Short Haired Border Collie: A Guide to Health, Behavior, and More

short haired border collie

The first time I encountered a Short Haired Border Collie, it wasn’t in a park or a shelter, but in the middle of a bustling city street. Amidst the urban chaos, this dog was an oasis of focus and calm, its gaze sharp and unwavering. I was struck not just by its physical beauty – the sleek, streamlined coat, the poised stance – but by the palpable intelligence in its eyes. It was a brief encounter, but it left an indelible impression on me.

These dogs are more than just their good looks or herding legacy; they are a testament to the extraordinary bond between humans and canines. Each one is a unique blend of energy, smarts, and loyalty.

Are you thinking of getting a Short Haired Border Collie, or perhaps just curious about what makes them such a remarkable breed? Read on, and let me take you on a journey through the world of these extraordinary dogs. Together, we’ll uncover the traits that set them apart, the joys and challenges they bring, and why they might be the perfect addition to your life.

Short Haired Border Collie Quick Breed Summary

Height18 to 22 inches
Weight30 to 45 pounds
Coat ColorBlack, white, tan, blue merle
Common Health ProblemsHip and elbow dysplasia, Collie Eye Anomaly, Epilepsy, Skin allergies
Exercise NeedsHigh
Grooming RequirementModerate
Shedding TendencyModerate
Lifespan12 to 15 years
CostUp to $1,500

History of the Short Haired Border Collie

In the rolling hills of the Anglo-Scottish border, amidst a symphony of bleating sheep and whistling shepherds, the Border Collie was born. It was here, in this demanding environment, that two distinct types of this breed emerged – the Rough Collie, with its luxurious, long coat, and the Short Haired Border Collie, sleek and streamlined. Each time I visit these historic landscapes, I’m struck by the thought of how this challenging terrain sculpted not just one, but two remarkable varieties of the same breed.

A Tale of Two Coats: The Rough and the Short-Haired

The divergence between the Rough and the Short Haired Border Collies is a fascinating study in adaptation. The Rough Collie, with its flowing coat, was well-suited to the colder, more rugged parts of the region.

In contrast, the Short Haired variety, also known as the Smooth Collie, thrived in slightly milder areas where a dense, long coat could be more of a hindrance than a help.

Despite their coat differences, both shared the same keen intelligence and herding abilities. Watching them work, whether in the fields or at trials, is to witness a perfect blend of grace and utility.

The Evolution Beyond Herding

Originally bred for their herding prowess, both types of Border Collies have shown remarkable versatility beyond pastoral work. In my experience, whether it’s a Rough or a Short Haired Border Collie, their intelligence, trainability, and eagerness to please make them exceptional in various roles – from agility competitions to therapy work. This adaptability underscores not just the physical differences between the two types, but also their shared heritage as working dogs, eager and ready to tackle any challenge.

Smooth Collie Physical Characteristics

The Short Haired Border Collie, a breed synonymous with grace and agility, possesses a physicality as remarkable as their intellect. My years of working with these dogs have given me a deep appreciation for their well-proportioned physique and expressive features. Each one is a unique blend of strength, agility, and intelligence, wrapped in a sleek, functional coat.

The Athletic Build: A Fusion of Strength and Agility

These dogs typically stand between 18 to 22 inches tall at the shoulder, embodying a perfect medium size. Their weight, ranging from 30 to 45 pounds, complements their height, contributing to their balanced and athletic build.

The Short Haired Border Collie moves with a purpose, every muscle working in harmony. Witnessing their agility and strength in action is a reminder of their well-honed physical traits, perfected over generations for both work and play.

In my experience, the physical prowess of these dogs during training sessions is always a sight to behold. They exhibit a remarkable blend of speed and endurance, a living testament to their herding lineage and athletic heritage.

Coat and Colors: More Than Just Short Hair

The coat of a Short Haired Border Collie is much more than its length. It’s dense, protecting from various weather conditions, a nod to their outdoor working lifestyle. The range of colors and patterns, from the traditional black and white to the less common blue merle, makes each dog distinct.

Each Short Haired Border Collie I meet brings a new shade, a different pattern, enhancing their individuality. It displays nature’s diversity, where each coat tells a story of heritage and function. Specifically, I love tri-colored Border Collies as they embody a unique tapestry of hues – the way the black, white, and tan intertwine creates a striking, almost painterly effect.

Expressive Faces and Keen Eyes

The face of a Short Haired Border Collie, marked by keen, intelligent eyes, is a window into their soul. Their gaze, intense and focused, is a reflection of their keen intellect. The shape and set of their ears add to their expressiveness, conveying emotions and intentions.

Interacting with these dogs, their facial expressions never fail to communicate their thoughts and feelings. They possess a depth of understanding and an eagerness to connect, making every interaction with them a meaningful experience.

Tail and Movement: The Barometer of Emotion

The tail of a Short Haired Border Collie serves as an emotional barometer. In action, it is expressive, complementing their movements. At rest, it remains a subtle indicator of their mood. Observing their tail movements offers insights into their emotional state, adding to their communicative nature.

Watching a Short Haired Border Collie’s tail in motion is to understand a part of their language. It’s an aspect of their physicality that continually reveals the depth of their emotions and character.

Taking Care of a Smooth Collie

Caring for a Short Haired Border Collie is as rewarding as it is demanding. These dogs are not just pets; they become an integral part of your daily life. Over the years, I’ve learned that meeting their needs is key to a happy, healthy dog. From their robust exercise requirements to their specific dietary needs, each aspect of their care is an opportunity to strengthen the bond between you and your canine companion.

Exercise Needs

Short Haired Border Collies are synonymous with energy and stamina. They require ample exercise, not just for their physical health but also for mental stimulation. I’ve found that a mix of activities – from long walks to fetch games and agility training – keeps them happiest. It’s not uncommon for me to spend a couple of hours daily ensuring they get the physical activity they need.

But it’s not just about quantity; the quality of exercise matters too. These dogs thrive on challenges and learning new things. Incorporating training exercises into playtime, like hide-and-seek or obstacle courses, can keep their minds as active as their bodies. Every interaction is an opportunity for both exercise and bonding.

Feeding Guidelines

Feeding a Short Haired Border Collie is about balancing and understanding their individual needs. They typically require a diet rich in protein to support their active lifestyle. I always pay close attention to the food’s quality, opting for high-quality ingredients that cater to their energetic personality.

Portion control is crucial. These dogs can be prone to overeating, so I stick to a regular feeding schedule and avoid over-indulging them with treats. Regular check-ups with the vet help me fine-tune their diet, ensuring they get the right balance of nutrients for their age, weight, and activity level.

Grooming Requirements

Despite their short coat, grooming a Short Haired Border Collie is more than a once-in-a-while affair. Their coat needs regular brushing to keep it clean and free of mats, which I do at least once a week. It’s a great way to bond with them and check for any skin issues or ticks.

Bathing them doesn’t need to be frequent – only when they get particularly dirty. However, regular nail trims, ear checks, and teeth cleaning are part of our routine. I’ve found that getting them used to grooming early on makes it a much smoother process as they grow.

How to Train a Smooth Collie

short haired border collie

Training a Short Haired Collie, a breed known for its sharp mind and active temperament, offers a unique and gratifying journey. My experience with these dogs has shown that they’re not just quick learners but also thrive on engagement and interaction. Here, I’ll share some insights and techniques that have worked wonders in shaping them into well-mannered and joyful companions.

Laying the Groundwork: Early Days and Basic Commands

Initiating training during puppyhood lays a robust foundation for future learning. I start with the fundamentals: ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘come’, and ‘stay’. These aren’t just commands; they’re the building blocks of communication between us. I keep these sessions upbeat and short to match their attention span, sprinkling them throughout the day.

Ingraining social skills early on is also pivotal. I take my pups on diverse outings – bustling streets, tranquil parks, and different social gatherings. This exposure builds their confidence and adaptability, traits crucial for a well-adjusted adult dog.

Bond-Based Approach: Understanding and Respect

What sets Smooth Collies apart is their sensitivity and desire to connect with their owners. I’ve found that a bond-based training approach, where mutual respect and understanding are at the forefront, works best. Rewards like praise, treats, and playtime are my tools of choice. They reinforce positive behaviors and make training a joyful experience for both of us.

I avoid any form of negative reinforcement. These intelligent dogs can become disheartened by harsh words or actions. Instead, patience and gentle guidance are my mantras, creating a trusting and positive learning environment.

Beyond Obedience: Engaging the Collie Mind

Once the basics are in place, I introduce more stimulating activities. Agility courses, brain games, and even canine sports like herding trials or flyball are excellent for mental and physical enrichment. These activities cater to their innate herding instincts and need for mental engagement.

Incorporating interactive toys and scent games into their routine keeps their minds sharp. I find this balance between physical activity and mental challenges essential for maintaining the well-being of a Smooth Collie.

Common Health Problems Among Short Haired Border Collies

Short Haired Border Collies, while generally robust and healthy, are predisposed to certain health conditions. Recognizing these issues early on can greatly assist in management and treatment.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Hip and elbow dysplasia in Short Haired Border Collies is a genetic condition where the hip or elbow joint develops improperly. This malformation can lead to arthritis, causing pain and limiting mobility. As a hereditary issue, it often becomes apparent as the dog grows, although symptoms can vary in severity.

  • Regular vet check-ups for early detection.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight to reduce joint stress.
  • Gentle exercise to strengthen muscles around joints.
  • Consider genetic testing if breeding

Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA)

Collie Eye Anomaly is a genetic disorder that affects the development of the eye, leading to changes in the retina, choroid, and sclera. This can range from minor defects with little impact on vision to severe anomalies that can cause blindness. Diagnosed early, most dogs with CEA can live relatively normal lives.

  • Routine eye exams for early detection.
  • Regular visits to a veterinary ophthalmologist.
  • Understanding the condition to manage any vision loss effectively.


Epilepsy in Short Haired Border Collies is a chronic condition characterized by recurrent seizures. These seizures can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, brain trauma, or underlying health issues. Effective management typically involves long-term medication and regular veterinary oversight to control seizures and maintain quality of life.

  • Consult with a vet immediately if seizures occur.
  • Adhere to prescribed medication regimes.
  • Keep a detailed seizure log for vet consultations.
  • Create a safe environment during seizures.

Skin Allergies

Skin allergies in Short Haired Border Collies can be triggered by environmental factors like pollen or dust mites, food allergies, or flea bites. Symptoms often include persistent itching, skin redness, and hair loss. Identifying the specific allergen can be challenging but is key to effective treatment and relief.

  • Identify and avoid known allergens.
  • Feed hypoallergenic diets if food allergies are suspected.
  • Regular grooming and flea control.
  • Consult a vet for allergy testing and treatment plans.

The Costs of Owning a Short Haired Border Collie

Short Haired Border Collie

Owning a Short Haired Border Collie comes with a variety of expenses. While costs can vary based on location, lifestyle, and individual dog needs, I’ll provide some average estimates to give potential owners an idea of the financial commitment involved.

Initial Costs

  • Purchase/Adoption Fees: Adoption fees might range from $50 to $300, whereas buying from a reputable breeder can cost anywhere from $700 to $1,500.
  • Initial Veterinary Care: Including vaccinations, microchipping, and spaying/neutering, can range from $200 to $500.
  • Essentials: A collar, leash, bed, crate, and bowls could total around $100 to $300.

Ongoing Costs

  • Food: Quality dog food for an active breed like this can cost approximately $40 to $70 per month.
  • Routine Veterinary Care: Annual check-ups and vaccinations can average around $200 to $500 per year.
  • Grooming: Basic grooming might cost around $30 to $70 per session, if done professionally.

Training and Socialization

  • Training Classes: Basic obedience classes can range from $50 to $200 for a series of sessions.
  • Socialization Opportunities: Dog park memberships or daycare can vary widely, potentially costing $100 to $300 a month.

Health-Related Expenses

  • Insurance: Pet insurance premiums can range from $30 to $50 per month.
  • Emergency Fund: It’s wise to set aside at least $1,000 to $2,000 for unexpected health issues or emergencies.


  • Toys and Accessories: Expect to spend around $50 to $150 annually.
  • Travel Costs: Pet-friendly accommodation or pet-sitting services can vary greatly, but budgeting $100 to $300 for occasional travel is a safe estimate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Short Haired Border Collies good with children?

Absolutely! Short Haired Border Collies can be great with children, especially if they are socialized from a young age. They are typically friendly and playful, making them excellent family dogs. However, due to their herding instinct, they may try to herd small children, so supervision and proper training are important.

How much space does a Short Haired Border Collie need?

Short Haired Border Collies are active dogs that thrive in environments where they have plenty of room to run and play. A home with a spacious backyard is ideal, but they can adapt to smaller spaces as long as they get enough exercise and mental stimulation through daily walks, playtime, and training.

Can Short Haired Border Collies live in hot climates?

Yes, they can adapt to warmer climates, especially given their shorter coat. However, it’s important to ensure they don’t overheat. Providing ample shade, water, and avoiding intense outdoor activities during the hottest parts of the day are key steps to keep them comfortable.

How long do Short Haired Border Collies live?

Short Haired Border Collies typically have a lifespan of around 12 to 15 years. Proper care, regular veterinary check-ups, a healthy diet, and plenty of exercise can help ensure they live a full and healthy life.

Are they easy to train?

Yes, Short Haired Border Collies are known for their intelligence and eagerness to please, which makes them relatively easy to train. They respond well to positive reinforcement techniques such as treats and praise, and they enjoy learning new commands and tricks.

Do Short Haired Border Collies shed a lot?

Despite their shorter coat, they do shed, particularly during the change of seasons. Regular brushing can help manage shedding and keep their coat healthy.

Are they suitable for first-time dog owners?

Short Haired Border Collies can be a challenge for first-time dog owners due to their high energy levels and need for mental stimulation. However, with a commitment to training, exercise, and proper care, they can be a rewarding companion.

So, Is a Short Haired Border Collie the Right Dog for You?

Deciding whether a Short Haired Border Collie is the right fit for your life is a question that encompasses more than just a love for dogs.

In my personal and professional journey with these remarkable animals, I’ve come to understand that they require not just affection, but a commitment to active engagement and consistent training. They are more than just pets; they are partners in life’s adventures, demanding time, energy, and an understanding of their unique needs.

The decision to welcome a Short Haired Border Collie into your home should be made with careful consideration of your lifestyle, your family’s needs, and your ability to meet their high-energy demands.

Who Is a Smooth Collie For

  • Individuals or families with an active lifestyle
  • Those willing to invest time in regular training and exercise
  • People looking for a highly trainable and responsive dog
  • Owners who enjoy outdoor activities and want a companion to join in
  • Experienced dog owners familiar with managing high-energy breeds
  • Those who appreciate a strong bond and are looking for a loyal companion

Who Isn’t a Smooth Collie For

  • First-time dog owners without the time or resources for extensive training
  • Families with very young children who might be overwhelmed by the dog’s energy
  • People with a sedentary lifestyle or limited time for daily active exercise
  • Apartment dwellers without easy access to outdoor spaces for exercise
  • Individuals looking for a low-maintenance, relaxed pet
  • Those unable to commit to regular grooming and health check-ups

About John Woods 299 Articles
John Woods is the founder of All Things Dogs, member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, graduate in Animal Behavior & Welfare and recognized author by the Dog Writers Association of America.

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