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What Were Border Collies Bred For? (Answered)

This is a question that has puzzled many people over the years. These dogs are some of the most popular breeds in the world, but what was their original purpose? what were Border Collies bred for? 

Border Collies were originally bred to herd sheep along the border between England and Scotland. They needed to be tough and courageous, able to work long hours in all types of weather. They also needed to be smart and obedient, able to respond quickly to their shepherd’s commands.

Today, Border Collies are still prized for their herding ability, but they are also popular as family pets and working dogs in a variety of other fields.

Their intelligence, athleticism, and willingness to please make them ideal candidates for everything from law enforcement work to search and rescue. No matter what their job is, Border Collies always give it their all.

In this article, we’ll explore the history of the Border Collie and what they’re used for today.

Let’s get started.

Why the border collies were bred to be working dogs?

The border collies were bred because they are one of the most intelligent dog breeds. They were bred to be working dogs because they are so smart and can learn new tricks quickly. They are also very active dogs, which makes them perfect for herding sheep or other animals.

The first recorded use of the term “Border Collie” was in 1915. Before that, they were simply known as “collies” or “working collies.” The name change was made to distinguish them from other types of collies, such as the show collies and sheepdogs.

The history

Border Collies are believed to descend from a type of dog called a Bearded Collie, which was brought to Scotland from Wales in the early 1800s. Bearded Collies were used for herding, but they were also larger and not as agile as the Border Collie.

Border Collies were bred to be smaller and more athletic, with quickness and intelligence that made them better at herding sheep.

Now, the original progenitor border collie progenitor was born in 1873. His name was Old Hemp, and he was a black-and-white sheepdog. Old Hemp’s job was to help his owner, a Scottish shepherd, move his flock from one grazing area to another.

To do this, Old Hemp would nip at the heels of the sheep, driving them forward.

This herding style was known as “heel nipping.” It’s still used by some Border Collies today. Old Hemp was so good at his job that he became famous in his local community.

Who was the first Border Collie breeder?

The first recorded breeder of Border Collies was a man named Adam Telfer. He lived in the Scottish Borders region and bred his dogs for herding sheep.

Telfer’s dogs became known for their intelligence and athleticism, and they quickly became popular with other shepherds in the area.

Border Collies continued to be bred for their herding ability throughout the 20th century. In the 1970s, they began to gain popularity as pets and working dogs in other fields such as:

  • Law enforcement
  • Search and rescue
  • Assistance dogs for the disabled

Old hemp was such an extraordinary dog that breeders decided to try and recreate his genetics. They wanted to produce a dog that had Old Hemp’s herding ability, intelligence, and athleticism.

To do this, they bred Border Collies with other types of herding dogs such as Australian Cattle Dogs and Welsh Sheepdogs.

Once breeders were producing dogs with similar characteristics to the old hemp, it was decided that the breed should be called the Border Collie in his honor.

James Reid, a Scottish farmer, is credited with being the first person to use the term “Border Collie” to describe these dogs in 1915.

Official AKC recognition

The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the border collie in 1995. This move was largely due to the efforts of breeders and owners who wanted to see the border collie receive the same level of recognition as other popular breeds.

The AKC’s recognition of the border collie has helped to increase its popularity, and it is now one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States.

Herding instinct

Border collies are well-known for their herding instinct. This instinct is so strong that border collies have been known to herd anything from sheep to children.

The herding instinct is thought to be a result of the border collie’s natural prey drive. When a border collie sees something moving, its first instinct is to chase it.

However, the herding instinct goes beyond simply chasing.

Border collies will also try to control the movement of their target, indeed, border collies are known for their intense stare, or “eye,” which is used to control the movement of the flock.

When working with cattle, they will often run along the animal’s backs to get them moving.

Is the Border Collie the smartest dog breed?

Border Collies are widely considered to be one of the smartest, if not the smartest dog breeds. Border Collies excel at tasks that require intelligence and they are often able to learn new commands quickly.

But what does that mean, exactly?

Well, let’s take a look at what some experts have to say.

The Border Collie is widely considered the most intelligent dog breed.

Dr. Stanley Coren, professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia


“A working border collie called Chaser has been documented as knowing the names and functions of more than one thousand different toys.”

Not only are they intelligent, but they are also incredibly active.

A Border Collie needs a lot of exercises, at least two hours a day.

If you’re thinking of getting a Border Collie, you need to be prepared to give them the time and attention they need.

Border Collies in America

Border Collies are one of the most popular breeds of dogs in America. They are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and obedience.

Do you take off your dog collar at home? that’s what I wrote in my recent article. This is really important information if you’re a new dog owner or just simply want to get a quick heads up.

However, Border Collies were not always so popular in America. In fact, they were only introduced to the country in the late 1800s.

The breed quickly gained popularity among American farmers and soon became a staple on farms across the country.

lot sheep mountain field

Today, Border Collies are still prized for their herding abilities, but they have also become beloved family pets. Thanks to their gentle nature and eagerness to please, they become one of the most loved dog breeds in the US.


So let’s sum up what we’ve learned.

Border Collies are certainly an interesting breed of dog. They have a long history and continue to be popular today.

If you have a farm there is no doubt this breed is the way to go, but what if you live in the city, specifically in an apartment, you should bring your dog at least two hours a day to the park.

They are intelligent, active dogs that need a lot of attention and exercise, so if your lifestyle doesn’t fit this dog’s needs then you might want to consider a different breed.

All in all, the Border Collie is a great breed of dog and they make wonderful pets.

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