I have a Border Collie named Betty that I rescued from the Border Collie Rescue Group of the Ozarks (when I lived in Arkansas in 2015). There are rescue groups for the breed in most states. These beautiful, smart dogs are adorably cute puppies. Many people do not fully comprehend their need for exercise and training when they gather them as adorable puppies. This means that many end up at shelters and rescue groups. As smart as they are, they are not the lowest maintenance dogs that you can bring home.
These dogs are not going to be happy lying on the couch all day. They are bred to work. They need regular daily exercise — both mental and physical. When I first got Betty and was researching the breed, I kept reading that they need a job. What does that even mean? It means they are happiest when they are working. The breed was bred for herding livestock. They love to run in circles around other animals that are running. This includes the people that walk them. They will walk in a circle around you. It takes a lot of focus to break them of this natural tendency. If you don’t work at it, you will be untangling the leash continuously as I do. They will also run circles around other dogs during play. When sheep are not available, squirrels, bunnies, birds, and small children will be herded. They also like things to be fairly calm. My dog loves a dog park. But, I have to watch her closely because if a fight breaks out, she will run over to the fighting dogs to break up the fight. This cannot be good for Betty, so we don’t go to dog parks often. When other dogs are playing ball, she likes to chase them and herd them away from the ball. It’s her version of keep away. It is her favorite game to play with other dogs. This can be very frustrating for ball obsessed dogs like Labradors and spaniels. She plays best with other herding dogs that are happy to chase each other in circles. Dog parks can be dangerous places for small children as rambunctious running dogs can easily knock them over.
I would caution against over-exercising border collies unless you are prepared to be consistent. If you create an athlete out of them, you will need to train them as an athlete or become very stir-crazy. When they become stir-crazy, they will get into things and run around the house. Betty gets the zoomies and will run as fast as she can from one end of the house to the other. My family knows Betty’s crazy look. Her eyes bug out a little, and her pupils dilate, and she starts running around, sometimes tossing toys in the air and catching them all by herself. Or she will bring you a toy and bark at you once or twice to get your attention. If that doesn’t get your attention, she may jump into your lap and create a physical barrier between you and your laptop or phone. She is hard to ignore. Betty gets regular exercise. She is also fairly mellow as far as Border Collies come. We started in a house with a yard and went hiking regularly. Now we live in a condo, and her exercise is primarily on a leash. Times change, and she has adapted very well. She is best on a leash when we are running. She is also fantastic around our little chihuahua. He was an only dog for the first 11 years of his life and never really got out much. He was my mother’s companion dog, and his life was pretty pampered. Now, he loves to run circles around Betty, and he works so hard to get her to run around. She is so patient and tolerant around him. They are adorable to watch together.
Border Collies can be wonderful dogs around children with proper training of your kids AND your dog. This is also true for all family dogs. Border Collies are known to be among the smartest of dogs. This makes them easy to train. Betty was completely untrained when I brought her home, and she learned all the basic obedience training commands in about 15 minutes. No joke. She is smart. They are also very loyal and generally pretty sweet-tempered. They enjoy a lot of attention. They have a ton of energy and can run around with kids all day long. But they also need a quiet, safe place they can go to relax. If you can teach your kids to be respectful and kind to them, they can be a wonderful family dog.