Dog Breeds: Border Collie

Fast Facts

  • Type of dog: working group
Height: 19-20 inches (male), 18-21 (female)
  • Weight: 30-45 pounds
  • Grooming: medium
  • Life span: 12-15 years

Bred to herd sheep, this energetic dog still remembers its working heritage and is never happier than when it has a job to do. This breed herds its charges by intimidation, dropping its head and giving the sheep the “eye” to move them to the desired location.

Distinctive characteristics

Looking at a shelter dog that might be part border collie? Look for these characteristics:

  • black nose
  • variety of colors (black, tricolor, or red) with white
  • semi-erect ears
  • hair that’s either about three inches long and rough or about an inch long and sleek
  • a brush tail
  • feathers on the back legs

Where to Get a Border Collie

The American Kennel Club lists several official rescue groups including:

You’ll also find numerous border collies available for adoption on Petfinder.

Border Collie Tips

  • The border collie needs a lot of exercise and will not make a good pet for apartment dwellers and those who don’t have time for play and energetic walks.
  • Because of his herding instincts, the border collie is not a good choice for those with small children…he will herd the kids!
  •  Border collies love agility training, a good game of Frisbee, and anything that challenges their body and their mind.


Border Collies are considered one of the most intelligent breeds of dogs and are also highly obedient. They also like exercise–and a LOT of it. Border collies are not a good choice as a house dog with little chance to exercise beyond a leisurely walk. Bred as working dogs, these dogs still enjoy working and being very active. Border Collies are very loyal and protective towards its family, so be prepared for its reserved and guardian-like personality to spring up when in the company of strange dogs and other animals.

Border Collie Video

By Scottish filmmaker, Jim Closs, this video series was filmed over the course of several years including some footage at the Border Collie Rescue York centre.

Did You Know?

  • The Border Collie has been bred for over a century for their ability to circle stock and guide them back towards the shepherd.
  • Sheepdogs (as the Border Collies were called) became very popular and in 1873 the first official sheepdog trial took place to test the qualities and function of the animals.
  • The first famous border collie was named Hemp. Hemp herded using intimidation, using eye contact with the livestock. Hemp is considered the father of the modern day Border Collie.
  • The name Border Collie wasn’t official until 1915. The breed wasn’t recognized by the AKC as a show dog until 1995.
  • The Border Collie breed traces it roots back to the border of Scotland and England.