Border Collie: Color, Lifespan, Characteristics & Facts

Considered one of the world’s greatest herding dogs, Border Collies are an intelligent and gentle medium-sized breed. The animals are known for their high-energy levels, but with proper exercise and care, they can be very chill.

Border Collies typically bark more than other dogs, particularly when stressed or bored. However, an active owner who adheres to the exercise regimen of the breed will find the dogs are actually quite trainable.

The question Border Collie owners get asked the most is if their dog is related to famed TV dog, Lassie. However, the iconic Lassie IS a Collie – a Rough Collie.

Many dog breeds have Collie ancestry, including Australian Cattle Dogs, Australian Shepherd, Bearded Collie, Old English Sheepdog, to name a few. Rough Collie and Smooth Collie are common, too.

Due to its medium size, Border Collies typically have longer life spans and can live up to 15 years of age or more.

Breed Overview

Other Name: Scottish Sheepdog

Origin: United Kingdom Scottish borders

Height: 18 to 22 inches

Weight: 30 to 55 pounds

Life Span: 12 to 15 years

Colors: Black, White, Blue, Red Merle, Blue Merle, Sable Merle, Lilac, Brindle, Chocolate, Liver, Gold, Red

1. Personality & Temperament

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Border Collies are widely known for being high energy. Their mental and physical stamina suggests that they are difficult to train. However, their intelligence level makes Border Collies one of the most obedient dogs if an owner takes time and care with training.

While the breed can be reserved around strangers, they are protective and affectionate with people they consider family. Their herding instincts can be undesirable around small children.

Border Collies are best for families without small dogs or cats. As herding dogs, Border Collies are known to chase smaller animals that they view as prey.

The dogs also prefer to have a job to do and if they aren’t given one, they will find their own. This can lead to destructive behavior or compulsive herding.

Loyalty is one of the best qualities of Border Collies. However, they do like having a quiet space of their own to relax and unwind.

2. How to Care for Border Collies


Despite their medium size, Border Collies exert a lot of energy and need between 700 and 1,400 calories per day, depending on activity level. That comes out to 1 and a half to 2 cups of quality kibble twice a day.

The best dog food for Border Collies is rich in meaty proteins and vitamins that help the joints. Omega-6 fatty acids can keep their lustrous coats shiny and healthy.


Border Collies are double-coated dogs that need brushing at least twice a week, maybe more during shedding season.

Their coats shouldn’t be shaved or shorn because the two coats are used for different purposes and won’t grow back correctly.


As you can imagine, Border Collies need a lot of exercise. They require vigorous exercise that’s more than just a walk around the block. Many owners find success in agility training or herding competitions. The breed is definitely not for couch potatoes.


Without training, Border Collies can be nipping, neurotic messes. However, their willingness to please and intelligence makes them easy to train with positive reinforcement.

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3. Common Health Issues of Border Collies

Border Collies are considered a healthy, lively breed. But all breeds are prone to some type of health problem. Border Collies are known to inherit eye problems, such as

Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA)

Border Collies have striking almond eyes that seem to stare right into your soul. They are also at risk for an inherited eye disease known as Collie Eye Anomaly. Abnormalities at birth can prevent the retina from getting enough oxygen. The abnormalities aren’t visible to the naked eye, which is why proper vet care for puppies is so important.

In rare instances, it can lead to retinal detachment and blindness later in life.

Primary Lens Luxation (PLL)

Primary lens luxation occurs when the ligaments in the lens of the eye are weakened, resulting in the lens becoming dislocated. It can happen through trauma, a tumor on the eye or just spontaneously.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

PRA is common in most dog breeds. It is a rare disorder that affects the retina in both eyes. As the name suggests, the disease is progressive and results in eventual blindness. Genetic testing can reveal if your dog has any of these genetic conditions that affect the eyes or other inherited diseases.

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4. Children & Other Pets

Border Collies are friendly, but they have a strong herding instinct. They love to play, which makes them a great match for children. However, Their energy level can sometimes be too much for small children.

The breed’s herding tendencies can also be a problem with younger children. The dog’s herding tactics may include nipping, but the real danger is tripping over the dog. Young children should always be supervised with a Border Collie, or any dog, really.

Other dogs tend to get along well with Border Collies. In fact, having two canines can help offset the high energy level of Border Collies.

Part of their herding duties includes protecting their perceived charges from prey. In that regard, smaller animals can be in danger around Border Collies. Many owners agree that raising Border Collies alongside other animals from a young age can help mitigate the risk.

5. The History of Border Collies

The “Border” in the breed’s name refers to the town on the England-Scotland border where the breed first originated. Ancestors of the sheepdog, Border Collies are famous for their ability to herd livestock by using the intimidation tactic of staring them down.

Modern-day Border Collies can trace their roots back to a pup named Hemp, who set the breed standard for agility and intelligence. Despite their intelligence and loyalty, the dogs did not become popular as pets until the late 19th century when Hemp won the breed’s first sheepdog trial.

The dog ranks 12th on the list of popular dogs in the United Kingdom. They are less popular in the United States, but still have a good showing at 35th.

6. The Regular Expenses of Owning Border Collies

The average cost for a purebred Border Collie is $600. However, depending on pedigree and breeder, the cost can go as high as $4,500 or more. Rescue and shelter fees are much cheaper.

7. Border Collie Rescue Groups

Many Border Collies end up in shelters because their herding habits are too much for inexperienced owners. Rescues have strict adoption requirements. If you think Border Collies are right for your family, check out these rescues:

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