Clairness Border Collies Breed Basics

Breed Basics

Dog Sports

Right Breed for You?

For many years, I wanted to own a Border Collie. I was told many horror stories about bad behavior. Neurotic, obsessive, and destructive were a few of the typical observations.
Nothing could have been farther from the truth!

I bought Cassidy, my first Border Collie, in February of 2007. Watching and waiting for ‘bad behavior’, I was on pins and needles. Cassidy showed none of the traits I was warned about.  Beyond the normal puppy chewing and an obsession with bathroom tissue, I had no problems with her.

So what did I do? I bought another Border Collie, Piper. Once again, I watched and waited. Once again, I had a wonderful pet.

I’m not an expert dog trainer. Over the years, I have had many dogs, from mutts to Toy Poodles. Treating all the same, with steady and consistent discipline, with love and concern, I have been rewarded with great dogs.

Border Collies are loving family pet. Always ready for play or work, they are energetic companions but when we are in the house, they lay down and are quiet and restful. They are  protective of the home and family without being aggressive. Border Collies can be a one person dog but are still fond of other family members. I have never seen one bite or nip anyone, let alone a child. Proper socialization and training is necessary with all dogs and Border Collies benefit from the discipline.

Let me be the first to welcome you to the wonderful world of Border Collie companionship!


In general, Border Collies are medium-sized dogs without extreme physical characteristics and a moderate amount of coat. Their double coats can be anywhere from slick to lush, and can come in many colors, although black and white is by far the most common. Black tricolor (black/tan/white or sable and white), red (chocolate) and white, and red tricolour (red/tan/white) also occur regularly, with other colors such as blue, lilac, red merle, blue merle, and brindle. Border Collies of any color with no white markings are also seen.
Eye color varies from deep brown to amber or blue with occasionally one eye of each color, usually seen with merles.
The ears of the Border Collie are also highly variable — some have fully erect ears, and others semi-erect ears (similar to that of the Rough Collie).
Height at withers for males ranges from 19" to 22" (48 cm to 56 cm), and for females from 18" to 21" (46 cm to 53 cm).

Those dogs bred for the conformation ring are more homogeneous in appearance than working Border Collies, since to win in conformation showing they must conform closely to breed club standards that are specific on many points of the structure, coat and color. Kennel clubs specify, for example, that the Border Collie must have a "keen and intelligent" expression, and that the preferred eye color is dark brown. In deference to the dog's working origin, scars and broken teeth received in the line of duty are not to be counted against a Border Collie in the show ring.
in general, a dog's appearance is considered to be irrelevant. It is considered much more useful to identify a working Border Collie by its attitude and ability than by its looks.



Border Collies are an intelligent breed with an instinctive desire to work closely and intensely with a human handler. Although the primary role of the Border Collie is that of the working stock dog, dogs of this breed are becoming increasingly popular as pets. True to their working heritage, Border Collies make very demanding, energetic pets that are better off in households that can provide them with plenty of exercise and ample play with humans or other dogs. Border collies are happiest when they have a job to do. However, a job to a Border Collie isn't necessarily working live stock. An activity such as Frisbee, chasing and retrieving a ball ... to name just a few ... will suffice. As long as the Border collie is in the herding/working position, (crouched down, tail tucked between legs, eyes firmly fixed on the matter in hand), it considers it work. Border Collies are now also being used in a variety of dog sports, especially agility, where their speed and agility comes to good use. In an appropriate home, with a dedicated, active owner, a Border Collie can be an excellent companion.



An average Border Collies live 12 to 14 years. Border Collies have a typical life span for a breed their size.

Common health problems

Hip dysplasia, Collie eye anomaly (CEA), and epilepsy are considered the primary genetic diseases of concern in the breed at this time. CEA is a congenital, inherited eye disease involving the retina, choroid, and sclera—which resembles conjunctivitis—that sometimes affects Border Collies. In Border Collies, it is generally a mild disease and rarely significantly impairs vision. There is now a DNA test available for CEA and, through its use, breeders can ensure that they will not produce affected pups. There are different types of hip testing available including OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) and PennHip. X-rays are taken and sent to these organizations to determine a dog's hip and elbow quality.
Elbow dysplasia or osteochondritis, deafness, and hypothyroidism may also occur in the breed. Dogs homozygous for the merle gene are likely to have eye and/or hearing problems.
Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL) is a rare but serious disease . NCL results in severe neurological impairment and early death; afflicted dogs rarely survive beyond two years of age. There is no treatment or cure, but a DNA test is now available to detect carriers as well as affected dogs.
Trapped neutrophil syndrome (TNS) is an inherited autosomal recessive disease which results in mature neutrophils being unable to migrate from the bone marrow into the blood stream. Puppies affected with this disease usually succumb to infection. Because TNS is an immune deficiency, the puppies can present a variety of symptoms depending upon the type of opportunistic infections they contract; as a result, TNS has largely gone undiagnosed in the past. Once thought to be rare, TNS is now believed to be responsible for many cases of "fading puppies". There is no cure, but a DNA test is now available to detect carriers as well as affected dogs.


Livestock work

Working Border Collies can take direction by voice and whistle at long distances when herding. Their great energy and herding instinct are still used to herd all kinds of animals, from the traditional sheep and cattle, to free range poultry, pigs, and ostriches. They are also used to remove unwanted wild birds from airport runways, golf courses, and other public and private areas.
The use of dogs for herding sheep makes good economic sense. In a typical pasture environment, each trained sheepdog will do the work that it would take about three human individuals to do if there were no dogs available. In vast arid areas like the Australian Outback or the Karoo Escarpment, the number increases to five or more. Attempts to replace them with mechanical approaches to herding have only achieved a limited amount of success. In general, stock handlers find dogs more reliable and more economical.


Dog sports

Border Collies excel at several dog sports in addition to their success in herding trials. They dominate the higher jump heights at dog agility competitions, so much so that in England competitions often include classes for ABC dogs, "Anything But Collies".
The Border Collie's speed, agility, stamina have allowed them to dominate in up-and-coming dog activities like flyball and disc dog competitions. Their trainability has also given them a berth in dog dancing competitions.
Border Collies have a highly developed sense of smell and with their high drive make excellent and easily motivated tracking dogs for Tracking trials. These trials simulate the finding of a lost person in a controlled situation where the performance of the dog can be evaluated. Because of this skill, Border Collies make excellent Search and Rescue dogs.


Border Collies and Collies

Founded in 1973 by Lynn Buchanan and continues to grow with Gail Lewis

Right Breed for You?
Common Health Problems
Livestock Work
Clairness Farms