Border Collie


Experienced Member
The Border Collie is a breed that is universally renowned for its intelligence, its stamina, and its ability to herd sheep. While once maintained predominantly as farm working dogs, the Border Collie has seen a recent boost in popularity as a family pet, thanks, in no small part I suggest, to the sheer number of agility titles that this breed takes home.

Many Border Collie 'purists' still frown heavily on owning a Border Collie as a family dog, citing the old phrase, 'no sheep, no Border Collie', referring to the unsuitability of people who are just looking for an intelligent dog.

Make no mistake, the Border Collie is a high energy and high stamina breed. It is not for the couch-potato dog owner. In order to successfully own a trouble-free Border Collie as a pet, you MUST be prepared to help the dog spend its mental and physical energy each and every day. Ideally, you will exercise your Border Collie in such a way that it spends both mental and physical energy at the same time. Whereas a walk might burn off some physical energy, far better is to practise trick training, obedience training, Frisbee, or other activity where the dog is allowed to use its intelligence as well as its energy.

Please note that the Border Collie is not particularly good at moderating its own energy levels, and will often spend more energy than is healthy when engaged in activity, unless moderated by the handler. You must be able to recognise when the dog is tired and encourage rest, as the dog may not do so on its own.

I can't emphasise enough, if you are not an active type of person, do not get a Border Collie. You would both drive each other to despair.

Because of the supreme intelligence and energy of the breed, the real problems start when it is allowed to become bored. At which point, it will use that intelligence in ways which you couldn't have even begun to imagine, and it might not be in a positive way. You let the Border Collie become bored, at your peril!

The Border Collie has a biddable nature which responds very well to consistent and fair training. It is not a breed which I would recommend for the classic approach to training, where a more coercive and physical approach is often taken. This is because the breed can be quite weak of nerve, particularly the bitch. Trying to 'break' such a trait will simply serve to force the Border Collie to shut-down.

With a fair and patient approach to training however, the Border Collie is a quick learner and has a long memory for the skills learned. It has been recorded, for example, that Rico, a Border Collie.

Many Border Collie owners have noted that it is best not to take a harsh tone on the breed when it fails, as they can be prone to 'sulking' and really do seem to get quite miserable when they detect that they have failed. (No, stop your laughing please, it does seem to happen.) Your best bet is to just forget the failures and move on to something else very quickly, where the dog might be more successful. Wait until it 'cheers up' a little and then return to the previous exercise.

The Border Collie is a very affectionate breed which loves to receive physical praise and cuddles on the couch. Though it is not overly 'clingy' to the point where it needs to follow you from room to room.

It is not an overly vocal dog, unless excited, such as when spectating at agility shows. It is this combination of excitement and frustration which seems to bring out the worst of the Border Collie, in terms of vocalisation. Around the home, however, it is happy to issue a bark at strange noises, and be happy with that.

Any potential Border Collie owner must be prepared to either accept or work with the natural traits of the breed. Being a natural herding dog, it can be quite prone to nipping at moving objects, and this can include the ankles of your young children. It is for this sole reason that I would not recommend a Border Collie to families with young children. It is also quite common to hear of Border Collies which like to chase the tyres on moving cars. Again, if you take the time to work with your dog regularly, you will find that it is more focused on you, and so much of these potential problem behaviours can be avoided.

One rather unique trait of the Border Collie is the intense stare. This is used when herding and to us humans, it can be very expressive indeed. Like no other breed I know, whenever I look into the eyes of a Border Collie, I feel something that, to this day, I've not managed to describe adequately. This stare can however, if not diverted, lead to problem habits, such as chasing houseflies around the home, or birds around the garden. I find it better just to interrupt the behaviour as soon as it's noticed, with a short game of tug.

Overall, I am not as alarmist about people owning the Border Collie as a family pet, as others might be. For the right type of family, with the right type of lifestyle, I think they make perfect pets that will never be too tired to join you on that morning run, will always be ready for some affection, will more than reward any work that you put into them ten-fold, and will always be ready to learn a new skill or trick. You just can't help but feel eternally young and exceptionally fit when you own a Border Collie.

Important Reminders

- Requires frequent attention and energy expenditure
- Will cause problems quickly if allowed to get bored
- Likely to be unsuitable for coercive training methods
- Can be prone to nipping moving targets unless controlled

Jean Cote

Staff member
What I like about my Border Collie:

  • I can bring out a toy at any time of the day and she will play with me.
  • She will play until I get tired.
  • She retrieves until my arm gets tired.
  • She catches freesbes in the air.
  • She picks up on training very fast.
  • She descriminate between words very easily.
  • She is a SUCK, a very timid dog but extremely friendly.
  • She does not bark, unless there is a need to. (ie, intruder)
  • Likes to be groomed.
  • I don't need a leash to walk her. (I do however in busy streets)
  • She plays very well with other dogs.
  • Does not dig.
What I don't like about my Border Collie:

  • I have to watch my tone of voice, if I'm angry she'll stop and go hide somewhere.
  • Will chew the fur off my tennis balls.
  • Shy in trying new behaviors.
That is all I can think of right now, I'll probably edit this post and add some as I think of more things!!!! :dogrolleyes:


Experienced Member
I have to watch my tone of voice, if I'm angry she'll stop and go hide somewhere.
And make you feel soooo cruel, even though you haven't done anything! :) Sometimes, I only have to say my usual "ah-ah" too sharply, and her ears are back. What a wuss! :)


Honored Member
Staff member
Lol, Mud's a wuss too. And you mentioned the eyes...oh the eyes!!! Lol. Her eyes are so........geez, unlike any other dog. She has so much personality in her eyes alone, much less the rest of her. ^^ She is so expressive and enthusiastic. She's so fun to train. You can just the wheels turning when you first start working on something new. She'll contemplate it, then try something, and when you reward her it's like it clicks immediately. The second time she'll do it again, and then her eyes seem to light up and she's proud of herself for getting it. So then she'll just keep trying harder to please me, and it never takes long for her to master it. True to her breed, she loves using her mind. I think she loves training better than anything else, really. She listens so well...she aims to please. ^^
One thing I love about her is that she is so forgiving. We adopted her, and she had lived in a junkyard all her life(3 years at the time). She was underweight, covered in ticks, and had no socialization to my knowledge. Other than some serious food aggression that we had to work on, she's been excellent. She loves grooming every bit as much as she loves getting filthy. She's on the smaller side for a border collie, but despite her size she's like a bull in a china grace at all. Lol.


New Member
I've got a border collie too, and they are awesome =) but I must agree, she behaves like a kid when I don't watch my tone of voice, she gets all sulky and depressed. Though, she is the most amazing dog I've ever had...She learned how to sit,shake and lay down by watching me training my aunt's dog. She will just sit and watch, with those amazing big eyes, trying to catch every detail.

My one problem with her is the recall, she sometimes rushes outside when I open the gate and wont come back. She goes to a small park near my house and runs and tries to make me play with her, she is impossible to catch. If anyone has any tips with the recall, I'd be -very- thankful.


Honored Member
Staff member
Funny that you mention that; my Border Collie/Blue Heeler is a sight-learner too. If she knows "come" or to come to her name, I would work at close distances and then slowly increase it in small increments. If she doesn't, DTA has a lesson on this.

I would also teach her the command "wait" to help her respect the gate and not want to rush out of it.


New Member
dakota is a wuss also he will tuck his tail and lowers his ears if i give him a too sharp "ah ah" also and he is so hard to get to try new things. i think he hates to be confused but once he gets it the first time he has it, and it is like the light goes on in his eyes and he gets so excited its like he is so proude of him self.
I also love the way he will lay in "his spot" while i am out by my horses he dosent move i can be out there for hour and he is more than happy to stay there until i we go back in side. this has also become his chicken hunting spot it is so funny he thinks that my chickens are his and it is his job to keep my neighbors out of my yard . He knows which ones are mine he will run around them to get the others and he will even lay with mine.


New Member
My parents have a BC (not pedigree, has some german shepard in him too). He once ran home 5 km's because I yelled at him. And because they're so smart he knows when I'm leaving when I say: "no Buck, you'll stay here" and then he''ll growl at me when I pet him. He's great though and beautiful too with a wider chest than the real BC:



New Member
Greetings All!
This is such a neat site. :) I'm a border collie/chow mom. First dog I've had since I was a little girl, and I adore her. She is very bright, with a wicked sense of humor and a great companion. When she was a pup, she'd try to herd my cats into the living room. She stopped this after a few scratches on her nose, but she still will break up cat fights, and then return to me with a big smile on her face and filled with pride from a job well done.


New Member
National Geographic cover

The March 2008 edition features Betsy, a B&W border collie from Germany, who has 340 words in her vocabulary.


Experienced Member
tdavies;5895 said:
The March 2008 edition features Betsy, a B&W border collie from Germany, who has 340 words in her vocabulary.
Do you have any other info, so that I can look it up on the web? Such as the dog's name?


Well-Known Member
I also have a Border first! I've had her just over 2 years (she is 3). When I got her all she did was bark!!! Took a while but now she is a good quiet girl! She also doesnt like raised voices...I've been really surprised by how sensitive she can be underneath all her show of confidence.


New Member
[*]I have to watch my tone of voice, if I'm angry she'll stop and go hide somewhere.

Yep, border collie trait.... all I have to do is shake my head at Ace and he knows he was wrong. If I yell he will shut down. :dogsad: So, he's taught me self control. :dogsmile:

All of these responses are great about the Border Collie and I am a BC lover for life. They are great dogs but like some have already said, not a dog for everyone. :dognowink:
Enjoyed reading this thread. :doghappy:


Experienced Member
its funny you all say you have to watch your tone of voice because it doesn't seem to bother mine almost to a fault. If I raise my voice He just looks at me with that gleefully ignorant expression as to say "WHAT" and then goes about his business


Experienced Member
tanis60617;9116 said:
If I raise my voice He just looks at me with that gleefully ignorant expression as to say "WHAT" and then goes about his business
Yes, I know a couple like that, but they are, in my experience at least, quite the exception. I think they are better when they have the attitude that your has. I bet he's a real energy bundle too? The ones I know who aren't voice timid are usually really 'zingy' and are like mini power-houses.


New Member
I have a border collie/shephard mix About 10yrs old. He is very smart,I would like to learn more about that b order collie breed. Got anything for me.


Experienced Member
I bet he's a real energy bundle too?
Too say he is an energy bundle would be the understatement of the century.(i type as he is dragging my pc chair away from the desk. And in an 800sq foot house it takes some real understanding but other than being short a chromosome or two he's a really good dog


New Member
Oh I ever have to watch my tone of voice! Honestly even looking at Einstein with an angry look is all it takes for him to become aware that he has done something that I disapprove of. I know that most BC are very sensitive and emotional dogs. This is one of the things I like about them...they are compassionate. BC are so much like humans it's unreal to me.