They are known as the smartest dog breed in the world: these dogs are very easy to train, willing to learn, and perfect for competitions and sports such as Dog Agility. The Border Collie or Scottish Sheepdog is an amazing dog breed with many skills and qualities.
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- Group I
- More than 31
Physical traits of the Border Collie
Border Collies are immediately recognizable: they are extremely agile, with a perfect morphology to exercise, jump and run around. Males usually measure around 53 cm (21 in) tall, while females tend to be smaller, at 50 cm (20 in). They weight 20 kg (44 lb) at the most, and their silhouette is elongated and dynamic.
This breed can come in a wide range of coat colors, including markings. Common patterns include black and white, brown and white, black and tan, chocolate, red or merle. There are two Border Collie varieties: the standard long-haired Border Collie is the most common and popular kind, with a double coat and long hair that falls over the two sides of their body. The other variant is the short-haired Border Collie, much rarer, whose hair is shorter but still thick and perfect to resist the cold.
Occasionally, Border Collies show heterochromia, that is, they have odd-colored eyes, usually brown and blue.
This breed has other recognizable physical traits, such as muscular legs that show their predisposition to exercise, and the tip of their tail, which is always white. Their ears can be dropped, semi-erect or erect.
Temperament of the Border Collie
Although Border Collies are not very large, they are better suited for houses with a garden; among their ancestors we found hard-working, energetic dogs, and so the modern Border Collie is extremely active and restless.
This breed is recommended for younger adults with time and energy to spare - Border Collies are perfect for people who are passionate about outdoor sports, but they also need an owner that stimulates them mentally and has stamina to match. With the right human companion, a Border Collie will grow into an obedient, clever and tidy friend that's always up to have a good time.
Unlike other calmer breeds, Border Collies need quite a lot of time and dedication. Otherwise, they will become nervous, anxious, hyperactive and even destructive; they may also bark in excess. Negative behaviors are the result of stress, which they develop when they can't release their energy or when they get bored.
These are very loyal dogs; they will watch everything around them. Their curiosity and intelligence will help them learn when you are in pain, sad, happy or excited, and they will accompany you through every mood. They are tender-hearted and willing to please, but they won't open up to strangers unless they see you do the same.
Common health problems of Border Collies
Because of their extensive physical activity and their stamina, Border Collies tend to be healthy, but a lack of exercise can cause anxiety and depression. They require more food than what's usual within their weight range: ask your vet for the exact quantities. Over time, Border Collies can suffer from hip dysplasia.
Caring for a Border Collie
Since this is a very active breed, a Border Collie will need at least 3 hour-long daily walks, or 4 40-minute walks every day. Combining a regular walk with active exercise is a great choice, but remember that they also need mental stimulation. A Border Collie will get tired to go through the same exercises over and over, even if rewarded with treats, and they will get frustrated. For this dog, fun means continuing to learn, pleasing their owners and feeling fulfilled.
Both long-haired and short-haired Border Collies will require 3 weekly brushing sessions. Regular grooming gets rid of dead hair and allows their coat to shine. A bath every month and a half will be enough to preserve their natural protective layer. Here you can learn more about caring for a Border Collie.
Living with a Border Collie
Border Collies are perfect for children, as they are balanced, healthy dogs who understand where is the limit when playing between roughness and gentleness. We recommend playing games with a clear goal, such as fetching a ball, following circuits, intelligence games or any other challenge that sharpens both the child's creativity and the dog's mental skills.
This is an obedient and discipline breed, so it is very easy to train Border Collies to herd livestock. These dogs are intelligent, and they will understand that sheep are not to be harmed but directed. Border Collies may develop herding behaviors with other dogs, pets and even their owner. They easily become leaders of the pack, but they are very respectful.
Training a Border Collie
While most dog breeds need 30 to 40 repetitions to learn a new trick, command or skill, some studies say that Border Collies need only 5. Of course, learning is relative and every dog is different, and training Border Collies requires patience and effort, as they get bored easily.
Once the Border Collie knows the basic dog commands, you'll soon be able to move on to advanced tricks and skills and even dog sports such as canine freestyle or dog agility. Motivating them is extremely important: you can offer your dog treats, but you can also reward them by taking them to new places to play or by offering new toys.
- One of the reasons behind the Border Collie's popularity is that they were one of Queen Victoria's favorite breeds. She kept Collies throughout her life, including Gypsy, Noble, Oscar, Roy and Sharp.
- Border Collies take the first spot in Stanley Coren's list of most intelligent dogs.
- Chaser was a female Border Collie who was able to identify 1,022 words.