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The Ever-Energetic Border Collie
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The Ever-Energetic Border Collie

Ben, Critter Culture Staff
Updated Oct 2, 2020

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Border collies are one of the most common dog breeds in America. If you're considering making a border collie a part fo your family, there are plenty of things you need to know before taking the plunge. Adopting and training a collie is a rewarding yet challenging task that differs from owning dogs of other breeds. If this breed is right for you, however, you will enjoy a strong bond with your dog and years of playfulness and affection.

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All about border collies

All About Border Collie Bigandt_Photography / Getty Images

Border collies were originally bred to herd livestock. Their name comes from the borderland between Scotland and England, where they were first bred, and the Celtic word for “useful”. Border collies are moderately sized and usually weigh 30 to 45 pounds. Their coat is moderate to thick and is most often black and white, but some border collies are brown or speckled.

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Their trainability

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Border collies are considered the most intelligent dog breed. This correlates to their high trainability and perceptiveness. Their trainability does not necessarily make them easy to train, though. They can be stubborn and are known for their bad habits when not taught correctly. They don’t usually wander, but their intelligence may prompt ingenious escape attempts, especially when they’re bored. You may also see their herding tendencies with other pets and even small children without proper training and exercise. Still, a collie can be trained to behave properly and achieve fantastic feats.

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Border collies are social dogs

Border Collie Friendly People Dogs piola666 / Getty Images

Border collies are known for their friendliness and are often considered a perfect family dog. They are very tolerant of children and will bond closely with a family. Whether or not a border collie gets along with other dogs is largely determined by your individual dog’s personality. While many collies enjoy the company of other dogs, they were originally bred to be around livestock and some can be suspicious or aggressive with unfamiliar dogs. They may act in a similar way around new people as well. Many of these behaviors can be eliminated with the help of an owner's patient and gradual training.

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Grooming your border collie

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This breed is a heavy shedder, even more so during shedding season in the spring and fall. Since they have both a long and short coat, owners may notice large amounts of shedding during these transitional seasons. This can be managed with regular brushing, at least3 times per week. Border collies don’t need to be bathed nearly as often as they need to be groomed. A bath every 3 months is usually enough, and some recommend having a collie groomed every eight weeks, which may be a better choice during the shedding season.

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Health problems you may encounter

Health Problems Border Collie FatCamera / Getty Images

Just like other dogs, border collies have their own set of ailments that are common to their breed. Among these ailments are hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and collie eye anomaly\. Collie eye anomaly occurs in dogs under 2 years old and may remain mild enough to make treatment unnecessary. Epilepsy is typically managed with medication, and hip dysplasia is controlled with surgery or medication and rehabilitation. Overallall, collies typically don’t encounter too many health problems and will usually live to be at least 12 years old.

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How adaptable are border collies?

Border Collies Adaptability Social Physical Xsandra / Getty Images

Some border collies tolerate loneliness better than others. They may display separation anxiety and some nervous behaviors when facing uncertain circumstances, like storms or being left alone. Because of their sharp mind and incredible intelligence, they may be too much for a novice dog owner. If you live in a small or confined space, a border collie can adapt to that space as long as they receive the right amount of daily activity and have plenty of interaction with you and other people and animals. This breed will adapt more readily to physical changes in their environment than social ones.

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Border collies need a lot of exercise

Exercising Your Border Collie piola666 / Getty Images

The energy level of border collies is perhaps their most famous trait. They are a high-energy, playful dog breed that needs exercise and complex interactions every day. Giving them intense exercise that involves movement and intelligence is one of the best ways to nurture a border collie. Two hours of exercise every day is a good start, but you’ll likely find that your collie has endless hours of energy to burn. Bringing your pup to a dog park or a location where they can have lots of space and interaction may help you tire him out, especially if he's been cooped up during the day.

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What kind of family should consider getting a border collie?

Border Collie Consider Family Yes Lhanna Frost / Getty Images

An active family without very small children is the ideal owner for a border collie, or an individual looking for a canine companion to take with them on adventures. Before you adopt, take a good look at your family's hobbies and activity level. If you spend lots of time hiking, camping, running, or participating in outdoor sports, then a border collie may find itself right at home with you.

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Whom might a border collie not be right for?

Border Collie Dog, UK, in garden, black & white, laying, panting, with ball, playing Robert Pickett / Getty Images

A family with limited time to devote to a dog may want to look elsewhere to fill their furry needs. If you work long hours or have a family life that’s full of school work, professional jobs, and extracurriculars, you might want a breed that’s less demanding. Any family with small children might want to wait until their little ones are a little older before introducing a collie. The largest responsibility when raising a collie is providing for their athletic needs, and people with a tight schedule may not have the energy or time to do so. There are plenty of dog breeds that are perfect for a less active family, however, including Bassett hounds and English bulldogs.

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Good Professions For Border Collies

Border Collie Service Dog K9 fscotto74 / Getty Images

Border collies are hardworking, which makes them an excellent service dog for a handler that has the patience and time to work with them. They are often enrolled in professional dog competitions and excel because of their aptitude and athleticism. Border collies are also used by law enforcement officers in detecting illicit substances, tracking, and finding cadavers, along with breeds like German shepherds.

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