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Border Collie

Border Collie Breed


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Dog Size

Energy Level

Dog Energy Level


Dog Trainability

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Physical Characteristics:
Height: 18-22”
Weight: 25-45 lbs.
Energy Level: Very High
The American Kennel Club recognizes the Border Collie in 17 colors and 7 markings.
Health & Longevity:13-16 years
Breeders screen for the following conditions:

  • Hip & elbow dysplasia
  • Eye diseases
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Hypothyroidism

Allergies are fairly common in Border Collies, which can range in severity from minor localized itching to more serious cases that can develop into full-blown bacterial infections. Epilepsy is also seen in the breed. Border Collies and other collie breeds often react adversely to some drugs such as ivermectin, Imodium A-D, flagyl, and some anesthetics. A mutant gene (mdr1) is responsible for these reactions. A DNA test offered by the Washington State University Veterinary School can identify whether a dog has this gene. These drugs should be avoided until this test is run to determine whether the dog carries this gene. Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD), a painful condition caused by improper growth of the joint cartilage, is also seen; it may require surgical repair.

Temperament & Train-ability

Border Collies live to work. Energetic, possessing immense mental and physical stamina and working drive, these dogs are suitable for a very few. Imagine a dog bred with enough intelligence to herd huge flocks of sheep over hilly terrain all day, every day. Now imagine that dog, with all the same energy and drive, in the average home; it is easy to see that this is not the dog for apartment or condo life. Indeed, it is not even the dog for many with large yards. For anyone who wants a laid back, cuddly couch potato or stay-at-home dog, this isn’t it.

It’s no wonder that Border Collies are known as master escape artists; their curiosity, intelligence and drive pushes them to find something to do, somewhere, if their humans don’t provide an outlet. Their herding instinct can be strong, which means they are likely to attempt to herd children, which can include nipping at heels. This can be made worse by the noisy play of children, which can excite and stimulate a Border Collie to chase. Many will chase cars if they have the opportunity. Chasing cats should be expected. This herding desire cannot be trained out of them. Their exercise needs are epic, both physical and, just as important, mental, and these needs must be satisfied 7 days a week. Playing some fetch or taking a walk isn’t going to come close to satisfying them. An under exercised or bored Border Collie is capable of unfathomable destruction, hyperactivity and neurotic behavior. Indeed, if you have a Border Collie – especially a young one – your life will be working with him, training, and providing activities to satisfy his intense need to work. This is one of the most challenging breeds to live with.

Border Collies were bred to have and use significant brainpower, which makes them very challenging to live with unless you bring vast experience to the table. Their extreme work ethic and need for a job can be overwhelming to those unprepared for such a workaholic dog.

Many people think if they get an intelligent dog, it will be easier to train. While this can be true in how quickly a dog picks things up, it also means they can learn the wrong things just as quickly, and their need for learning and doing continues for their entire lives. Border Collies excel in many dog sports; obedience, agility, nosework, tracking, you name it. Those that love working and training dogs are infatuated with this breed’s intelligence, sensitivity to their handler, and even their tendency to be strong willed and opinionated.


Border Collies carry a moderate double coat in 2 varieties; “rough” which has a softer texture and has feathering on the legs and tail, and “smooth”, which is a short coat with minimal feathering and a coarser texture. Both coat types stay remarkably clean, and weekly brushing and only occasional baths are normally needed. In the spring and fall, Border Collies will ‘blow’ coat, when all the undercoat is shed. Extra time spent brushing and raking out undercoat during these periods will prevent matting and reduce the amount of fluff that ends up in your house. Ears must be cleaned regularly, and toenails may need to be trimmed. Teeth should also be checked and cleaned as necessary.


The amount of food a Border Collie will require can vary depending on age, activity level, and type of food fed. On average, BC’s will eat about 1.5 – 2 cups of food. This amount should be fed in two meals per day. A high quality food is recommended for best results. If allergies surface, a hypoallergenic food may be needed. At such times, some trial and error may be needed to find the right food for your dog. To avoid overfeeding during training, you may use a portion of your BC’s daily diet for training treats. A constant supply of fresh, clean water must always be available.

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Moderately priced, Border Collies can be found from $600-$1,200, with some as high as $2,500. Breed rescues are active and provide another source, particularly attractive to people who wish to help a homeless dog and wish to avoid the challenges of raising a Border Collie puppy.

Ongoing expenditures include the typical supplies, food, and regular vet visits. Additionally, you may need to invest in an extra supply of chew and food-dispensing toys as well as training classes to keep your busy Border Collie occupied and healthy.

Paws ‘N’ Pups Ranking

Paws ‘N’ Pups ranks every breed out of 4 with 1 being easiest to integrate into your life and 4 being the toughest – The lower the ranking the better.

Ranking takes into account a few basic factors such as cost, skill level needed, high vs. low maintenance, and how critical regular training is to success.
The Border Collie rates a 4, due to the skill level needed to raise and keep them happy, the grooming they require, and their need for ongoing training and mental stimulation.


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