The border collie is a medium-sized breed originally out of Scotland. While they are still used as working dogs that help to herd livestock, they are also a common pet among families in America. The border collie is considered to be one of the most intelligent dog breeds in existence and they are incredibly energetic and athletic. However, how are they with kids? Today, we will talk about what makes this breed unique, how to introduce one to your home, and whether or not mixing kids and border collies is a wise idea.
How Big Do Border Collies Get?
The first factor that you need to consider before mixing kids and border collies is their size. The border collie is considered a medium-sized breed. In general, male and female border collies are close in height and weight. You can expect your dog to reach up to 18 to 22 inches in height at the shoulders. They also tend to weigh between 30 – 50 pounds.
Of course, every dog can be different. Their size will generally depend on your dog’s unique genetics, diet, and exercise routines.
How Much Energy Do Border Collies Have?
When you are mixing kids and border collies, you also need to consider their energy level. Because they were originally bred to be working dogs, and they still work to this day, border collies are typically moderately to extremely energetic. They are known for their endurance and stamina.
You will need to make time for your border collie. They generally require at least two hours, or exercise, walking, or playtime every day in order to burn off their energy. It is important that they get this exercise so that they don’t let out their pent-up energy in your house and around your kids.
How Smart Are Border Collies?
The unique thing about border collies is that they are considered one of the most intelligent breeds in existence. This breed is considered smarter because they typically require fewer repeated training sessions in order to learn a new command. Border collies can also learn and obey a command the first time it is learned. In many cases, you may only need to train your border collie a command five times before they learn it to perfection.
While they are instinctively smart, you can help your border collie to strengthen its intelligence by enforcing mental stimulation via puzzles, training, and agility lessons. You should also make it a point to socialize your border collie with other dogs so they can continue to learn and evolve. Also, continue to teach them new commands so they can build up their memory and cognitive skills.
There are also many great toys that can help your border collie to build its intelligence levels. You can also consider some of the toys at this link.
How to Train Border Collies
Since border collies are considered more intelligent than a lot of other breeds, you may find that training is a bit easier, but you shouldn’t take the process for granted. Start training them as early as possible, as puppies are generally more receptive, and it is good to establish positive behavior and obedience early.
You can start by teaching your dog basic commands like sit, come, stay, and down, as these tips will ensure that your dog is obedient and stays safe throughout its life. When your border collie starts obeying your commands, use positive reinforcement to reward them. Treats, praise, and toys will usually do the trick. If your dog misbehaves, try to ignore the behavior, so they know it is not acceptable.
Consistency is key when you are training your dog. Stick to the routine every day until they learn their commands. Use the same wording every time, so the dog doesn’t get confused. Because of their intelligence, your border collie can also benefit from advanced training, such as herding, agility, and obedience competitions, so consider that as well. If your dog is not catching on, then consider bringing them to a professional trainer.
It is also important that you socialize your dog soon after bringing it home. Bring it out on walks through town, to the dog park, and around strangers so it can get used to new people and sights. This will help them to stay well-adjusted as they age.
Physical and Mental Exercise
Keep in mind that your border collie also requires a lot of physical activity. You will need to make time for daily walks, runs, and playtime outside in the backyard. If you work or you don’t have the time to bring your dog out, then consider hiring a dog walker to assist.
Again, border collies are also very smart, so they need constant mental stimulation to avoid boredom and prevent them from destructive behavior. You can provide that mental stimulation with puzzles, toys, and interactive puzzles. Spend a lot of time teaching your dog, and you will find that they are amazing companions.
How Much Maintenance Do Border Collies Require?
Like all dogs, this breed requires a fair amount of maintenance. So consider these tips before mixing kids and border collies.
Typical Maintenance Requirements
Grooming – Border collies have a thick double coat that will require regular grooming to prevent matting and keep their coat shiny and healthy. You will want to make it a habit to brush them at least once a week. You may need to brush them more during shedding seasons (fall and spring).
Exercise – As noted, your border collie will be very energetic, so they will need at least 1-2 hours of exercise every day, which could include walks, runs, or time out in the yard. Failure to provide the exercise they need could cause them to become restless or aggressive. You will also need to provide the proper amount of mental stimulation.
Healthcare and Common Issues
You will need to bring your border collie in for regular veterinary checkups to ensure that they are up-to-date on their vaccinations and dental cleanings. Be aware that border collies are more at risk of certain health conditions, including:
- Dental disease
- Hip dysplasia
Although the list may seem scary, you can prevent most of these ailments by going to the vet so they can catch potential issues before they get out of hand. You’ll notice obesity is on the list. That often occurs when owners don’t allow their border collie to get the exercise that they require.
How Much Does it Cost to Own a Border Collie?
When you first invest in a border collie, you can expect to pay between $500 – $2,500, and the cost will depend on the breeder, their qualifications, location, and other factors. Then, you will need to purchase the necessary supplies, including bowls, food, toys, a bed, a collar, and a leash. Depending on the quality and store, you can expect to pay between $200 – $500 for these items.
Once you have the dog in your possession, you can expect to pay between $1,000 to $2,000 per year for your border collie. Those expenses include:
Food – Border collies are medium-sized dogs that require a high-quality diet to stay in good shape. Depending on the brand and the store where you shop, you can expect to pay $20 – $50 for food.
Veterinary Care – As we mentioned, it is important to bring your dog in for their regular vet visits. You can expect to pay between $300 – $500 per year for this expense. You can try to lower the cost by investing in pet insurance.
Grooming – You will need to buy the supplies to groom your dog, and you may choose to bring them in for a professional cleaning from time to time. Overall, you can expect to pay between $50 – $100 for these supplies and services.
Training – If you decide to have your border collie completely trained by a professional or you just use a trainer for supplementary training, you can expect to pay around $50 – $200 for these sessions.
Mixing Kids and Border Collies – How Old Should Your Kid Be?
Due to the energy and strong-willed mind of the border collie, it is advised that children be at least 6 years old before you bring this breed home. There are many factors to consider. This breed is very excitable, so you need to ensure that your child is active and attentive enough to keep up with the dog. Since they can be so energetic, it is good to avoid bringing the dog home unless your kids can walk or get out of the way if need be.
Also, if you plan to have your kids to be involved in the training of the dog, then you will need to ensure that they are mature enough to handle the responsibility.
Although we say that your child should be at least 6 years old, it is up to parents to decide if they believe that an active dog like this is right for the family or your lifestyle.
Can Kids Be Allergic to Border Collies?
Another essential factor to consider before mixing kids and border collies is if they will be allergic to the breed. Yes, it is possible that you and your children could be allergic to the dog, but they may be allergic to many different breeds. In many cases, it is the dog’s skin cells, urine, and saliva that cause the reaction.
If your child is allergic, then you will likely see them experience itchy or watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, wheezing, and skin rashes. Some people can also experience difficulty breathing or anaphylaxis, and that can be a life-threatening reaction.
If you believe that your kids may have allergies, then it is best to bring them to an allergist to get tested. If it is a mild reaction, then over-the-counter solutions may work.
General Tips and Precautionary Measures
There are a couple of other general tips to keep in mind when you bring home a border collie.
Dental Care – By the time your dog is 2 years old, they have an 80% chance of chronic dental problems. To avoid issues, clean your border collie’s teeth regularly and visit your vet if you feel there may be an issue.
Keep Training – Many people may choose to stop training their dog once they learn the basic commands, but border collies require constant engagement. Keep them occupied by teaching them new tricks and commands. The less restless they get, the more unlikely they are to cause issues at home.
Verdict: Are Border Collies Good with Kids?
In the end, the idea of mixing kids and border collies is generally a good idea. If your kids are at least 6 years old, then they will likely be able to handle the physical nature and necessary maintenance of the dog. Overall, this is a friendly and hard-working dog that will protect your family and give you a lot of love.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©iStock.com/friedgreenbeans.