Canine Einsteins, Border Collies are known as the most intelligent breed of dog. They have to be to do the job they were bred to do.


Sheepherding dogs traditionally control sheep by nipping and barking. But around 1800, along the border between England and Scotland, a dog named Old Hemp changed that. Instead, he stared at and stalked the sheep, trotting in a low crouch, all of which intimidated the sheep into going where he wanted them to go. Hemp is considered the father of the Border Collie, and modern Borders still herd in that same style.

More than most breeds, Border Collies have been selected for working ability above all else, even in modern times. It's why most aren't AKC registered, and why they come in a variety of looks– even though most are the same color: black with white trim.

Border Collies are the stars of the sports of dog agility, obedience, flyball and herding. But they need constant stimulation to keep them from going stir-crazy. Toys help; one Border Collie knows the name of more than 1000 toys.

Health and Upkeep

Because of their medium size as adults, Border Collies don't need special foods for large dogs or small dogs–just a good puppy food will do. The Border Collie's high activity level throughout life can bring on arthritis in later life, so be sure to add a glucosamine chondroitin supplement once your Border reaches five to seven years.

Most Border Collies (except those from show lines) don't have particularly thick coats, so grooming should go quickly. Use a pin brush to remove tangles once or twice a week. In areas with longer hair, brush the coat in layers so you get all the way to the skin. Spritzing these areas with a mixture of water and conditioner will prevent static electricity and hair breakage as your brush. If you find a mat, carefully work it apart after spritzing it. During shedding season, use a shedding tool to remove the thick undercoat. Brushing right after bathing, when the hair is still slightly damp, will usually remove the most coat.

For the best looking results, use a shampoo that builds body. You may also wish to use a whitening shampoo on the white parts. If your dog has itchy skin, choose an avocado oil or oatmeal based shampoos. Blow-drying the coat will add more body.

Most Border Collies have healthy ears, but you should still check them for signs of redness, itching or debris weekly. Any time they get goopy, clean with an ear-cleanser. If the goop comes back, see your veterinarian.

Brush the teeth daily.

Clip the nails every two weeks or so using a heavy-duty dog nail clipper.

Border Collies hate to slow down for anything, but sometimes age-related physical changes, such as arthritis, make it tough to keep going at full intensity. Besides any intervention recommended by your veterinarian, a soft cushion to lie on and glucosamine chondroitin supplements added to the diet can help soothe aching joints, and keep him as young in body as he is in spirit.