The Complete Guide to: Border Collies

If affection is something you’d like from a dog, a Border Collie will deliver in spades. A canine with a long history of working alongside people, they are friendly and full of personality. Read on to find out what has made the Border Collie such a much-loved companion.

History of the Collie

Border Collies are a traditional herding dog. The history books place their origin in the border counties between Scotland and England - hence the name - but they’ve been traditionally found herding sheep in the green acres across the breadth of mainland Britain.

If you go back through the centuries, there is more than one type of Collie, each with a prefix attaching it to the geographical area. The Welsh Collies, Scottish Collies, and so on. The Border Collie we know today is said to have descended from a dog bred in Northumberland at the turn of the 19th century, which brings us back to their border county origins.

Although Collies have been extremely popular herding dogs for many years, they weren’t commonly seen as a household pet. They drew attention at shows for their responsiveness to hand signals and other clever tricks, but they only gained widespread popularity over the last century.


With bright, intelligent eyes and a strong defined body, the Border Collie is a graceful dog that’s perfectly suited for outdoor life. Their thick, longer coat is weather-proof and is either shorter and sleeker, or longer and rougher.

They are instantly recognisable by their colouring, which is usually black with white markings, or any kind of bicolour or tricolour. The good news for you is that although they love to get dirty, their coats don’t require hours of grooming. You’ll only need to give them a thorough brush every week, and only the occasional bath.

Their curious faces include medium-sized ears that tend to prick up when their interest is piqued, as well as deep, thoughtful eyes, and a broad head. Their muscular frames weigh between around 13 to 20 kilos in adulthood, and a full-grown Border Collie will stand tall at around 18 to 22 inches.


Obedience and understanding are the two things that set Border Collies apart as a breed. They’re always ready for an adventure and relish tasks, exercise, and hard work in general. This means you’ll always be on your toes, and enjoying a regular routine that includes plenty of running around.

With the right training and socialisation, Border Collies are great with children and other pets, which is partly why they make good family dogs. They are balls of energy though, and this can tip into disruptive and mischievous behaviour if they’re bored, unstimulated or stressed.

Due to their intelligence and exuberance, Collies have been used as sniffer dogs, and they are popular at shows. This will all give you plenty of fun if you want a dog to learn tricks and interact with you in games and on walks.

Training a Collie

As herding dogs, the Border Collie is a keen pupil with a sharp mind. They can also bark and nip, however, which all comes in handy when herding sheep, but isn’t necessarily desirable in a pet. Along with this, they are keen to chase anything that takes their fancy, which can lead to issues when you’re roaming outside.

On the plus side, because they’re up for any challenge, you can easily integrate a few simple training exercises at home and take them to training classes - and expect outstanding results.

Training Tips for Border Collies

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Obedience and tricks – from an early stage you can teach your Border Collie simple commands and expect results. This also helps you keep destructive behaviour in check. Trick training is another thing that Collies excel at, and which helps stave-off boredom. Things like “stop barking” will be picked up and understood quickly.
  • Consistency and focus – as a breed, Border Collies are easily distracted and demand high levels of attention. Giving them one-on-one time to learn new tricks and commands is the best way. Preferably in a place with limited distractions. It’s important to keep that training going regularly to keep their minds occupied.
  • Socialisation – this will help your dog learn how to behave around different people and other dogs. Puppy parties are a favourite, as well as introducing them to new people and animals around the home. Like any dog, it’s always wise to supervise them in unfamiliar situations.
  • Keep them busy – the best way to deal with a Border Collie’s enthusiasm is to keep them busy. Around 2 hours walking a day, with plenty of off-lead activities is advised. Along with occupying them with search games, when they are left alone, a crate, if introduced at an early age, will give them security and comfort.

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