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Breed profile: All about Border Collies

Border Collie chases ball

Traditionally bred as livestock herding dogs, Border Collies are known for their athleticism, intelligence, and incredible work ethic. While they are wonderful family dogs, their high energy levels mean they are not the best fit for every household. If you are considering bringing a Border Collie into your family, it is important to understand their unique personalities, potential health concerns, and grooming and exercise needs.    

Table of contents 


The Border Collies we recognize today have been around for more than 130 years. Originally bred in the border highlands between Scotland and England, they are thought to be a crossbreed of old Roman Empire dogs and Viking spitzes. This breed is compact, agile, and incredibly smart. Border Collies are often considered the best sheepdogs in the world.  

The term “collie” in old Gaelic is used to refer to anything useful, so a “collie dog” is a useful working dog. The term is now also used in Scotland to refer to any sheepdogs. The American Kennel Club recognized the Border Collie as a member of the Herding Group in 1995, the same year that the breed was featured in the movie, “Babe.” Since then, Border Collies have become one of the most popular dog breeds. 

Size and appearance 

Border Collies are considered medium-sized dogs. Some have described them as appearing like a lighter-weight Australian Shepherd, but with a large, feathered tail rather than the bobtail characteristic of the Aussie.  

On average, Border Collies can weigh between 30 and 55 pounds, with males usually standing slightly taller and larger. Male Border Collies are typically 19 to 22 inches at the shoulder, while females can be between 18 and 21 inches tall. 

Border Collies can come in a variety of colors, including black and white, red and white, black and gray, all black, or tricolor. There are two types of coats found in the Border Collie breed. The rough coat is medium in length and feathered, with a lush mane and tail. The smooth coat is short and coarser. 


Both the rough and smooth Border Collie coats are dense, weather-resistant double coats. According to AKC, grooming is the same for both. Border owners should go over their dog with a pin brush once or twice a week, more often if needed, to keep the coat free of mats, tangles, dirt, and debris. During shedding season, daily brushing is required. 

Just like with any dog, the frequency of bathing for Border Collies depends on their lifestyle and how often they get dirty. While most dogs only need a bath every few months, active and or working Borders may need more frequent baths since they are out in the field crouching close to the ground to herd animals. 

Activity level 

This high-drive, athletic breed is extremely energetic and requires daily exercise beyond just a walk around the block or a quick romp in the yard. Border Collies need about two hours of exercise each day and seem to never tire. They thrive when they have a job to do and space to run, so they are best suited for families with active lifestyles and larger living arrangements. 

Border Collies often participate and excel in herding events, obedience, agility, rally, and tracking competitions, and sports such as flying disc. Without enough physical and mental stimulation, these dogs can become bored and destructive.  


Border Collies are generally healthy dogs, and their active lifestyle helps to keep them fit. Responsible breeders screen for common health conditions in efforts to improve the breed’s overall health. According to AKC, the average lifespan for healthy Borders is between 12 and 15 years. Some common health issues for the breed include:  

  • Hip dysplasia 
  • Progressive renal atrophy 
  • Deafness 
  • Epilepsy 
  • Collie eye anomaly 


Border Collies are widely known for being incredibly intelligent workaholics. They are energetic, sharp, alert, and responsive, as well as extremely dedicated to their “job” and their people. 

These dogs are generally affectionate towards friends but may be reserved towards strangers. According to the American Border Collie Association’s breed standard guidelines, when approached, Border Collies should stand their ground. They should be alert and interested, never showing shyness or fear. 

As livestock herders, Border Collies are very attuned to their surroundings. Because of this, they can exhibit stress-related responses to sounds and visual cues. Collies also thrive on structure and working alongside their humans, often making them sensitive to unknowns and prone to experiencing separation-related stress. 

Their high energy levels mean Collies do not do well when cooped up inside all day. Providing physical activity with a game of fetch and mental stimulation by training new commands can tire these dogs out, reducing stress. 

How can ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA help Border Collies? 

ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA chews, soft gels, and oils can help dogs’ general stress levels decrease and return to a normal state of balance. For Border Collies who are always on high alert, CBD + CBDA can be extremely helpful in truly calming without sedating so these dogs can learn to relax in highly stimulating situations and environments. 

For dogs who experience situational stress related to separation, ElleVet’s Calm & Comfort chews act quickly to provide maximum support to Border Collies when they are home alone and need it most. When given 1.5-2 hours ahead of your departure, these chews are extremely effective in addressing dogs’ acute level of stress. While leaving your Border Collie alone for long periods of time is not recommended, ElleVet can help them handle the stress when leaving them home is unavoidable.  

As always, consult your veterinarian if your dog shows signs of stress. For any questions about ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA products or how CBD can help your dog live their best life, give us a call (844-673-7287) or send us an email ([email protected]). We are here to help. 


Border Collies are widely considered the world’s greatest herders with their stealthy crouch, piercing stare, and explosive bursts of focused energy. They are highly intelligent and trainable and excel at obedience and agility competitions. In fact, having a job to perform, like agility or herding or obedience work, is key to a Border Collie’s happiness. 

It is important to note that Border Collies’ strong herding instincts can lead to chasing cars, small animals, and children. They do best in households with older children and pets who can keep up with their energy and herding tendencies. 

Border Collies should be trained to channel their energy into appropriate outlets like agility training and a game of fetch. Socialization is also very important for these dogs, as positive exposure to a wide variety of people, animals, and environments can help minimize stress that often develops in highly sensitive and aware Border Collies. 

Bottom line on Border Collies 

Overall, Border Collies are wonderful family dogs full of energetic enthusiasm. Owners should provide their Borders with plenty of physical and mental stimulation, as these dogs are highly active, intelligent, and can be prone to stress and destruction.  Matching your lifestyle to the breed of dog you bring into your family will set you both up for success.