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The Complete Guide to the Border Collie

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Ever considered owning a Border Collie dog? Personally, I find it hard to look at this cute dog and not immediately fall in love. In fact, there’s more to this breed than meets the eye.

Because it was bred as a herding dog, its impressive energy and keen personality has grasped the attention of pet owners for years.

For this reason, I’ve put together this article so that you can understand everything about the Border Collie. We’ll discuss its character, appearance, history, and share a few tips on how to take care of it.

Also Read: Large Dog Breeds List A-Z with Pictures

Where It Gets Its Name

Let me give you some insight into the Border Collie’s background

It all started in the border country between England and Scotland. There, different breeds of herding dogs were used to assist the shepherds. The most hardworking types were bred together, which resulted in crossbreeds that were named according to the region.

For instance, there were Welsh Sheepdogs, Highland Collies, Scotch Collies, and more. Out of these distinctive breeds, the Border Collies emerged into the world.

Therefore, you’ll notice that their name reflects their Scottish heritage. This is because the word ‘collie’ originates from the Scottish dialect, meaning ‘sheepdog.’

Throughout the years, this particular breed captured the interest of many people for its energy and high senses. Ultimately, it’s been viewed as one of the best herding dog breeds up until today.

This is because it interacts with humans seamlessly, understanding the most subtle whistle and gesture. For these natural reasons, a Border Collie can be the perfect candidate to participate in various dog sports.

Now that we have a better idea of its backstory, let’s take a look at its rather adorable appearance, shall we?

The Border Collie Appearance, Size, and Weight

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When you first lay your eyes upon this unique dog, you’ll most likely adore its precious looks. Its coat can be either rough or smooth, and both varieties come in two layers. The outer coat is usually coarse, while the one under it can be rather soft.

Also, you’ll notice that, if its coat is smooth, it tends to be shorter in length. However, if a Border Collie’s coat is more on the rough side, it’s usually medium-length.

The coloring of this dog breed is mostly black with white areas on the face, feet, neck, and tail tip. Sometimes, it can be solid black, but never white.

As for the size, you should know that the Border Collie is a medium-sized dog. The males can reach 19-22 inches tall at the shoulder, and they usually weigh from 35-45 pounds. On the other hand, the females stand 18-21 inches and weigh 30-40 pounds.

As you can see, there aren’t visible differences between male and female Border Collies.

The Border Collie Lifespan

The Border Collie Lifespan

Border Collies have a life expectancy from 10 to 15 years, 12 years if you’re averagely speaking. Yet, some can live up to 17 years.

The reason behind this relatively short lifespan is mostly hereditary. Therefore, before you buy a Border Collie pup from a breeder, make sure that you check the medical records of its parents or relatives.

This will allow you to have a better idea of potential health issues that run in the bloodline. 

Also, if the breeder keeps such documentation, you’ll know they’re responsible enough. Thus, you can go ahead and ask them all sorts of questions you’ve been wondering about regarding the puppy’s health.

The Unique Personality Traits of the Border Collie

Yes, this dog is irresistibly charming and eye-catching, but its looks are only half what makes people drawn to it. The Border Collie’s enthusiastic mannerisms and active lifestyle have made it a favorite dog of many families.

Let’s find out more about its character in-depth.

Energetic and Intense

Energetic and Intense

The first thing that you need to know about the Border Collie is that it’s a workaholic. It’s full of hype and energy that you should direct in a positive way, or else it can be exhausting to you.

Since this dog has been initially bred to keep numbers of sheep in line, you’ll find that this nature is reflected at your home. Therefore, the Border Collie doesn’t like to be cuddled often, and won’t find much pleasure lying around on the couch.

Instead, this active dog thrives for movement and challenges. This makes it a perfect match for someone with an energetic lifestyle. Love running on the beach every day? This dog will be your most faithful companion.

Its huge amount of mental and physical stamina requires you to find appropriate methods to help it get this energy out. Dog sports such as sheepdog trials, agility, obedience, and more should be sufficient to keep up with this dog’s needs.

High Intelligence

The Border Collie can be one of the smartest dog breeds out there. Because of its ancestry, you’ll find that it’s very sensitive and responsive to humans.

Some might even say that it knows the order you’re about to give before you say it out loud!

This intelligence and attentiveness make it very easy to train. Therefore, all the puppy training that you’re ready to give it should pay off in almost no time. Also, you should remember to keep your dog socialized from puppyhood to prevent shyness or awkwardness.

Furthermore, its alertness is another reason why it can win many awards participating in dog sports.

A Herder by Nature

A Herder by Nature

As we’ve previously mentioned, Border Collies can’t help themselves when it comes to their herding nature. You can’t simply train that instinct out of them, which, as a result, can be quite problematic to you.

These dogs will try to herd anything, from little children to other pets. Luckily, you can contain this attitude if you live in an apartment.

However, if you live in a house with a yard, chances are your Border Collie will go after anything that moves. It can go chasing squirrels, cats, and even cars. Therefore, if you’re planning to get this dog, make sure that your fence is secure not to let it out.

Because of this herding tendency, the Border Collie is prone to barking, nudging, and nipping. Again, you can direct this larger-than-life energy by taking part in contests and taking your dog to runs.

Easily Bored

It makes sense that, for such an active dog, boredom might be an issue if you don’t provide it with ways to let it all out. For most dogs, boredom can lead to destructive behavior or even depression.

For a Border Collie, not having a job to do will result in it creating its own version of busy. It’ll start to bark a lot, dig, and chase any moving object. Therefore, you’ll need to fill its time with healthy activity to keep this from happening.

This might be one of the downsides to owning a Border Collie, but it’s simple to find your way around if you’re an already active person.

Also, this dog doesn’t tolerate being left alone for extended periods of time. It can make it anxious and encourage it to find a way to escape.

Border Collie Health Concerns You Should Be Aware of

Even though a Border Collie is generally healthy, several conditions might affect it if you’re not paying enough attention. Thus, you need to know what to ask the breeder about before taking a puppy home.

A responsible breeder keeps health clearances for the dog’s parents. These show you that the parents were tested and cleared of a certain disease.

Make sure that you ask for clearances for the following conditions:

  • Allergies
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans
  • Collie Eye Anomaly
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

How to Properly Take Care of a Border Collie

How to Properly Take Care of a Border Collie

Taking care of a Border Collie requires your complete attention on multiple levels. These include training, grooming, feeding, and exercise, to name a few.

Due to its unique personality, the Border Collie needs special treatment in each one of these branches. Luckily, I’ll tell you how to handle this step-by-step.

Get Your House Ready to Welcome the New Puppy

The Border Collie can adapt easily to any environment by nature. Therefore, you can keep it anywhere from an apartment to a house with a yard.

Yet, the more room is inside your house, the better for your puppy’s spirits. Still, if your Border Collie will have access to the yard, you should make sure that its fence is solid enough not to let it escape or chase cars.

See, a Border Collie isn’t a roamer, but it can still look for ways to escape your house if bored.

Additionally, there are other things you need to do before you bring this puppy home, including:

  • Keep all small objects away to prevent chewing or choking
  • Remove any poisonous plants from your yard
  • Cover all electrical cords

Buy a Few Accessories

Your puppy will need a few personal supplies to feel more at home such as:

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Of course, these products include dry food and treats, but we’ll discuss those more in-depth later on.

Begin House Training Your Border Collie Puppy

The absolute first thing you’ll need to teach a new puppy, Border Collie or any other breed, is potty training. Since this breed is already smart, house training should be easy.

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Still, for all its intelligence, the Border Collie can be stubborn sometimes. Thus, you’ll need a lot of patience and persistence on your part.

Here are a few general tips to help you with potty training.

  • Take your dog outside every 2 hours, especially right after waking up and before bedtime
  • Take your puppy to the potty during playtime, after each meal, and after drinking water
  • Build a routine that your puppy will soon adjust to
  • Always take your dog to the same spot for potty
  • Associate a specific command to the action to let it know it’s toilet time
  • Reward your little friend with healthy treats after relieving itself in the right spot
  • Never yell or punish your dog in case of an accident
  • Always use encouraging phrases
  • Keep your puppy away from its water bowl about two and a half hours before bedtime
  • Crate train your dog

Remember that the Border Collie is a naturally professional when it comes to following commands. Therefore, it should take it a shorter time than other dogs to be potty trained.

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Consider Crate Training Your Canine Buddy

Unlike what some people might think, crate training can be highly beneficial for both the dog and its owner. The Border Collie is no exception.

A crate should represent a safe haven to your dog, offering comfort and a time-out from a rather busy environment. Even though a Border Collie is an active dog breed, it still needs to relax and get inside its personal den to calm its nerves.

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Also, crate training makes it easier for you to transport your dog from one place to another. It’s as simple as urging your furry friend to get inside, closing the door, and carrying the pen to wherever you want.

However, remember not to leave your dog inside its crate for more than a few hours at a time. This way, it’ll slowly start to resemble a prison, which is the last thing you want your dog to feel.

Make Sure Its Diet Is Healthy

Border Collies aren’t lazy dogs as you can tell. Therefore, their dietary needs can be more than those of other dog breeds. It goes without saying that a couch potato requires less food than a hyperactive dog like our friend here.

Generally, your puppy will need food that’s high in protein and low in fat. On puppy food packaging, you’ll find a chart that will let you know the right portions to feed your dog per day.

Yet, if your dog is older and participates in sports or any other intense daily activities, you should be looking for food with more calories.

Let me break this down for you even further.

An active collie usually needs from 900-1,000 calories per day. On the other hand, a senior Border Collie can settle for about 700 calories.

Ultimately, a working collie will need about 1,400 calories each day.

You should also include nutrient snacks in your puppy’s diet so that it grows into a healthy dog. For instance, you can feed your little buddy:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Carrots
  • Watermelon
  • Broccoli
  • Blueberries

Pro tip: When introducing a new food type to your puppy, make sure that you start with small portions. This will allow you to know if your dog is allergic to a certain vegetable or fruit.

Of course, you should always consult a vet before building up your puppy’s diet. They’ll recommend the perfect regime based on your buddy’s size, weight, and overall health.

Don’t Forget Grooming

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Keeping your Border Collie groomed should keep it happy, refreshed, and healthy. The following steps can help you achieve this.

  • Groom your dog every 4-8 weeks
  • During the shedding seasons, usually spring and fall, do it more frequently
  • Brush your puppy once a week to keep parasites away
  • Flush its eyes periodically of any foreign particles and make sure they’re always moist
  • Clean the ears and keep them dry to prevent an odor or infection
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Take Your Puppy to the Vet Regularly

Always have the vet check up on your dog, especially if it’s still a puppy. They’ll give you all sorts of advice regarding its wellbeing, diet, food recommendations, etc.

More importantly, vet visits are essential for vaccinations and shots.

Train Your Border Collie

As I previously mentioned, this unique breed is so smart you’ll want to begin training it as soon as possible. You can teach your pup a few tricks and watch as it excels in them!

For starters, if your puppy is 3-6 months of age, you could make it learn basic commands like sitting and lying down.

When your dog becomes older than 6 months, you can introduce more advanced tricks like rolling over or fetching stuff.

Ultimately, a 1-year-old puppy will be able to learn almost anything no matter how challenging. It’s all up to your creativity and imagination when it comes to that.

Wrapping Up

I understand how the Border Collie can be appealing to you. Its charming looks, unique character, and hardworking nature have made people drawn to it over the years.

If you’ve decided to bring a collie home, make sure you take proper care of it and fulfill its needs. Most of all, it’s important that you provide it with enough physical and mental stimulation to keep up with its energy.

My final piece of advice is to always consult the vet before making any decisions related to your puppy’s health. They’ll help you pick the right food, give you grooming tips, and keep you up-to-date on your dog’s condition.

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