Steve has experience raising Border Collies and knows all about the breed’s

Eight-month-old Border Collie Jack at the park after spending an hour at the
dog park playing Frisbee

Eight-month-old Border Collie Jack at the park after spending an hour at the
dog park playing Frisbee

Steve Garton

Getting a Border Collie

Everywhere you look online, you will find amazing stories and videos showing
off the incomparable intelligence and agility of Border Collies. Pay some
attention to K-9 commercials, and you’ll find that roughly 7 out of 10
commercials with animals feature a Border Collie.

If you take the time to research the most intelligent dog breeds, you will
find that while experts don’t always agree on the 2–5 rankings, #1 is always
the Border Collie. Contrary to what many experts say, no matter where I live,
I will always own a Border Collie, and I’m confident he will be as happy as my
current best friend is today. That’s because many of the generalities about
Borders are greatly exaggerated.

By now, you can tell that if you’re looking for an unbiased article on the
breed, you haven’t found one here. I’ve owned and been around Border Collies
my entire life, and while I love dogs in general, I’m “in love” with Borders.
I’ve read just about everything written about Border Collies that there is to
be said.

Most of the “general information” usually given about Borders is “generally”
true, but one needs to keep in mind that they are, in fact, “generalities.”
And speaking in general about this breed is exactly like speaking in general
about five-year-old kids. Most of it applies, but there is so much more to be
said that if you want to have an accurate understanding of them, you’re going
to need to spend a significant amount of time with one. Perhaps even more time
researching owner and breed forums rather than articles or publications. This
goes for both the Border and the five-year-old human.

What are the most notable traits of a Border Collie? They’re smart beyond
compare, very independent thinkers, incredibly athletic, and extremely loyal.
Another very important trait that is often left out of such descriptions is
that they are highly emotional.

What are the worst notable traits of a Border Collie? What’s the downside?
They’re smart beyond compare, very independent thinkers, incredibly athletic,
extremely loyal, and highly emotional. You’ll know that this is not as
humorous as it is factual by the end of your first 6 months of owning one.

As an experienced Border Collie owner and amateur trainer, beyond these well-
known traits, I can’t say that I absolutely agree with the many generalities
made about the breed. I’ve heard experts qualify potential owners by saying
that “unless you have a large yard for Borders to run, you shouldn’t own one.”
Sometimes true, but “generally” not true. Who doesn’t have a park down the
street or some space to play with a dog? If you don’t, all medium to large
size dogs, in general, are out. Not just Border Collies.

I’ve heard other BC experts say, “They’re easily trained but not recommended
as family dogs,” as they may exhibit dominant behavior over smaller children.
This can be true, but it depends on the particular dog, his upbringing, and
you. Like many other breeds, they can be jealous of the kids or protective of
them, but generally, this isn’t the norm. Most often, they find their place in
the family and do their best to do what they see as their job.

Two beautiful Border Collies

Two beautiful Border Collies

unknow facebook public domain

Miraculous Border Collie Behavior Can Simply Be Miraculous

We’ve had more than one border that would always sleep with the youngest
person in the house. How did he know? I could never figure it out. When I was
a child, I grew up with a BC that could do this. Then we adopted a two-year-
old from a BC rescue when my kids were 12 and 15. He clearly had the same
policy. When my daughter would have friends come for a sleepover, he would
somehow know which one was the youngest and sleep with her. It soon became a
game, and the girls would try to fool him.

One evening they succeeded as one girl he laid beside was just over a month
older than the girl he had chosen. Everyone laughed. For the first time in
more than a year, the incredible miracle dog had been fooled! Then
unexpectedly, the girl he was lying with began complaining of a stomach ache
and when I checked her, she had a fever. Her parents came to get her, and as
the girls all began to crawl back into bed, suddenly the girls were all
screaming! Who did he lie down beside?

That’s right, the youngest girl there. That’s when it began to hit the other
girls that he had not been wrong at all. He merely found his place beside the
young lady who was sick because he knew she was sick. He was never wrong

Note: if you own a Border Collie for long, you will have a likely
different but equally amazing story.

Rather than how much room you have in your backyard or how big your family is,
YOU, as a well-informed and dedicated owner, are THE deciding factor as to
whether a Border Collie is the best dog for your family. Or any dog, for that
matter. I don’t mean you just make the decision; I mean your commitment to
providing the time, attention, training, and investment. Chances are if you
are willing to put in the time, learn to train, and provide the attention,
there will be no better breed for your family, and you will never consider any
other breed of dog again.

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A friend of mine told me that she knew someone who was having a terrible time
with their Border Collie. She said they couldn’t take the dog anywhere because
it barked and jumped up on people, and they had to put it outside because it
was chasing her other little dog around the house and chewed up everything it
could find. Even though she thought they just had “a bad one,” she wanted to
ask if I had any secret to raising such nice, polite Border Collies.

Without asking a single question I knew, without any doubt, what the problem
was with this poor dog—the owner. Without writing a dissertation, it’s easy to
see that the dog was not getting its exercise/training time, had no behavior
parameters, and had inadvertently learned the habits of the smaller dog, for
the lack of any other instruction.

In addition, his herding instinct was causing him to herd the smaller dog
whenever he could, and he was chewing as the outlet to his discouragement,
which all dogs will do when emotionally distraught from not receiving physical
and emotional needs. Borders and many other breeds most often chew due to
separation anxiety, but given the description, this was much more serious.

What would have been a problem with any medium-to-large breed dog had become a
nightmare with this, quite normal, Border Collie. The problems would have been
the same with most other dogs, while the reaction was exaggerated in this much
more intelligent and energetic animal. You might raise another breed without
any knowledge of dog training or the breed itself. That’s probably unlikely
with a Border Collie.

Waiting for the return of his owner. Your Border Collie isn't interested in
a yard unless you are in it.

Waiting for the return of his owner. Your Border Collie isn’t interested in a
yard unless you are in it.

Steve Garton

Can You Handle a BC?

It’s not “Is a BC the right dog for you?” it’s “Are you a good owner for a

Are You Able to Take Care of a Border Collie?

In researching online, you will find lists that will say “Do not bring a BC
home if . . . ” and in contrast, “A BC Might Be the Dog for You If . . . ”
along with a list of more generalities. This is because most BC shelter owners
and breeders don’t want to see borders taken back to the breeder or shelter
they came from. And rightfully so!

Many people don’t do their homework before bringing home a new dog. They see
this beautiful creature or cute little puppy and think, “how hard can it be?”
Then, faced with housebreaking and multiple daily walks, they cannot see their
lives continuing like this, which leads them to return their new dog. It
happens with all breeds but perhaps even more with BCs because there are a few
who may just destroy your house if they are not getting what they need as

When I read the lists that follow the qualifying statements above, I usually
find things that would apply to any breed or at least any medium to larger
breed. As an example, a Border Collie is NOT for you if: “You don’t want to
spend a significant amount of time doing “dog” stuff daily” or “you don’t like
going outside in bad weather.”

Come on! Seriously? Who thinks anyone should own any dog, who doesn’t want to
walk their dog in bad weather, or when they have an excessively “busy life, or
12 hour a day work schedule that a dog can’t participate in”? You don’t want
to leave a Border locked up alone in the house for 8–12 hours a day, 5 days a
week. I wouldn’t do that to any dog, but especially to one this smart and
equally as emotional.

On the opposite side of the issue, another list says: A Border Collie IS for
you if: “You are serious about sheep herding,” and “you want an athletic dog
to do sports with.” There would be an enormous amount of Border Collies up for
adoption if they all had dominant herding dog instincts or all remained
exceedingly hyper and athletic despite all training efforts. I stress
“dominate” herding dog instincts and “exceedingly” hyper. Most Border puppies
do show occasional herding instincts, like creeping, growling, and biting at
your ankles when they are playing, but they are usually easily taught better
manners, and what puppy of any breed isn’t hyperactive?

Again, this can happen with several breeds, not just BCs. If you want an
accurate generality of which to gauge your dog choice, here’s one you can
depend on. “Every dog’s training, demeanor, and personality is a direct
reflection of the owner’s commitment, more so than of the dog.” Before making
a choice of any breed, do your homework. Know what you are getting into. Have
a plan. Learn basic dog training and housebreaking skills. If you do this,
chances are very good that raising a border or any breed will be far easier
than you thought or even planned for, and you will be very happy with your

One of the Most Carefully Protected Breeds for Unusual Reasons

The American Border Collie Association (ABCA) is dedicated to the preservation
of the breed as traditional working dogs and continues to make an effort to
maintain the breed as a working or herding breed. They discourage breeders
from breeding with any other outcome in mind, such as looks, personality,
companionship, or any other trait.

The ABCA has, in fact, been relatively successful at keeping the breed
primarily a working breed. The American Border Collie Association registers
approximately 20,000 Border Collies annually and continues to maintain the
working lineage of all registered dogs.

If you’ve ever wondered why there are so many different sizes and colors of
purebred Borders, it’s simply because they have been bred specifically for
herding, rather than any specific look, size, or physical trait like most
other K-9 breeds. However, there are breeders who have bred dogs for other
purposes, from athletic ability to perfection in demarcation and even
behavior. They remain rare due to both the demand for pure bread working
Borders and their monetary worth. The pure breed Border Collie pup has a far
greater value than any Border Collie bred for any other outcome.

Once again, the reason there are so many breeder and border-rescue websites
with advice and lists stressing a long list of reasons why you might not want
a Border Collie is because they are trying to save both potential owners and
these incredible dogs from experiencing the worst, by dropping their dog off
at a rescue after 5 months or more of ownership. While many of the
generalities may not always be true for full-grown adult dogs, most of them
are accurate for puppies.

If you’ve never raised a puppy and don’t know anything about training dogs, or
there is the slightest chance that you cannot remain dedicated to doing so,
you might want to consider adoption. Although you will still need to plan for
possible re-housebreaking, daily walks, and an occasional afternoon at the dog
park. Some BCs can get very nervous when they enter new ownership from
adoption and can lose control of their housebreaking temporarily. Usually,
this will subside on its own, but it’s good to practice the basics until they
become comfortable.

You need to remember that they are very emotional and highly intelligent. Just
like a human, losing their family/owner, and getting a new one can be
extremely traumatic for them. But on the positive side, they also seem to know
what has happened and will have such admiration for you that you will both be
elated with each other when they have settled in. You may have heard this from
others who have adopted dogs. It’s very common with all breeds, but like
nearly everything else about BCs, it can be true times 10, compared to the
other breeds.

Choosing the right Border Collie for you involves the consideration of
several factors.

Choosing the right Border Collie for you involves the consideration of several

Knowing How to Choose the Right Puppy

I’m not getting off on a tangent here. Unless you are adopting, knowing how to
choose a puppy is probably where the first and most crucial error is made when
bringing a Border Collie into your family. Puppies of any breed can make your
life miserable, at least temporarily. And just as Borders are several steps up
from average on the intelligence and athletic scales, it shouldn’t be a
surprise that the scale of the mischief they can get into during puppy-hood is
far higher as well, especially if you know very little about choosing a Border
Collie puppy from a litter.

I’ve heard of people successfully choosing Border puppies by picking the laid-
back and sometimes even the runt of the litter, in an effort to avoid alpha
traits. However, I personally don’t think you need to take it that far, and
you’re very likely to get an unhealthy puppy that way. Often, there are health
problems with the runt of the litter. If you know a little about puppy
behavior and have prepared well or have some experience with Borders, you can
probably handle training a pup that has alpha dog tendencies.

Choose a Slightly Calmer Puppy

If you know you want a Border but are a bit concerned about your training
skills, or you’re afraid a more hyperactive pup might take a gourmet liking to
your furniture before you can train them otherwise, you might want to favor a
slightly calmer pup. Remember, this doesn’t always work, and it doesn’t mean
at all that the dog will not indulge in the long list of expected puppy
behavior. It does, however, help the odds considerably that you will get the
demeanor you are looking for.

Just hope that your new pup will be a little better listener, a bit more
respectful, and be more self-conscious about getting into trouble. There are
no magic bullets or magic puppy tests. Your new puppy could be perfect, and
without the proper training and time put into your pup’s progress, the dog
could develop all of the traits you’re trying so hard to avoid. You can pick
the perfect puppy, but you need to keep your pup on the right track for the
pup to become the perfect adult dog.

Visit the Litter

The best way to do this is to use common sense. Visit the litter with those in
your family who will be living with the puppy. Or, if it’s just you, try to
take two or three people with you. It’s even better if one is a child to get
an idea of how each puppy responds to children. The puppies should be 6 to 12
weeks old. Ideally, about 10 weeks is best, but most breeders and even
backyard breeders will begin showing their litters at 6–7 weeks.

Evaluate the Litter as a Group

If you are picking from a litter, look at the litter as a group. Evaluate them
by establishing the most active and the least active. Look for the puppy that
is most playful with his siblings, and the one that is least active. Try
interacting with each puppy individually. Take them one by one away from the
litter. You should be observing carefully for the following:

  • Does the puppy seem afraid of you?
  • Is the pup showing signs of being fearful of humans? In other words, are the tail and ears tucked? Is the puppy cowering, urinating, or rolling over? Does the puppy run away when someone tries to pet them?
  • Does he or she pay attention when you talk to him/her?
  • Is the puppy distracted by wanting to return to the litter or focused on you?
  • Does the puppy want to play or just investigate?
  • Does the puppy stop biting when startled?
  • Can the puppy tolerate being held down against his will for a few seconds?

Independent puppies will usually show very little interest in people. They
will tend to wander off and seem more interested in hiding or going back to
the litter. You want to see how the puppy reacts to your reaction when he nips
you. Let him mouth on your hand and fingers. He will eventually work his way
up to a somewhat sharp nip. Respond with a sudden and somewhat loud “Ouch!” If
he’s fairly excited about your presence, you might need to repeat the
procedure a few times to get a good idea about his responses to your pain.

Look for Puppies With Good Jaw Control

Here’s what you’re looking for. Puppies that are either able to control the
force of their jaws, or are showing early signs of being conscientious about
others (dogs or humans), will stop nipping for a moment as a reaction to your
pain response. This is a good indication that the puppy is prepared to learn
easily. They only need to stop for a moment to indicate this. Don’t expect
them to stop completely because he is a puppy and he will likely return to
chewing your fingers very quickly, but that’s normal for a little guy.

Puppies who are not prepared to learn, not showing early signs of
conscientiousness, or are not ready to control the strength of their jaws,
will repeatedly ignore your reaction. It will usually be difficult to get them
to stop or even get them interested in doing something else.

Chew Toy Test

Take a chew treat or toy and allow the puppy to play with it for a few
minutes. After the pup is fully engaged in chewing, begin petting them on
their back, neck, and head. Then gently begin removing the chew treat away
from his mouth. Stop if the pup growls, snarls, or snaps at you. Repeat the
exercise to confirm the pup’s behavior.

Look for Relaxed Puppies

Puppies who remain relaxed when someone handles them during a meal or while
chewing a treat are unlikely to have a food guarding problem, and not very
likely to be overprotective either. This isn’t really a proof test because
puppies can still develop guarding behavior when they are a few months older.
However, if they already have it, that’s not a good sign. It can be corrected,
but the puppy may have ongoing problems stemming from the issues that caused
the guarding to develop so early.

Avoid Puppies That Seem Aggressive

Choosing a puppy that doesn’t show signs of a guarding response and similar
behaviors should be easy to avoid. Puppies that snap and growl, gobble their
food much faster, or behave aggressively when approached while eating will
likely continue this behavior as adults unless they receive early training to
eliminate the problem.

Some puppies can be very relaxed and even comforted from being touched, held,
examined, and even restrained. Others, particularly alphas, aren’t at all
comfortable with being handled or restrained in any way. When you have a puppy
that doesn’t like to be handled, it’s going to be a challenge to take care of
them, and you’re going to miss out on some of the most enjoyable moments that
there are in having a loving pet. They can become fearful or aggressive at the
vet, during grooming, and worse, during playtime or normal interactions with
their families.

Aggression Test

Hold the puppy in your arms on his back, like you might hold an infant child.
Try to hold the puppy in the same position for a few minutes by using very
gentle pressure with your free hand over his chest. If he seems frightened or
becomes aggressive, release him. A bit of squirming or trying to wiggle away
is normal and doesn’t count as being afraid or aggressive.

Be sure to touch the puppy all over. Start at the tip of his nose and go all
the way to the tip of his tail. Be sure you hit all the spots that puppies can
be sensitive about to see if he becomes fearful or aggressive at any certain
spot. Hold each paw gently but securely for five seconds and fool around with
the nails a bit. Hold him in front of you, get your face close to his, and
look into his eyes for about five seconds.

If the puppy did well, and you have a 9-year-old or older child with you.
Allow the child to perform this exercise with the puppy under your close
supervision. Note, is the dog’s behavior the same with the child administering
the tests, or has it changed?

If the puppy remained calm during these tests, put the pup on the floor in
front of you, lying down. Hold him just behind his neck and shoulders,
restraining him, and squat down with your legs under you and on either side of
the puppy. Hold the puppy between your legs like you are riding him but with
no weight, just your hands holding him down. Keep him in that position for
about 10 seconds. If he squirms and tries to get away when you first hold him
down, that’s ok. Most puppies do squirm for the first three to four seconds,
then stop and settle down.

These are crucial tests because most puppies who exhibit extreme alpha
behavior or have biting, nervous, or fearful issues will not tolerate these
tests well. If the puppy screams, snarls, bites, has a tantrum, urinates, or
defecates when restrained, he is very likely to continue this behavior as an
adult unless they receive very specialized corrective training. On the other
hand, if the pup remains relaxed, calm, and almost playful with the
experience, this is an excellent sign. Puppies that tolerate this test well
will almost certainly become calm, submissive, and playful adult dogs.

Observe and Make Your Selection

There is a long list of possible puppy tests for various behaviors, and we
could go on for pages. Although what you want is just enough to observe and
establish an idea about each puppy in the litter. From the results, making an
excellent choice should become quite easy.

Choosing a Pup

When choosing a Border Collie puppy, most people would want a moderately
active but submissive puppy with a longer attention span and a superior
attraction to humans over the litter.

Here Are a Few “Generalities” About Border Collies

Here are a few things you need to know about Border Collies.

They Are Members of the Family

Border Collies are not “like” members of the family. They “are” members of the
family and need to be treated as such. There is no getting around this, and if
you aren’t ready to take on a child with a short childhood and will have the
intelligence of a four-year-old before his first birthday, don’t get a Border

You won’t want a Border Collie if you or your family are not attracted to the
idea of a dog that has to be in the middle of whatever is going on in the
house and needs to be with at least one family member at all times, not
because he will get into mischief but because he requires this emotionally.

You’ll Need to Figure Out How to Train Them

If you don’t have dog training experience, and probably even if you do, you
will need to research various training methods and choose those which fit you
and your dog. There are enough great step-by-step YouTube videos to keep you
and your dog busy for a while. I would recommend this kind of training for any
dog, but for most Border Collies, it’s a commitment that you really need to
prepare and set aside a daily training time. If you thought sit, stay and lay
down were all they need to know, you might want to consider a lap dog instead.

They Need to Exercise Every Day

Border Collies do need exercise every day, preferably outside, but most of
all, they need to spend time playing with you or the family. If you live in an
apartment, this could be some time running at the park (on or off the leash),
playing fetch or Frisbee, or just taking them with you wherever you go all
day. I recommend an extended leash if you don’t have a dog park or fenced
area. You can even make one with some nylon cable and stainless steel
fasteners from the hardware store. An extra-long retractable is great for
puppies but not long enough for adults.

Games Are Important to Border Collies

Inside or outside, mentally challenging games along with a training regime are
vital to a Border Collie and even more so for a puppy. Just like a human
toddler, if you don’t challenge them mentally and build your relationship with
them, they will find ways to challenge that intelligence themselves and get
your attention by any means necessary. It won’t be pretty. Furniture, carpet,
shoes, towels, blankets, pillows, anything they can chew, break, climb, or dig
into, they will find a way.

They Are Escape Artists

They are famous for being escape artists. I don’t want to get into puppy
training methods here, but you should do your research and put together a plan
for crating, housebreaking, chew-breaking, and all of the other necessaries.
This, too, requires commitment, but if you have chosen your pup well and have
set aside exercise and training time, this shouldn’t be any more difficult
than with any other puppy breed.

Because they learn so quickly, it will likely even be easier once you’ve
managed to achieve the first couple of milestones. As soon as they realize
that this learning thing pleases you, it becomes part of the Border Collie
sworn sacred religion that they live for, and would even give their lives, to
do for you . . . work.

You Will Be Followed Around the House

You and your family must accept being followed around the house wherever you
go, including the bathroom. So if you don’t like anyone watching you in the
shower or on the toilet, you’ll have to get over it. Hopefully, you won’t mind
waking up to a snout not a half-inch from your own belonging to your biggest

They Need to Stay Inside

Border’s DO NOT do well staying outside, in general. They are highly emotional
and need to be with their family members. As I’ve pointed out, they will often
sleep in the room of the youngest member of the family or the child that
spends the most time with them. The former more often, regardless of time
spent. This is usually true even if adults feed them, take them out, and do
everything for them. They will still want to be with the kids and sleep with
the kids. They may be loyal to an adult until nighttime, when they will retire
to where the children sleep.

They Like to Get Dirty and Wet

Most BCs don’t mind getting dirty and wet, so if you have mud and water
puddles or a pool about, expect to be hosing them down and bathing them from
time to time because you cannot leave them outside unless you’re staying out
there with them.

They Like to Be Cold

They usually like to be cold and will hang in front of the fan or AC or on the
cold tile floor when they can. I say “most” because I currently have an
8-month-old border that won’t go out in the rain unless he has to do his duty
reeeeeally bad, and he doesn’t like cold weather either. I can go outside when
it’s rainy and cold, and he will stay inside and watch me unless I call him.
Very unusual, but fortunately, we live in California. When I say they are all
different, I’m really serious.

Border Collies Are Incredibly Smart

Your dog will outsmart you from time to time. At first, you will think it’s
only coincidence. Later you will accept it as intentional. If you are as smart
of a human as your Border is a dog, you will utilize this intelligence.

They Love to Play

If you want a K-9 super-athlete to play Frisbee, fetch and spend time training
to do miraculous things, putting every other dog to shame, there is probably
no other dog for you. However, there are exceptions to this. Although it’s
rare, there is the occasional Border Collie that doesn’t want to play and will
just lay down after about 5 minutes.

Generally, this is because the owner has always done the same thing since he
was a pup, and now someone is trying to change the routine. However, as a
precaution, be sure to take them to the Vet for a checkup, just in case it’s a
heart issue or something serious.

They Love Family Above All Else

Borders are so smart and so emotional that most of them will fight their own
instincts to fit in with their family and the family lifestyle as they grow
into adulthood. Even if it means not getting all the exercise, they prefer or
having the responsibilities that they crave. If their owners like sitting
around watching TV, you will find their Border Collie can be content doing
that too.

Some Borders are perfectly happy to lie around the house and sleep all day
like a cat, as long as they can be with their owner or family. Staying near
their family and keeping an eye on the house becomes their job. This is not
good for them mentally or physically, and I would never recommend such a life
for a dog, but it does show the importance of a BC’s relationships over their
own instincts and needs.

Border Collies Need a Job

They really need a job to do, and if you don’t provide one, they probably
will. A young Border Collie will be constantly looking to show you that he can
do anything you want and please you. Most of the time, that means protecting
you and the family, but it can manifest itself negatively for brief periods,
at which point you will need to spend some time training.

Border Collies Are the Best

After growing up with a Border Collie, my kids nor I could understand why
anyone would want any other breed of dog. In fact, I can honestly say that I
don’t know anyone who has raised a Border Collie that hasn’t come away with
the same wonder. I’ve raised several borders from puppy-hood and if you
educate yourself in not just dog training, but border training, and you can
make it through the first 6 or so months of potentially disastrous outcomes,
then you will have a new and amazing member of your family, who fits in
perfectly. And I say that only because of the common breed generalities! None
of my Borders have been any trouble at all during puppy-hood. In fact, they
were much less difficult than other breeds because they learned so quickly.

One thing is certain. Do your job as an owner, and I promise that you will be
so glad that you chose a Border Collie and will thank yourself a thousand
times that you did your homework and hung in there on the training schedule
through the puppy months. Good luck!

© 2014 Steve Garton


Debbie Patterson on July 21, 2020:

Hi Steve, I really enjoyed your article, I have 2 border collies both 3 yrs
old females different litters and both totally different one never stops and
is slim the other content to lay around and eat! They are my 3rd and 4th had
them throughout my life all different personalities but very loyal and very
loving even if they do try to get away with rounding the cats up when they
think I’m not paying attention. Best dog breeds ever wouldn’t be without them

Danna on May 16, 2020:

I know I am just 8 years old but I gotta have a border Collie.

Kate Hursky on May 11, 2020:

Hi Steve I really enjoyed your article on these beautiful creatures. We
recently got a border collie/ Australian Shepard and mix Puppy who is 9 weeks
old. Although we adore him he has shown a few signs of the “alpha”
personality. We have 2 young boys which he seems to be irritated with most of
the time. He has growled and snapped at me a couple times. I just worry that
this can get worse and that my boys will be in danger. I have been spending a
lot of time with him and he is very smart and catches onto things quickly. I’m
Going to try a couple of your test that you mentioned above thank you

Penz on May 19, 2019:

Such a wonderful, informative article. I fell in love with the breed as a “
naughty kid who hated school “. My pe teacher had a pup when I was 11. I used
to walk her dog in break times. Then in adulthood, had my first “ Katie “ she
now is 15 years old. The kindest, loyal, best friend in the world.

I have recently got a pup. Totally different characters. I loved reading your
article so much. I love the breed.

padfoot on May 14, 2019:

This was a great article. I have a Pit Bull/Border Collie mix and he was
originally sent to a shelter for being a difficult puppy. I was living in a
studio apartment when I adopted him but was often baffled because he’d chew
everything and get the worst case of the zoomies that I’d ever witnessed.
Taking him to run in the field near my complex after waking up and before bed
resulted in an instant change in behaviour. I must admit that he gets bored
very easily so, we worked on visual commands to keep him busy. He wasn’t even
a year old when he met my 2 year old niece and would move between her and the
fireplace, the kitchen and the front door. I moved and would send him to dog
daycare on a farm 2x a week. I was informed that he would take charge when the
others played too roughly and would engage the newer hesitant dogs. I’ve
worked with many dogs but this smart little guy has kept me on my toes.

Jedda on January 28, 2019:

We have an 11 month old female pure B.C called Jedda and we love her dearly,
recently I have been plagued by the thought that we have no business owning
her at all, we take her to the park in the morning efore wego to work for
30-45 minutes and she gets another 1.5 hrs at the park when I get home,
usually she gets an evening walk around the block for another half hr & in
between play with her, indoor fetch and tugawar, keep away etc but over the
past couple of weeks she will stay by the front door when we get home from the
npark instead of coming inside , last night I tried to feed her after the park
and she went and hid in the bedroom instead, she just doesn’t look happy at
times like this, she is on hormone replacement therapy due to estrogen
inbalance from spaying. I hate leaving her alone during the daytime, I
couldn’t give 2 shits about the house, my only concern is her well being,

Steve Garton (author) from San Diego on December 10, 2018:

Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it. Since the article was written, my daughter moved
to San Francisco with her Border. His names Jack and he’s doing great. They’ve
been there 3 years now and the first year they lived in a high rise studio.
Now they live right on Golden Gate Park, but still a studio apartment. People
in SF love dogs and to be honest, I think he gets more exercise there than he
did in San Diego. He’s on a paleo diet now and he is absolutely thriving! I’ve
never seen him healthier and he’s 4 years old.

Al on November 28, 2018:

Great article, perfect for what I was searching for.

Elyde Vargas on July 06, 2018:

I have a 4-year old border collie, and she’s such a doll. She grew up with my
two little cousins (1 year and 5 during that time) and she never had a problem
with them. During her first year, we visited the dog park almost 3-4 days a
week. I can say that the two first years are the more critical. Border Collie
puppies can be very hyper and demanding, but don’t worry they will learn! I
recently moved and I don’t have a big backyard, but I try to go to the beach
or dogs park at least twice a day. Now that she’s 4 Luna become a very calm
and adaptable dog. She understands when is “play time” and when is not.

Daniel Villanueva on May 20, 2018:

My dog s a border collie only 4 months and is a cow. Will not eat his food
unless we show him. Other whys he eats grass

Rune on March 24, 2018:

Thank you for the wonderful read. I am priming myself for becoming a BC owner.
I will attend school and work though and therefore want to ask you what amount
of time I can leave the BC alone at home without becoming destructive for the
dogs mental health?

Thank you

Miss Cellany on February 27, 2018:

“Hopefully you won’t mind waking up to a snout not a half inch from your own
belonging to your biggest fan”

Hahaha that’s exactly how my border collie used to wake me up. Somehow his
laser stare a few inches from my face would wake me up, and he’d start wagging
his tail as soon as my eyes opened

Tina on February 16, 2017:

It’s kind of stupid to say you shouldn’t get a dog if you don’t want to walk
them in bad weather. I can’t go outside if it’s too cold because of a medical
condition but I still find ways to exercise my dog in the house

Courtnay on May 14, 2015:

Good information! I knew that Hank our BC was smarter than me! Haha

And yes he does follow me EVERYWHERE! He is the most funny and intelligent
puppy, we love him

Steve Garton (author) from San Diego on April 28, 2014:

Seriously? Obviously I didn’t mean every minute. As stated, Borders often lay
around the house sleeping like cats, but when you’re home, or as sure as you
get up and go somewhere, they will be right behind you. Yes, sure they are
fine by themselves, but they would rather be with you anytime. Just as in the
article, a Border Collie will follow you everywhere and their protective,
family or pack instinct will keep them there. Every Border owner will tell you
this about pure bread Borders. I disagree that “all dogs can be conditioned to
love time alone”, although I do agree that they will be just fine staying by
themselves. That doesn’t mean you can condition them to like it! I’ve had
quite a few Border Collie’s and many other breeds as well. While all breeds
are different in various respects, and we love all of them for a variety of
reasons, Borders are simply not like other dogs in many ways.

Pya on April 28, 2014:

I honestly am not sure how old this post is, or if it’s serious, but i highly
doubt you should let your dog spend 100% of it’s time with you, in other
words, follow you everywhere, from the bathroom to anywhere else, outside or
inside. That kind of obsession isn’t healthy, nor right. All dogs, regardless
of how emotional or what breed they are, can be conditioned to love spending
time alone (through positive reinforcement training), and will be just fine
staying by themselves in your absence, as long as you provide all the care
they require.