The words Dog Breed Info with the letter D inside of a black paw print

The Purebred Border Collie

Information and Pictures

Zoey the Border Collie sitting on a blacktop surface with its mouth open

Zoey the black and white Border Collie at 5 years old

Other Names
  • Scottish Sheepdog



The Border Collie is a medium sized, energetic working dog. Its body is slightly longer than it is tall. The relatively flat skull is moderate in width. The skull and muzzle are about the same length, with a moderate stop. The strong teeth meet in a scissors bite. The oval eyes are set well apart and brown in color, except in merles where one or both eyes may be blue. The medium sized ears are set well apart, either carried erect or semi-erect. The front legs are straight when viewed from the front, but slightly sloping when viewed from the side. The medium sized tail is set low reaching at least to the hock, rising somewhat when the dog is excited. Dewclaws are usually removed. The double coat is weather resistant, dense and close-fitting. There are two coat varieties: a short, sleek coat (about 1 inch (2.5 cm) long) and a coarse, rough coat (about 3 inches (7.6 cm) long). The coat colors come in black and white, tricolor, red and white, black and gray, yellow, yellow and white, sable, and all black. The longer haired variety should have a mane and tail brush. The hair on the face, ears and front legs is always short and sleek. Since Border Collies are bred for working ability and intelligence rather than for physical beauty, conformation varies widely.


The Border Collie is very intelligent and aware of its surroundings. It is able to be trained to a high degree. This is one of the hardest working dogs thriving on praise. Border Collies are represented among the leaders in competitive levels in various sports, excelling in agility skills, obedience, sheepdog trials and Frisbee™. These competitions are right up their alley, and they are commonly used and often win. For those who wish to reach high levels in dog sports, the Border Collie is a gift from heaven. Farmers are also happy with them, as they were originally bred as a farmhand. The Border Collie is highly energetic with great stamina. Provided they get sufficient activity to keep them occupied and ample exercise, the Border Collie will get along quite happily with other dogs and children, however they may be aggressive with other dogs of the same sex if you are not showing 100% leadership with them. They should not be trusted with small non-canine pets, however there are plenty of Border Collies that live and get along with family cats. This breed can be sensitive and should be very well socialized as a puppy to prevent shyness. To be truly happy, they need a lot of consistent leadership, extensive daily exercise, and a job to occupy their minds. Border Collies will often challenge their owners’ authority when they are adolescents. Dominance levels vary greatly, even within the same litter. You need to be this dog’s firm, confident, consistent pack leader, or he may try and take over. If you allow him to take over, without enough socialization and mental and physical exercise, he can be highly reactive and sound sensitive, making him a poor choice for families with young children. The Border Collie is a perfectionist with a permanent will to please. This breed lives for serving you day in and day out. It is not an ideal pet for people who do not plan to spend a lot of time with it. These dogs are too intelligent to lie around the house all day with nothing to do. If you are not willing to put many hours a day into keeping these dogs well exercised in both mind and body, then it is recommended you do not adopt a Border Collie. There are other breeds that are similar yet not as demanding such as the Shetland Sheepdog or the Australian Shepherd, which are both highly trainbable, still need stimulation and exercise, but can usually get away with less than a Border Collie. If there is insufficient activity then the Border Collie will find its own work to do, and that may not be what YOU had in mind when we say the word WORK. When not challenged daily they can and will become destructive. They cannot be left alone for too long with nothing to do if they have not been exercised to the point where they are both mentally and physically tired. A bored Border Collie will not make a good pet, as it can become neurotic and may start using its escape artist talents, among other behavior problems. They have strong herding instincts and may try to herd children and strangers and must be told this is not acceptable.

Height, Weight

Height: Males 19 - 22 inches (48 - 56 cm) Females 18 - 21 inches (46 - 53 cm)

Weight: Males 30 - 45 pounds (14 - 20 kg) Females 27 - 42 pounds (12 - 19 kg)

Health Problems

Prone to epilepsy, hip dysplasia, PRA (Collie Eye Anomaly) and deafness. Often allergic to fleas. Some herding dogs carry a MDR1 gene which makes them sensitive to certain drugs that are otherwise okay to give another dog, but if tested positive for this gene can kill them.

Living Conditions

The Border Collie is not recommended for apartment life. They are very active indoors and do best with acreage. This breed will do fine in a kennel provided it has daily activity and sees plenty of its handler. This breed is not suited to life chained up in the backyard all day.


Physical exercise alone is not sufficient for this very intelligent and highly energetic dog. They want to work and must do so with body and mind as one, carrying out different tasks. Fast and agile, these lively little dogs have boundless energy and thrive on hard work and play. They should also be taken on a long, brisk daily walk. They are a delight to see streaking after a ball or bringing straying sheep back to the fold.

Life Expectancy

About 12-15 years

Litter Size

4 - 8 puppies, average 6


The Border Collie needs regular combing and brushing to keep the coat gleaming. Extra care is needed when the soft, dense undercoat is shedding. Bathe or dry shampoo only when necessary. Check the ears and coat regularly for ticks. This breed is an average shedder.


The Border Collie was originally called the "Scotch Sheep Dog" and originated in Northumberland along the borders of Scotland and England. It is a descendant from dogs used by the Vikings to herd reindeer, the old British droving breeds, with spaniel added. Named a "workaholic" for its sheer drive and love for working, the Border Collie has an eye that can hypnotize cattle. It can master any type of herd by crouching down and mesmerizing the animals with its intense stare. One of the most trainable breeds, the Border Collie also serves well as a narcotics and bomb detection dog and is a frequent high performer in obedience, agility, Frisbee™ trials, police work, search and rescue, Flyball, performing tricks and competitive obedience. Some Border Collies have been trained very successfully as guide dogs for the blind. Currently very good results are obtained with them for general assistance to the handicapped in The Netherlands. The Border Collie was first recognized by the AKC in 1995.


Herding, AKC Herding

  • ABC = The American Border Collie Association
  • ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
  • ACR = American Canine Registry
  • AIBC = The American Int. Border Collie Registry
  • AKC = American Kennel Club
  • ANKC = Australian National Kennel Club
  • APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
  • CKC = Continental Kennel Club
  • DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
  • FCI = Fédération Cynologique Internationale
  • KCGB = Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • NKC = National Kennel Club
  • NZKC = New Zealand Kennel Club
  • UKC = United Kennel Club
Jaxon the Border Collie sitting in the middle of two cow toys

Jaxon the Border Collie at 5 years old with the cows—"This picture was taken on Cow Bay at Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Jack blended in so well we joked he was wearing camouflage! He is the best dog anyone could ever ask for, he's been my constant companion and helps around the house putting his toys away, answering the phone, picking up dropped remotes and of course playing ball."

Marnie the Border Collie standing outside in dirt with its mouth open and tongue out

Marnie the Border Collie at 9 months old

Bib and Tucker the Border Collies laying outside in the grass with their mouths open and tongues out

Bib and Tucker the purebred Border Collies—"Both dogs are full-grown, purebred Border Collies, although Bib is 20 pounds lighter than Tucker. Both are excellent herders with lovely dispositions. Bib is shy with people and fearless with animals. Tucker is more outgoing with people and less interested in other dogs."

Side view of a lean wavy coated white, brown, gray and tan dog standing in the woods under the shade of thick trees

"This is Franny Rose, my registered female Border Collie at 10 months old. Her coloring is a red merle tri."

"Franny is a wonderful dog and true to the Border Collie standards. She has a strong eye, very athletic, and herding instincts. Franny is also awesome with people, adults and children alike. She is now 11 months and weighing in at about 25-30lbs. She will be an awesome agility prospect, which is something I’m looking forward to next year!"

Sandra the Border Collie standing on a blanket in the backseat of a vehicle

Sandra the blue-eyed Border Collie at 15 months old—"I have had Sandra since she was 8 weeks old. Although I consider myself quite strict with her we have such a great balanced relationship. Having had Border Collies in the family previously, I had never had my own and I also live alone, so I knew what was in front of me. From a very young age I started taking her with me in car journeys which enables us to spent as much time together as possible. I dedicate a large portion of my life to her and he well being. This breed is such a joy if you have an active life and they can be part of it somehow. I think I've finally got the balance right. She completely respects me as her master and this is evident. I completely respect her as my 'princess' although I'd never tell her, she Is a feisty lady! Her blue eyes are the talking point and envy of many. We both are truly blessed."

Wynne the Border Collie standing in the grass and looking into the distance

Wynne the 7-year-old Border Collie

Gill the Border Collie laying in a plastic bucket type dog bed with its ears back

Gill the tri-color Border Collie at 3 years old—"Gill was obtained from an area in Kerry, Ireland called Castlegregory. This breed of Collie has been unique to the area for many years now, mainly for hearding mountain sheep. I have never owned a Collie before now. I'm absolutely hooked. He is a beautiful dog. The only draw back is he is obsessed with trying to heard horses with varying degrees of success and a few kicks."

Gill the Border Collie sitting in the plastic dog bed with its ears back

Gill the tri-color Border Collie at 3 years old

Close Up - Koda the Border Collie laying in a lawn

Koda is a black and white Border Collie shown here at 1 and a half years old.

Koda the Black & White Border Collie sitting on a dock with a paw in the air. Its mouth is open and its tongue is out

Koda the black and white Border Collie giving her paw

Koda the Border Collie Play bowing

Koda in the Border Collie's stereotyped breed-specific behavior, an eye gaze and a lowered stance

Action shot - Koda the Border Collie jumping in the air to catch a frisbee

Koda the black and white Border Collie catching the Frisbee

Action shot - Koda the Border Collie mid jump in the air with his mouth open

Awesome jump from Koda the Border Collie, shown here at 1 and a half years old

Mildred the Border Collie standing on a rock structure and looking towards the camera holder with its mouth open and tongue out

"This is Mildred A.K.A. Millie the black and white Border Collie from Scotland. Her parents are working sheepdogs so she is the perfect example of beauty with brains and is top of both her obedience and agility classes. Millie also enjoys search work where she has to use her nose to find an object that I have hidden in an open field. She weighs 23 kg (51 pounds) and her favourite toy is a tennis ball. This is a photo of Millie on a day out in Loch Lomond."

Laura Moretz throwing a frisbee to her dog, a jumping, Ariel Riot the Border Collie is high up in the air focused on the airborne frisbee

Laura Moretz and her dog Ariel Riot performing in Frisbee

Bella the Border Collie puppy running past its owner with its head down

"Bella the Border Collie at 4 months old—she is a people-loving dog and loves to play with her tennis ball. In this picture is her using her Border Collie Eye to chase after her ball."

Right Profile - Nouba the Border Collie standing outside with its mouth open and tail relaxed down

Nouba the Border Collie at 11 months old from Brazil

Nouba the Border Collie as a puppy sitting on a brick porch with its tongue out and mouth open

Nouba the Border Collie at 6 months old from Brazil

Jade the Red and White Border Collie laying in a clear plastic bin

Jade is a red and white Border Collie

Brin the Border Collie standing on a porch with a ball toy in its mouth

Brin, a 1 ½-year-old smooth-coated tricolor Border Collie

Brin the smooth-coated tricolored Border Collie laying down on a wooden deck

Brin, a 1 ½-year-old smooth-coated tricolor Border Collie

Vegas the Border Collie sitting on a carpetted floor looking up at the camera holder

Vegas the smooth-coated, tricolor Border Collie at 1 year old—"My husband and I adopted her from our local Humane Society. She loves to run at the dog park and play in the snow."

Vegas the Border Collie is laying on a carpetted floor next to a little girl and looking at the camera holder with a Christmas tree in the background

Vegas the smooth-coated, tricolor Border Collie at 1 year old

Vegas the Border Collie laying on a bed with newspapers next to it

Vegas the smooth-coated, tricolor Border Collie at 1 year old

Vegas the Border Collie laying down outside with its head in woodchips and a rock next to it.

Vegas the smooth-coated, tricolor Border Collie at 1 year old

Vegas the Border Collie laying on a couch next to a couple of pillows stacked and a dog toy behind her

Vegas the smooth-coated, tricolor Border Collie at 1 year old

Close Up - Daisy Mae the Border Collie sitting on a rug looking at the camera holder

Daisy Mae the yellow Border Collie

Close Up - Cobain the Border Collie sitting outside with its head tilted to the left

"Cobain is a registered purebred Border Collie. He is yellow and white (also known as "Australian Red") which is seen as an uncommon colour for the breed, but it is by no means "rare." He gets taken for at least 2 hours of running each day as well as numerous rounds of fetch. We have also just started doing agility and he is excelling greatly at it. He is an amazing dog for my family in every aspect. I doubt I will ever own another breed."

Cobain the Border Collie jumping over a dog agility bar with its mouth open and tongue out

Cobain the yellow and white Border Collie at 4 years old performing agility

Cobain the Border Collie sitting in a pile of snow with snow on its face and its head tilted to the right

Cobain the yellow and white Border Collie at 4 years old with snow on her face.

Billie the Border Collie sitting on a rug with a bee costume on and her mouth slightly open

"This is Billie. She is our patient, loving, five-year-old Border Collie. We named her after the jazz singer Billie Holiday. Rare for a Border Collie, she is a city dog. Every morning, her dad takes her for a 10-mile run down by the river. She loves hanging out down by the sandbar and fetching sticks in the river in the summer, and rolling around in the snow in the winter. She was very well socialized when she was a puppy, and is a wonderful girl! For Halloween, Billie was a bumble bee, but it only lasted about five minutes until she found a way to wiggle out of her costume! Everyone in her family, including her five brothers and sisters love her very much!"

Close Up - Billie the Border Collie sitting in a room with a person behind her who is sitting in a wooden chair and working on a computer

Billie the Border Collie at 6 years old

Close Up - Billie the Border Collie's face

Billie the Border Collie at 6 years old

Billie the Border Collie walking down a path with a big stick in its mouth

Billie the Border Collie at 10 years old—"Billie is getting older, but continues to choose her sticks with ambitious force."

Lacey the Border Collie walking to the camera holder with a blue and green rope toy that has red balls on each end in her mouth

Lacey the Border Collie at 9 years old—"Lacey is a kind-hearted 9-year-old Border Collie with 3 legs because she was run over and lost a limb while still under a year. Lacey gets along fantastically. She loves to play fetch, but she also loves lounging around and taking kisses!"

Lacey the Border Collie running in a yard with a rope toy in her mouth

Lacey the Border Collie at 9 years old