<iframe src="https://analytics.agriapetinsure.ie/gtm.js?id=GTM-NWRMBJN" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden" title="gtm-frame"></iframe>Border Collie
021 202 9119
Get a quote
Get a quote
Get a quote

Back to Guides and advice

Dog Breeds: Border Collie

The border collie is an incredible herding dog that can move 100 sheep just by looking at them. It is therefore an invaluable colleague for shepherds around the world. But it is also popular as a family dog for an active family that likes to train and compete in dog sports.
Dog Breeds: Border Collie

Brief facts about border collies 


  • Size: About 53 cm
  • Average lifespan: 13-15 years
  • Weight: 14-22 kg
  • Colour: Popular colours for border collies are black and white, blue merle, and red. Blue Merle Border Collies are highly desired in Ireland. 
  • Characteristics: Happy, energetic, willing to work
  • Common diseases and injuries: Osteochondrosis, neurological diseases and pain from the spine
  • Breed group: Sheep and Cattle Dogs – Group 1
  • Country of origin: United Kingdom 


Where does the border collie come from?


The border collie originally comes from the borderlands between England and Scotland, where it has been used for centuries to herd sheep. Border collies are the most commonly used dog in the world for herding sheep and cattle. Although the breed was given an official show standard in 1975, it has been bred with its herding qualities in mind and this has been a priority in breeding. Over time, the breed has been divided into dogs that are primarily working and competition dogs, and dogs that are more suitable for show and family life. 


A border collie's temperament 


The Border Collie is a happy dog with a lot of energy. It is used for herding and is still the focus of breeding. Therefore, herding comes naturally to these dogs. Border collies can have different ways when they work: eye or body wallowing.  

A Border Collie’s way of keeping the flock under control is by staring down at the sheep so they get nervous and move. This is done quietly but in close cooperation with the shepherd. Body herding is more physical where the dog controls the pack with movements. It is very impressive to see border collies working in their element and they have a special talent for it. 

But this talent can also be expressed in a more negative way - when they interact with other dogs. Here the border collie may tend to use the same body language when herding - a staring look and a low posture. This can be perceived as a threat by other dogs and can cause problems for both the dog and the owner. If you are thinking of bringing home a border collie puppy, it is important that you familiarise yourself with how this breed communicates with each other. This is not only to understand why your border collie does what it does but also to create the best conditions for a good relationship. 

Over time, the breed has been divided into herd and competition lines and the quieter show lines. If you want training to take up most of your time, you can easily fall in love with the working border collie, but if you are looking for a regular family dog, you should stick to the show types. 

Regardless of which type you choose, the border collie is a dog that requires a lot of activation, e.g. by using his herding ability. It is a sensitive dog that reacts quickly to everything from your instructions to your surroundings. They need clarity and routines. Herding and competition dogs are not the obvious choice for the first-time owner. When thinking of bringing home a border collie puppy, remember, that under stimulation can cause effect the dog and it may start exhibiting unwanted behaviours, such as herding everything from cars to bicycles and other dogs.  

The calmer type can thrive as a family dog in an active family where free time is spent outdoors on long walks in nature. If you take care to stimulate your border collie mentally and with exercise, you will get a great friend who often gets along well with other dogs and is easy to take with you in most places. 

By nature, the border collie is very cooperative, but some can also be reserved towards strangers and dogs. It is a breed that appears to be physically mature at a fairly young age (usually 10-12 months old), but that is not the whole truth as it must be between 3-4 years old to be considered both mentally and physically mature. 


Border collie appearance and size 


The border collie is a medium-sized dog with an athletic build. It measures approximately 53 cm in height at the withers, weighs between 14-22 kg and is available in a variety of colours. It has a medium-length coat with an undercoat to protect it from the harsh weather it was bred to work in. 


Caring for a border collie 


The fur can be different in length from dog to dog. Herding and competition dogs often have slightly shorter fur. The coat is often silky smooth and has a soft undercoat that can keep the dog temperate. Even though the dogs have a lot of fur, it's not a lot of work to maintain it. You only need to brush them from time to time and they mainly shed at the change of seasons from winter to spring and autumn to winter. If you have one of the long-haired border collies, you may want to trim the fur under the paws and hocks to avoid bringing too much dirt home from the walk. 


Training and education of a border collie 


Border Collies like to be close to their owner when it is working and are quite responsive to their instructions. However, they require consistent training and clarity in commands, which should always be given in a low voice and calm movements. This is because it is a breed that quickly becomes stressed if you raise your voice or generally move too quickly. The same thing happens if you play toss or tug, so it is not an activity for this type of dog. 

Border collies need to work as much with their brain as with their body to thrive. This is why it is also popular for obedience and agility training, as well as for tracking and other dog sports. However, do not forget what the dog was bred for, the breed therefore only fits into a very active family that wants to use it for the things it is good at. They are very quick learners, which means they can easily learn new disciplines and exercises. However, this also means that they can quickly get into bad habits if you are not careful. 

This type of dog is suitable for living in or near nature. It is not only where you live, but what you do with your dog that matters. Whether you live in an apartment or a house, you need to set aside a lot of time each day to get outside and let your dog play. 

It is also important to start socialising early so that the breed learns to feel comfortable in new places and around other dogs and people. 


Border collie health 


At Agria, we collect statistics on all dog breeds that are insured with us. It gives us unique injury and disease statistics that provide insight into which diseases and injuries affect specific breeds.  

Just like any other dog, a border collie can get into trouble or get sick. Therefore, we have not included the things that generally affect dogs regardless of breed. Instead, we have found the three most common breed-specific diagnoses: 

  • Ostechondrosis (OCD)
  • Neurological diseases
  • Pain from the spine 


What we love most about a border collie 


The border collie is a wonderful dog with truly impressive trainability. It has many qualities, and we've collected the three we like the most here: 

Hard Working Dog Breed: A border collie can work hard, and that's a mentality that can take them (and you) far. Of course, you must be able to dose it so that the flame does not burn out completely, but it is a joy to work with such embers. 

Trainability at its best: Not only does the border collie wear the "yes" hat when it comes to work, it's also a great learner and highly trainable. They quickly add two and two together, so you don't have to keep doing the same exercises for a long time before it sticks. 

Low Grooming: Although the border collie has a beautiful, silky coat, it actually doesn't require much grooming. This means you don't have to spend a lot of time here but can instead spend it training and enjoying active adventures together. 


Good to know when choosing a border collie 


All dogs have some things that you may not find quite as attractive. We think it's best that you know both the good and the less flattering aspects of the breed before deciding if it's going to be the two of you. Then you can both enjoy your life together. Here are three things you should look out for in a border collie: 

Not always a first-time dog: If you are a first-time owner, you should not start with a working Border Collie unless you have expert help and a flock of sheep to herd. In general, this is a breed that needs a lot of activation - both physical and mental - to thrive, and also needs a stable environment. 

Herding Genes: Herding is in a border collie's DNA, and if you don't give your dog an outlet for it, it can end up herding cyclists, children, joggers, and anything else that moves. This requires customized activation in your dog's training to avoid unwanted behavior. 

Easily stressed: A breed like the border collie with high energy levels and a strong work ethic, can tend to get stressed easily. Therefore, you must focus on calmness and train in a way that does not stress the dog more than necessary. 

Frequently asked questions about the Border Collie

Previous article

Dog Breeds: Beagle Dog

Next article

Dog Breeds: Pomeranian

Related guides and advice

Follow us

  • Terms and conditions
  • Terms of business
  • Privacy policy

Capstone Financial Services Limited, trading as Agria Petinsure and Petinsure is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Directors: Bernard O’Sullivan, Agnes Fabricius (Sweden), Marianne Broholm Einarsen (Norway) & Monica Tuvelid (Sweden). Registered in Ireland with registration number 451193.  Agria Petinsure policies are underwritten by Försäkringsaktiebolaget Agria (publ), c/o Agria Petinsure, PO Box 911, Little Island, Cork, Ireland T45 YR96. Försäkringsaktiebolaget Agria (publ), trading as Agria Petinsure is authorised by Finansinspektionen in Sweden and is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland for conduct of business rules.