Training & Behavior

Are Border Collies Great for First-Time Dog Owners? Questions Answered and Myth Busters

If you’re searching for an energetic and affectionate canine companion, whether for thrilling hikes or fun games of frisbee by the shore, a Border Collie is an excellent choice, promising years of happiness and unwavering affection. Yet, if you embark on your journey as a first-time dog owner, you might ponder whether a Border Collie remains the most suitable option.

Navigating the world of dog ownership for the first time can be an exhilarating but challenging experience, and determining the best breed for newcomers involves considering several key factors.

What is it Like being a Dog Owner for the First Time?

getting a dog for the first time

Owning a dog is a decision that can bring numerous joys and advantages into your life. However, it’s crucial to recognize and embrace this commitment’s significant responsibilities. Whether you get a young puppy or an adult dog into your home, being well-prepared and willing to provide unwavering care and dedication throughout their lifetime is paramount.

First, this responsibility encompasses meeting your dog’s physical needs. This includes proper nutrition, regular exercise, and routine veterinary care to keep them healthy and thriving. Ensuring they have a safe and comfortable living environment, whether it’s your home or a designated outdoor space, is equally important.

Beyond their physical well-being, dogs have emotional and social needs that must be addressed. Canines are social creatures that flourish in the presence of companionship and engagement.

Spending quality time with your furry friend, offering affection, and engaging in play and training sessions can improve their emotional well-being and strengthen their bond.

Furthermore, responsible dog ownership means making sure your pet is well-behaved and poses no harm to others or themselves. This may involve proper training, teaching basic commands, and ensuring they are well-behaved in various situations, both at home and in public.

The rewards of responsible dog ownership go far beyond the initial decision to bring a dog into your life. You create a harmonious and mutually beneficial partnership by fulfilling your dog’s physical, emotional, and social needs and nurturing a loving and lasting relationship. The love, companionship, and loyalty dogs offer can be rewarding, and committing to caring for them throughout their life is worth the effort.

Must-knows First-Time Border Collie Owners Should Know

Owning a Border Collie can be advantageous as they make fantastic family members and lifelong companions. However, it’s crucial to invest several months in dedicated obedience training and socialization during your puppy’s early stages of life. Establishing a strong foundation during this period will significantly simplify your journey. Conversely, neglecting this foundation can lead to a challenging experience with a puppy or adult dog that may cause disruptions in your home or even develop compulsive behaviors.

This Breed is a Working Dog

The Border Collie was initially bred to gather and manage sheep in the hilly border regions of Scotland and England. They are recognized for their intense gaze, called the “eye,” which they use to guide their flock. These dogs have boundless energy, incredible endurance, and a strong work ethic, which makes them one of the best herding dogs. Even today, farmers and ranchers across the globe continue to rely on Border Collies for herding sheep.

Border Collies are Intelligent, but Training Could Still be Challenging

Owning a Border Collie can be incredibly rewarding, given their remarkable intelligence. According to Stanley Coren’s “The Intelligence of Dogs,” Border Collies stand out and are renowned for their wit and often ranking among the smartest dog breeds. However, harnessing this intelligence during training, whether with a spirited puppy or a seasoned adult, can pose a notable challenge. Despite their sharp minds, working with Border Collies in training requires dedication and patience due to their high intelligence.

One of the key takeaways is that training a Border Collie requires a substantial investment of time and patience. These dogs are quick learners, and their grasp of commands is truly impressive. However, it’s crucial to understand that a strong work ethic and boundless energy accompany their intelligence. As an owner, you must commit to consistent and patient training to fully harness their remarkable potential.

While it may be tempting to be amazed by their rapid learning abilities, it’s essential to remember that Border Collies thrive with structure and clear guidance. Their intelligence can lead to restlessness or behavioral issues without proper training and mental stimulation. Therefore, as a responsible owner, your role is to appreciate their intelligence and provide them with the guidance and activities they need to be happy and well-adjusted companions.

Nipping Tendencies

Sometimes, when dogs feel like they’re not getting enough attention, they might lightly bite a person to get noticed. It’s important to understand that this is usually not meant to harm but rather a way for the dog to communicate. For example, Border Collies, a specific breed, might nip you to express that they want some one-on-one time or feel bored.

If your Border Collie isn’t getting enough physical exercise and mental stimulation, they might resort to nipping or engaging in activities you might not like. It’s their way of saying, “Hey, let’s do something together!” Sometimes, their nips can be stronger than intended, and it can hurt a bit.

To prevent this behavior, it’s a good idea to plan and find ways to keep your Border Collie active and mentally engaged. This will help reduce the chances of nipping and keep you and your dog happy.

Border Collies are Social

bonding with your dog

Border Collies are recognized for their sociable disposition, but it’s crucial to acknowledge that canine sociability varies, much like human personalities. Just as not all people are naturally outgoing and inclined to interact with everyone they encounter daily, not all dogs are equally social. Most dogs tend to be discerning when it comes to socializing.

They might not display excessive friendliness towards strangers and may not always seek out playtime with other dogs or engage with unfamiliar individuals regularly. This individual variability in sociability is a common trait among dogs.

They are Sensitive Dogs

Border Collies are known for their independence and strong work ethic, which make them exceptional working dogs. However, it’s intriguing to note that they can also exhibit sensitivity. This sensitivity arises from their keen awareness of signals and sounds in their environment. When not adequately engaged or stimulated, this sensitivity can manifest as introspection or boredom, potentially leading to behavioral issues. Hence, Border Collie owners must provide mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy and balanced.

Extremely High-Energy Dogs

Border Collies are renowned for their remarkable energy levels, making regular exercise a crucial aspect of their care.

They relish activities that involve running and staying active, which help keep them mentally and physically stimulated.

Furthermore, these dogs thrive on the affection and attention of their owners. Providing them with a purpose, such as herding livestock or engaging in games like fetch, fulfills their instincts and enhances their overall well-being and happiness.

What type of first-time owner would be a good match for a Border Collie?

The Border Collie can be an excellent choice for first-time dog owners, but specific factors should be considered. Some of the things that are for consideration include:

  • Work schedule – these dogs require substantial exercise and mental stimulation
  • Responsibility – the availability of household members to share responsibilities, financial readiness for dog ownership, the need for supervision around children due to herding instincts,
  • Lifestyle – your activity level is a consideration as Border Collies need ample exercise
  • Living conditions – since these dogs are quite energetic, it is preferably if you have a fairly large space for them to run around; ideally having a garden or a play area.

Border Collies are brilliant and active dogs, so prospective owners should carefully evaluate their lifestyle and commitment before bringing one into their home, mainly if they are new to dog ownership.

Your occupation and your working hours.

When you’re new to dog ownership and have a full-time job, it’s essential to consider your furry friend’s needs. Dogs are social creatures, and leaving them alone for extended periods isn’t fair to them. Every dog is unique, with their own physical, mental, and social requirements that must be addressed. Remember that dogs need regular bathroom breaks. Without outdoor access, they might have no choice but to relieve themselves indoors or hold it in, which can lead to health issues.

Even if you have a secure outdoor area, dogs can get bored, anxious, noisy, and sometimes even destructive when left alone for too long. Excessive noise can upset your neighbors and might result in a noise complaint from your local Environmental Health Office. Additionally, outdoor access might not be safe during extreme weather conditions, and your dog can be stolen.

If you’re considering adopting or buying a puppy, be prepared to invest time in house training. Puppies need constant supervision during this phase for it to be successful. They also require extra attention to meet their physical, mental, and social needs as they grow and develop. Setting aside time for basic training helps with their behavior and strengthens the bond between you and your pup.

Members in the house

For someone new to owning a Border Collie, it’s essential to understand that these dogs were originally bred for herding, and this can sometimes lead to confusion about their role in a household, especially if there are kids or toddlers in the family. While they are generally obedient and eager to please, they can become overwhelmed in a busy household where they can’t predict what’s happening next.

Financial status

Your financial situation plays a crucial role when taking on the responsibility of being a first-time dog owner. Adopting a dog entails budgeting for several essential items to ensure their well-being. These include a crate for their comfort and safety, food and water bowls, quality dog food to meet their nutritional needs, a collar and leash for walks and training, and a grooming kit to maintain their hygiene.

It would be best if you were prepared to provide these fundamental supplies for your new furry friend, and planning for these expenses is an integral part of responsible pet ownership.


Border Collie with its toy

When you’re a first-time dog owner, selecting the right breed is crucial, and it’s essential to think carefully before choosing a Border Collie.

Border Collies have a strong work ethic, high energy levels, and inherent herding instincts.

Sometimes though, this makes it difficult for them to interact smoothly with young children. Knowing these traits and considering your family’s dynamics is vital to ensure a harmonious relationship between your Border Collie and your children.

Your preference for exercise

Border Collies are highly energetic dogs! They require ample daily exercise to expend energy, making them an excellent match for active households. If you love spending time outdoors and have access to safe areas where your Collie can run off-leash, they could be an ideal breed for you. Prospective Collie owners should ensure a spacious, secure backyard for playtime between walks.

Type of home

Border Collies are known for their high energy levels and love for physical activity. To provide them with a happy and healthy living environment, it’s ideal to have a spacious outdoor area for them to run and play. At the very least, having a secure, fenced backyard is essential.

This allows them to burn off excess energy and stay mentally stimulated even when you can’t take them for walks or play sessions. An outdoor space tailored to their needs contributes significantly to their well-being and contentment.

Border collie puppy or adult? Which one is perfect for first-time owners?

Adopting a puppy as a first-time dog owner can be a wise choice for those seeking an ideal family pet. When you bring a puppy into your home, you can begin their training and nurturing right from the early stages of life.

This foundation allows you to shape your puppy into a well-behaved and loving companion, making the experience of dog ownership more enjoyable and rewarding for you and your family. Puppies are like blank slates; with proper guidance and care, they can grow into wonderful additions to your household.

Caring for a Border Collie

As a new owner, looking after your Border Collie is the same as tending to your well-being. It’s a matter of applying practicality. Caring for a Border Collie involves a blend of mental and physical stimulation. This breed thrives on activity, so regular mental and physical exercise is critical. Engage them in challenging games, tasks, or even agility training.

Also, stick to the schedule suggested for its check-ups and vaccinations. During these appointments, vets will provide the necessary examinations and tests to monitor your dog’s health, especially considering the common health concerns for Border Collies.

Temperament and Personality

Border Collies are brilliant and clever dogs, considered the brightest among their breed. They have a strong instinct to safeguard what they care about, whether it’s a group of animals or their human family. Because they are very energetic and a good match for young individuals and families with kids. However, there might be better choices for older adults or people with less active lifestyles.

Border Collies are known for their unwavering loyalty, and they can also be calm and caring leaders within their “pack.” These dogs possess numerous exceptional qualities, including their intelligence, faithfulness, and ability to learn quickly, making them incredibly adaptable and great companions for those who appreciate these traits.


The Border Collie is known for its boundless energy and friendly nature, thriving on playtime and interaction with individuals of all ages. However, their high energy level might make them a bit overwhelming for very young children or elderly individuals. These dogs often develop strong, loyal bonds with one person or their family, leading to a reserved demeanor around strangers, whether humans or other dogs.

Training & Exercise

Border Collie in dog competition

When embarking on Border Collie training as a first-time dog owner, following a structured approach is essential. Start by choosing a foundational command or training goal, such as leash walking, crate training, housebreaking, or basic commands like “sit” and “stay.” Next, ensure you have the necessary training tools, including treats for positive reinforcement, a dog toy for capturing their attention, and a leash with a harness.

When introducing new skills, employ clear and confident commands to help your Border Collie differentiate between training cues and regular communication. Reward your dog with treats whenever they correctly follow orders, such as praising and treating them when they exhibit desired behavior, like relieving themselves outdoors on a leash. Patience is crucial in training, as your Border Collie may not grasp commands immediately; maintain a gentle yet firm tone throughout your training sessions.

If you encounter challenges or behavioral issues, don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance from a dog trainer or consider enrolling your pup in an obedience training program. For more advanced training, like agility, explore specialized training schools with experienced instructors. This structured approach can help first-time owners successfully train their Border Collie.


The Border Collie belongs to the herding dog group, renowned for its exceptional energy levels and intelligence. These traits are especially prominent in Border Collies, making them thrive when engaging in tasks that challenge their minds and prevent them from becoming bored.

In addition to their mental prowess, Border Collies also possess a distinctive double coat. This coat has a longer outer guard coat layered over a shorter inner coat. This unique coat structure plays a role in regulating their temperature and protecting them from various environmental factors.

To maintain the well-being and appearance of Border Collies, it is advisable to provide them with regular grooming sessions. Typically, grooming every 4 to 8 weeks is recommended. Regular grooming keeps their coat clean and free from mats and helps maintain their overall health. Additionally, it ensures that they look their best and feel comfortable in their skin.


Border Collies are generally regarded as sturdy and resilient dogs with a reputation for their robust nature. Nevertheless, it’s essential to recognize that, like all dog breeds, they can be susceptible to particular health concerns associated with their genetic heritage. Staying well-informed about these potential health issues is fundamental to being a responsible owner and ensuring proactive healthcare for your Border Collie.

These breed-specific health issues may include hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), epilepsy, and certain hereditary diseases. Understanding these risks enables you to be vigilant and take preventative measures to maintain your Border Collie’s well-being.

One of the most crucial steps in caring for your Border Collie’s health is scheduling regular check-ups with a qualified veterinarian. These check-ups allow for the early detection of any emerging health problems and enable prompt intervention and treatment if necessary. A veterinarian can also guide you on appropriate vaccinations, nutrition, and preventive measures tailored to your dog’s needs.

Additionally, maintaining a well-balanced lifestyle for your Border Collie is paramount. This includes providing a nutritious diet, regular exercise to keep them physically and mentally engaged, and proper grooming and hygiene practices.

While Border Collies are often admired for their resilience, responsible ownership involves awareness of their potential health vulnerabilities. By staying informed, scheduling regular veterinary visits, and providing a healthy lifestyle, you can play a vital role in ensuring your Border Collie remains healthy, happy, and able to enjoy a fulfilling life.

Pros of owning a Border Collie

Becoming a first-time dog owner and considering a Border Collie as your furry companion can offer several advantages. Firstly, Border Collies are renowned for their exceptional intelligence and strong desire to please, translating into quick learning and ease of training. Additionally, when introduced to children from a young age, Border Collies can become wonderful family pets, relishing their role as part of the family unit.

Their remarkable work ethic makes them excel in various dog sports and activities, providing mental and physical stimulation. Moreover, owning a Border Collie often encourages spending more time outdoors and engaging in outdoor activities, promoting a healthy and active lifestyle. Overall, a Border Collie in your home can feel like welcoming another cherished family member into your life.

Intelligent and Fast Learners

Border Collies are renowned for their intelligence, often likened to a clever 4-year-old child. This means they can quickly understand and follow a wide range of commands, making them highly trainable. Their ability to learn is so impressive that you may find yourself amazed by their capacity to grasp tasks.

To provide the mental stimulation these dogs require and keep up with their training potential, enhancing your training skills and engaging them mentally is essential. Being prepared to meet their intelligence with appropriate training and activities is key to ensuring a harmonious and fulfilling experience as a Border Collie owner.

Protective and Loyal

Border Collies are an excellent choice for new dog owners seeking a balance of protectiveness and loyalty without aggression. Their innate loyalty makes them highly devoted companions, providing their owners with a solid sense of security.


The Border Collie is known for its lively and friendly nature, thriving with people of all ages. While they can be wonderful companions, it’s essential to note that their abundant energy levels might be a bit overwhelming for very young children or older individuals. This vitality and activity level are often better suited for individuals who can engage in active play and exercise with the breed.


The Border Collie breed is known for its exceptional forgiveness and understanding nature. These dogs are highly tolerant and have a remarkable capacity to overlook mistakes or mishaps, making them a forgiving and compassionate companion for their owners. Their easygoing temperament makes them beloved pets, as they can quickly adapt to various situations and handle minor errors with patience and grace. This forgiving disposition also extends to their interactions with other animals and people, making them well-suited for social environments and family settings where their forgiving nature can shine through in their interactions and relationships.

Cons of owning a Border Collie

For first-time dog owners considering Border Collies, there are essential considerations to remember:

  • Border Collies tend to shed quite a bit, necessitating regular grooming, usually around once a month.
  • Their high energy levels demand significant exercise, and failing to meet this need may lead to destructive behaviors.
  • Border Collies can exhibit aggression towards other pets without proper socialization.
  • Lastly, these intelligent dogs can become bored quickly, potentially resulting in undesirable behaviors like chewing on household items.

While Border Collies possess numerous positive qualities, first-time dog owners must know their specific requirements and potential challenges to ensure a happy and healthy relationship with their furry companion.

Requires a lot of time and effort to train and take care

Border Collies have the potential to be excellent pets for newcomers to dog ownership, provided that these individuals have the time and commitment to invest in their care. These dogs are known for their intelligence and ability to learn quickly, making training relatively straightforward. However, it’s important to note that Border Collies are highly energetic dogs and need regular exercise and mental engagement to thrive.

With proper preparation, including ample physical activity and mental stimulation opportunities, new owners can enjoy a deeply rewarding and fulfilling experience with their Border Collie companions.

They’re very Social and don’t do well alone

Like many other dog breeds, collies flourish in the company of humans or other pets. Given their abundant energy, placing them in a household with a consistent presence to keep them physically active and mentally stimulated is ideal. This ongoing interaction helps ward off boredom and promotes their overall well-being.


Border Collies do shed, and it can be a concern for new dog owners. Their long, double coats make them shed quite a bit, and the situation can intensify during the fall and spring when they undergo heavier shedding. Managing this can often feel like an ongoing task due to the consistent shedding throughout the year and the more pronounced shedding seasons in spring and fall.

Need high security

For individuals new to dog ownership, it’s essential to understand that Border Collies possess a strong instinct for herding and chasing objects. This natural inclination can lead to risky situations, particularly when it comes to stalking cars, which can be unsafe for both the dog and drivers on the road. Therefore, taking precautions and ensuring these energetic dogs are kept safe and securely supervised to prevent such behaviors is vital.


Border Collies are renowned for their exceptional intelligence, which translates into their ability to understand and learn new tasks and commands quickly. Consequently, owning a Border Collie may occasionally entail moments where your dog’s cleverness surpasses your expectations, making it essential to be ready for their remarkable problem-solving skills and adaptability.

Which is best for first-time Border Collie owners, male or female?

Based on research, there’s no solid evidence suggesting that male Border Collies have a different temperament compared to their female counterparts. However, males are generally easier to handle and tend to become more attached and devoted to their owners.

Like any male dog, if your Border Collie isn’t neutered, you may encounter issues related to territory marking and behaviors linked to detecting females in heat. There have also been reports of male Border Collies displaying more aggression than females. Additionally, it’s said that males may be more prone to biting, especially if they haven’t been neutered.

Debunking Myths about Border Collies

For first-time dog owners, dispelling some common misconceptions about Border Collies is essential. Firstly, these dogs are far from ordinary; they stand out for their exceptional intelligence and boundless energy. They necessitate regular exercise and mental stimulation, making them a breed that demands more care and attention. Secondly, Border Collies are not naturally aggressive. Any signs of aggression usually stem from a lack of training, limited socialization, or mishandling of their strong herding instincts.

Thirdly, they can be great with children when properly socialized and trained. Their quick learning ability is an asset, although they may occasionally exhibit herding behavior, which can be addressed through training and supervision. Additionally, it’s crucial to understand that Border Collies require consistent and engaging training due to their high intelligence. Practical training prevents undesirable behaviors and provides the mental stimulation they crave.

Is Border Collie’s intelligence too challenging for first-time dog owners?

Border Collies are known for their remarkable intelligence, sensitivity, and boundless energy. These qualities make them exceptional working dogs, but they can be challenging for individuals new to dog ownership. However, for those who are prepared to invest time and effort in meeting their unique requirements, owning a Border Collie can be an immensely gratifying and fulfilling experience.

These dogs thrive when mentally and physically stimulated, and their loyalty and devotion to their owners can create a deep and lasting bond, making the effort well worth it for committed and dedicated owners.

Is it Challenging to Keep their Border Collie Exercised?

Balancing your Border Collie’s exercise routine is essential. While giving your Border Collie puppy plenty of exercise is tempting, it’s necessary to be cautious and monitor their activity levels. Too much exercise, especially at a young age, can put stress on their developing bones and joints, which could lead to lasting health problems. It’s vital to strike the right balance to ensure their well-being and long-term health.

Do Border Collies need a firm hand making it difficult for first-time owners?

The question is whether first-time owners should use a firm approach when training Border Collies. Following a structured training plan is advisable to teach these dogs effectively. Key steps include:

  • Choosing an initial command
  • Gathering the necessary training equipment
  • Using clear and assertive commands
  • Rewarding positive behavior
  • Practicing patience
  • Seeking professional assistance

A balance of firmness and patience is recommended for successful Border Collie training.

Is a massive house/garden required to own a Border Collie?

Border Collies don’t necessarily need a large house or garden to thrive. They are adaptable dogs that can live in various settings as long as they receive enough exercise and mental stimulation. They excel in homes with personal attention and involvement in daily activities, ideally on farms where they can utilize their herding instincts. These dogs are not clingy but are always eager for engagement and tasks to keep them occupied.

Are Border Collies just for working and not house pets for first-time owners?

Border Collies, originally bred as herding dogs, are renowned for their exceptional work ethic and intelligence. They excel in various tasks and are often considered among the most skilled working dogs. However, they can also make wonderful and affectionate pets when their unique needs are met.

One of the critical factors in ensuring a Border Collie’s happiness and well-being as a pet is recognizing their high energy levels. These dogs are incredibly active and thrive on physical activity. Regular exercise, such as daily walks, runs, and playtime in a secure area, is crucial to help them burn off excess energy. They may become energized with sufficient exercise, which can lead to undesirable behaviors, like excessive barking or digging.

Furthermore, Border Collies possess an agile and curious mind. Mental engagement holds equal significance as physical activity for these dogs. Engaging in activities like puzzle toys, obedience training, agility courses, and even interactive games can provide the mental challenges they crave. Failing to engage their intellect can lead to restlessness and potential behavioral problems.

While Border Collies are known for their work-oriented nature, they also have a gentle and affectionate side. They form strong bonds with their owners when correctly cared for and provided with the necessary physical and mental outlets. They can be loyal and loving companions, eager to please and always up for an adventure.

Is a Border Collie Right for You?

A rewarding experience with a Border Collie hinges on recognizing and fulfilling their unique needs. First and foremost, it’s essential to dedicate ample time to their physical activity. Border Collies are known for their boundless energy; regular exercise is crucial for their well-being. Daily walks, runs, or playtime in a spacious, secure area are optional and necessary to keep them physically fit and mentally engaged.

Furthermore, mental stimulation is equally vital for Border Collies. Their intelligence and problem-solving abilities make them thrive on mental challenges. Activities like obedience training, puzzle toys, and interactive games can help satisfy their intellectual curiosity. Neglecting their mental stimulation can lead to boredom, resulting in undesirable behaviors such as excessive barking or destructive chewing.

To have a harmonious relationship with a Border Collie, you should treat them as an integral part of your life. Their needs should be prioritized as much, if not more, than yours. This means allocating time in your daily routine for exercise, play, and mental engagement.

Owning a Border Collie is a rewarding experience, but it comes with responsibilities. You can enjoy a fulfilling and mutually beneficial companionship with this remarkable breed by providing the necessary exercise and mental stimulation and making them a central part of your life.


Border Collies can be challenging for first-time owners due to their high energy levels, intelligence, and need for extensive exercise and mental stimulation. While they are incredibly loyal and trainable, they may require more time, commitment, and experience in dog ownership than some other breeds. First-time owners considering a Border Collie should be prepared for the demands of this breed and be willing to invest significant effort in their training and care. Before deciding, it’s essential to thoroughly research and assess whether a Border Collie’s needs align with your lifestyle and experience level.

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