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Everything You Should Know About the Border Collie Breed (How Does It Look and What Is It Used for)

Most people have a mental picture of Border Collies as black and white herders, even athletes. But this breed comes in various colors, and coats, and they can even do many jobs. There is so much potential in this highly capable breed and they can and will do almost anything you give them.
Everything You Should Know About the Border Collie Breed

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Without a doubt, Border Collies are a remarkable breed. It is a pleasure to see them in action, whether on the field, on an obstacle course, or on any job they have.

Their inherent characteristics are what make them such versatile dogs. Herders by heart, this breed is also employed as service dogs, therapy dogs, and more. This is all thanks to centuries of developing Border Collies to be who they are today. So knowing their origins will help you come to appreciate this workaholic even more.

So if you want to get to know your furry friend even more and see what they are capable of, keep on reading.

What Is a Border Collie Dog?

Border Collies are tremendously intelligent and active herding dogs. With the perfect combination of brains and brawn, this breed is the world’s premier sheepherding dog.

To get to know this breed a little more, it is worth knowing their history. This will explain the traits that make this breed special, both the good ones and the bad ones.

Border Collies originated from the border between Scotland and England, hence their name. This robust breed had to herd its flock, running around all day in unforgiving terrains. Other than that, they had to constantly listen to their human’s commands on the field. This is what they have been doing for centuries. With this, they still maintain the many traits of a working dog, even if they are popular house pets today.

While the thought of having a very smart and athletic dog sounds nice, they are not fit for everyone. Even experienced dog owners may have a tough time handling Border Collies. This is because Border Collies need a lot of mental and physical stimulation.

They seem to have an unlimited amount of energy and stamina. As they always have work in mind, they will look for something to do during their waking moments.

They love any task that pushes them to work their minds and show off their physical prowess. Border Collies will thrive in homes where they always have a job to do.

These traits are why they excel both as working dogs and as athletes. Border Collies are quite popular in dog sports, especially agility.

But to most people, they are a lot of work. Those who are not ready to take on the responsibilities of caring for this breed often give them up in shelters.

Other than that, this breed is also quite mouthy. Nipping, for example, is one of the ways they herd their flock. They continue to do this to their humans, nipping at the heel, to herd. But this is without ill intentions, their herding instincts are hard to ignore.

What Does the Perfect Border Collie Look Like?

The perfect Border Collie would look like the standard description of kennel clubs. In general, they are medium-sized dogs with athletic bodies and alert expressions. But of course, these are not the only things that describe the ideal Border Collie.

You also have to consider their eyes, coat, and more! Breed descriptions can get very specific. So below is a rundown of their physical characteristics.

Size and Body

Male Border Collies stand at 19 to 22 in tall (483 to 559 mm), while females are 18 to 21 in tall (457 to 533 mm). Since males are larger, it is natural that they are heavier, at about 31 to 44 lbs (14 to 20 kg). While females weigh around 26 to 41 lbs (12 to 19 kg).

Their body should be a bit longer than it is tall, with strong, yet moderate bones. The important thing is the harmony between their height, weight, length, and bones. All these should work together to give them a balanced and athletic look.


Border Collies have medium-sized ears that can either be erect or semi-erect. If they have the latter, their ears should fall either forward or to the sides of their head. This breed has sensitive hearing, so their ears should be quite mobile.


This breed has oval eyes that are of moderate size and any eye color. But a blue eye color is only acceptable in merle Border Collies. Surrounding the Border Collie’s eyes should be fully pigmented eye rims too.

Skull and Muzzle

A Border Collie’s skull should be flat, with a moderate width. The skull and muzzle are about the same length, with the top of the skull parallel to the muzzle.

Their head should have a slight taper toward the muzzle. A Border Collie’s nose must be fully pigmented, with well-developed nostrils.


Like the rest of their body, a Border Collie’s neck must be strong and in proportion to their size. Their neck has a slight arch that blends seamlessly into their shoulders.


Border Collies should have an athletic look, with a sturdy and muscular body. They have deep, broad chests, with well-sprung ribs on their rib cage. A short and deep loin is ideal, with a tucked-up stomach.


Border Collies have low-hanging tails, moderate in length. It may also have a slight curve at the end.

When excited, they raise their tails. But the base of their tail should not curve towards their back.

Front Legs

When viewed from the front, their legs should be parallel. You should see a slight slope in their pasterns when viewing the profile of their front legs. Their upper arms and shoulders are about equal in length.

Their front feet are oval, with deep paws and toes with a moderate arch. Their toes should also be close together, with nails of moderate length. Removing a Border Collie’s dewclaws is acceptable.

Back Legs

Their back legs should have a muscular and strong appearance. Their thighs are broad and deep, with a graceful slope from the base of their tail.

When they stand, their hocks should be perpendicular to the ground. Their back toes should also be in line with their butt. Like the front toes, the back toes are also oval, with a moderate arch and moderate nail length.


This breed has two coat lengths and one is a short coat, also called a smooth coat. The other is a medium-length coat, also called a rough coat.

No matter the type, they have a dense double coat that is weather resistant. The top coat is longer and can either be straight or wavy with coarse strands. While their undercoat is denser, softer, and shorter.

Border Collies also come in a variety of coat colors and patterns. Organizations are more relaxed about this breed’s coat color compared to other breeds. But some rules are still in place.

For example, white markings on their bodies should not be predominant. Their ear color should also match their main body color. But their color is not as important as their physical conformation.


When observing a Border Collie, one of the first things you will notice is their agility. This breed can swiftly change its direction and speed with grace and effortlessness.

They carry their head below their withers by a bit when in action, not holding it high. They also walk or run without lifting their feet too much and not bouncing too much.

Their front feet should meet with the ground when under their nose. Their rear feet should push their body forward without kicking. As they move, their front and hind legs come near each other but never meet.

What Color Is a Border Collie?

Border Collies come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, other than the usual black and white. Their color can either be standard or nonstandard. And depending on the organization, some of these colors are not allowed.

The difference between the two is that nonstandard colors are not allowed to compete in conformation shows. So if this is something you look forward to, it is best to stick with the standard colors.

Below are the possible colors and patterns of this lovely breed.

Standard Border Collie Colors

  • Solid black
  • Blue
  • Blue merle
  • Lilac
  • Brindle
  • Gold
  • Red
  • Red merle
  • Sable merle
  • Saddleback merle
  • White and blue
  • White and blue merle
  • White and red
  • White and red merle
  • White tickled

Nonstandard Border Collie Colors

  • Seal
  • Slate
  • White and gold
  • White and sable
  • White and seal

What Is the Most Popular Color of Border Collies?

Black and white is the most popular color combination in Border Collies. There is a preference for black and white due to their jobs as herders.

Their black color is sought after as many thought that white dogs were not respected by sheep. But a black dog looks more like a predator, so sheep will listen to these dogs more. While their white markings are so that they are easily seen in the dark.

Herding using an all-black dog under the moonlight is hard. But with the white patches on a Border Collie, this is easier.

Another possible reason for their white markings is to camouflage from predators.

Due to this color combination’s benefits, breeders kept aiming for this. And although people keep Border Collies as pets nowadays, many are still working dogs. So the benefits of being a black and white Border Collie still stand today.

What Is the Rarest Border Collie Color?

If you are seeking a unique-looking Border Collie, go with the rarest color, which is merle. There are now various types of merle, such as:

  • Blue merle
  • White and blue merle
  • White and red merle
  • Red merle
  • Sable merle

The reason why merle is rare is that there are few merle genes in the chromosome of dogs, no matter the breed. As a result, merle Border Collies are a rare occurrence.

To add to their uniqueness, merle Border Collies can also have many eye colors. Other-colored dogs of this breed cannot get away with this as much. A blue-eyed Border Collie is only acceptable if they are merle, according to the AKC.

As beautiful as merle Border Collies are, their looks come with a cost. This unique color is often associated with some health issues. While their coat color does not have a definite impact on their health, the numbers can be alarming.

For example, a surprising number of merle Border Collies are blind and deaf. Many get some sight and hearing as they grow into adults, though.

Another is that this color makes Border Collies extremely sensitive to light. This can affect their quality of life, as this is quite an outdoorsy breed. Having this condition would mean that they cannot play under the sun without a care.

Much like their eyes, their skin is also sensitive to light. Merle Border Collies are more prone to sun damage, like getting sunburns. Even worse, they are more susceptible to developing skin cancer.

What Color Eyes Do Border Collies Have?

The most common eye color in Border Collies is brown. This can range from dark brown, almost black, to light browns of honey and amber. Those beautiful brown eyes can also have a reddish or yellowish tinge.

Some Border Collies can even have green eyes. Even rarer is one with blue eyes, as the gene for this eye color rarely shows up. This eye color is a recessive trait, so both parents need to have this gene to be able to produce a blue-eyed puppy.

But genetics is a tricky topic. It is possible for a litter of puppies to all have brown eyes even if both their parents have blue eyes. The parents may even have brown eyes and produce blue-eyed babies as they carry the needed gene.

Why Do Some Border Collies Have One Blue Eye?

Some Border Collies have odd eye colors due to a condition called heterochromia. Usually, the other eye color is blue because of a lack of pigment in the affected eye.

Heterochromia is not known to have any negative health effects. But it is a quirk some Border Collies have, which many find cute.

Will a Border Collie’s Eye Color Change?

Border Collie puppies are born with blue or bluish eyes. This will slowly change as they age until they get their true eye color. After this, their eye color will not change anymore.

The transition to their true eye color usually starts at about 3 to 4 weeks of age. Once they are 9 weeks of age, their eye color should resemble their true eye color.

Do Border Collies Have Tails?

Border Collies have moderate-length, flowy tails that always have a white tip. A reason for this trait is that the white tip helps shepherds follow their dogs after a long day of herding. When the sun is down, the tip of their tail is more visible than if it were a darker color.

Other than that, this breed’s tail is also quite expressive. It hangs low when they are in deep thought, often when they are trying to understand or solve something.

But when they get excited, their tails will wag like there is no tomorrow. It may even have a slight curl on the tip, leaning forward their body. This usually happens at the sight of their favorite toy or right before playtime.

Are Border Collies Born With Tails?

Border Collies should be born with tails. But as puppies, their tails appear tiny, making it look like they do not have one at all.

For some Border Collies, this tail grows to the standard length. But for others, their tail does not grow to their full length. This is a result of a gene defect, which is now recognized as a lethal gene. This is because there is no way to control this defect, especially where it occurs. It can happen further up on your Border Collie’s spine, causing caudal nerve damage.

Other Border Collies with short tails are lucky. Their work or physical abilities are not affected, so they do not have any hindrances.

If your Border Collie’s tail length concerns you, it is best to take them to the vet. This way, you can be sure whether they are in great shape or if they need help.

How Long Are Border Collie Tails?

A Border Collie’s tail is around 12 to 16 in (305 to 406 mm) long on average. Some of them have shorter tails though, as short as 3.5 in (89 mm) and above.

Do Border Collie Tails Curl?

A normal Border Collie tail should not curl. In purebred, short-haired Border Collies, this can be due to genetics. They may have an expression of a recessive gene that caused their tail to become curly.

But based on the AKC’s breed description, this should not happen and this is a flaw in their eyes. Most dog owners beg to differ, though. They see this as a unique trait that their dogs have and they love it!

Be careful with a supposed purebred Border Collie with a curled tail, though. Their breeder may not have been transparent with you. And your furry friend could be a mix with another breed.

Do You Dock a Border Collies Tail?

Border Collies do not have a tradition of getting their tails docked. The reason behind tail docking is to keep working dogs away from injuries. But this breed has a sturdy body with tails that are not vulnerable to breakage, so docking is not a need.

If you do encounter a Border Collie with a docked tail, there is a reason behind this. Sometimes, it is not even to prevent any injuries.

One is that they may have had their tail injured as puppies, so their tails got docked to prevent further damage. Another is that their mothers bit through their puppy’s tails by accident. This happens when they mistake the tail for the umbilical cord after birth.

The last reason is to distinguish wild dogs from trained ones. This often happens in rural areas, to help dog owners.

While tail docking has its benefits, experts will not recommend you to dock a Border Collie’s tail. They use their tail for balance, maintaining the agility that they are well-known for. This is a crucial part of their herding tactic, and you would not want to take this away from them.

What Do Border Collie Puppies Look Like?

A Border Collie puppy looks like a smaller, pudgier, and fluffier version of the adults. They have a softer, thinner, and single-layered baby coat while they are young. They also have floppy ears at the start, adding more to their cuteness.

How Long Do Border Collies Look Like Puppies?

At around 12 months of age, Border Collies will look more like adults. By this time, they are or are nearing their full-grown size. They should also have their adult teeth and coat by this time.

What Type of Breed Is a Border Collie?

The sturdy and intense Border Collie is a popular medium-sized herding dog. As herders, they have a natural ability to gather, protect, and control their flock. They do so with the grace and agility that they are very well known for.

This is where their famous “eye” also comes in, one of their tactics to move their flock. Border Collies will stare at their animals to move them in the right direction. With this, Border Collies can herd their sheep steadily and silently.

Are There Different Types of Border Collies?

Border Collies have two classifications based on their coat type: rough and smooth. Both have double coats that are weather-resistant for insulation and protection. Their difference lies in the length of their coats.

Rough Border Collies have medium-length hair with feathering in areas of their body. They often have longer hair on the back of their legs, belly, and chest. The hair on their tail can also grow quite long, which needs frequent trimming to avoid getting dirty.

Smooth Border Collies have shorter coats. Unsurprisingly, this type is easier to keep clean and groom.

This breed also has four other types, based on their general looks. All these types have shaped the look of the modern-day Border Collie:

  • Northumbrian type
  • Wiston Cap type
  • Nap type
  • Herdman’s Tommy type

These are not widely used to classify Border Collies anymore. But this will give you some interesting insight into how this well-loved breed came to be.

Northumbrian Type

Hemp was a medium-sized dog with a rough coat and had minimal white trim.

Old Hemp was a mix between a strong-eyed, black dog and a loose-eyed, black and white tricolored dog. The former had a reserved temperament, while the latter had a more outgoing one.

Wiston Cap

This type had a larger build, with a blocky head. The Wiston Cap also had a rough coat with more white trims on their collars, forelegs, chests, and more. These dogs had exceptional speed and high trainability.

Nap Type

Out of the four types, the Nap type is the only one that sports a smooth coat. Much like the smooth Border Collies of today, they also have an undercoat for their insulation.

The Nap type has longer legs with shorter bodies, giving them a squarish look. This is what makes them strong and speedy dogs that were popular as cattle workers.

Herdman’s Tommy Type

The basis for this type is Herdman’s Tommy, one of Old Hemp’s grandsons. Like the others, Tommy was a dog of medium size that had a rough coat. Unlike others, he had a lot of bone and had tan markings apart from his black and white coloration.

The Herdman’s Tommy type is also a powerful dog, headstrong, and had a good nature.

What Dog Group Do Border Collies Belong to?

Border Collies belong to the herding group, which was a part of the working dog group. Dog breeds under this new group work to herd various animals. But Border Collies mainly gather, herd, and protect sheep.

As herding dogs, this breed has exceptional intelligence, work ethic, and physical abilities. They also have impressive agility and endurance with an endless supply of energy.

So outside of work, Border Collies also make extraordinary athletes. They excel in several dog sports, such as agility and herding trials.

Is a Border Collie a Snub-Nose Dog?

Border Collies do not have a snub nose, which means that they can avoid a lot of health issues. Snub-nosed dogs often have breathing difficulties and are prone to overheating.

This can be an issue for Border Collies, who run all day in the field to herd their livestock. It is a good thing that they are not snub-nosed, as this will hinder them from doing what they love!

Are Border Collies Purebred?

This one-of-a-kind breed is purebred, developed through years and years of selective breeding. Breeding for performance was and still is the top priority for Border Collies. With this, the Border Collie’s conformation is perfect for the type of work that they do.

For example, the width between the tops of their shoulder blades allows them to crouch. This is characteristic of the Border Collie whenever they approach and heard livestock.

Any deviations from this could impact their working ability. This is what dog clubs and organizations also emphasize. Judging the seriousness of alterations takes the effect on their performance into account.

Due to their popularity, many breeders will try to sell mixed Border Collies as purebred. So if you notice any alterations from the breed standard, be careful. Even the curl of their tail can mean that they are not purebred.

How Do I Know if My Border Collie Is Purebred?

The easiest way to know if you have a purebred Border Collie is to compare them to the breed standard. But if you have a hard time doing this, there are other ways for you to try.

Unfortunately, some breeders are not honest with you about their litters. To avoid this, here is how you can spot a purebred Border Collie:

  • Check the breed standard
  • Look at their temperament
  • Ask for their family tree
  • See an expert
  • Take a DNA test

Compare Them to the Breed Standard

Examine their appearance and see how they fare to the ideal Border Collie. Below are some key physical traits to watch out for.

Height and Weight

Border Collies have an average height of 19 to 22 in (483 to 559 mm) for males and 18 to 21 in (457 to 533 mm) for females. Their weight should also be around 31 to 44 lbs (14 to 20 kg) for males and 26 to 41 lbs (12 to 19 kg) for females.

But some purebred Border Collies do not fit the standard sizes, so this is not a reliable way. You should also check for their other traits below.


There are two official coat variations of Border Collies, rough and smooth.

Rough Border Collies have longer hair that is thick. When you run your hands through their coat, you will feel some roughness, hence its name.

Smooth Border Collies have shorter and thinner coats. Their coat is dense and should lay flat.

Other than their coat types, take note of their coat colors as well. Border Collies come in a variety of colors and patterns.

Here are some colors that they could come in:

  • Black
  • Black and white
  • Red
  • Lilac
  • Blue
  • Sable

They could have a combination of these, depending on their pattern. Border Collies can also be merle. This is a pattern with irregular patches of diluted and dominant colors.

Border Collies also have color markings. Usually, these are white colorations on certain areas of their body. It often shows on their chest, feet, legs, and even the tip of their tail.


Border Collies have moderately-shaped eyes that often come in brown. Their eye color can also be green, varying shades of brown, or blue. But the latter is only accepted in merle Border Collies.

Examine the rims of their eyes, they should be fully pigmented.

Tongue Color

Although this is not a reliable indicator of a purebred Border Collie, it may come in handy. A Border Collie’s tongue is usually purple in color. Some may have spots on their tongue too.


This is one of the more reliable ways to spot a purebred Border Collie based on their appearance. Border Collies have triangular ears that are medium in size. It can either be erect or partially erect.

If they have the latter, the tips of their ears should only fall forward or outward to the sides.


An athlete like this breed is quite muscular, but not bulky. Instead, they should look lean. Their body length is usually longer than tall as well.

You should also notice deepness on their chest, shoulders, and legs. Their chest should be wider in contrast to their body.

Observe Their Temperament and Behavior

Appearance is not the only thing that matters in determining whether you have a purebred dog. Take a step back and look at the whole package, the dog on the inside matters too!

A key characteristic of Border Collies is their exceptional intelligence. They learn and pick up on commands fast, even thinking for themselves. They are always eager to learn as well.

Other than that, you cannot deny that this breed is a ball of energy waiting to explode. They always find something fun to do and do not appear to run out of energy.

This breed is also ferociously loyal to its pack. Border Collies will be very affectionate towards you and other family members. But they keep a distance from strangers as they are picky about whom they trust.

But no matter who approaches them, this breed will always appear alert and interested. This will show up in their face, which is also something you should look for.

Some other things to watch out for are the following:

  • Their herding instincts
  • Their way of running
  • The Border Collie “eye”

This breed cannot ignore its herding instincts, even as puppies without training. Observe them during playtime, they will try to gather up balls together in an attempt to herd.

You may also experience them herding you or a group of people. They will keep everyone close together, not only to herd but also to protect you.

While observing them in action, keep an eye on how they run. Border Collies will keep their bodies low to the ground as they run. This helps them maintain their agility and speed while they are on the move.

Also, look for the intense and unwavering stare that is characteristic of this breed. You will often see this when they are herding. But you can also observe this stare when they are looking at their surroundings.

Ask for Their Pedigree Information

Before taking your Border Collie home, ask for documents of their family tree and lineage. This way, you will learn who their ancestors are to check if you have a purebred puppy.

Reputable breeders should have these and will not hesitate to show you. If they cannot provide you with these papers, it is best to walk away.

Consult the Experts

You can also ask experts to take a look at your Border Collie. These can be reputable Border Collie breeders, dog experts, or your vet. With their trained eye, they can help you figure out if you have a purebred Border Collie.

Go for a DNA Test

If you are still unsure about your Border Collie, then you can have them take a DNA test. These are available in a lot of vet offices. There are also some at-home tests you can try if the nearest vet does not have one.

All this would need is a saliva swab from your Border Collie. Send the samples to the lab and the results should come back to you within a few weeks.

Is There a Border Collie Crossbreed?

Like other dog breeds, Border Collies can also be a product of crossbreeding. This can result in a dog that combines the best qualities of two dog breeds! But it can also help in dealing with fewer health problems associated with purebred dogs.

Here are some popular Border Collie crossbreed combinations:

  • Border Collie and Poodle
  • Border Collie and Jack Russell Terrier
  • Border Collie and Great Pyrenees
  • Border Collie and Pitbull
  • Border Collie and Labrador Retriever

What Breeds Make a Border Collie?

This is tough to answer as Border Collies developed from landrace sheepdogs. These sheepdogs do not have formal registries, and so their lineage is hard to track. From the existing sheepdogs of the British Isles, this breed came to be.

Other sources say that Border Collies are a mix of Roman and Viking Spitz herding breeds. But since their origin history is quite loose, this can be hard to confirm.

So how did breeders develop the standard Border Collies of today? Well, you have a few dogs who played a key part in this to thank for.

Breeders in the Anglo-Scottish border region developed this exceptional breed. They all worked to create the perfect sheepdog and these dogs below were the basis.

The four Border Collie types, based on their looks, are based on four dogs:

  • Old Hemp
  • Wiston Cap
  • Nap
  • Herdman’s Tommy

Old Hemp

Old Hemp was the basis for the Northumbrian type.

The majority of modern Border Collies have a connection to a dog named Old Hemp. Originated from the Northumbrian region of England, Hemp sired more than 200 puppies.

Wiston Cap

The characteristic herding pose of Border Collies is all thanks to Wiston Cap. He was a popular stud whose bloodline is in the modern-day Border Collies.


Among the four dogs, Nap was the only one who had a smooth coat. This did not affect their working abilities, though. These dogs were powerful and fast which made them widely used cattle dogs.

Herdman’s Tommy

Tommy was a grandson of Old Hemp. About 3 to 4 lineages that connect to Hemp go through Tommy. This may be the dog that played a part in the Border Collie’s headstrong quality.

Where Did Border Collies Originate?

Border Collies originate from the borders of the Anglo-Scottish region. Hence, the word “border” is in their name. The word “collie” means “useful” in old Celtic.

This breed worked there as sheepdogs and was of great value to herders. Border Collies have the stamina and energy that they have today due to centuries of work.

When Did Border Collies Originate?

There is debate over when this breed originated. But the term “Border Collie” was first used by James Reid in 1915. This was to differentiate them from the other collie dogs registered in the Kennel Club.

Why Were Border Collies Bred?

People bred Border Collies for a purpose, to herd sheep and other livestock. They spend hundreds of years trying constantly to improve their herding abilities. And they created a very capable breed who does the job — and does an exceptional job at that.

The beginnings of Border Collies have a link to the rise of livestock farming and wool trade in the UK. Flock owners could not manage their sheep on their own, so they needed the help of a furry friend.

Thus began their goal of developing the epitome of a sheepdog, the Border Collies.

So they bred various dogs with such a diverse gene pool for over a century. The dogs’ appearance was the least of their worries. People bred plenty of dogs for improved herding instincts.

They needed a dog who could withstand hours of tireless work. And this dog had to do it in unforgiving terrains and bitter climates. This is their daily work, covering over 50 miles (81 km) a day while sprinting.

So they needed a dog who is smart, trainable, and agile, among many other traits. Does this sound familiar? This is the Border Collie people know and love today.

What Are Border Collies Bred For Today?

While Border Collies continue to be herding dogs, they are also bred to be family pets today. You may also see them grace various dog competitions.

They have come a long way, from protecting livestock in the field to finding their way into loving homes. But how would a working dog do in a home setting, though?

Turns out, their herding instincts are part of what makes them great family dogs. Their protectiveness over their flock translates well to the members of the family. And since they worked closely with one person for centuries, they will have a favorite person.

Border Collies as family pets are very affectionate to whom they consider as part of their pack. They will herd family members, keeping everyone close together and under their watch.

Their alertness is also a big bonus. Border Collies will alert you whenever they sense something unusual in their environment. Even if this is nothing to be afraid of, like the sound of rodents in the attic.

Having this delightful breed at home will make anyone feel at ease, especially at night.

But having such a smart and active breed does come with a cost. They need a lot of physical and mental stimulation. Otherwise, they get bored and this can bring out their destructive behaviors.

This is why many dog owners have their Border Collies join various dog sports.

Although dog sports are not an everyday thing, this gives Border Collies a sense of purpose. After all, they worked tirelessly for centuries, so they will look for some thrill.

With their athletic prowess, agility, and high trainability, Border Collies dominate dog sports. Especially dog agility, which is right up their alley. They feel at home when they go through an agility course.

Border Collies continue to dominate various dog sports to this day. So much so that some organizations create competitions that exclude this breed. They call these championships ABC, which stands for anything but collies.

This further proves that Border Collies are a class of their own.

Are Border Collies Hunting Dogs?

Centuries of work were to make Border Collies the perfect herding dogs, not hunting dogs. As a result, bloodhounds and sighthounds outperform this wonderful breed. But with some training, Border Collies are more than capable of being one.

The ideal hunting dog should have these characteristics:

  • Strong prey drive
  • Obedience
  • Endurance
  • High trainability
  • Athleticism

As you can see, your Border Collie has all these traits. They are smart, always up to learn, and eager to please you. This dog can and will do any task you give them, and they will do it with a smile.

Their boundless energy is also a huge plus. This breed can put in hours of tireless work if needed.

Other than that, they are also quite agile, which is an edge. Combine that with their high chasing instinct and you can turn them into your hunting buddy.

But Border Collies do fall short in certain aspects as a result of their breeding. To make way for their skills now, breeders had to suppress the following:

  • Their aggressiveness
  • Their eyesight
  • Their sense of smell

To add, Border Collies can also be loud. You would not want this when they are stalking prey. These dogs also often have a noise phobia. So this can be an issue if you shoot a gun beside them.

They do not have the exceptional eyesight of sighthounds like Whippets. Nor do they have as many nose receptors as a bloodhound, like Beagles. Border Collies also do not have the soft mouths of retrievers.

But somewhere in this furry dog still lies a hunter. Like other dogs, they are descendants of wolves and hunting was a crucial part of their survival.

While they are not on the level of true hunting dogs, Border Collies have an edge over other dog breeds. This breed’s disadvantages, like being loud, can be great for a specific type of hunting.

Hunting dogs have different purposes. Their jobs will depend on their skills:

  • Coursing: Dogs use their superb eyesight and speed to locate and chase prey.
  • Track Trailing: This uses dogs with excellent smell, locating a scent using their nose. Oftentimes, dogs who do track trailing take part in the kill.
  • Retrieving: Breeds with soft mouths retrieve the game using their mouth.
  • Pointing: These dogs locate their game and hold point to wait for you. This gives you time to prepare your shot.
  • Flushing: This style entails dogs locating birds with their nose. Then they send the birds off into the air so you can shoot.

Of these five types, the Border Collie could do well in flushing. Their loud nature can be an advantage as a way to put birds in the air.

The issue with flushing is the loud sound from the gun. But with proper introduction and socialization, they will get used to it.

They may also do great in retrieving. Although you have to train them to be more delicate with their mouths.

But Border Collies may struggle with coursing and track trailing. It is best if you stick to sighthounds and bloodhounds for this.

What Were Border Collies Bred to Hunt?

Border Collies are not bred to hunt other animals. Instead, this breed herds and protects its prey. Usually, they herd sheep, but they can and will handle other livestock as well.

How Far Can Border Collies Smell?

Border Collies can smell scents about 12 miles (20 km) away. But weather conditions can affect their ability, like strong winds. This will also depend on the type of scent that they are looking for.

Are Border Collies Good Watchdogs?

Due to their alert nature, Border Collies excel at being watchdogs. A lot of their traits as herders transfer well into this responsibility.

The job of a watchdog is to spot anything out of the ordinary in their surroundings. When they do, they alarm you with their barks. So they should have the following qualities:

  • Loud barker
  • Hyperaware
  • Sensitive to surroundings
  • Protective

All these you can find in a Border Collie. This is thanks to centuries of handling a large flock of sheep.

Part of a Border Collie’s duties is to protect their livestock, especially at night. There are a lot of predators that lurk in the shadows, trying to catch their prey. But thanks to this breed, sheep and other animals have a protector.

They have been doing this for centuries. And so, they have developed a strong protective instinct.

This can translate well into your home. Border Collies form strong bonds with whom they see as part of their pack.

Is a Border Collie a Good Therapy Dog?

Some Border Collies do a great job as therapy dogs. But they are not the first dog that pops into mind when you think of one.

The job of therapy dogs is to provide comfort to whoever needs it. This can be in hospitals, nursing homes, kindergartens, and more. These dogs must have a stable temperament and they should be friendly and confident. Only then can they undergo training to be therapy dogs.

As you know, Border Collies are one of the most intelligent and trainable dogs. They can adapt to almost any job you give them, even being therapy dogs. They are loyal, affectionate, and nonaggressive. All these are necessary for therapy dogs. But other than that, therapy dogs should also have the following qualities:

  • No fear of loud sounds
  • Open to meeting new people
  • Patience in getting handled

These are where Border Collies may fall short. Border Collies are sensitive to stimuli, especially loud sounds. And although they are affectionate, this is often reserved for their family. Border Collies are wary of strangers and do not open up to them right away.

Being therapy dogs, they will also encounter a lot of unexpected things. This breed is alert, always scanning its environment. So in a busy place like a hospital, they will easily get distracted.

There are no breed restrictions to being a therapy dog. Most of it boils down to their temperament, which some dog breeds already have a headstart in. The other aspect of being a therapy dog is training, which Border Collies have no problem with.

But keep in mind that dogs are individuals. Their temperament can vary within the breed.

Even if this breed is not meant to be a therapy dog, other Border Collies are successful in being one. So do not close the doors on your Border Collie yet. Give it a try and see where it goes!

Do Border Collies Make Good Service Dogs

With proper training, Border Collies can make excellent service dogs. They already have the traits that make them a strong candidate for the job.

Being a service dog is not an easy task as it entails a lot of responsibility. These dogs assist people with mental and physical disabilities. Service dogs improve their quality of life by performing everyday jobs, for the most part.

With this, not every dog breed is fit to become a service dog. But below are the traits of the Border Collie that make them fit for the job:

  • High intelligence and trainability
  • Sensitivity to changes
  • Strong protective instincts
  • High energy level
  • Eagerness to work
  • Medium build

Intelligence and Trainability

No doubt, Border Collies are one of the smartest dog breeds. Service dogs need to learn a lot of tasks and commands. But these dogs can even pick up on subtle cues, such as facial expressions and hand gestures.


Many centuries of herding made this breed sensitive to any changes. Whether it is in their environment or with the flock that they are protecting.

This translates well to their owners. This breed will alert its owners of bodily changes by barking, licking, or nosing. But they can also pick up on the emotional changes of their person.

Protective Instincts

In the field, Border Collies protect their flock day and night. But when employed as service dogs, they will do the same to their person. They will not leave your side and stay close to you.

Energy Level

Border Collies are such a ball of energy and they are great at channeling this into their work. With their stamina, they can keep up with their daily tasks without a problem. If there is a need to, this breed will sprint like there is no tomorrow to get their person immediate care.

Work Ethic

This breed constantly thinks of what it can work on, what it can do, anything to get them moving. They are happiest when they have a job to do and they take great pride in it. Border Collies are a responsible breed that never complains even about tireless work.

Medium Build

The size of a Border Collie seems like a perfect choice for many. They are big enough to assist in carrying heavy objects, opening doors, and more. But they are small enough for easy maintenance as well.