Note: Pet Educate is reader supported. If you make a purchase through a link on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission - at no extra cost to you. This includes links to Amazon.

Are Border Collies Aggressive? [Dangerous or Protective?]

Border collies are known for their beautiful coat and energy for life. But what about their temperament? Naturally, you may be wondering if this is an aggressive breed considering that they were initially bred to herd livestock and other animals. Intrigued, and needing such information, I decided to conduct as much research on the topic as I could. I’d like to condense what I found into this helpful article here today.

So, are border collies aggressive? Border collies are generally not an aggressive breed of dog. While this dog breed tends to herd anything that moves (and may nip as part of this behavior) they are not likely to ever do so with malicious intent. If aggressive behavior is displayed, it is likely that something else is up – like an undiagnosed health condition or issue.

Border collies are a tenacious breed of dog, they can come across as bossy, but that’s only because they are.

As an owner, you must take steps to ensure that your pooch views you and your family members as the pack leaders. Once you have achieved alpha status, your border collie will become obedient, cooperative, and a pleasure to be around.

But this then bears the question; could they be dangerous in their early stages of life or before they have been appropriately trained?

Let us now take a closer look and explore this breed’s temperament and anything that you should or need to know.

Are Border Collies Dangerous?

Border collies are considered a safe breed, generally not attempting to or actively posing a threat. But there are instances of border collies attacking other animals and humans, even children.

As with any dog, you should never leave a young child alone with a border collie.

Herding is an inherent border collie trait, but there are times when this herding trait can go wrong or even be applied to young children.

Bear in mind that herding involves, staring down, chasing, and nipping at their heels, it isn’t pleasant!

In some border collies, the herding instinct can be so strong, that it makes them incompatible living with a household that includes children.

Border collies can make excellent pets, but only if you acquire a dog that doesn’t have such an intense herding impulse.

This dog breed is known for exceptional intelligence, but training does not come easy.

You can’t train a border collie not to herd children or animals. Herding is instinctive, but you can modify their behavior by channeling their energy into other activities.

There are generally three approaches that owners employ to channel their dog’s energies. These three techniques are distraction, environmental manipulation, and deterrence.

These techniques are all about not allowing a border collie the opportunity to herd or partake in any particular behavior.

Distraction usually involves playing with toys, walking them, and occupying their minds with some form of stimulus.

Manipulating the environment may include getting baby gates installed within your home, or being particular when and where you border can access your home.

Deterrence often follows, and this will be ensuring that your border collie learns that such behavior will not be tolerated. This does not mean nor should include shouting.

Instead, it’s about collectively and calmly removing them from the situation.

These techniques are great because they can be enforced with treats and other rewards.

Need treats? -> Best Treats For Border Collies [Top Picks & Feeding Guide]

The truth is, even the best trainer cannot get rid of a border collie’s impulse to herd; once this dog goes into herding mode, they ignore all other commands.

One of the best things you can do as a dog owner is to train them from a young age, with an emphasis during the puppy years.

This ensures that they learn how to behave, when and what is allowed and appropriate in your home. It’s all about safely setting boundaries.

If an owner hasn’t dealt with border collie aggression from an early age, it can become a problem and even escalate into something worse.

A dog that has not been trained nor understands boundaries, can be a danger to all around them.

If you notice early signs of aggression in your border collie, the onus is on you to tackle the problem early on as it can lead to severe consequences.

Border collies rarely become aggressive without first showing warning signs, unless of course, your dog feels threatened or is in pain.

These dogs usually show signs before they ever attack you. Let’s look at examples of these warning signs:

  • Disobedience of commands
  • Growling, baring teeth when you correct them
  • Barking at you or other people
  • Issues with dominance

If you notice any of these from occurring, your first port of call is to examine them or get your vet to examine them for any potential injuries/health issues.

It may well be that they have injured themselves, are in pain, or a lot of discomforts.

What may appear to be aggression, maybe getting confused with a dog that is in pain and trying to protect themselves.

Secondly, you may want to consider getting a dog behavioral specialist involved or taking them to classes.

You may require the help of an expert who is used to and will have strategies that they can use to overcome aggressive behavior and tendencies.

For the most part, border collies are not like this. But it is important to be aware and have a strategy in place if your border collie was to react and behave in such a way.

Are Border Collies Protective Of Their Owners?

As with other herding and sheepdogs, border collies can be fiercely protective of their territory and their owners.

This inclination to protect their family makes them ideal guard dogs.

If a border collie notices anything new, they will always alert the family by barking loudly.

This dog breed is not known to take kindly to strangers and will often think of them as a potential threat to their family.

Consider socializing your dog frequently to help them overcome this aggression towards strangers.

You’ll also want to be very careful of letting your border collie out in your backyard, or when walking them (until trained).

You want to ensure that you minimize all opportunities in which your border collie feels the need that they need to protect.

The postman is one such example. Having friends, or neighbors knock or come over is another.

How Do You Discipline A Border Collie?

Disciplining a border collie is similar to disciplining a child. In much the same way, you want to reinforce positive behaviors and refrain from punishing bad behaviors. You may use the word “No” with your dog, however, you need to be particular of when and how you use it.

Therefore if your border collie is acting out, you want to redirect and channel their attention to something different and permissible.

When they do so, you want to give lots of praise and regularly offer treats and rewards for complying.

Never resort to corporal punishment, as it can make your border collie, fearful, aggressive, manic, and timid.

If you feel like you are about to lose your temper with your dog, walk away quietly, come back once you have calmed down, and try again.

Remember, just use your voice to reprimand your dog. Use a tone that is short, sharp, and straight to the point.

If your border collie does not practice first-time obedience every time you give them a command, they are not adequately trained.

If you find yourself repeating commands over and over again with no satisfaction, your dog still has a long way to go.

When you admonish your dog, you must use quick words like off, outside, leave, or leave it.

If you tell your border collie to sit and they do not, think of how you are using your voice.

Try commanding them again in a strong, firm voice until they sit, or you can physically help them to sit as you repeat the command.

Aside from your voice, your demeanor can go a long way in disciplining your dog.

Make sure that you reprimand your border collie there and then for misbehavior.

This helps your border collie understand that misconduct is not tolerated, do not delay in correcting them as this will lead to confusion.

Do not bombard your border collie with excessive commands, limit commands to one at a time; keep things simple and clear.

Remember that nagging will not help improve his behavior.

When you reprimand your border collie, make sure that the punishment fits the crime. If you are too harsh with your border collie, you will eventually lose their trust and respect.


Border collies are not known to be aggressive, and they are generally considered a safe breed.

However, there are occasions when border collies can be aggressive. This is true of any dog, and is not something to be alarmed or concerned about.

Instead, its more important to be aware of it, the causes, prevention and how to respond.

Herding is innate with these dogs and it is never done out of malice. It is just what they were born to do.

There are aggressive aspects to herding, such as nipping, biting, and chasing, which is not what you need from a family pet.

You cant train this herding instinct out of these sheepdogs, but you can channel it into something else, such as canine sports like flyball.

The Beginner's Guide to Flyball
  • Pignetti, Lisa (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 186 Pages - 11/27/2012 (Publication Date) - Lisa Pignetti (Publisher)

Border collies have exceptional intelligence, but you must set realistic expectations for them.

Be clear and concise when giving commands; do not overdo it as this can confuse your dog.

Remember to punish misbehavior appropriately, do not be too harsh when you correct your dog as this can make them mistrust you, and lose respect for you.

Also never shout, hit, lash out or physically hurt your dog for misbehavior. This is not effective nor will it have the intended consequences.

When it comes to training, its more about being strict and firm, calm and collective.

Border collies are excellent pets and a great breed of dog, but you need to keep them continuously occupied as boredom leads to misconduct.

If you ever suspect aggression, be sure to rule out any potential health complications or issue.

They could be in pain and discomfort which may be the source of their agitation and behavior.

In some cases, it may require the support of a vet/behavioral dog specialist but this is the exception rather than the norm.

Related Questions

What Age Do Border Collies Calm Down?

Border collies are active puppies and breed in general, however, a Border Collie typically calms down during the second half of its lifespan. You will start to see changes and signs from as early as four years old. This will of course depend on the specific dog (their own personality and temperament) alongside how you look after, care, and raise them too.

Do Border Collies Need Another Dog?

Border collies do need another dog, nor another border collie in their company in order to live a happy and fulfilling life. However, it is possible to get another dog. Owners report that is it generally best to do so when your border collie has exited their puppy years and is older, better trained and more settled. Another approach is to get two puppies at the same time so that they can grow up and get used to their environment together.