Are Border Collies Good Apartment Dogs?

Border Collies can live in apartments, but they aren’t natural apartment dogs.

Border Collies were bred to herd sheep and cattle, working hard outside all day.

But if you can give your Border Collie lots of opportunities for exercise and frequent attention throughout the day, you and your Border Collie can have a happy experience of apartment living.

Is There a Difference Between a Collie and a Border Collie?

Border Collies are the American descendants of a Scottish herding dog known as the Rough Collie, or just as a Collie.

Border Collies are smaller, a little harder to train (although both breeds are easy to train), and more active than their Collie cousins.

Rough Collies, aka Collies, as you might imagine, have a rough, furry, thick coat, while Border Collies can have a smoother, shorter, feathered coat.

Border Collies usually live to be 12 to 16 years old, while Collies usually live to be 14 to 16 years old.

Neither kind of Collie is ideal for apartment living. But the things you do to keep a Border Collie will also help you have a happier apartment life with a Rough Collie.

What Your Border Collie Will Require for Apartment Life

Border Collies are cute. They are intelligent. They are friendly. It’s easy to fall in love at first sight with a Border Collie and impulsively take them home.

Every Border Collie, however, has at least five needs that must be met for apartment life.

Border Collies need at least two hours of attention every day

A Border Collie is not the breed for families who have heavy time commitments away from home. Every Border Collie needs a long walk, on leash or in a dog park, every day.

Every Border Collie needs at least an hour of playtime every day. Ideally, a Border Collie would get a walk, a run, a game of fetch, and maybe an hour of snuggle time every day.

If your apartment isn’t conveniently close to a dog park, or your neighborhood does not have sidewalks, a Border Collie is not the best breed for you.

Border Collies thrive in activity, and become destructive if they don’t get exercise.

Border Collies are very social animals

Border Collies were bred to live in packs. They do not adjust to long periods of alone time very well.

Border Collies left home alone often develop separation anxiety. As the owner, you may not be aware of the problem. You will come home to a dog that is overjoyed to see you.

Your neighbors, however, may complain about barking, howling, and crying that begins the moment you leave until the moment you get back.

You need to find ways to provide your Border Collie with company at least every few hours while you are gone.

Dog sitters, dog walkers, and commercial kennels may be necessary for keeping a Border Collie.

Border Collies want to be entertained 24/7

You probably have at most a few hours a day to spend with your dog, but your Border Collie will want to be entertained every waking minute.

Plan on buying dog toys and puzzles to keep your Border Collie occupied when you have to turn your attention to other things.

Border Collies shed a lot

You will need to invest in high-quality grooming tools for your Border Collie. Regular vacuuming will be essential, too.

The Unique Characteristics of Border Collie as a Family Pet

If you have ever seen a dog in a commercial on television, chances are that it was a Border Collie.

If you have ever watched herding competitions, chances are that it was a Border Collie managing the herd.

Border Collies were bred for herding sheep. But when they are not on the job,

Border Collies are energetic, playful, and extremely intelligent canine companions. Border Collies have some outstanding characteristics that make them wonderful but challenging pets.

You won’t find a smarter dog than a Border Collie

When psychologist Stanley Coren interviewed 199 American Kennel Club and Canadian Kennel Club judges about the comparative intelligence of 130 breeds of dogs, Border Collies came out #1.

Border Collies possess instinctive intelligence, a natural ability to do the task they were bred for, herding sheep.

They display tremendous adaptive intelligence, the ability to figure out solutions to problems on their own.

And they have unmatched working and obedience intelligence, the ability to learn commands from humans.

Border Collies can learn a new command after just five training sessions (compared to up to 100 training sessions for some other breeds).

They obey 95 percent of the time. That other 5 percent of the time can be a serious problem, however.

Untrained Border Collies love to play by their own rules

Border Collies love to play. No other breed will be more eager to drop a Frisbee or a ball or a toy in your lap to tell you it’s playtime.

No other breed gets more enjoyment from a game of tug of war, or from solving a puzzle to get a treat.

Older Border Collies like to change the rules for playtime to keep it interesting.

You will need to be alert to problem behaviors and correct them immediately with positive reinforcement of the behaviors you want your Border Collie to display.

But Border Collies love to have a job

The solution to training problems with a Border Collie may be to train your dog for athletic competitions.

By this, we mean canine athletic competitions, not accompanying you on your athletic competitions. Or you might give your Border Collie an important job.

Border Collies excel in agility trails and in flyball competitions.

Preparing for and participating in canine agility trials and flyball tournaments takes a lot of time, but it can be a fun activity for the whole family. Your breeder can give you more information.

Border Collies also make great service dogs. They can be professionally trained to work with any disability, including PTSD, and they also do well as therapy dogs.

Border Collies are prone to running away

Border Collies aren’t escape artists. They don’t try to dig under patio fences. They don’t (usually) learn how to unlatch their kennels or doggie gates.

However, Border Collies tend to roam when they are allowed to run off leash.

You will need to be sure that you only let your Border Collie off-leash in a dog park or some other similarly safe, enclosed area.

It helps to make a habit of taking your Border Collie on car rides, so, if you need to retrieve your Border Collie, you can just drive up to them, open the door, and let them jump in.

Border Collies naturally nip at ankles and chase cars

Because Border Collies were raised to herd sheep, they instinctively try to “herd” people and cars.

They will nip at the ankles of children they think are straying into danger. They will chase cars that are “trying to get away.”

Nips can be interpreted as bites, and can land your dog in serious trouble with the management of your apartment complex.

Border Collies riding in the open beds of pickup trucks are more at statistically greater risk of jumping out and breaking bones than other breeds.

You must train your Border Collie not to nip at ankles and not to chase cars. Failure to do this will jeopardize your ownership of your Border Collie and possibly put your dog’s life in danger.

Border Collies are especially prone to car accidents

Researchers tell us that young, male Border Collies are at greater risk for getting hit by a car than all other dogs.

Fortunately, a surprisingly high number of Border Collies—88 percent—survive getting hit by moving vehicles.

It is especially important to make sure your Border Collie does not get loose and wander into traffic around sunrise and sunset on weekdays when the greatest number of dog-vehicle collisions occur.

Find a route for walking the Border Collie that takes you through a park rather than along a busy street.

Choke chains are especially dangerous for Border Collies

If you are thinking about getting a Border Collie, resolve from the very first to never use a choke chain.

These energetic, excitable dogs are at special risk of injury when they are held on choke chains.

Border Collie Puppy or Rescue Dog?

Buying a Border Collie puppy from a responsible breeder has many advantages.

Your breeder will have chosen parents who are free from known genetic issues. Your pup will have all of its shots.

You can get to know both the parents and the puppy before you buy (plan on making more than one visit!), and your puppy will have benefited from good training from the first day of its life.

Adopting a rescue Border Collie can save a dog’s life. Be forewarned that some Border Collies are given up because of behavioral issues.

You may have to spend a lot of time and effort training or retraining your dog.

But rescue organizations will almost always make sure you are ready for a Border Collie, and you and the available rescue dog are a good match.

Most pet shelters receive Border Collies on an irregular basis, but Border Collie rescue organizations can be found in nearly every state.

Frequently Asked Questions About Living with Border Collies in Apartments

Are Border Collies good guard dogs?

Border Collies were bred to be guard dogs for sheep.

They are great guard dogs for your apartment, although you will have to socialize them to accept your friends and visitors.

Can Border Collies swim? Are they safe around the pool?

Border Collies are instinctive swimmers. You will have to train them not to jump in the pool.

How long can a Border Collie be left alone in an apartment?

Adult Border Collies need a walk and a potty break every four to six hours.

Puppies and senior dogs may need to be walked outside every two hours.

Are there any Border Collies with short hair? Do they shed, too?

Yes. Some Border Collies have a medium to long rough coat, while others have a smooth, short coat.

Rough-coated Border Collies have to be brushed several times a week to keep hair from matting around their ears, around the tail, and at the tops of their legs.

There are also Border Collies that have a smooth coat of short hair, although their hair is not as short as the hair on a Boxer or a Doberman Pinscher.

There are also Border Collies with short, curly hair, often with a beard.

All Border Collies have an undercoat that keeps them warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

They will shed this thick coat. Twice a year, they shed their undercoat. They need daily grooming to keep the amount of shedding manageable.

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