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If you're looking for a clever canine, Border Collies might be the cleverest of them all. These four-legged eggheads have been deemed the smartest dogs in the game. The “border” in their name reflects their heritage: these pups were originally bred to herd sheep in the region between Scotland and England.
Border Collies are no ordinary herders though: they intimidate their charges with a soul-piercing glare to show they're the boss. Built to maneuver close to the ground, these dogs are fast and can run all day.
This medium-sized and high-energy breed can grow to between 27-45 pounds and live an average of 10-17 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Herding group.
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Herding
Origin: Great Britain
Breed Group: Herding
Average Lifespan: 10-17 years
Bark Factor: Moderate
Energy level A marathoner
Exercise needs An hour or more a day
Playfullness and Games All day, every day
Attachment to People Give me some love when you get home, maybe we'll snuggle later
Behavior with Other Dogs Ok with early socialization and consistent training.
Behavior with Other Small Pets I'll probably want to chase or will be shy
Behavior Toward Strangers I'm a single-family or person dog at heart
Trainability I'll probably make you work at it
Watchdog ability I know all that's going on, all the time
Protection ability I can be somewhat protective
Grooming needs Regular brushing, probably professional grooming
Cold tolerance I'll probably need a jacket in the cold
Heat tolerance A warm day can be fun, but not too hot please.
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS A BORDER COLLIE'S PERSONALITY LIKE?
With enough mental and physical exercise, the Border Collie is a fantastic family dog. They will never get tired of playing with you or your children, and they can be cuddly. Like many larger breeds, the Border Collie does better with older or supervised children. They are sometimes suspicious of strangers, but are usually good with other dogs and family pets.
WHAT IS BORDER COLLIE BEHAVIOR LIKE?
Border Collies need jobs and space to stretch their legs — a daily walk around the block won't cut it. Border Collies are driven, focused dogs. They are vigilant and somewhat protective. They can be somewhat prone to barking. Plan for rigorous daily exercise, preferably in a safe, traffic-free area with tons of space for your busy-bodied canine companion to get her ya-yas out.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN A BORDER COLLIE?
Border Collies are very smart, very motivated, very biddable, and capable of laser-like focus. They were bred to perform complicated tasks, working both with human partners and on their own. But—as with many smart breeds—if you don't continue to challenge them, they can get bored and destructive.
Start early and be patient and consistent while training your furry friend. Be sure to curb herding instincts, especially nipping, while your Border Collie is young. Reward them with praise, food, and games.
This breed excels in dog sports, especially herding, agility, and obedience.
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO BORDER COLLIES SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
Border Collies are double coated. Their coats can be either short and smooth or medium-to-long and rough. Their hair may be slightly wavy or flat. Border Collies have several different types of coats that are fairly easy to maintain. Plan on brushings at least once a week to keep their hair healthy and free of mats and debris. They are seasonal shedders.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO BORDER COLLIES HAVE?
Most Border Collies are healthy dogs. They can experience eye ailments and hip dysplasia, but in general, they are a robust breed. Responsible Border Collie breeders are careful never to breed two merle-colored Border Collies together, as their offspring may be blind and/or deaf.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE BORDER COLLIES GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club doesn't list Border Collies among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers.
You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and allergy-aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, so they produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog like a Border Collie! Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.
WHAT'S A BORDER COLLIE'S BEST DAY?
A day spent outside running in a pasture or field with you lovingly encouraging their exuberance would be a dream for these pups.
SHOULD I ADOPT A BORDER COLLIE?
This is not a starter-dog. If you lack experience in keeping up with a smart and active breed, the Border Collie might be overwhelming for you. Their size, intelligence, and energy make them less than ideal apartment dogs. Border Collies are at their best in rural environments, with lots of space to run around and around and around and around…
They are equally tolerant of warm and cool weather. The key to raising a happy, healthy Border Collie is making sure you have the time and space to let them work, play, and use those big, beautiful brains.
Have you decided that a Border Collie is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.