Border Collie Logo Border Collie Logo
What is a Border Collie Like?

"..many Border Collies have difficulty
adjusting to life as a pet."

The History

The History of the Border Collie lies in the working collies used by shepherds in the Border counties of Scotland and England in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

The Look

The Border Collie is one of the few breeds not bred for looks. Expect a great variety among them. Generally, they are a medium-sized dog, most often black with white "collie markings" of collar, blaze, socks and tip of tail. Many are tri-colored, that is, black and white with varying amounts of tan, usually on the face, legs and under the tail. They can be red, blue-grey, blue or red merle, brindle, or sable, all with varying amounts of white and sometimes with tan. They can have rough or smooth (short) coats, and erect or semi-erect ears. Sometimes their coats are wavy or even curly. They have a double coat, with the soft undercoat shedding out completely in summer, so that they definitely need grooming.


The breed can be subject to a variety of inherited diseases: Collie Eye Anomaly, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and Canine Hip Dysplasia are well-known problems. Some have inherited epilepsy and endocrine diseases, though the inheritance of these diseases has not been currently proven. Allergies and skin conditions, and sensitivity to fleas or foods are also known.

Intelligence and Herding Instinct

Because of their intelligence and herding instincts, many Border Collies have difficulty adjusting to life as a pet.

The Border Collie has no fear in "heading" a moving object. That is, to place the moving object between itself and the owner. This is especially dangerous when a Border Collie is tempted by moving traffic.

They need a great deal of attention and activity. Border Collies were bred as sheepdogs to work as a team with a shepherd. They are human oriented and don't do well in a household where they are left alone for long hours of the day. In this type of situation they often get into trouble keeping themselves busy by: chewing furniture, tearing off wallpaper, digging holes in gardens, chasing bicycles, motorcycles, cars and paper boys. They can sometimes bite children in their desire to control movement. Border Collies may bark incessantly when tied up for long periods without human contact, or when left in a yard where they can see but not participate in human activity.

This writer found it impossible to be upset upon returning home to discover the contents of a $1200 sofa strewn about the house when greeted at the door by a happy expression that suggested "How was your day? I had a sofa..".

Great Character

On the plus side, Border Collies are intelligent dogs, often great "characters" who will entertain their owners from morning to night. They are very trainable and can be taught to do a great many things. They can be loyal and loving. Many have a very sensitive nature.
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