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

The Purebred Border Collie

Information and Pictures

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

Other Names
  • Scottish Sheepdog

bawr-der kol-ee


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
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."

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."

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

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

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

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."

See more examples of the Border Collie