Border Collie: The Smartest Dog Breed Alive [Ultimate Guide]

Border Collie is the most intelligent dog

You will probably recognize the Border Collie dog breed from their appearance on movies, TV Shows, competitions, and breaking all world records.

Border Collies are the smartest dogs today and many people want a smart pet at home.

However, these are not the typical house pet you may think they are. They are way different than any other dog breed.

Reading this full guide will help decrease your chances of being one of the 90% dog owners who gave up on their Border Collies for a reason or another.

So, read on and hopefully, you’ll make the right decision by the end of the article.

TL; DR Version: If you don’t have the time to read this, a Border Collie is not right for you.

The Border Collie originated from England and Scotland. There is no telling exactly when the first Border Collie was seen but some records have the name “Collie” in the mid 19th century.

This means that, in comparison with other breeds that were bred for the same reasons, Border Collies are relatively young.

This breed’s Adam (believed to be the first-ever Border Collie) is Old Hemp. He was considered the father of all Border Collies of the world. He was alive between 1893 and 1903. However, the breed was not officially recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1995.

Border Collie origins

A nice drawing of the Border Collie dog breed.

Where did the name “Border Collie” come from?

There is controversy regarding the naming of the breed. Some historians suggest that “collie” was another English way of saying “black”. This is because a Border Collie is mostly found in a black coat.

However, others say that “collie” is the name of the sheep Border Collies were mostly bred to herd. Still, there is no prove of the existence of such a sheep name.

The more likely theory is that “collie” comes from the German word “Kuli” meaning worker. This fits perfectly as the Border Collies are a hard working breed.

As for “border”, it is attributed to James Reid as he announced the championship winner of a competition as “Border Collie” in 1918.

Read this article about the origin of the Border Collie to learn more about the breed's history.

Border Collie Breeding

Before the industrial revolution, a lot of the economy was based on selling and buying cattle and sheep. And with the increase of demand, shepherds had more sheep that they could handle. They needed a hard working dog to help them out with the job.

Therefore, they started breeding different types of dogs and mixing breeds to get the best result. Different shepherds had different herding dogs, but in Scotland, (what seemed to be) the Border Collie was the most used dog for herding.

Border Collie Herding

This is what a Border Collie is bred for.

Modern day Border Collies are still used for herding in farms all around the world. However, they are slowly growing as house pets. Breeders have noticed a slight increase in demands for Border Collie puppies as household pets.

This, however, is not the best use for this dog breed.

Why?

Keep reading to find out.

Border Collie Characteristics & Personality

Every dog is different, even when they are the same breed.

That’s a law that all dog owners and experts agree upon. However, they also agree that dogs of the same breed share some of their characteristics. Therefore let’s see what makes a Border Collie special.

Border Collie Temperament

Intelligence Level

The Border Collie is without a doubt one of the smartest dogs ever. He is, according to experts, the smartest dog breed.

That is because many attest to how extremely jaw-dropping watching a Border Collie doing the work he was bred for: herding.

Border Collies have a tendency to excel at herding sheep to exactly where their owners want them and without much direction. They are smart enough to assume where a sheep should and should not go and make sure they never leave one out of sight.

That intelligence is also seen when training a Border Collie to be a good house dog. He’s a great listener and he will follow your commands without hesitation.

The upside?

Border Collie temperament

This Border Collie has more awards than you.

You can use his intelligence (and his energy level) to train him for a dog sports competition. Border Collies are the very best at those.

Energy Level

Border Collie agility

A Border Collie whose energy has been put into good use.

Being smart is not the only thing that differentiates a Border Collie from other dogs. He is a very active and energetic dog that will not stay still for long.

He always needs something to do; he needs a job to keep him busy. That is exactly why he is considered the best farm dog till this day.

However, if you are going to make him an apartment dog, a Border Collie is not going to adapt to that easily.

Unless you are going to give him a job to do every day, he is going to be trouble.

Family Friendliness

A Border Collie is a good family dog in that he is friendly and loves to play around. He is very playful and your kids will be happy to have him.

  But there is a downside:

Border Collies are not laid back dogs that want to cuddle with you all day long. In fact, you’ll be lucky if he ever cuddles with you.

The best way to treat a Border Collie is to allow him to work all day long. You probably do not own a farm, and in which case, training him for a dog sports competition is the best treat.

Kids and Other Pets

A Border Collie is generally gentle with small human beings and smaller pets, especially when trained at a very young age.

However, most of the time you will find him herding them into one room. Border Collies’ instinct is to herd everyone in the same spot, and that means some biting and nipping here and there.

Purebred Border Collie

You can feel that these are good friends.

Here is the thing:

This dog breed is not known for harming children or other pets. But it is a good practice to keep that interaction under supervision most of the time.

Border Collie Appearance

Although the Border Collies are not bred for their appearance, they are still one of the best-looking dogs in the world. They have a cute but canny look in their eyes that shows how dominant and confident they are.

Border Collie Coat and Color

A purebred Border Collie is most likely black with a white blaze and neck. However, the Border Collie dog breed comes in all colors of the rainbow and they are all accepted as standard except for the solid white.

Border Collie colors (blue, merle, black and white)

Same Breed. Different Colors.

They can have a solid color, bicolor, tricolor, or merle. Their nose matches the main color of their coats while their eyes can be in any color. Sometimes, you find a different eye color, most likely on blue merle Border Collies.

As for the coats, they come either rough or smooth and both are double-coated with a coarse outer coat and a soft undercoat. The rough coat has longer hair than the smooth one.

Border Collie Size

He is a medium size dog with the male being 19 to 22 inches (48 - 56 cm). The female, on the other hand, is a little shorter standing between 18 - 21 inches at the shoulders.

The male Border Collie weighs between 30 and 45 pounds, while the female weighs between 27 and 42 pounds.

Living with a Border Collie

There is an 80% chance that a Border Collie is not the right fit for you. Here’s exactly why:

Border Collies are too smart to handle.

Without a doubt, a Border Collie is the smartest dog ever. This, for most people, equals a dog that easier to train than other dog breeds.

While this may be true, in most cases, it is actually hard to train a Border Collie. Even expert trainers find it difficult to train this dog and they have a very clear understanding of the reason: too smart a dog.

Imagine you raise your right hand to order him to stand up. He’ll get that right away. Done, easy.

However, the next time that you raise your left hand, raise your right hand in a slightly different manner, or use a somewhat different tone, the Border Collie assumes you are giving him a different command.

Another thing:

The Border Collie is smart enough to open locks. Dog owners swear that their Border Collies figured out a way to open door handles, combination locks, go over and under gates.

It is not to say that this dog breed is going to run away, but they are more likely to take that as an intellectual challenge and overcome it. A Border Collie will need a lot of mental exercises to calm their highly intelligent personality down.

A Border Collie is hyperactive.

Because they were bred to be hard working, herding dogs, the Border Collie does not like to be bored. In many cases, dog owners returned to their homes only to find it trashed because their Border Collie was too bored and decided to do something about it.

Let’s say that you have had a long day at your 9 to 5 job. You have to save enough energy for a couple hours of activity with your dog if you want him to stay calm when you are not there.

Hyperactive Border Collie

That’s one way to keep a Border Collie busy.

They are smart enough to understand that you will make time for them in your day and smart enough to realize they may have to exercise themselves by themselves.

Here are some horror stories by Border Collie dog owners.

They have a strong herding instinct.

Border Collies have been bred to be sheep herding dogs. However, “sheep” for them is more of a general term that means “if it moves, it must be part of the flock; if it’s part of the flock, it must remain with the flock”.

That is why many Border Collies tend to herd children, cars, random runners, and other pets in your backyard. If anyone (or anything) tries to escape, the Border Collie has the instinct to follow, threaten, and attack to force the “sheep” back with the herd.

It’ll be easier to train your kids to become sheep rather than train the herding instinct out of the dog. But more on that later.

This article on living with a Border Collie is very interesting to read. Be sure to check it out.

Here is a video of Tex, a champion in agility:

Grooming

Considering the amount of hair they have on their bodies, a Border Collie sheds very lightly. They shed heavily between seasons but very few times daily. It is advised to brush his coat weekly to keep the oil well distributed.

You don’t need to bathe your dog every week. Once every few months is enough unless your Border Collie starts to smell bad.

  Caution:

Excessive bathing may hurt his coat more than help it.

It is a good practice to brush your dog’s teeth twice every week and check his ears for infections. Once a month, you should trim his nails.

Border Collie Facts and Other Characteristics to Consider

All of the above can be taken with a grain of salt. Some Border Collies can be the exception that proves the rule. Therefore, here are a few facts about the Border Collie dog breed that are true always.

  • Border Collies live up to 15 years.
  • They are very smart.
  • Highly energetic
  • Super sensitive
  • NOT hypoallergenic

Training Your Border Collie

I have mentioned earlier that training your kids to act like sheep is easier than training the herding instinct out of your Border Collie. Let me explain why:

In the 1850s, farmers and shepherds decided that the dog breeds available were not cutting it. They needed a dog that lives and dies herding any type of livestock. Hence, the “invention” of the Border Collie.

They have tried multiple mixes to get to this breed that acts as a super herder. In fact, some experts say that the Border Collie is an actual wolf but without the killing instinct.

A Border Collie is just as canny and resilient as a wolf. He follows the sheep, threatens to attack if they don’t follow the flock, and actually bite the hard-headed sheep. However, they stop at that; Border Collies do not go for the kill.

That is exactly why everything they see moving represents a sheep out of the flock for them. They follow, stop, threaten, and bite anything until it cooperates and follows the commands of the dog.

Tips for Training a Border Collie

If you are a first-time dog owner, I would suggest finding another dog breed that matches your needs. However, if you are sure this is the breed you want; here are my tips for you.

Hire a Training Expert

This goes for all dog owners; if you are not a training guru, don’t confuse your dog. The Border Collies need an expert to teach the basic commands, and YOU need an expert to teach you how to train your dog and make those commands.

Your Border Collie puppy is eager to learn and please. He will understand the command very fast, but don’t you dare change the way you ask it. That will confuse him about which is the right and which is the wrong command.

  DO NOT CHANGE TRAINERS!

Each trainer has their own way, and switching trainers is too confusing for the critical mind of a Border Collie.
Border Collie training

The younger they start learning, the easier it is to train them.

Start With Obedience Training

Well, of course, you want your dog to do tricks. Especially a Border Collie because he is ready to do that. But you need to start with basic obedience training.

Your dog needs to understand from the get-go that you are the “Alpha-Dog” and he needs to follow every one of your commands.

Start as early as possible, and with basic “sit”, “come”, “stop”, and “no”.

Be Consistent and Patient

As with anything else in life, consistency and patience are the keys to success. If you are consistent with your training and patient with your Border Collie, he will become the best dog you have ever had.

Always be calm and positive with him and make sure to reward good behavior every time. Being a people’s dog, he will want to please you again and again and again.

Don’t be too harsh and rough with him or he’ll simply not listen anymore. He can override everything you have taught him in the weeks of the training if you are too harsh and just make a mess to annoy you.

Socialize But Do NOT Train in Busy Places

Your Border Collie needs a lot of socialization to understand that not all moving things are sheep and need to be herded. That is one way of toning down the herding instinct he has.

However, when you want to train him, you should find a safe and isolated place for that. He can be easily distracted with movements and noises, especially when he has not yet fully committed to your commands.

Border Collie training

A Border Collie is always running.

Keep Him Busy, Physically and Mentally

If you do not own a farm where livestock needs herding, your family and pets, your neighbors and their pets, and everything is a sheep that needs herding. Your Border Collie is up for the task… unless you have something better for him to do.

You need to find challenging things to do with your dog both physically and mentally. Teach him new tricks, take him on long walks and runs, play fetch. Anything challenging should keep him busy all day long and happy to be doing that.

There are more things to consider when training your Border Collie, and you should take them all seriously. Here is a cool video for you to learn how to train your Border Collie puppy:

Border Collie Nutrition & Health Care

Nutrition

The Border Collie is a very active dog; therefore, his diet needs to keep up with his agility and give him enough energy to fulfill his job.

With that said, you can guess that your Border Collie’s diet is protein-based, high calorie, yet well balanced for their individual needs. You need to understand and provide for both what the breed requires generally and what YOUR dog needs to stay happy and healthy.

This article summarizes what the Border Collie breed needs, and this one helps you understand what YOUR dog needs. Here's another one to help you choose a suitable dog food. And of course, it goes without saying, always ask your vet for professional advice.

Health

It is safe to say that a Border Collie is one of the healthiest dog breeds ever. It is part of his duty to stay focused and healthy at all times. Therefore, it is rare to find your dog feeling sick.

Nevertheless, there are some health issues your Border Collie may suffer from. They include inherited health issues and problems that your dog may be prone to face in the future.

Some of these are hip dysplasia, epilepsy, Collie eye anomaly and hearing problems.

Here is a list of common health issues found in the Border Collie.

Getting Your Own Border Collie

  And a quick reminder:

If you have skipped all of the above and you have no interest in reading more about the breed, then it’s definitely not the right for you.

Now, I am hoping that you are sure about getting a Border Collie and you understand how demanding this dog breed is.

If that’s the case, you should consider adopting one.

Rescuing a Border Collie

There are hundreds of Border Collies in dog shelters today because their owners weren’t up for the task. They liked how cute they were when they saw them at the pet shop and just decided to purchase one. That is why when you rescue a Border Collie from a shelter, you are saving a life that didn’t deserve to be treated like it was.

It is not hard to find a dog shelter. In fact, you can start here.

Border Collie is one of the best looking dog breeds

He is SO CUTE!

Buying a Border Collie

If you are not ready to adopt and would like a new puppy, then finding the right breeder is the hard task. From whomever you decide to purchase your new dog, they need to reputable, reliable, and responsible dog breeders.

You have the right to ask for the puppy’s parents information that includes health and temperament history and records. If, at any point, the dog breeder tries to cut you a deal for some fishy reason, don’t walk away, RUN!!

But in order to avoid the hustle, find the best dog breeders recognized by the American Kennel Club here. You can also check the referrers directory from Border Collie Society of America.

Price of a Border Collie

A Border Collie puppy for sale goes for up to $2000. You can easily find puppies that cost around $1500 or less. However, if the puppy is less than $1000, make sure to ask all the right questions before buying it. That price is a red flag on its own.

Border Collie Breed Mixes

Generally, you look for hyper dog breeds when the purebred has some characteristics that you are looking to boost or eliminate. You may want an ideal family friendly dog but you don’t want him to shed that much.

In that case, there are many Border Collie Breed mixes to check out.

Let’s begin.

Bodacion

This a Dalmatian and a Border Collie mix.

He is a medium to large dog mix that results in (most likely) a friendly puppy. He has either long or short, soft coat with white fur and black spots. He is the only spotted Border Collie thanks to the Dalmatian purebred parent.

Dalmatian Border Collie mix

Photo credit: dogbreedinfo.com

Borador

Labrador Retriever Border Collie mix

Photo credit: 101dogbreeds.com

The mix between Labrador Retriever and a Border Collie gives a cute little Borador that grows to be a great family companion.

He is a smaller version of the Lab and is a very active dog. He gives so much love to the family and needs just as much love and attention.

Borcolliebrit

When you mix a Border Collie and a Brittany, you get hybrid Borcolliebrit.

He is a highly active and excited dog that does everything with passion and energy. He is a loving dog, but he needs to be watched.

Border Collie Brittany mix

Photo credit: adoptapet.com

Border Beagle

Beagle Border Collie mix

Photo credit: dogbreedinfo.com

The combination of a Beagle and a Border Collie gives a playful dog that is likely the origin of cats (just kidding).

The Border Beagle is a clean dog mix with the unique ability to act like a cat while still being as active as a dog.

Borgi

He is mix between a Pembroke Welsh Corgi , one of the cutest dog breeds, and a Border Collie, one of the smartest dogs.

He's a good family dog with a highly active personality.

He loves cuddling and playing with children all day.

Corgi Border Collie mix

Photo credit: dogbreedinfo.com

Border Collie Bernard

Border Collie Saint Bernard mix

Photo credit: dogbreedinfo.com

The mix between a Saint Bernard and a Border Collie gives a hybrid dog breed that is calm and smart.

He is a small to medium size dog and is a crazy fast learner.

He will be very happy to play around with the kids and other pets.

Border Collie Husky

This is a very popular mix between the smartest dog that is the Border Collie and the Husky, a super energetic dog.

He requires a lot of attention and training. You can expect high levels of energy when you own this mix.

Border Collie Husky mix

Photo credit: adoptapet.com

Border Heeler

Blue Heeler(Australian Cattle Dog) Border Collie mix

Photo credit: dogbreedinfo.com

The mix between a Border Collie and an Australian Cattle dog is a pretty attractive Border Heeler.

He is an awesome farm dog and is perfect for herding.

He is very loyal and protective of the family.

Border Jack

This mix is between a Border Collie and a Jack Russell Terrier.

He is a small to medium size, vocal, and active dog that loves to play and protect his family.

They are smart and family-friendly, but they may be aggressive sometimes.

Border Collie Jack Russell Terrier mix

Photo credit: dogbreedinfo.com

Border Pyrenees

Border Collie Great Pyrenees mix

Photo credit: dogbreedinfo.com

This is a mix between a Great Pyrenees and a Border Collie.

He is an affectionate dog that loves to play with kids.

He can serve as a good watchdog when necessary, and a good running companion too.

Border Spaniel

This mix of a purebred Cocker Spaniel and a Border Collie gives a highly intelligent dog but can be aggressive at times.

He is a very active and vocal dog that needs a lot of training to become a family dog.

Border Collie Cocker Spaniel mix

Photo credit: dogbreedinfo.com

Border-Aussie

Border Collie Australian Shepherd mix

Photo credit: dogbreedinfo.com

This is the perfect mix for both an Australian Shepherd and a Border Collie.

Both dogs are good for herding and their mix will herd the whole family in one room to get the maximum love and playtime.

Bordernese

This is a medium to a large dog that originates from a mix between a Border Collie and a Bernese Mountain Dog.

He is a good fit as an apartment dog but he needs a lot of exercise time.

Border Collie Bernese Mountain Dog mix

Photo credit: dogbreedinfo.com

Bordoodle

Border Collie Poodle mix

Photo credit: dog-learn.com

The mix between a Border Collie and a Poodle is the ideal for you if you are looking for small size active dog that does not shed a lot.

He is very fun and smart and will play all day long with your kids.

English Setter Collie

This English Setter and Border Collie mix gives a very active dog that loves kids but does not really understand their size.

He is very playful and fun but can be dangerous around your kids.

He is easy to train and friendly with other pets.

Border Collie English Setter mix

Photo credit: adoptapet.com

Golden Collie

Golden Retriever Border Colli mix

Photo credit: 101dogbreeds.com

This is a cross between a Golden Retriever and a Border Collie.

He is a very affectionate family dog and a great companion.

He is very intelligent and easily trained as he is looking for attention and love.

Shollie

This is a great mix of a German Shepherd and a Border Collie.

The Shollie is a large working dog that is protective. He is loyal and can be trained to be a good house dog. They need a lot of socialization if you do not want them to be aggressive toward other pets.

German Shepherd Border Collie mix

Photo credit: hedogliberator.com

Ski-Border

American Eskimo Border Collie mix

Photo credit: dogbreedinfo.com

He is the result of a mix between an American Eskimo Dog and a Border Collie.

The dog is a people pleaser and will love everything you teach him very fast.

He is not at all hard to train and will be a loving family dog as soon as you hug him the first time.

Sprollie

This is a mix between a Springer Spaniel and a Border Collie.

He is a great outdoor companion for active people. So, if you are looking for a dog to have when jogging, then a Sprollie is what you want.

Springer Spaniel Border Collie mix

Photo credit: dogpages.org.uk

Border Collie-Pit

Border Collie Pitbull mix

Photo credit: dogbreedinfo.com

This is a mix between a Pit Bull and a Border Collie that gives a strong, loyal, and intelligent pitbull.

He is more attractive than a purebred Pit and stronger than a purebred Collie.

He is very agile and needs a lot of attention.

More Border Collie Mixes

Afghan Collie

The mix between an Afghan Hound and a Border Collie results in a medium size dog that is really agile. The two purebred parents are known for herding which makes the Afghan Collie a great family herder too.

Border Chigi

The unique combination of a Chihuahua, Pembroke Welsh Corgi and a Border Collie results in one of the cutest dogs ever. He is a small size dog that is a good house pet. He requires minimal grooming but is an energetic dog to have around the house.

Border Schnollie

The mix between a Standard Schnauzer and a Border Collie gives an intelligent Border Schnollie. He needs some exercise time as a puppy, but he can live happily in a small apartment.

Bordigan

When you mix a Border Collie and a Cardigan Welsh Corgi, you get a heavy shedder. The Bordigan is a small to medium size dog that is very healthy and active. They naturally love long walks and daily exercises.

Miniature Border Schnollie

This a mix between a Border Collie and a Miniature Schnauzer. He is a cute and lovely medium size dog, smart, and agile. This dog has a wise look on his face and a loving attitude. With enough training, you will get an exceptional family dog.

Border Collie Dog Breed: Pros and Cons

PROS


  • Super smart
  • Active dogs
  • Great ability to learn hard tricks
  • Money-making competition champs
  • Protective and Alert
  • Healthy and easy to groom
  • Best farm dogs

CONS


  • Too smart to handle
  • Hyperactive
  • Strong herding instinct
  • Very sensitive
  • Hard to train
  • Requires time and commitment
  • Possibly the worst house dogs

Last Words on the Border Collie Dog Breed

I cannot emphasize enough how smart and active these dogs are. I don’t recommend them for first-time dog owners and owners who don’t have enough time or space for their dogs.

However, if you love a challenge and you are not a quitter, a Border Collie will take you to the next level. If you are active and intelligent, (adopting) this dog will be the best decision you have ever made.

And as usual, I will end this Border Collie guide by giving name suggestions that best describe your dog.

  • Ace: the ideal name for a male Border Collie since they will ACE everything you teach them.
  • Sheppy: The perfect name for a female Border Collie. It is short for Shepherd, which is exactly what this dog breed is.

How about you? Do you think the Border Collie is the smartest dog breed? Do you think you can handle owning a Border Collie? Do you have any stories about the breed? Drop us a comment down below and we'll get back to you ASAP!

About the Author Youness Bermime

Hi, there! My name is Youness, a professional content writer and marketer. I love dogs, and I think Huskies are, for most of the time, better than humans. I am, also, the owner and editor of WritersDo. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post because I enjoyed writing it. Don't forget to share it with your friends!

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