Border Collie

Canis lupus

Last updated: May 27, 2024
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Lobstrosity/

Highly intelligent and alert breed!


Border Collie Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Canis lupus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Border Collie Conservation Status

Border Collie Locations

Border Collie Locations

Border Collie Facts

Lively and intelligent
Should be trained from an early age in obedience
Average Litter Size
Common Name
Border Collie
Highly intelligent and alert breed!

Border Collie Physical Characteristics

  • Brown
  • Red
  • Black
  • White
Skin Type
12-15 years
18-22 inches

Border Collie as a Pet:

General Health
Energy Level
Tendency to Chew
Family and kid friendliness
Yappiness / Barking
Separation Anxiety
Preferred Temperature
Average climate
Exercise Needs
Friendly With Other Dogs
Pure bred cost to own
Dog group
Male weight
30-45 lbs
Female weight
27-42 lbs

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The Border Collie is considered the world’s best herding dog and the most intelligent breed.

In 2020, it was ranked as the 35th most popular dog breed in America, and it is the UK’s 12th most popular dog breed overall. The athletic dog needs to stay busy by having a job to do and exercise in order to satisfy its high-energy demands, so it needs an owner who is as active and devoted as the dog itself and can work closely and intensely together.

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Its high intelligence and eagerness to obey make it a wonderful detection dog for police, customs, and other government agencies, but the breed is also excellent for competitive dog sports, bird hunting, guide dog work, and search and rescue. Learn more about the smartest dog breeds here.

It was originally developed in the Anglo-Scottish border county of Northumberland as a hunting dog as well as a farm-working dog for herding sheep and other livestock. With an affectionate, obedient, and intelligent demeanor, good health, long life, and speed and agility, the Border Collie makes an excellent family pet.

Border Collie infographic

3 Pros and Cons of Owning Border Collies

They’re incredibly smart. As one of the most versatile breeds around, border collies can learn many different things besides sheep herding. They love to obey their owners.They need regular brushing and grooming. Although they have average shedding, they shed more during the winter. They need to be brushed at least three times a week.
They’re hardy. This breed was bred for the cold climate of the UK and lives a long time, so it can be quite happy in colder countries.They have a need for space and the outdoors. Not a breed to be cooped up, Border Collies do badly in apartments and need a backyard to run around in. They are also escape artists, so fencing needs to be specially made to avoid them finding a way out. That means a fence with 8-10″ height, 3″ metal below, and extra closures besides latches.
They cost less than other breeds. The average cost of a Border Collie puppy is $300-1,000, with an average cost of $700 and an occasional low cost of $200.They can stare, nip, be destructive, or bark a lot. They will stare to let you know they’re ready for a new task. They will also herd children, adults, and other pets by nipping at their back legs as a result of their herding instinct and if they are bored, they chew things and bark a lot.
Border collie playing with dog run

©studio hoto/

History and Origins

During the Roman Empire’s prime, numerous rulers brainstormed ways to take over and dominate Britain. However, for a variety of reasons—revolts in other parts of the empire or changes in the political scene—these plans were put on hold. It wasn’t until 43 CE that Emperor Claudius accomplished the mission of conquering Britain.

The Roman occupation of Britain had a lasting effect on British culture, including dog breeding. Roman soldiers brought their own livestock with them when they arrived, and as a result, large and sturdy herding dogs were also introduced. These canines stayed in Britain for over three centuries.

Health and Entertainment for your Border Collie

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As the Roman Empire declined, Scandinavian raiders invaded Britain, bringing with them smaller and faster spitz-type herding dogs. These dogs were crossed with the older Roman breeds, creating agile herders that could work livestock in the hilly and rocky regions of Scotland and Wales. This was the beginning of the Border Collie breed.

Border Collies are widely regarded as the most skilled herders in the world. Their efficient outruns, low-to-the-ground creeping, and intense bursts of energy when needed make them a shepherd’s ideal canine companion. When the perfect dog is imagined, it’s sure to be a Border Collie.

The Border Collie is a highly intelligent and agile breed that has been used in sheepdog trials in the British Isles for over a century. It was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in the Herding Group in 1995. This breed was famously portrayed in the movie “Babe” and is known for its competitive ability.

border collie
Border Collies became a member of the AKC in 1995, but have been around since the Roman empire.

Size and Weight

The Border Collie is a medium-large sized dog with either a long and rough or a short and smooth coat. It has an average height of 24-27″ for males and 22-26″ for females. Males weigh 30-45lbs fully grown, while females weigh 27-42lbs fully grown. Border Collie puppies weigh 4-8lbs at 8 weeks of age and are considered fully grown at 24 months for females and 36 months for males.

Height24-27″ tall22-26″ tall
Weight30-45lbs fully grown27-42lbs fully grown
Border collie jumping high to catch a disc frisbee

Border collies weigh between 27-45 pounds.


Common Health Issues

Purebred border collies have a few common health issues, but most of the time, they are easily treatable or manageable. The most common are musculoskeletal disorders, including hip dysplasia and osteochondritis dessecans (OCD), which come from age or too much activity resulting in accelerated growth during puppyhood. Idiopathic epilepsy, patent ductus arteriosus, and hypothyroidism are hereditary conditions disorders unique to this breed, while dental problems, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA), and deafness are common. In sum, the most common health issues with border collies are:

  • Dental problems
  • Collie Eye Anomaly
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Deafness
collie with herd of sheep
Border collies are prone to dental infections and cavities.


Border collies have very lively personalities. Their temperament is curious and easygoing, with mischievous, dominant, sensitive, and hyperactive traits. They can be quite funny with their clever behavior. As adults, they are wary of strangers.

This does not mean they are mistrustful as puppies, however. They quickly take to socialization, and they enjoy kindness and praise during training. A common Border Collie trait is being easy to train with consistent and clear messages as they were bred for hunting geese and other birds. Because of this, they also have a “gentle” or “soft” mouth, meaning they don’t bite hard when carrying items in their jaws.

Dog wearing eye glasses

Border collies are intelligent dogs with strong personalities.

© Zavalishina

How To Take Care of Border Collies

New pet owners looking for how to care for border collies, especially puppies, need to consider several unique factors. Whether it’s hereditary conditions or different care related to their coat and moderate size, border collies have breed-specific factors their owners must know.

The Best Dog Food

Every dog breed, especially puppies, has different health needs compared to others, and border collies are no exception. Therefore new owners should consider these needs when choosing food for their pets.

Border collie puppy food: Because of their high energy, size, and genetic makeup, border collies may develop musculoskeletal, neurological, eye, and other issues. When considering wet or dry food for puppies, consider a premium brand that not only has higher calcium and complex nutrients to support growth but fatty acids such as DHA and ARA to support cognitive function and eye health. Dog food specifically formulated for puppy growth or for all life stages will have enough protein for border collie puppies, while adult dog food has too much and can lead to permanent damage on a regular basis.

Border collie adult dog food: Like puppy dog food considerations, pet owners should consider feeding their adult border collie premium dog food that is high in meat-based protein with meat as the first and main ingredient. Since border collies remain active well into adulthood, we recommend an active dog food variety of at least 25 percent protein and 15 percent fat to provide all the nutrients they need, whether as wet food, kibble, or patties. They can also eat a raw food diet, which can be purchased as a commercial diet or prepared at home. Border collies with dental issues may do best on a kibble-based diet. We compiled a list of all the best food for Border Collies here.

Here’s our A-Z Animals recommendation- the best dog food for Border Collies is Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult Oral Care for Dental Health Dog Food, Chicken Rice & Barley Recipe.

This vet-approved formula is expertly designed for dental well-being. Crunchy kibble bits remove plaque and tartar and freshen breath with interlocking fiber technology. Additionally, there’s a powerful combination of vitamin A and taurine in this recipe that nourishes the eyes and vision of dogs like Border Collies to help prevent eye conditions.

Hill’s Science Diet Oral Care Dog Food is available on Amazon and Chewy. Click the link below.

Overall Best
Hill's Science Diet Adult Oral Care Dry Dog Food
  • Made with natural ingredients
  • Added vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants
  • Veterinarian-recommended
  • Remove plaque and tartar
Check Chewy Check Amazon

Maintenance And Grooming

The Border Collie is one breed but has two main types of coats, the long or medium-length rough coat and the short, smooth coat. Both are double-layered. Although short-haired dogs are easier to maintain, both coats have average shedding throughout the year and more so during the winter. For this reason, they need brushing at least three times a week to keep shedding to a minimum. Long-haired border collies need special brushes for breaking up tangles. Two other lesser-known coat types are curly-coated and bearded. While brown, red and white, red and blue merle, tricolors, and tickled colors are common to the other coat types, the colors the bearded has are various shades of grey.

Border collies come in long-haired, medium-haired, curly-haired, and bearded.


Border collies are persistent in their own training and refuse to stop until they learn the task. Unlike other hunting breeds, however, their eagerness to please means it’s best to train border collies with praise and clicker training instead of electronic collars. They were originally used for hunting birds and herding sheep and other livestock. They can work quickly, relying only on hand gestures and noises from their owner, or even working independently or in teams with other dogs.

When they have found prey or livestock, they will make a wide perimeter while out of sight and then herd the prey toward the owner’s designated spot. Their intelligent, hard-working, and obsessive nature makes them a common choice for search and rescue work. While they bark a lot when bored, they can learn to put their energy into barking on command.

Victor professional dog food
Border collies are very smart, and can be taught lots of fun tricks.


Due to their strong bodies and high energy, border collies need to live on spacious properties such as farms or ranches, or at least a large house with a large yard. You can help your Border Collie burn off excess energy with chew toys and hiding toys and treats around the house or yard. Puzzles or other games give them the mental stimulation they need, while obstacle courses, playing fetch, or joining a flyball dog team exercises their athletic ability. Border collies ideally should get a minimum of 20-30 minutes of running every day.

Border collie with one blue and one brown eye lying next to an alarm clock
Border Collies are high-energy dogs that need vigorous activity, like running, every day.


The Border Collie puppy needs dog food specially formulated for puppies or for all life stages. It must be a premium brand for the highest quality nutrition possible. Training the border collie puppy should start as early as possible to replace chewing on household items with chew toys, deter their herding tendency and meet their athletic needs. Typical colors are black and white, but tricolor, red merle, blue merle, blue, grey, sable, and tan also exist.

Portrait of amazing healthy and happy black and white border collie puppy

Border collie puppies are black and white, but tricolor, red merle, blue merle, blue, grey, sable, and tan also exist.


With Children

Border collies are loyal to their families and get along with everyone. They are good with children, although they may express their herding instinct with them when they don’t stay where the dog wants them to. For the best socialization, expose the Border Collie to children while it’s still a puppy. Border collies are also hesitant towards strangers and should also be socialized early on to learn specific behavior around people they don’t know. Border collies from a rescue may have behavioral issues due to poor socialization, neglect, or confinement.

Dogs similar to Border Collies

Herding and working dogs similar to Border Collies include Australian shepherds, Shetland sheepdogs, Icelandic sheepdogs, and Finnish Lapphunds.

  • Shetland Sheepdog – Shares the same collie traits of high intelligence, high energy, and excellent working ability, but is well-behaved within the home and with a smaller size that is better for first-time owners or those with smaller homes.
  • Rough Collie – A similar build and intelligence to border collies, rough collies (Lassie is a famous example) aren’t as physically demanding, needing only long walks. They’re also easier to train by inexperienced owners.
  • Lurcher – A hybrid from the crossing of a Border Collie with a Greyhound, this dog type is moderate in its traits to make it more versatile and suitable for different types of homes.
puppy training to fetch toy

Border collies are great with children, and love to herd them around the yard.


Famous Border Collies

Border collies are known for being affectionate, smart, and energetic. Show dogs, rather than working dogs, are common as family pets since they’re bred for form over functionality, less behavioral diversity, and prey instinct impulsivity. Regardless, there have been a number of border collies that became famous for their herding ability:

  • Old Hemp was the common ancestor of modern border collies, siring the first litter and fathering over 200 males plus numerous females. He never lost a competition, first making fame when in a sheep-herding showdown, he used only his hypnotic stare.
  • TV border collies: Nana in Snow Dogs, Fly in Babe, Raffles in Rover Dangerfield, and Bandit in Little House on the Prairie are just a few of several border collies that have been in movies and TV.
pet first aid kit

Border collies are great actors and are often featured in movies and commercials, due to their trainability.


Some of the most popular names for border collies are:

  • Maverick
  • Bandit
  • Shadow
  • Scout

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What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?


If you have kids or existing dogs select:

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About average energy.
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All energy levels are great -- I just love dogs!
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About the Author

Heather Hall is a writer at A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on plants and animals. Heather has been writing and editing since 2012 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture. As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, Heather enjoys hiking, gardening, and trail running through the mountains with her dogs.

Border Collie FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How much does a Border Collie cost?

On average, border collies cost $300-1,000 with an average cost of $700 and an occasional low cost of $200. However, special breeding lines, such as show dogs, cost more.

Do border collies bark a lot?

Yes, they have a tendency to bark as they are an alert and territorial breed, but they can be trained to bark on command as a way of reducing the impulse.

Are border collies aggressive?

Aggression is not a common trait in border collies, but they can nip and even bite strangers.

Are border collies a good family dog?

Generally yes, but it also depends on the family. The family must be engaged and active with the dog with time to devote to the breed.

Are border collies easy to train?

They are relatively easy to train but are best for the experienced and advanced trainer.

Are border collies good with kids?

They are good with kids if they are in the family but if they don’t know them, they will treat them as they do any other strangers.

How long do border collies live?

12-15 years, but some have lived to be 17 years or older.

Are Border Collies herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Border Collies are Omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and other animals.

What Kingdom do Border Collies belong to?

Border Collies belong to the Kingdom Animalia.

What class do Border Collies belong to?

Border Collies belong to the class Mammalia.

What phylum to Border Collies belong to?

Border Collies belong to the phylum Chordata.

What family do Border Collies belong to?

Border Collies belong to the family Canidae.

What order do Border Collies belong to?

Border Collies belong to the order Carnivora.

What genus do Border Collies belong to?

Border Collies belong to the genus Canis.

What type of covering do Border Collies have?

Border Collies are covered in Hair.

How many babies do Border Collies have?

The average number of babies a Border Collie has is 6.

What is an interesting fact about Border Collies?

Border Collies are a highly intelligent and alert breed!

What is the scientific name for the Border Collie?

The scientific name for the Border Collie is Canis lupus.

What's the difference between border collies and collies?

There are a few key differences between collies and border collies. Border collies require far more exercise than rough collies, and collies also have longer coats than border collies do.

What are the key differences between Border Collies and Australian Cattle Dogs?

The key differences between Border Collies and Australian Cattle Dogs are appearance, temperament, trainability, and health.

What's the difference between Border Collies and German Shepherds?

German Shepherds weigh more than Border Collies do, though they are the same height. Border Collies have a longer and silkier coat compared to the coarse fur of the German Shepherd.

What's the difference between Border Collies and Border Terriers?

Border Collies are nearly double the size of Border Terriers, and they have very different coats. Border Terriers are excellent hunting dogs, while Border Collies are intelligent herding dogs.

What are the key differences between Catahoula Leopard Dogs and Border Collies?

The key differences between Catahoula Leopard Dogs and Border Collies are appearance, coat, temperament, health issues, exercise, and training.

What are the key differences between Shetland Sheepdogs and Border Collies?

The key differences between Shetland Sheepdogs and Border Collies are size, appearance, temperament, and lifespan.

What are the key differences between an English Shepherd and a Border Collie?

The key differences between an English Shepherd and a Border Collie are their size, coat type, temperament, and lifespan, among others.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.


  1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2011) Animal, The Definitive Visual Guide To The World's Wildlife / Accessed November 10, 2008
  2. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals / Accessed November 10, 2008
  3. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia / Accessed November 10, 2008
  4. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals / Accessed November 10, 2008
  5. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals / Accessed November 10, 2008
  6. American Kennel Club / Accessed November 19, 2020
  7. Wikipedia / Accessed November 19, 2020
  8. Vetstreet / Accessed November 19, 2020
  9. Border Collie Health / Accessed November 19, 2020
  10. Wikihow / Accessed November 19, 2020
  11. Outdoor Fun / Accessed November 19, 2020
  12. Border Collie Help / Accessed November 19, 2020
  13. The Smart Canine / Accessed November 19, 2020

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