Border Collie Temperament & Personality

border collie temperament

Border Collies are one of the smartest, most athletic dog breeds. They are known for their agility, making them great at most canine sports, especially frisbee! Watching a Border Collie perform in a sport or agility competition is truly a sight to see. They love learning new things. In fact, the breed needs to be constantly learning in order to be happy and healthy. They are smart enough to pick up on a long list of commands over time and are great at tricks! Border Collies make perfect pets for farmers and active families.

History of Border Collies

It is believed that the Border Collie breed dates back to the first century B.C. During this time, the Romans invaded Britain and brought their dogs along to herd local livestock. When the Roman empire fell, Viking raiders brought small herding dogs with them. These dogs were bred with the larger Roman dogs.

The result was a medium-sized, agile sheepherding dog that was suited for the climate of the highlands near Scotland, England, and Wales. Border Collies were bred for their performance. They have a heightened sense and natural ability to work for long hours in rough terrains with very little human guidance.

All sheepdog breeds are known for their intelligence and trainability. Instead of ravaging livestock or a flock of birds, sheepdogs have the instinct to protect them. In addition, Border Collies are able to serve and respond to their owner’s commands. These traits make the breed extremely workable, which was the intent during their development and initial breeding.

Prominent Personality Traits

border collie personality

Border Collies are known to be escape artists. Some consider this breed to be the Houdini of dogs. In fact, fences do not typically prevent them from escaping from backyards.

If you adopt a Border Collie, it’s vital that you keep an eye on your pup at all times. He will dig, jump, or even open latches on fences to get outside and explore the world.

It’s important to socialize your Border Collie and introduce him to new experiences from an early age.

The breed has some shy tendencies which can develop into canine aggression if left unchecked. They can be hostile toward dogs and other animals if they have not been properly socialized. 

Border Collies thrive when they have a job to do and room to run around. Since they have a strong instinct to herd people and animals, they may try to herd a small child. The breed is best suited for families with well-behaved children who are in their teenage years.

Border Collies are loving and friendly to their families, but they can be more reserved around strangers and unfamiliar animals. At a young age, the breed can exhibit sensitivity to noise and overall uncertainty about the world. However, once they are thoroughly trained and socialized, they make great companions and working dogs. Border Collies need adequate canine socialization when they’re puppies in order to develop confidence and grow into well-behaved adult dogs.

Puppy training is a great way to begin the training and socialization process for your Border Collie. Additionally, if you make sure to expose your dog to different people, environments, animals, and experiences at a young age, he will be prepared to cope in a variety of different scenarios. Find out about the most prominent personality traits of the Border Collie breed below.

Natural Herders

Because of how they were bred, Border Collies are natural herders. This instinct may lead them to try to herd children, animals, bicycles, or groups of people at a park or gathering. It’s important to never let your Border Collie off his leash in an open area as he may try to herd, chase, or nip at people.

In addition, he may get hurt if he tries to run after bikes or cars, which the breed is known to do. His herding instinct and loyalty may also cause your Border Collie to follow you around your home. The breed tends to form close bonds with their families and wants to be close to them at all times. Border Collies are also known for their intense ability to focus. They have somewhat of a hypnotic stare that compels sheep to move around. This keen eye allows a Border Collie to focus on herding and other jobs.

Focused Athletes

Border Collies are natural, focused athletes. They have the ability to excel at almost any performance activity including agility competitions, sheepherding, obedience exercises, flyball, and of course, frisbee. Their trainability, drive, and desire to obey make them one of the best breeds in competitive canine sports. Border Collies are also able to help search and rescue teams as well.


border collie traits

The Border Collie breed is known to display some compulsive or anxious tendencies. This may include waiting for the dishwasher to turn off, watching a cat sleep, twirling around in circles, following lights, or chasing bugs around the backyard.

If you notice these behaviors in your Border Collie, you may think there is something wrong with them. However, the breed tends to just find these things amusing and it is usually not a cause of concern.

If your dog is displaying compulsive behaviors on a constant basis, they may need more mental stimulation or exercise, as it can be a result of boredom as well.

Canine separation anxiety is a common trait seen in Border Collies. Since they require so much stimulation and activity to stay happy, they can become anxious when they are left alone. This can lead to barking, howling, chewing, or digging, but can be prevented with proper exercise.


Border Collies are very intelligent creatures. They are considered to be one of the smartest dog breeds and will try to outsmart their owners. A Border Collie’s intelligence is unmatched when it comes to work ethic and instinct. They pick up commands quickly and thrive when learning new tricks and commands.

Border Collies cannot be expected to spend all day in a backyard or sit indoors for long periods of time. When the breed becomes bored or does not get enough physical activity and mental stimulation, they may become destructive or aggressive.


Similar to other herding and sheepdogs, Border Collies have a protective temperament and can be distrusting of strangers. Socializing them frequently at a young age will help prevent their protective nature from leading to excessive shyness or aggression around strangers. The protective quality of Border Collies also makes them excellent watchdogs. They will always alert their family when they notice anything out of the ordinary.

Training a Border Collie

border collie characteristics

Border Collies are natural problem-solvers. They can be trained to do almost any task or trick. Since they are so observant and intelligent, they are also able to pick up on some new behaviors without any training.

However, some of these behaviors may be a nuisance if your Border Collie teaches himself how to open a cabinet or unlock the gate of your backyard.

It’s important to start training a Border Collie when they are a young puppy. The sooner they learn commands, the better.

The breed likes to be in charge and will display dominance if their owners don’t exhibit leadership.

A gentle, yet firm tone and positive reinforcement work well when training a Border Collie. Their sensitive temperament may lead them to close off if they are punished or scared during training.

Since Border Collies are natural working dogs, they love routines. If you stray from a routine that your pup has grown accustomed to, he may get frustrated and begin to act out with aggressive or destructive behaviors. When training a Border Collie, keep in mind that this breeds heightened intelligence helps them understand more than you may think. They can easily remember schedules and commands.

Although Border Collies are highly trainable, their extreme enthusiasm can be a challenge. The intelligence, athleticism, and herding instinct of the breed needs to be channeled into the right behaviors through training. Otherwise, the dog will grow up to be quite a nuisance.

Let Your Border Collie Follow His Instincts

border collie temperament and personality

It’s vital that you allow your Border Collie to follow his natural instincts. They were bred to assist shepherds with herding animals and thrive when they have a job to do.

If you don’t have animals for your Border Collie to herd, you may want to try introducing him to recreational herding, which is a sport for sheepdogs.

Home Life with Border Collies

Border Collie owners should be aware that the independent and intelligent personality of the breed will lead your dog to find ways to occupy his time.

If a Border Collie is not trained properly from a young age or mentally and physically stimulated on a regular basis, he will create his own activities, which may be destructive or dangerous. When the breed gets frustrated or bored from being left at home alone for an extended period of time, you may come home to a mess.

Is a Border Collie Right for You?

Before deciding to bring home a Border Collie, you should carefully consider each of their prominent personality traits and unique temperament. Although Border Collies have strong personalities, they are still one of the most popular breeds because of their intelligence and trainability. They are great with children and make perfect pets, especially for active families. So, if these characteristics fit in with your family dynamics, consider bringing home a loving Border Collie!

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