Border Collie Breed Information Guide: Photos, Traits, & Care

Written by: Samantha Erb

July 11, 2022

A sheepish sheepdog that isn’t afraid to show off their signature stare, border collies are a beloved breed hailing from Scotland. And while these pups may have intimidated sheep across the green hills and pastures of their homeland, their look these days is more likely to make you chuckle than take off in fear.

Border Collie

With drooping, triangular ears and feathered tails, border collies are handsome and hardworking dogs. Their coats can be rough or smooth and come in a range of colors, from the standard black and white to tri-color or even solid colors. Mid-sized and sturdy border collies are always ready to push it to the limit—running, jumping, and working their way into the hearts of dog lovers across the country.

Breed Overview

  • Height: 18–22 inches
  • Weight: 30–55 lbs
  • Lifespan: 12–15 years
  • Breed Size: Medium
  • Colors: Variety of colors including black, white, blue, blue merle, red merle, brindle
  • Good With: Kids, other dogs, cats (all with good socialization)
  • Temperament: Intelligent, athletic, hard-working

Also Known As…

Highland or Scotch Collie. Welsh or Northern Sheepdog. Just plain ol’ sheepdog, shepherd, the ultimate herder. The Super Genius™ or, “how’d you solve that algebra equation if you don’t have opposable thumbs?”

What Is The History Of The Border Collie?

To uncover the border collie’s true history, you have to go way, way back to the era of ancient Rome. Yes, gladiator fights, world conquest, and border collies—an inseparable trio. 

For the three centuries that ancient Rome ruled over Great Britain, they used herding dogs to manage their livestock, importing animals from the east. As Roman rule fell to the Vikings, they too brought the herding dog, this time importing new dog breeds from the north. These two monolithic cultures introduced distinctive breeds with powerful herding tendencies, and after decades of intermingling, the border collie was born.

As the offspring of diverse herding dog breeds, the border collie quickly earned its reputation as a premier sheepdog, navigating the difficult terrain of the British Isles, and keeping local livestock in line. But their role as the world’s greatest herding dog wasn’t enough for them—border collies had to become a favorite among families as companion dogs, too.

After growing in popularity in the UK, the border collie breed was introduced to Australia and New Zealand, lending their talents to herders down-under. By the mid-20th century, this breed had made its way to the US and has been on the up-and-up ever since. After earning recognition from the American Kennel Club, excelling at canine competitions, and providing companionship across the country, the border collie is now cemented as one of America’s favorite breeds.1

How Big Do Border Collies Get?

Height: 18–22 inches

Weight: 30–55 pounds

How Long Do Border Collies (Generally) Live?

12 to 15 years is the standard life span for this resilient breed.

What Is A Border Collie’s Temperament & Personality Like?

Wondering if the border collie personality is hard to handle?  Did you know that border collies are one of the smartest dog breeds? Border collies are rarely happier than when working on a task, completing a job, or engaging in some serious exercise. These highly athletic creatures are up for anything and typically possess an excitable yet highly intelligent personality, which makes them great for dog sports like agility competitions. They’re not just happy-go-lucky pups; they’re keen thinkers and loyal companions as well. However, the border collie is also a herding dog. This means they have a strong herding instinct to keep their humans together. If not trained well, they can develop separation anxiety if their humans are not in the same spot.

Are Border Collies Good With Kids? Cats? Dogs?

Border collies are fierce protectors of their flock—and that includes their humans. They’re frequently employed as watchdogs, looking out for the safety and well-being of their family. Naturally, they’re more than happy to take a break from their important tasks to play with your young ones and let loose now and again.

When it comes to other pets in the home, the best way to ensure a happy household is through early introductions. Border collies can get along well with cats and dogs of any breed, so long as they’re introduced at a relatively young age in a calm, secure environment.

Border Collie

Are Border Collies High Energy? 

Uh, do birds fly? Put simply, yes and yes. 

You’ll want to set aside significant time to keep your border collie occupied. These dogs can be intense and demanding when it comes to their daily exercise needs, which can amount to over two hours per day. If you don’t have a pasture full of sheep for them to herd, consider long walks, hikes, backyard romps, and dog park visits to tire them out.

Are Border Collies Hard To Train?

Despite their intensity and energy levels, border collies tend to be very easy to train. Because of the border collie’s history as sheepdogs, it’s no surprise that they’re highly loyal and eager to listen to their owner’s commands—especially when they’re offered a treat. 

Make the most of your training by implementing positive reinforcement and keeping training sessions short and simple.

Do Border Collies Have Health Issues?

Although border collies are one of the dogs that live longest and are one of the best medium sized dog breeds, they are susceptible to many of the most common health problems for mid-sized dogs, including:

  • Hip dysplasia 
  • Epilepsy
  • Immune system disorders

Additionally, border collies may develop Collie Eye Anomaly, a genetic condition that can lead to vision loss.2 This health issue is usually discovered within the first few weeks of a border collie puppy’s life. Genetic testing and early detection often make all the difference, so be sure to consult with a vet about any precautions you can take or potential problems you notice. Plus, research about the routine care requirements of your pup. This will help you watch for any ailments like heart disease or dental disease and other genetic predispositions that are prone to develop in this breed. 

Border Collie

Do Border Collies Need To Be Groomed? 

Despite their majestic good looks, border collies are fairly low maintenance when it comes to grooming. In fact, a simple brush and the occasional bath should keep your pup looking great all year round.

If you’re looking to spruce up your collie’s coat, you could trim the feathery fur around their legs and feet, but this is more of an aesthetic preference than a breed requirement.

Do Border Collies Shed?

With their thick double coats, border collies are known to shed all year round, with the two heaviest periods in the spring and fall. 

How Much Does It Cost To Care For A Border Collie?

All in all, you’ll likely be looking at a cost of around $1300 a year to welcome a border collie into your family—well worth it for these loveable creatures.


Border collies typically eat 1.5 to 2 cups of food per day. Depending on your food choice, this could cost $30 to $80 per month.

Instead of opting for standard store-bought food, try BARK Eats. It’s pre-portioned and developed by veterinary nutritionists to fulfill all of your pup’s health needs. Plus, it’s breed-specific, so you can feed your border collie with food made just for them. Get 50% off your first month!

Border Collie

Routine Vet Care (Healthy Dog)

Regular veterinary checkups are essential to keep your border collie in good health. A typical check-up runs about $50, but the total bill could increase if your border collie puppy needs x-rays, bloodwork, or medication. 

Preventative Medications For Border Collies

Flea and tick prevention, along with standard heartworm treatments, typically cost $100 or more per year for your border collie. 

Border Collie Grooming

You don’t need to take your collie in for a regular trim, but brushing is a must to minimize excess hair, especially during shedding season. Consider picking up a variety of combs and brushes and a nice dog-friendly shampoo ($20–$50 altogether) to bathe your collie every few months.

Toys, Treats, Beds, & Accessories

Treat your border collie to a custom collar, a comfy adult dog bed, and a delicious bone—they deserve it. An assortment of treats and accessories will cost you a few hundred bucks, but it’s well worth it to keep your adult dog happy.

BarkBox could be the perfect choice to send the best treats and toys straight to your door. For $23/month, you’ll get 2 toys, 2 full-size bags of treats, and a tasty chew. Try the Super Chewer subscription and your collie can enjoy 2 fluff-free, durable toys, 2 full-size bags of treats, and 2 meaty chews for only $6 more. Now you can double your first box free!

Don’t forget to factor in extra services you might need for your border collie, including:

  • Professional grooming ($50–$100 per appointment)
  • Dog walking ($20–$40 per session)
  • Doggy training classes ($100+)


American Kennel Club. Border Collie

Pet MD. Border Collie Dogs.

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Written by: Samantha Erb

July 11, 2022


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.