Dogs Laying down black and white border collie

Published on September 18th, 2015 | by Debbie Martin


Know your pooches – Border Collie

What is a Border Collie?

The Border Collie is one of the smartest dogs in the world, a clever breed that is very acrobatic, energetic, athletic and smart. They were originally bred as sheep herding dogs in the Anglo-Scottish border region where intelligence and obedience were chosen as breeding traits. They compete with a lot of success in sheepdog trials and they are able to learn many different complicated tricks.

These dogs are often employed throughout the world in their traditional work of herding livestock, but they are also kept as companions and family dogs.

They are a medium sized dog with a thick coat which sheds a lot. They are commonly black and white, but they can be seen in many other colours and patterns including red, tan and white. Their eyes are brown and blue and the ears can depend on the dog – some are fully dropped, some are fully erect and some are semi-erect. These dogs respond well to training and they make great family pets.

History of the Breed

The collie originated in Northumberland along the borders with England and Scotland. They are descended from dogs that were used by the Vikings to herd reindeer. They are the perfect farm dog, as they are bred to love work and have plenty of energy. They are one of the most trainable breeds, so they have also been used as bomb and drug sniffing dogs as well as guide dogs for the blind. The Border Collie was first recognised by the AKC in 1995.


The Border Collie is a very energetic and active dog and they will require daily exercise as well as plenty of mental stimulation. They will not fare well with being left alone all day – they need to be in a household where they will get walks every day and someone to play with them and train them.

This type of dog can be trained to a very high degree and is capable of learning a lot of complex tricks. They thrive on praise and they will work hard to please you. They excel in agility training, sports, frisbee, obedience and sheepdog trials. These competitions are exciting for them and with the right praise and encouragement they will try hard to compete against other dogs.

Sometimes border collies do not get along with smaller non-canine pets although there are plenty of border collies that live happily with family cats.

Common Health Issues

Border collies have their own typical health problems that they are likely to be susceptible to, so make sure that you are aware of these problems. If you spot the symptoms early and take your dog to the vet straight away they will have a much better chance of recovery. Some of the typical diseases that Border Collies are genetically predisposed to are collie eye anomaly, hip dysplasia and epilepsy. Collie eye anomaly is a congenital eye disease that involves the sclera, choroid and retina, although it is not a very serious disease and it is not likely to impair vision.

Collies can also be subject to hearing loss. The first type can appear in puppies and the second type is known as adult onset hearing loss.

One of the most serious diseases that affect border collies is Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, which is rare but can be fatal. Dogs that are afflicted with it rarely survive beyond two years old. There is no treatment for this disease unfortunately, but there is a DNA test available to detect a carrier of the disease.


A Border Collie has two main types of coats – either coarse and long or sleek and short. If you have a collie with coarse and long hair, you will need to give them regular brushing in order to prevent hair matting – without brushing their hair will become tangled and this will lead to other problems. However, don’t shampoo their hair too much as this can cause the coat to become brittle and dry and their hair to lose its natural oils.

For all collies you should spend at least 10 minutes three times per week brushing their coat. If you find that the coat has become matted and you cannot untangle it, you can carefully cut out the affected areas with scissors. Mattes will Happy looking Border Collieusually form under the limbs and behind the ears.

It is also important to keep your dog’s nails trimmed too. Ask your vet about purchasing a nail clipper that is especially designed for dogs or take them to a specialised groomers. When you trim your dog’s nails, be careful not to trim too much! If you trim past the point where the colour changes from white to pink, you may cut into a vein and cause your dog to bleed.

More Tips for Owning a Border Collie Dog

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind if you are considering adopting a Border Collie Dog:

  • This breed can sometimes be sensitive, so when you choose a border collie they should be very well socialised as a puppy in order to prevent shyness later on in life.
  • You will need to establish yourself as the alpha dog from a very early age, as the Border Collie will often challenge their owners authority.
  • This is not the ideal breed for you if you don’t intend on spending much time with your dog, as Border Collies are too energetic and intelligent to lie around the house with nothing to do. When they are not challenged and exercised daily, they will become destructive.
  • Consider taking your collie to an obedience class or teach them a few tricks at home. The dog will thrive on the mental challenge and the attention.


These are a few important tips that you should know if you are considering adopting a Border Collie, so that you and your canine friend can live happily ever after. This intelligent and energetic dog will make for a great pet and will provide you with many years of loving companionship.

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About the Author

Debbie Martin has worked at Beeston Animal Health for over five years, having previously worked as a nurse in equine and small animal practice. Although generally involved with aspects of marketing these days and putting her psychology degree to good use, she still has a great depth of up to date knowledge in all creatures great and small. Debbie lives at home with her partner and two children and spends much of her spare time looking after her horses, dogs and cats or at the home farm with the cows, sheep and turkeys.

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