Border Collies are some of the smartest and most athletic breeds around.
Border Collies are one of the most intelligent and athletic dog breeds there are. This would make them basically the kid in high school who starred on the softball and basketball teams while making straight A’s and singing in the choir.
Is it any wonder that they’re in the top third of the American Kennel Club’s breed rankings? (They’re 35th out of 192 breeds total, by the way, in the 2018 stats.)
Border Collies are a medium-sized breed, as males stand around 19 to 22 inches at the withers (shoulders) and females stand around 18 to 21 inches. They typically weigh anywhere from 30 to 55 pounds.
The breed can come in any color, but they are usually mostly black with a white chest, with a fuzzy flag tail. Their ears may be floppy triangle, pointy upright or somewhere in between. They have a durable double coat that sheds pretty often,
Border Collies have a very long lifespan, averaging 12 to 15 years, or about 74 to 89 in dog years.
According to the AKC Breed Standard, the ideal Border Collie is “a well balanced, medium-sized dog of athletic appearance, displaying gracefulness, power and agility in equal measure. Its hard, muscular body conveys the impression of effortless movement and endless endurance. The Border Collie is extremely intelligent, with its keen, alert expression being a very important characteristic of the breed.”
They are part of the Herding Group in AKC dog shows, and are considered one of the smartest breeds in the canine world, topping psychologist Stanley Coren’s poll for Working Intelligence in his 1994 book The Intelligence of Dogs.
A bit of interesting etymology – the “border” in “Border Collie” comes from their development on farms on the border of England and Scotland, and the term “Collie” is probably a Celtic word that translates to “useful.”
The first Border Collies were transferred to Australia and New Zealand in the late 1850s, and the term “Border Collie” was first coined in 1915 by James Reid, secretary of the International Sheep Dog Society, to separate the breed from the normal Lassie-type Collie.
A dog named Old Hemp from the 1890s is a common ancestor of almost every member of the breed.
They are often found on farms, used as working dogs to herd sheep and/or cattle, and if they’re off duty, they excel at a variety of dog sports including agility, flyball, flying disc, obedience and rally. They also can pick up dancing fairly easily, as demonstrated by several competitors, notably the Canadian Rev, in the first season of the Facebook Watch TV series World’s Most Amazing Dog.
An eye disease known as CEA (Collie Eye Anomaly) and epilepsy are the most common genetic health problems to keep an eye out for.
The breed has tons of energy, which potential owners should consider carefully if they can give the dogs enough exercise and mental stimulation.