that in mind.

Keeping your Border Collie well-groomed is the best solution.

Do Border Collies Make Good Family Pets?

Yes, Border Collies make a great family dog. They have a great disposition and are generally very kind and loving. 

They are one of the smartest dog breeds and are overall wonderful dogs. Whether you get the right puppy for you or rescue an adult dog, you will find a great companion in a Border Collie.

How to Adopt a Border Collie

Adopting a Border Collie is a great way to give a dog a second chance and save a life. 

There are numerous dogs available, seeking loving homes in shelters all over the United States and throughout the world.

Something to Keep in Mind About Adopted Shelter Dogs

Occasionally, shelter dogs may have bad habits or scared dispositions. Especially if they were abused or abandoned. 

Make sure you talk to the shelter and be very open and honest about what you need and want in a dog, and have them help pick a dog best suited for you. 

Not every dog that is adopted will have a problem, most are amazing dogs, but you need to ensure you are prepared for potential health issues or behavioral problems if the dog has any. 

Being prepared and proactive is key when bringing home a shelter or recuse dog! 

How to Choose a Good Border Collie Breeder

When finding a breeder your number one priority is choosing someone that is a well-established and reputable breeder. 

A responsible breeder will perform DNA testing and check for other genetic conditions in their stud and bitch dogs prior to breeding, ensuring the puppies grow up to be healthy dogs.

To find a good breeder you can always reference the American Kennel Club for more information and FAQs provided by the AKC.

How to Feed a Border Collie

Feeding your Border Collie high-quality, high-energy dog-friendly food will help to ensure that unnecessary health conditions are kept at bay. 

Border Collies have an active lifestyle throughout their entire lives, and should be fed accordingly. 

Always consult your local veterinarian about your dog’s diet and appropriate foods for them.

Border Collie Diet Suggestions

A balanced diet is essential for Border Collies, especially if they are working herd dogs.

Some say a raw diet is the best option for herding dogs. Try giving raw meat, vegetables, meaty bones, fish, and eggs. 

Something to be aware of is that most Border Collies are allergic to grain, be sure to check commercial food products for any grain/ gluten products. 

Supplements like fish oil or kelp will add extra nutrition to your dog’s diet.

Veggies Ideas for Your Border Collie

  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans
  • Yams
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Spinach

Vegetables You Should Not Feed Your Border Collie

  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Tomato
  • Stone fruits
  • Avocado

For a complete guide on feeding your Border Collie at every stage of life check out Elkana Border Collies’ complete feeding guide.

Border Collie Health Issues

While every dog will be susceptible to certain diseases, illnesses, and lamenesses, especially during the aging process here is a list of the common issues that affect Border Collies:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Arthritis
  • Epilepsy
  • Vestibular Syndrome
  • Urinary Incontinence with aging
  • Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis
  • Neutrophil Syndrome

What is Border Collie Collapse?

Border Collie Collapse (BCC) is a serious nervous system disorder that happens after the dog exercises for around five to 15 minutes at a strenuous level.

BCC can happen while they are working or even just at play chasing a ball or frisbee. This disease is sometimes referred to as an exercise-induced collapse.

Symptoms of Border Collie Collapse Include

  • Disorientation
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of focus on the task at hand
  • Staggering or even falling over
  • An exaggerated gait or walk where they lift their legs in a strange manner
  • Crossing of the legs
  • Roughly dragging their front or rear legs

There is no cure for this disorder and episodes can last from five to 25 minutes or so. 

Is Border Collie Collapse Inherited?

Good breeders will give their breeding stock a DNA test for this gene and then not breed a dog who may be a genetic carrier.

Border Collie Names

If you have a new Border Collie at home you need a great name for it! Here are some of the most popular Border Collie names to choose from.

  • Sassie

Border Collie Information Resources

Related Border Collie Questions

Who was Old Hemp?

Old Hemp was a stud dog who is considered the “father of the Border Collie.” Owned, bred, and trained by Adam Telfer in the late 1800s. 

Old Hemp was considered different than other sheepdogs of his time due to his strong herding instinct and quiet working disposition. 

This quiet work style was liked and adopted by many other farmers at the time, giving birth to the basic commands and training techniques used in modern times.

Are Border Collies the Smartest Dog Breed?

That is a great question! If you have ever seen a Border Collie in action, herding sheep or cattle it is literally amazing what they can do.

Their display of skill and cunning in getting the herd where they need to be is truly a sight to see! 

Border collies also seem to have an innate sense of how to understand human commands and communicate with them.

When you watch a Border Collie perform you think they must be the smartest dogs in the world!

Well, according to The Intelligence of Dogs rankings (an organization that ranks how smart dogs are), the Border Collie is, in fact, the smartest dog on Earth!

Are Border Collies good travel companions?

Border Collies may take between one and three months to fully settle into their new home. They tend to enjoy going places with their owners and seeing new sights. 

Make sure to keep your dog on a leash before you take them anywhere in case they get scared or catch onto a scent they really like. This is important for the safety of your dog.

Do Border Collies enjoy other dogs and going to dog parks?

The answer to this question will largely rely on the dog and how well you socialize the dog in question. 

Border Collies have a tendency to enjoy playing with other dogs when they are younger.

However, once they start maturing or aging, they tend to prefer only a select few dogs to get along with or some just enjoy being by themselves most of the time. 

With proper socialization, the chances of your Border Collie being friendly with other dogs will greatly increase. 

Each dog is unique and has its own style and personality. 

You will need to get to know your Border Collies personality to figure out if taking them to social interactions such as a dog park is a good idea. 

Is a Border Collie a Scottish Collie?

No, Border Collies are their own breed and different even though they share a lot of similar traits with a Scottish Sheepdog.

People sometimes think they are the same because they both come from Scotland and both are collies. 

While both are sheepdogs the Border Collies gets its name from originating along the border of Scotland and England.

What are the Sheepdog Trials?

The sheepdog trials are a prestigious competition that tests the working abilities of different herding dogs. It is classified as a sport and originated in New Zealand in the late 1800s. 

By the time the 1870s came around, there were trials being performed and held in many countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom. 

In these trials, the dog performs skills and herd management tactics that are then judged by a set of judges. 

There are a plethora of organizations that are involved in these events. The competitions are traditionally held with sheep, but other animals may be used such as Ducks, Cows, or Goats.

How do Border Collies handle loud noises?

Most Border Collies are sensitive dogs, especially when it comes to loud noises. Loud noises Border Collies are especially susceptible to are:

  • Thunder and lightning (keep your dogs inside if possible during storms.)
  • Fireworks

Border Collies in particular are so sensitive in part due to their nature of having an inherent need to watch over a flock of animals and receive quiet and subtle commands. 

With loud noises or too much stimulation, they can become fearful or frenzied. 

Did the Famous Movie Actor, James Dean, Have a Border Collie?

Well, there is some debate as to if the Border Collie was Dean’s or his uncle’s but yes, James Dean had a Border Collie appear in several personal photos of him at a farm.

The Border Collie was named Tuck and became a bit famous because of the photos after Dean’s death in a car accident at the age of 24. Some say Dean loved animals stating, “They can’t boo me.”

Border Collies are Wonderful Pets

The Border Collie is a great dog! Any family or person would be lucky to have one in their home.

They are also a great fit for farmers or people who have lots of land or just love being outdoors and active. 

With their high energy levels, loveable attitudes, and the smarts to match everything else, they can become the perfect lifelong, loving companion. 

Whether you get a puppy from a breeder or a rescue dog, Border Collies are sure to please. They are memorable dogs who have appeared in movies, books, and many children’s dreams. 

I hope this article has been helpful in your search for a new dog friend!

what is a border collie

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