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15 Facts About Border Collies

Written by ADAPTIL Expert, published on March 05, 2024

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Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your leashes. Today we’re herding together a few facts about one of the canine world’s most impressive stars: the Border Collie! Known for their intellect and an energy level that could power a power small city, these are more than just any four-legged friend. If you’re thinking of adopting a dog, or are simply fascinated by all things canine, settle down with our ultimate collection of Border Collie facts

1. Record-Breaking Intelligence

You may have heard that Border Collies are one of the smartest breeds of dog, but you may not have realised just how clever they can really be! One Border Collie called ‘Chaser’ managed to memorise the names of over 1,000 objects.

Nor is he the only record-breaking Border Collie. Here’s a few more with incredible achievements to their name:

  • ‘Jumpy’ holds the canine world record for skating 100 metres in less than 20 seconds.
  • ‘Striker’ has a record for rolling down a manual car window in a frankly incredible 11.34 seconds.
  • ‘Sweet Pea’ from the US has two records: one for balancing a glass of water on her head while walking down 10 steps, the other for walking 100 metres with a can on her head.
  • ‘Kim’ has the record for being the most expensive sheepdog, selling for a colossal £28,455!

2. Bred for Herding

Dating back to the 1700s, Border Collies were bred primarily for herding sheep. Their intelligence, stamina, and ‘eye’ – an intense stare used to control flocks – make them unmatched in this role. 


Border Collie running across a meadow.

3. Origins of the Name

The term ‘Border Collie’ reflects their origins in the border region of Scotland and England. While the ‘border’ part of the name refers to this border region itself, it’s thought ‘collie’ could mean either ‘sheepdog’ or ‘useful’ in Scottish and Gaelic dialects. After all, Border Collies are certainly useful to shepherds in the area!

4. Brains, Not Beauty

Another interesting fact about breeds of Collie is that they were bred for their working skills, rather than their appearance. This makes them quite a bit different from most modern breeds of dog that are primarily bred with their aesthetic appearance in mind. This is thought to be the reason why they’re so intelligent and quick at learning.

5. Sheepdog Trials and Talents

The first recorded sheepdog trials were in Bala, Wales, in 1873. These trials showcased the impressive ability of Border Collies to herd sheep, responding to whistles and hand signals from their humans.

6. Distinctive Coat and Colours

Border Collies tend to have a black and white colouration but can also be bicolour, tricolour, or merle. Their coats can be rough or smooth, with rough coats having feathering on the legs. If you’re thinking of adopting a dog, specifically a Border Collie, it’s worth bearing in mind their medium-length double coat will require weekly grooming!

7. Striking Eye

One of the most noticeable facts about Border Collies is that they can often have different coloured eyes. This gives them a distinctively unique and captivating appearance! 

Border Collie with different colour eyes.

8. Vocal and Energetic

Known for their attentiveness to movement, some Border Collies can be especially vocal, especially when stimulated by moving objects. 

9. Top Competitors in Canine Sports

Border Collies are highly trainable and eager to please, which has proved to be a match made in heaven when it comes to sports. For instance, this includes flyball, agility, and tracking, which are highly entertaining events showcased each year at Crufts!


Border Collie running on an agility course.

10. Ideal Pet for Active Families

Border Collies are a great match for active families who are thinking about adopting a dog, particularly those who already have experience living with pets. Remember, Border Collies thrive on activity. Without adequate physical and mental stimulation, they might find their own ‘jobs’ like herding children! Puzzle toys and feeders are a great way to keep their intelligent minds engaged. Just don’t underestimate their intelligence by providing something too easy.

11. Famous People and their Border Collies

A number of celebrities have shared great friendships with their Border Collies in the past. Queen Victoria, well known for her love of dogs (she also had a mention in our article on Pomeranians!), became an avid Border Collie enthusiast in the 1860s after seeing one on a trip to Balmoral. Later, she adopted her own called Sharp.

Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet, also had a border called Luath. His poem ‘The Twa Dogs’ was inspired by Luath’s death and explores the special relationship between man and dog. Statues of Robert Burns often have Luath by his side.

Other notable individuals to have had Border Collies include:

  • James Dean and his Collie, Tuck.
  • Michael Keaton and Dusty.
  • Ethan Hawke and Nina.
  • Matthew Broderick and his first dog, Sally.
  • Tiger Woods and Bugs.

12. Acting Talent

Not ones to be outdone by their humans, a fair few Collies have made their own name for themselves with various acting credits! Border Collies have starred in films including Babe, Animal Farm, and Snow Dogs. 

Are you interested in learning about other dogs to have featured in movies? Check out our article covering this very subject!



Four Border Collies sitting in a line

Advice for Adopting a Border Collie

If these fascinating Border Collie facts have got you wondering whether this breed could be the right fit for your family, there’s a few things it’s worth considering before you go rushing into any decisions.

As we’ve mentioned already, border collies are highly active. They need a lot of regular stimulation, both mentally and physically, to keep them engaged. As such, they’re not recommended for families or individuals who don’t have the time or resources to provide them the full stimulation they need. 

There are also several health issues to be aware of in border collies. They can be particularly susceptible to hip dysplasia, collie eye anomaly (a genetic condition which can lead to vision loss), epilepsy, and multi drug resistance (MDR-1 – an increased sensitivity to some medications).

Otherwise, and as with any dog breed, puppy socialisation is hugely important to border collies. Building a solid relationship and keeping young border collies busy is a good way to help them feel confident and better able to face challenging situations in future!

Last of all, don’t forget about ADAPTIL when it comes to bringing a new furry friend into your home. An ADAPTIL Calm diffuser is great for creating a relaxing environment, giving your pup the best possible chance of settling in. Simply plug the pheromone diffuser into an electrical socket before they arrive and let ADAPTIL do its thing! For more tips on helping a new dog to settle, view our full guide for creating a dog-friendly home.

Have our facts about border collies caught your attention and left you wanting more? Check out our other blogs! As well as interesting facts covering breeds from Cavapoos right through to Shiba Inus, you’ll also find a range of helpful tips for caring for your four-legged companions. You can also stay informed with our latest guides, as well as find info about all our ADAPTIL products, by signing up to our newsletter.

Following our expert tips will help to ensure your bond with your dog goes from strength to strength.

Make sure to join our community for weekly advice from our dog behaviour experts as well as product offers and competitions. 

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