For active households seeking an intelligent, energetic and affectionate canine companion, the short haired border collie makes an excellent pet. This lower maintenance variant of the popular border collie breed packs all the same traits that make their long haired counterparts so beloved, just with a shorter, easier to manage coat.
Table of Contents
Origins of the Short Haired Border Collie
The origins of the short haired border collie variety can be traced back over a hundred years ago in the working sheepdog lines of the United Kingdom. Even early on, smooth coated puppies would occasionally appear among their fuller coated litter mates. While the long, protective coat was highly prized for shielding the dogs from the elements while herding livestock in the countryside, the short haired pups still demonstrated talent with managing the flocks.
At first, these shorter coated offspring were sometimes dismissed as inferior by breeders focused exclusively on the abundant double layer coat. However, a few of the shepherds who utilized working border collies on their farms found beneficial advantages to the smooth coats. Without so much hair, the short haired dogs tended to stay cleaner while working, did not collect irritating burrs and debris in their fur, and required less intensive grooming. Over time, respected breeders took interest in purposefully producing the occasional smooth coated puppy.
By selectively breeding some of the top performing smooth coated workers back into their programs, more short haired puppies were born. The genetic basis for the shorter coat was strengthened while preserving the collies’ renowned herding abilities. The short coat quickly became an accepted variety within the border collie breed.
It took longer, however, for the major kennel clubs to formally recognize the short haired border collie as part of the breed standard. Finally in the 1980s and 1990s, top registry organizations like the American Kennel Club and Canadian Kennel Club accepted the smooth coat as an allowable phenotype within the border collie breed. Since then, short haired border collies have been able to participate in conformation and performance events alongside their Rough Coated counterparts.
Today, the short haired border collie is recognized around the world as an official coat variation within this highly respected working breed. While long coats are still more widely seen, the smooth coated border collie has secured its place as a slightly more uncommon but no less talented type.
Distinctive Appearance of the Short Haired Border Collie
The most immediately obvious difference between the long and short haired border collie variants is of course coat length. But there are a few other subtle distinctions as well.
As the name implies, short haired border collies sport a short, dense and slick coat approximately 1 to 2 inches in length across the body. It lies flat and close. The coat contains coarse guard hairs atop a soft undercoat. It is straight, resistant to weather, and comprises two layers like the long coat. However, the outer guard hairs are visibly shorter.
In contrast, the long coat has abundant, lush fur up to 4 inches long forming a pronounced ruff around the neck, feathering along the legs, a bushy tail, and distinctive mane. The short coat lacks these longer fur fringes. Instead the coat is uniform in length throughout the body.
The shortened coat of this variety is distinctly lower maintenance when it comes to grooming. While short haired border collies do shed seasonally and need weekly brushing to remove dead hairs, they lack the extensive grooming requirements of the long coat. Without long fur to mat or tangle, they rarely need bathing and generally stay tidier.
However, one similarity between the two coat types is shedding. Both short and long coated border collies “blow” their undercoats completely to changeover between winter and summer coats. During shedding seasons, they can leave impressive amounts of fur around the home that necessitates very frequent brushing and vacuuming. For a few weeks during seasonal transitions, expect extensive shedding.
When it comes to potential colors and markings, short haired border collies display the same broad spectrum of possibilities as their long haired counterparts.
All colors are allowed, including black, red, chocolate, blue, lilac, brindle, sable, and Australian red. Markings can include the traditional black and white bi-color, tricolors, merles, Irish patterns like white collars and chests, and solid whites. There are no color restrictions. Some breeders specialize in producing the less common shades like lilac or blues.
The only consistency is the distinctly colored nose leather and eye rims. Unlike many other breeds where pink noses and green eyes appear, border collies always have dark pigmented noses and eye rims to match their coat. This distinguishes them from Collies, which share their lineage but sport lighter eyes and noses.
Both coat varieties share the same medium-sized, athletic build. Per the breed standard, short haired border collies stand 18 to 22 inches tall at the shoulder for males, slightly smaller at 16 to 21 inches for females. Weight usually ranges from 30 to 55 pounds. They have surprisingly dense, sturdy bones for their agile frame.
Overall, while the coat itself is certainly the most defining factor separating the two types, smooth coated border collies otherwise share the same general conformation and allowed coloring as their rough coated cousins. Having covered the physical attributes, next let’s explore the appeal of the short hair border collie’s temperament and intelligence.
The Trainable Temperament and Intelligence of the Short Haired Border Collie
While the short haired border collie’s coat stands out as distinct from the more familiar long fur variety, temperamentally the two varieties share the same traits. This is a bright, energetic, and trainable breed. The coat makes no difference when it comes to behavior. Let’s look closer at why border collies as a breed, whether short or long haired, make exceptional performance dogs and active companions.
This is certainly not a lap dog content with a short daily stroll! The border collie is one of the highest energy and most driven of all dog breeds. Short haired border collies maintain the same energetic temperament as their long haired counterparts.
This energetic nature comes from generations of selective breeding for their intense motivation and stamina while herding livestock over expansive farmlands day in and out. Without vigorous daily activity, a border collie will become frustrated and act out. These dogs live to have both a physical and mental job to do.
Prospective owners must be prepared to provide at minimum one to two hours of hard exercise daily. Activities like running, hiking, biking, swimming, agility, and competitive canine sports are ideal outlets. Some border collies also perform admirably in dog sports like disc and flyball competition. This breed needs both an intensity of exercise and mental stimulation.
Around the house when sufficiently exercised, border collies are quietly affectionate, attentive and loyal. But an under-exercised border collie will bark, chew, dig, chase, and find other destructive outlets for pent-up energy. The takeaway is that this breed cannot thrive in a sedentary home no matter the coat type. They need owners able and willing to commit to high activity levels.
Both long and short haired border collies were bred specifically for their tireless work ethic while herding sheep across vast fields in all weather. Their devotion to having a job to do imprinted deeply in the breed’s psyche. These dogs live to work.
One fascinating example of just how intensely border collies crave having a task is the common compulsive staring behavior many exhibit. This tendency to visually “grip” stems from their early training to crouch motionless for hours while intently watching livestock for cues. It’s so ingrained some stare endlessly at objects like a flashlight beam or spot on a wall.
Satisfying their work drive is key to having a border collie thrive. They are not content lounging around like some breeds. Mental stimulation through advanced training, puzzle toys, and “jobs” around the home appeals to their work ethic. Just be sure to teach them an “off switch” because their obsessive focus on working can become destructive if left unchecked. Proper management and training prevents compulsive behaviors from developing.
Both long and short haired border collies are incredibly responsive to training. Eager to please their beloved humans and always seeking an outlet for their energy, they generally excel in obedience classes and canine activities.
This breed is highly motivated by positive reinforcement and forms tight working bonds with owners able to provide the leadership and gentle guidance they crave. Their human focus makes them aim to please, unlike more independent breeds. Border collies want to understand what earns rewards and work hard to accomplish it.
Known for being “soft” dogs, harsh physical or verbal corrections are detrimental. Like most herding breeds, border collies respond best to progressive training with clear communication, consistency and above all patience. Their sensitivity means they thrive under praise and shut down when frustrated. Keep training sessions short, dynamic and fun.
In the right hands, both coat types are capable of mastering extremely advanced behaviors. The short coat offers no disadvantage. These dogs excel at agility, flyball, disc dog, musical freestyle, scent detection, service work and more. Their intelligence fuels versatility.
As a premier herding breed, a strong natural instinct to gather and drive movement remains imprinted in border collies’ genes. While no longer used for their traditional work herding livestock on farms, those instincts often surface in play.
Both varieties express the “eye” through stalking behaviors and may attempt to circle, stalk or heel creatures and children. Instinctive nipping or nudging at people’s feet or wheels on strollers can also manifest. These herding tendencies need monitored and redirected positively from puppyhood.
While their genetic past as sheepdogs remains, a short haired border collie with proper socialization makes a playful, affectionate companion animal for families. Starting obedience early, teaching impulse control, and providing approved outlets for stalking satisfy these urges. An experienced owner guides their natural herding traits appropriately.
One interesting attribute of border collies is their “soft” nature when handled kindly but firm guidance. Harsh physical or verbal corrections upset them. Positive training maximizes their obedience talents.
This sensitive side also makes them attuned to their owner’s moods. Border collies pick up on stress or turbulence in the home. Consistency and clear communication prevents confusion that manifests in anxiety. Border collies do best in calm, predictable environments with dedicated owners able to meet their demanding natures with patience.
For the right active family committed to proper leadership, training and activity outlets, both short and long haired border collies repay that care with unwavering focus and loyalty. Their sensitivity seems a fair tradeoff for their numerous talents.
Exercise Needs of the Energetic Short Haired Border Collie
All border collies regardless of coat require intense daily exercise paired with mental stimulation. A bored border collie inevitably gets into mischief! Here are some key ways to meet their needs:
Duration of Exercise
Most border collies need 60 to 90 minutes of vigorous physical activity per day. This is above and beyond regular bathroom breaks and mild leashed walks – true aerobic exercise to spend their energy.
As a puppy, focus more on socialization and training in short spurts. Start building physical exercise duration and intensity gradually as they mature. Adults will demand at least an hour of intensive exercise daily. Providing an athletic outlet is essential to maintaining a short haired border collie’s focus and manners.
Types of Effective Exercise
Aim for activities that challenge their energy, intelligence and herding instincts positively. Some top options include:
- Sprinting – These dogs love to run flat out using their speed and endurance. Let them chase a flirt pole, bike, or play with other dogs in safe enclosed areas. Up to 30 mph sprints satisfy their needs.
- Agility – Dodging obstacles, leaping hurdles, scrambling up and down ramps – border collies excel at canine agility courses. Classes build confidence and skills. Home courses can provide daily training.
- Hiking/Backpacking – Exploring the wilderness appeals to their smarts and energy. Build up distance gradually. Ensure proper paw pad conditioning for longer hikes. Always pack water and collapsible bowls.
- Swimming – Many border collies love water play. rivers or lakes provide a great workout without high impact. Always supervise young dogs. Teach solid recall before allowing off leash swimming. Life jackets provide safety.
- Fetch – Playing intensive games of ground or aerial fetch satisfies their retrieve drive. Use balls, flying discs, kongs or other safe toys. Avoid repetitive hurling motions that can lead to “tennis elbow”.
- Herding Balls/Bubbles – Chasing and gathering instinct kicks in when they “herd” items around. Specialty balls release bubbles or noises border collies eagerly herd using their skills.
Mental Exercise Is Also Crucial
In additional to physical exercise, be sure to incorporate mental stimulation into your short hair border collie’s daily routine through interactive food toys, trick training, varied walks exploring new areas, social visits, and learning new commands or behaviors to keep their bright minds engaged.
Grooming needs of short haired border collies
While short haired border collies lack the extensive grooming requirements of the long coat variety, they are not zero maintenance when it comes to care. Here are tips for grooming and general upkeep.
The shortened coat does need regular brushing to promote skin and coat health. Plan to thoroughly brush your smooth coated border collie at least once weekly year-round. Using a slicker brush removes any dead hairs before they shed around your home.
When not shedding seasonally, a weekly once-over is often sufficient. During the spring and fall blowout of their undercoats, step up brushing to daily or every other day. Thorough brushing captures a surprising amount of loose fur.
One advantage of the short coat is bathing only needs done occasionally, around every 2-3 months. Over-bathing strips healthy protective oils. Limit to only when truly grimy.
Use a mild dog shampoo – never human products which can upset their skin’s pH balance. Rinse thoroughly and towel or air dry. Avoid blow drying, which can damage hair follicles over time.
Seasonal Grooming Adjustments
While their coats stay short year-round, seasonal shedding cycles do require grooming adjustments. In spring and fall during blowing coat, daily brushing helps manage the clouds of shed fur. Slicker brushes remove loose hairs before they spread across your home.
Conversely in winter and summer, the dense coats tend to shed less. Monitor for any hot spots or dry skin that crop up when not shedding as intensely. Keep coats clean and distribute natural oils through weekly brushing.
Make sure to regularly trim nails, as border collies are very active dogs and nails that get too long can snag and tear. White or light nails are easiest to quickly snip the tip off. Dark nails require taking just a sliver at a time to avoid the blood vessel inside. Introduce handling paws early to make trims easy.
Eye Area Care
Before baths, carefully wipe around the eyes with a warm damp cloth to remove any gunk accumulated in the corners. Afterward apply an ophthalmic dog eye wash and wipe away any residues. This prevents tear stains and irritation in the eye area. Check eyes weekly for any redness or swelling which could indicate an infection requiring medication.
Those erect, alert ears characteristic of border collies need regular inspections and cleaning to avoid infections inside the canals. Once a week, gently wipe inside the ears with ear wipes to remove dirt and oil buildup. Never insert cotton swabs deep into ear canals, as this risks damage. Make ear cleaning a habit during brushing sessions.
With their lower maintenance coats, short haired border collies do require less intensive grooming than the long coat variety overall. But staying on top of brushing, nail care and overall hygiene keeps them looking and feeling their best.
Feeding Recommendations for High Energy Short Haired Border Collies
The high-octane energy levels of short haired border collies demand quality nutrition to maintain their svelte muscles and active lifestyle. Here are some feeding guidelines:
High Protein Content
This athletic breed thrives best on diets with named meat proteins like lamb, bison, chicken, turkey, venison or beef as the first ingredients. Meat meals are also quality sources of dense proteins. They require 25-27% protein minimum to fuel their energy and muscles.
Avoid grain-free fad diets, as border collies are prone to developing heart conditions. Moderate grain-inclusive diets following WSAVA veterinary guidelines are ideal for heart health. Look for whole grains like barley, brown rice and oats.
Since border collies are so energetic, their caloric needs are higher than average dogs. Growing puppies need around 1,400 calories per day which then increases to 1,700 calories for active adult short haired border collies of average size. Adjust up or down based on build, activity level and weight trends.
Because border collies are prone to bloat, it’s ideal to divide their daily calories into 2-3 smaller meals instead of one large portion. For puppies, starting with 3-4 meals a day and decreasing to 2 meals daily by adulthood prevents gorging.
Follow label portions based on projected adult weight, and monitor weight weekly. Since their energy demands vary drastically depending on lifestyle, adapt portions so they maintain lean muscle tone without becoming too thin or overweight.
Once border collies reach around 6 years old, a joint supplement helps protect their joints from wear and tear. Glucosamine, chondroitin, turmeric and Omega-3 fish oils support cartilage and mobility.
Housing Considerations for Active Short Haired Border Collies
While short haired border collies are medium-sized dogs, their athleticism and energy make them better suited to homes that provide ample room to run and play. Here are some tips for providing appropriate housing:
Ideally, a securely fenced yard gives border collies a safe outlet for sprinting, playing fetch, and exploring. The fencing needs to be reinforced and at minimum 6 feet tall with anti-dig barriers, as these intelligent escape artists learn quickly how to scale shorter fences or burrow out from underground. Close supervision is still required.
When left unsupervised in yards, be sure your border collie has access to shaded shelter and fresh water. Their short coats make them intolerant to weather extremes. They are vulnerable to overheating and need access to cooling shade. Make sure time outside is limited on extremely hot or cold days.
Border collies only require a comfortable sleeping area with clean bedding inside, but more square footage provides room for indoor play and training. Expect them to enthusiastically initiate games of fetch down hallways or impromptu agility courses over furniture! Just be sure to border collie-proof your home.
They are well-suited to any home as long as their needs for exercise and companionship are met daily. Apartment living is possible with a committed owner who can take them to parks, on runs, or visit dog sport training facilities daily to prevent destructive boredom. This energetic breed adapts to any living situation, as long as their outlets for stimulation are provided.
One essential border collie need is constant access to their beloved people. This is a velcro breed that sticks close to their family. They should not be left alone for the majority of days and nights. If everyone is away for long working hours, a dog walker or doggie daycare provides companionship.
Border collies left isolated from their families can develop severe separation anxiety. This manifests in panicked behaviors like escape attempts, destruction, pacing, and self-harm. While independent at work, border collies crave closeness in their off duty home life. Keep them nearby as often as possible.
With proper attention, training, and outlets provided, a short haired border collie readily adapts to any style of home environment. Just be sure to meet their intense daily exercise needs!
Travel Tips for Road Tripping With Your Short Haired Border Collie
Short haired border collies are devoted to their families. Naturally, they despise being left out of the fun! With planning, they can safely join you on road trips and adventures outside the home. Here are some useful travel tips:
From puppyhood, get your border collie comfortable riding in a secured crate or buckled into a crash-tested harness in the back seat. They should remain leashed or contained when riding. Playing, pacing in vehicles can be dangerous. Provide favorite chew toys for distraction and comfort.
Plan plenty of potty and exercise stops. Border collies have small bladders! Stop at least every 2-4 hours. Avoid feeding right before travel to prevent motion sickness. Bring cleanup supplies in case of accidents.
Never leave a border collie unattended inside a vehicle. Their sensitivity to heat makes them prone to heat stroke. Offer fresh water at every stop. Cooling vests help on longer trips. Know signs of overheating and where to quickly access cooling or veterinary care before hitting the road.
When traveling by air, be sure your border collie’s crate meets all size guidelines. Attach food and water bowls. Affix “Live Animal” signs clearly on the crate. Use non-stop flights to avoid layovers. Follow all vaccination and paperwork requirements for pets in cabin or cargo.
Request a relief area for bathroom breaks during layovers. Hand walking minimizes accidents. Sedation is not recommended as border collies’ slim muscle tone makes them prone to breathing issues. Instead provide favorite toys and treats to ease anxiety.
Scope out dog friendly lodging options before trips. Bring familiar items like beds and toys. Prevent noise disturbances by providing chews, puzzles, and exercise before leaving them while you go out. Ensure someone stops in periodically for potty breaks.
Don’t leave unattended in hotel rooms, as border collies get stressed when separated from their people and may bark or destroy property. The addition of vaccination records and a pet fee secures border collie-friendly accommodations. Just be respectful of other guests at lodgings.
When planning outings like hikes, patio dining, or festivals, think ahead about your border collie’s needs. Pack collapsible bowls, poop bags, ground ties, cleanup supplies, and chews. Scope out pet-friendly establishments beforehand Have spare leashes/collars.
Monitor for overheating and dehydration outside. Know emergency vet locations. Have a dog first aid kit. Short periods left in temperature controlled vehicles are okay with proper ventilation – never for prolonged unattended periods. With planning, border collies readily accompany you on adventures!
While border collies crave constant companionship, some preparation means they travel very well. Prior conditioning prevents anxiety when traversing new places with their beloved owners.
Health Concerns to Know in Short Haired Border Collies
When acquired through responsible breeders focused on health and temperament, border collies are generally robust, long-lived dogs. However, some inherited conditions are worth screening for.
This painful hip joint malformation appears in many larger breeds. Have breeders x-ray and OFA certify breeding dogs are free of dysplasia. Keep puppies lean and avoid overexertion before growth plates close at 18-24 months old. Glucosamine/chondroitin supplements support joint health.
Similar to hip dysplasia, this elbow joint defect causes arthritis and lameness. Ask breeders to certify dogs are elbow dysplasia clear through OFA elbow radiographs. Don’t overdo exercise while joints are still growing.
Annual veterinary ophthalmologist exams check for inherited eye defects like Collie Eye Anomaly, cataracts, and progressive retinal atrophy. Reputable breeders screen breeding dogs. Monitor for vision issues.
Since border collies can have excess white pigment, they are prone to higher congenital deafness rates. Ask breeders about BAER hearing testing on litters. Learn hand signals early alongside verbal commands in case hearing loss appears later in life.
A small subset of border collies suffer seizures, typically starting around 2-5 years old. May be due to inherited epilepsy or structural brain issues. Keep a seizure log tracking duration and frequency to share with your veterinarian. Medication can help control episodes once the condition is diagnosed. Middle-aged dogs should have bloodwork run and neurological exams if seizures develop to check for underlying causes like organ disease and tumors.
The good news is conscientious breeders health testing their dogs and carefully selecting pairings for sound structure, brains and temperament minimize the chances of inheriting devastating genetic illnesses. Start preventatives and veterinary care early to identify any issues. With attentive owner, the average short haired border collie enjoys excellent health over a decade plus.
Finding a Reputable Short Haired Border Collie Breeder
Searching for the perfect short haired border collie pup? Take time locating a responsible, ethical breeder focused on health and temperament. Warning signs of border collie breeders to avoid include:
- No health testing or proof of clearances for conditions like hip dysplasia, eye anomalies, and congenital deafness
- Refusing to show puppy areas or meet mother dog
- Pressuring buyers to put down deposits before meeting pup and parents
- Having many litters available simultaneously from multiple dams
- Pricing far below or above $800-$1500 average rate for border collie pups
Instead look for these positive indicators of conscientious breeders:
- Accountable membership in dog breed groups and organizations
- Willingness to answer any and all questions
- Focus is on placing pups in carefully screened homes, not profit
- Dams and sires have OFA and CERF health testing documentation
- Temperament testing of litters to match pups to buyers’ lifestyles
- Puppies well socialized and started on training foundations
- Health guarantee for hereditary conditions
- Lifetime breeder mentorship and support
Meeting both parents provides insight into temperament and what to expect as your border collie matures. While long coats are still most common, quality breeders sometimes produce smooth coat litters purposefully and can direct interested buyers looking specifically for the short haired variety. Cast a wide net in your search!
Preparing Your Home for a Short Haired Border Collie Puppy
Preparing your household for the flurry of energy that is a border collie puppy requires planning. From puppy-proofing your home to stocking up on training tools, here are some tips:
- Childproof chemicals, medicines, choking hazards, and electrical cords/outlets a curious pup could access
- Designate an area for confinement/potty training when you cannot actively supervise
- Purchase crate, exercise pen, gates to partition safe spaces
- Stock up on chew toys to save household items from those baby teeth
- Acquire stain and odor cleaning solutions for inevitable potty mishaps
- Purchase quality limited ingredient puppy food – follow feeding guidelines
- Sign up for puppy kindergarten and obedience classes right away
- Prepare to wake several times nightly for potty trips the first few weeks
- Baby gates prevent tumbles down stairs – don’t allow unsupervised access to multiple levels at first
- Gather collar, leash, ID tag with your contact info for identification
- Puppy-proof the yard – secure potential hazards like fertilizers, poisonous plants, or gaps in fencing
- Purchase grooming tools like nail clippers, brush, dog shampoo
- Pack your patience – border collie puppies have boundless energy and mischief!
Adding a vivacious border collie puppy to your family is a major commitment. Take time to adequately prepare your home and schedule before pickup to set you both up for success! The effort is well worth it.
Budgeting for Pet Expenses with a Short Haired Border Collie
While border collies make wonderfully devoted companions for active homes, they are not an inexpensive breed to care for responsibly. Here are estimated costs:
Initial Border Collie Puppy Costs
- Purchase from Quality Breeder: $800 – $1500
- Supplies: $500 – $1000
- Vet Exam & Vaccines: $100 – $300
- Spay/Neuter: $100 – $500
- Training: $500 – $2000+
Annual Border Collie Care Costs
- Quality Food: $400 – $800
- Boarding: $500 – $1000
- Veterinary Care: $500 – $1000
- Pet Insurance: $500 – $1000
- Supplies/Toys: $100 – $500
- Licensing: $10 – $200
Potential Other Border Collie Costs
- Professional Grooming: $30 – $100 per visit
- Dog Walker: $15 – $25 per walk
- Doggie Daycare: $20 – $50 daily
- Training Classes: $100 – $500 per course
- Medical Emergencies: $1000+
Budgeting $100 – $400 monthly provides for routine short haired border collie expenses. But also save up an emergency veterinary fund.
Answers to the Top Short Haired Border Collie Questions
Do short haired border collies have different temperaments?
No, short haired border collies share the same temperament traits like high energy, intelligence and trainability as their long haired counterparts. Only the coat length differs between the two accepted coat varieties.
Are short haired border collies good family dogs?
Yes, with proper exercise, training and attention border collies can make exceptional family companions. The slightly lower grooming of the short coat makes them a bit easier to own, but their energy and drive is the same.
How long do short haired border collies live?
With proper preventative care, nutrition, exercise and attentive vet care, short haired border collies typically live 12-15 years. Some may even reach into the late teens.
Do short haired border collies shed less?
No, seasonal shedding cycles are the same for short and long haired border collies. Both “blow” their coats completely twice a year and require daily brushing during shedding season. Proper grooming keeps shedding manageable.
Are short haired border collies hyper?
With their high drive and energy, border collies can seem hyperactive without adequate outlets. But hyperactivity and neuroticism are different – border collies have an “off switch” in the home once sufficiently exercised. Proper training and activity prevents true hyperactivity issues.
I hope this comprehensive guide has provided you helpful information on the wonderful short haired border collie! Let me know if you would like me to elaborate on any section or have additional questions.