Are Border Collies Good Family Dogs?

By Matthew Nesbitt, Journalist specialized in animal research. Updated: May 19, 2022
Are Border Collies Good Family Dogs?

Animal file: Border Collie

If you are a dog lover, you are likely interested in the different breeds and personalities of the domestic dog. One important factor is intelligence. If you are aware of Stanley Coren's book on the intelligence of dogs, you will know the top spot is taken by none other than the Border Collie. Used as a working dog, they are able to understand more words than almost any other breed, carry out complicated tasks and revel in obeying commands. All these reasons make them ideal working dogs on farms. But are Border Collies good family dogs?

AnimalWised looks into the suitability of Border Collies as family dogs by examining their personality and behavior. Keep reading if you are considering adopting a Border Collie into your family.

You may also be interested in: Are Pythons as Pets a Good Idea?

Border Collie physical traits

Border Collies are well-loved for their looks. They are lithe animals which have a very athletic build. They are not as muscular as some dog breeds, but they are wiry and have lots of energy. If a Pit Bull is a body builder, the Border Collie is a long distance runner.

Their physical prowess is no coincidence. They were a breed specifically developed to be a dog which has stamina. Farm-work is arduous and requires long days. As a type of Shepherd dog, Border Collies will be used to herd sheep and other animals across fields. They need to be able to intimidate animals much bigger than themselves into doing what they want. Despite their relatively small physical size, they are a domineering presence.

However, they are also compact and can be easily transported around a farm. This is, in part, thanks to their great agility. They can jump fences, dodge hooves and generally move about very speedily. They are used to living in large open spaces and love the outdoors in general.

Border Collie temperament and behavior

The behavior of the Border Collie dog breed helps to determine whether they can be a good family dog. However, while a breed generally has some shared characteristics, this doesn't mean they are all the same. More than breed, a dog's upbringing has influence on their behavior. If a dog is well-socialized and their physical and mental needs are well-met, they should get along fine in most situations. Behavioral problems generally arise when they are not.

Border Collies are known for their great curiosity. They are highly interested in what is going on around them. This is, in part, due to their high need for mental stimulation. Even if you think you have worn them out after a long day exercising, you can often be surprised just how readily a Border Collie will muster energy and be ready to go.

They are a tenacious dog and will try to understand what is going on. Even though they are very intelligent, if we give them confusing signals or educate them poorly, they will not respond well. We need to provide plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation. This means more than just basic commands. For Border Collies, learning tricks is practically a necessity. More than just to enjoy it, learning how to complete and engage with tasks provides the stimulation to their cognition they crave.

For sedentary families, the Border Collie is not an appropriate pet. If we do not help them to expend their excess energy, they will become bored, stressed and, potentially, aggressive. When a dog's needs are not met, they will develop behavioral problems. Fortunately, they are also very loyal dogs who will respond well to learning. If we are able to make the effort, we will have a trusting, loving and faithful companion.

Are Border Collies Good Family Dogs? - Border Collie temperament and behavior

Are Border Collies family dogs?

The answer to the above question is perhaps not fair. Border Collies can be the best family dog, depending on the family. As we have stated above, if the family is active, engaged and has the time to devote to a Border Collie, they can develop a wonderful mutually beneficial relationship. The family bond which Border Collies develop is vital to their well-being.

Another important factor is outdoor access. Although you might think that you cannot keep a Border Collie in an apartment, this is not the case. If they have been given enough exercise outside the home and mental stimulation inside, then they can be happy to live in a smaller space. The issue is whether you are able to take them outside to sufficiently exercise them.

Ideally, a Border Collie should live somewhere open, such as a farm. However, if you have a dog park or similar suitable place for them to run, this shouldn't be a problem. Border Collies will need to be let off-leash for long periods. This is another reason it is vital to train them to follow orders. If you live in a city, you need to be able to call them to come back so they don't get into danger.

Essentially, if you have the time, energy and appropriate respect for the Border Collie's character, there is no reason why they couldn't make a great family dog.

Are Border Collies good with kids?

While it may be implied that Border Collies are good with children by stating they are a good family dog, there are some specifics we need to take into consideration. It is important for kids to play and understandable they will want to play with your Border Collie. Playing will be part of mental stimulation for your dog, but quality is as important as quantity. We cannot let a young child play with a dog and assume they have enough interaction. As stated above, they need training and proper engagement.

Kids may want to pull at your Border Collie while playing, especially if they are very young and don't know any better. A well-socialized and stable Border Collie shouldn't be aggressive, but they won't enjoy being tugged or prodded. We need to be careful and never leave children with the dog alone if they do not know boundaries.

A practical consideration with Border Collies and kids is due to their herding instinct. Border Collies may treat young children the way they would a sheep or other herd animal. They may try to push them or even nip at their ankles to move them in certain directions. Although Border Collies can be great with children, they need to be well-trained. We need to set boundaries for the dog so they will treat the kids accordingly.

If we meet their needs, there is no reason a Border Collie cannot be an ideal companion animal to a family with kids.

Are Border Collies Good Family Dogs? - Are Border Collies good with kids?

Can the Border Collie live with other dogs?

As with a human family, Border Collies can be incredible companions to other dogs. However, it is the responsibility of their human family to ensure they get along well. A harmonious coexistence can happen when we meet the well-being needs of all dogs in a family.

The Border Collie is usually friendly with other dogs, even those outside of their family. Obviously, they will have their limitations and not all dogs will get on with each other for various reasons. As with any domestic animal, the socialization period of dogs is vital to their well-being and ability to get on with other dogs.

Ideally, any dog in a family should be reared together from the time they are puppies. However, it is fine if you want to introduce a puppy to a Border Collie. We just need to be careful of issues such as jealousy. Since the Border Collie needs more stimulation than the average canine, we also cannot let the presence of another dog detract from this.

You will most likely need a dog which is also very active. However, a Border Collie can live with a less active dog if they are taught to respect boundaries. Border Collies can also get on well with other pets if they are well-socialized and their herding instinct is kept in check. If you want to know more about similar breeds, checkout our article on the difference between Border Collies and Australian Shepherds.

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