Border Collies are wonderful dogs. They are the farmer’s best friend, but they can also make fantastic family dogs. I absolutely love Border Collies, they are kind, intelligent, crazy and most of all they can make the most loyal friends you will ever have. But, like all breeds, they don’t come without their complications and pros and cons. In this article, I will outline the disadvantages of owning a Border Collie as a family pet.
It is important to think about these points before purchasing your beautiful Border Collie puppy and deciding if they will make the perfect addition to your family. We also have a fun Border Collie breed suitability quiz, if you’re interested!
There are so many wonderful qualities that Border Collies possess that not only make them the ideal working dog but are also what can make them the ideal family pet. But the following six disadvantages of owning a Border Collie are worth taking into consideration before taking the leap and finding out afterward whether a Collie is right for you.
1) Border Collie’s are a highly energetic breed.
Border Collies are built for endurance. They are full of energy and this is what makes them so successful when out working the fields. They can start work at dawn, run around the fields all day working in tandem with the farmer and finish their days at dusk. They are lean, swift dogs with high intelligence that love lots of exercise.
This means that in order for them to be happy, healthy family pets they will need a commitment from their owners to provide lots of regular exercise to burn off that energy.
This makes the Border Collie ideally suited to families who enjoy spending lots of time outdoors and in the countryside. If you enjoy spending your weekend having long walks and picnics then the Border Collie will make the perfect hiking partner. If the thought of a picnic in the hills fills you with dread then maybe the Border Collie is not the right dog for you.
Collies will require a lot of exercise throughout their life. Daily walks of around two hours length with plenty of opportunities for off-lead adventures are ideal for Border Collies. This coupled with mental stimulation exercises at home will make a very happy Collie pup!
If you are in a position where you may struggle to offer your Border Collie the opportunity to be exercised fully and every day, then this may be an issue. Border Collies who are not exercised can become very frustrated and this can lead to all sorts of unpleasant behavioral issues that can cause issues within the home. So this should be a real consideration when deciding whether the Border Collie will make the perfect family addition for you.
2) Border Collies shed quite a lot.
Another disadvantage of owning a border collie is the fact that they shed their coat. Shedding will always be an issue to contend with when we choose the perfect pet and Border Collies are known for shedding their fur and leaving it all over the furniture.
But, unless you pick a hypoallergenic breed, which then requires a massive amount of grooming, you will deal with shedding from all breeds.
Typically, Border Collies have a long double coat that is great at keeping them warm in the winter but does shed more frequently than other breeds. This could be a problem if you have family members with allergies or you can’t think of anything worse than finding dog hair on the furniture.
Border Collies coats are seasonal and so their coats will change throughout the year. They will have a thicker coat in winter to keep them warm during the cooler temperatures and will shed this coat in spring to reveal a thinner coat to stop them overheating in the summer.
Thankfully, their coats don’t require too much work when it comes to grooming and there are things you can do to lessen the amount your Border Collie will shed. Regular and thorough brushing is a great way to reduce shedding, and extra brushing in the spring when they start to lose their thicker coats will help enormously.
I use a slicker brush, like this one from Amazon, with my Collies, and because I provide treats when brushing through their coats as a way of getting them to sit still they now come running any time they see the brush!
3) Excessive energy can lead to hyperactivity.
This is where Border Collies can vary from other popular dog breeds. There are lots of medium-sized breeds that will head out on a walk with you for an hour and then get home and enjoy a nice snooze. Border Collies that get home after an hour’s walk will look up at you and say “what’s next?”.
If you can’t provide enough exercise for them to burn off all that energy, they may end up a little hyperactive. Hyperactivity can lead to frustration and destructive behavior.
Shorter walks coupled with mental exercises at home and outdoor garden space in which to run around and play can burn off this energy but complications can arise if your Collie becomes hyperactive.
Common destructive behaviours from Border Collies can be the chewing of doors and household furniture, scratching at walls and doors, and in some cases even the destruction of carpets. You may also find that they are prone to doing a bit of garden digging, but we’ve got you covered on how to prevent Border Collie digging! Not only is this very upsetting for owners who can come home to find their possessions ruined but also this is very distressing for the pup.
A common question about this breed is how long this hyperactivity will last. Is it just in puppies? Whilst puppies are more hyperactive and energetic than older dogs, and hyperactivity levels should lessen with age. That said, under-exercised Border Collies really struggle to relax. They are very intelligent and energetic and if under-stimulated, both mentally and physically, they can become very unhappy dogs.
4) Border Collies will test your intelligence – daily!
Border Collies are incredibly intelligent animals and this is one of the things that makes them so popular. Their intelligence is what makes them so well suited to life on the farm. They are quick learners and love to please.
If under-stimulated Border Collies can become bored very easily, and a bored Border Collie may find ways to occupy themselves that you won’t appreciate. They could start becoming destructive, either in the home or out in the garden, they may try and wander off in search of something more interesting to do, or they may find items around the home that they think make great toys but you may not necessarily agree.
As a result, one drawback of Border Collie ownership is just how much energy you as an owner will have to put into devising clever ways to keep your border collie entertained. Unlike other breeds, you’ll need to make sure that you’re providing mentally stimulating tasks every day.
For this, I find food-based puzzles, such as Kong toys and treat based puzzle toys, help enormously with this and help to keep them busy for far longer than a regular chew.
When it comes to puzzle toys – you have to check out this one from the Nina Ottosson range – our Collie love it!
On top of this, though, you’ll find if you own a border collie, you’ll end up creating lots of extra challenges throughout the day.
This could be alternating walking routes to keep them on their toes, to teaching off-the-wall advanced tricks to pass the time.
What this means, really, is that your Collie will become a massive part of your family life. If this sounds like something you’ll enjoy – then that’s great! However, some would-be owners can be put off by the idea of just how much of a commitment it can be to raise a Collie.
While there are so many amazing puzzle toys available to buy, if you have the time you can also spend some time devising your own games and puzzles to test their skills. There are loads of great ideas on Youtube and I tried this one below with our Collies Mila and Izzy and they loved it!
5) Border Collies are farm dogs, will they try to herd up the kids?!
This is a big question that families have when considering whether a Border Collie is well suited to family life and one that couldn’t be ignored in an article entitled the disadvantages of owning a Border Collie!
We immediately associate Border Collies with their life on the farm, acting as the obedient helper to farmers and landowners. But, what about kids and family life?
In my experience Border Collies make excellent family dogs. They are loving, good natured and extremely loyal. They get on well with children and they love to play.
That said, Border Collies do have a herding instinct, which is the want to control the movements of animals (and sometimes humans) around them. What this looks like in practice is sometimes very mild (think running in circles around people), but sometimes it can seem a little more aggressive (think nipping at heels).
This instinct is often activated by quick movement, or moments of sudden activity. When it comes to children, these “triggers” are an everyday part of family life – so sometimes Collies may start to associate the children as things that need to be herded. A way to ensure this doesn’t happen from the start, though, is to simply be consistent with your training and encourage all members of your family to engage with this training. Doing this ensures that your Border Collie that the whole family is their owner rather than one specific individual.
If your Collie can learn this then they should respond to all members of the family, big and small, in the same way and follow all instructions. Border Collies are quick learners and they love to please their humans so this shouldn’t be too hard to achieve!
6) Socialisation is a must from an early age.
While the intelligence and loving temperament of the Border Collie do ensure that these animals are easy to train, some factors are more problematic than others. One of the bigger issues to contend with here is socialisation.
All dogs require socialisation with people and animals from an early age so that they can act appropriately in various situations and Border Collies are no different. Borders that don’t receive this training early in life can struggle as they get older when meeting new people.
There is also the chance that they might develop some distrust of anyone new that comes into the house or may become weary and nervous around other dogs when out on walks. When you combine this with their protective nature, this could become a problem.
But if you socialise your pup early on with both people and other animals your Border Collie puppy will become a soft, sweet dog that gets along with everyone. It’s easy to do!
Try inviting people round to the house to meet the puppy and play with them. Have them meet neighbors and locals that may come to the house now and then. The more people the puppy knows, the more they will trust as they get older.
If you know any other puppies or dogs that are friendly with young dogs make sure to arrange walks together or invite them around your home with their owners. Try and expose your puppy to as many new people and experiences as possible to avoid them becoming weary of new people and animals and this shouldn’t be a problem!
It’s important to remember that like all breeds, Border Collies do come with some demands and will require lots of physical and mental exercise due to them being bred as working dogs. They will shed more than other breeds so daily hoovering may be required as well as regular brushing to keep on top of their coats. But if you are a family that loves the great outdoors and getting plenty of exercise then they will be the perfect pet for you!
Border Collies are kind, loving and playful and can make absolutely wonderful family pets. Their high intelligence and loyal nature makes you truly see how they have gained the label as man’s best friend.
Hopefully this article has given you an honest overview of some of the disadvantages of owning a border collie – but, if you’re a family that loves the great outdoors and getting plenty of exercise then they will be the perfect pet for you! (Can you tell I’m a little biased here!!) If you’re considering a Border Collie, but are still not sure, check out our article about the differences between Border Collies and Australian Shepherds.
The content on this page may contain affiliate links, so we may earn money from the links included in this post.
Top picks for our Border Collies
1. BEST DOG TOY
Ok, it’s a bold statement, but I think that this interactive dog puzzle toy is absolutely brilliant!
2. BEST BOREDOM KILLER
We all know Collie’s love to be … challenging! Give them this snuffle mat and you’ll get at least 10 minutes peace!
3. BEST SHAMPOO FOR YOUR COLLIE
We’ve tried absolutely loads of different types of shampoos and dog conditioners. Save yourself some time and try our favourite brand – works a treat!