How to care for a Border Collie

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How to care for a Border Collie
Border Collies need plenty of regular exercise. (Image by Ciscornify; Flickr.)

Originating from the border country straddling England and Scotland, the Border Collie was bred to herd livestock and they are extremely intelligent and agile dogs. A Border Collie can weigh 13 to 22 kg (30 to 50 lb) when it reaches maturity. But don't expect this breed to mature when it's one year old -- the Border Collie can take two to three years to reach full maturity.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Vaccinate your Border Collie when you first get him, and then get annual booster vaccinations to maintain the dog's immunity to diseases. Worm your adult dog every three months, and consult your vet about flea and tick control products.

  2. 2

    Check your dog's ears regularly for ticks. If ticks are a problem in your area, ask your vet about preventative treatments.

  3. 3

    Feed your Border Collie dog food in which the first ingredient is meat, if you want a high-quality product. Typically collies should eat twice a day, but you should ask your vet about your pet's specific needs.

  4. 4

    Brush your dog's coat two to three times per week, for no more than 10 minutes.

  5. 5

    Bathe your dog only when necessary. They are generally clean, since their coats shed much of the dirt they pick up, but they do need to be brushed frequently to remove excess hair. Also, check and trim their nails weekly.

  6. 6

    Take your Border Collie to obedience training at a very early age. Because of their high level of intelligence, these dogs can get into a lot of trouble if they are bored and untrained.

  7. 7

    Train your dog early to socialise with children, as it is a dominant breed and has a tendency to nip at heels. Also, teach children to stop running and to stand still if your Border Collie is chasing them. This will usually prevent the dog from trying to herd and nip at the child.

  8. 8

    Provide chewable toys and bones for your dog. They love to chew and will destroy furniture if left unsupervised or without a chew toy.

  9. 9

    Exercise your Border Collie twice a day for 30 to 45 minutes at a time. They won't exercise on their own in the garden. They need human stimulation. Collies are ideal pets for runners and hikers, as they rarely tire.

  10. 10

    Understand the health problems common to the Border Collie before you get one. They are prone to hip dysplasia (a malformed ball and socket in the hip joint); progressive retinal atrophy (progressive damage to the retina); collie eye anomaly, which can cause blindness; osteochondritis desicans, which can cause lameness; and other diseases. Be sure to check with potential breeders to see if they screen for these health problems before they breed.

  11. 11

    Expect your Border Collie to live for 12 to 13 years.

Tips and warnings

  • Border Collies love to play fetch with a ball or a frisbee, and they will chase just about anything. They also enjoy swimming.
  • Border Collies get along well with other pets.
  • A garden fence isn't enough to keep a Border Collie in. This breed can easily clear a 1.8 metre (6 feet) fence and, if she can't clear the fence, she will try to dig under it. They can also open doors.
  • Border Collies can exhibit strange behaviours, such as chasing water and shadows.
  • The Border Collie has been referred to as hyper at times, because it usually doesn't slow down inside the house or after it has exercised.
  • Be alert when exercising your dog in the heat. Because they usually don't slow down, they can exercise to the point of death. This holds true on cold days as well. Also be aware that they can wear out the pads of their feet from too much running on asphalt.

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