Are Border Collies Aggressive? Debunking the Myth

Border Collies are a popular breed of dogs known for their intelligence, energy, and herding skills. However, there is a common misconception that they are also aggressive dogs.

So, are Border Collies aggressive?

The straightforward answer is no. Border Collies are not naturally aggressive dogs. They were bred to herd sheep and other livestock, so they can be a bit bossy. With that said, they can spontaneously become mean if something triggers them, if they become scared or are not socialized or trained properly.

In this article, we’ll be looking to answer the question “are Border Collies aggressive”, with a little more detail.

We’ll be going over the possible stimuli that can trigger spontaneous aggressive behaviors, what to do about it, and so much more.

Are Border Collies Aggressive

Understanding Border Collies

Border Collies are a highly intelligent and independent breed of dog known for their herding abilities and work ethic.

They were originally bred to work on farms, herding livestock, and they still have a strong instinct to herd and control their environment.

They also have a reputation for being the smartest dog breed on the planet, and they require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy.

Because the breed was specifically selected for their traits, it’s inherent in them to “need to herd”, to feel useful, “to have a job“.

This is important to take into account, because a lack of these, can sometimes lead to aggressive behavior, even if the breed is not specifically aggressive.

Are Border Collies Aggressive?

Border Collies are not naturally aggressive dogs. It’s not a common trait and so they are generally considered to be a non-aggressive breed.

While Border Collies are not typically aggressive, every dog is individual and unique, and there may be some cases where a particular Border Collie displays aggressive behavior, where another wouldn’t.

That’s pretty self explanatory.

Like any other dog breed, certain circumstances and triggers can lead to aggressive behavior in Border Collies, and in the following section, we’ll look at what some of these can be.

Responsible ownership, early socialization, and positive training methods can play a significant role in preventing aggressive behaviors in Border Collies, to help make them the best possible pet they can be.

Reasons for Aggression in Border Collies

Some of the more common signs of aggression in Border Collies may include:

  • Growling
  • Barking
  • Nipping
  • Snapping
  • Hostility.

As for the types of aggressions that are most common in dogs, these are:

  • Territorial aggression
  • Possessive aggression
  • Predatory aggression

As for the common reasons for aggression in Border Collies can become aggressive, these are:

Fear and Anxiety

Fear and anxiety are common causes of aggression in Border Collies.

Loud noises, unfamiliar people or animals, and other stressful situations can trigger fear and anxiety, leading to defensive or aggressive behavior.

Traumatic Experiences

Dogs that have been hurt, abused, or had negative encounters with people or other dogs in the past may develop defensive aggression as a way to protect themselves from potential harm.

Traumatic experiences can leave lasting effects on a dog’s behavior, and it’s essential for owners to provide a safe and loving environment to help the dog heal and build trust.

Lack of Socialization

One of the key factors that can lead to aggression in Border Collies is a lack of proper socialization during their early developmental stages.

Dogs that don’t receive enough exposure to different people, animals, and environments may become fearful or anxious in unfamiliar situations.

This lack of socialization can manifest in aggressive behavior, especially towards other dogs, as the Border Collie may perceive them as a potential threat.

Resource Guarding

Resource guarding is when a dog becomes aggressive when someone tries to take away something they consider valuable, such as food, toys, or even their favorite spot on the couch.

Border Collies that exhibit resource guarding behavior need to be trained to understand that it’s not acceptable.

Pain or Illness

Border Collies that are in pain or have an underlying illness may become aggressive due to discomfort.

If you suspect that your pup could be in pain, it’s important to take it to the vet regularly to ensure they are healthy and pain-free.

Herding Instincts

Border Collies were bred to herd sheep and other livestock, so they have strong herding instincts.

These instincts can sometimes manifest as nipping or biting behavior towards humans or other animals.

Behavioral Problems

Border Collies that have not been trained properly may develop behavioral problems. These behavioral problems can manifest as obsessive compulsive behaviors, or other behaviors such as aggression.

In this case, it’s important to provide consistent training and positive reinforcement to prevent this from being an issue.

Dominance and Territorial Behavior

Border Collies that exhibit dominant or territorial behavior may become aggressive towards other dogs or humans.

It’s essential to establish yourself as the pack leader and provide proper training to prevent this behavior.

Overall, it’s crucial to identify the underlying cause of the sporadic aggression in Border Collies and work on addressing it through training, socialization, and other methods.

With proper care and attention, most aggressive behaviors in Border Collies can be corrected.

Border Collies Interaction with Others

As we’ve gone over in this article, Border Collies aren’t aggressive dogs by nature. With that said, dogs are different from one another, and some dogs might be more aggressive than others towards different things.

Let’s look at what Border Collies’ behavior are towards different people and animals, when it comes to aggression:


Border Collies are known to be loyal and loving towards their family.

These are the people they’re less likely to be aggressive to of course.

And since they can be protective of their family, if they sense any threat, that’s when they might become aggressive.

Other Dogs

Border Collies can be friendly with other dogs, but it depends on the individual dog’s personality and socialization.

Some Border Collies might be reserved or even aggressive towards other dogs, especially if they feel threatened or provoked.


Border Collies are generally wary of strangers, and they might bark or growl at them.

However, with proper socialization and training, they can learn to be more accepting of strangers.


Border Collies can be great companions for kids, but they need to be supervised, especially if the kids are young.

Border Collies have a strong herding instinct, and they might try to herd the kids, which can be dangerous.

Also, some dogs simply don’t like kids at all. They can feel threatened by them. Some exposure therapy could be a good idea, as long as its done under supervision.

New Dogs

When introducing a new family dog to a Border Collie, it’s important to do this slowly and carefully.

Border Collies might be territorial and protective of their space, and they might become aggressive towards the new dog.

Other Family Pets

Border Collies can get along well with other family pets, such as cats or birds.

However, they might see them as prey, especially if they have a strong herding instinct, so it’s best to keep an eye out.

Are Border Collies Aggressive 2

Training Your Border Collies To Not Be Aggressive

Training your Border Collie is an essential part of ensuring that they are well-behaved and don’t become aggressive.

Proper training will help you correct any disobedient or dominant behavior and make sure that your beloved pet is a joy to be around.

Here are some tips for training your Border Collie:

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a highly effective training technique that involves rewarding your dog for good behavior.

This can include treats, praise, or playtime.

When your Border Collie does something right, make sure to reward them immediately.

This will help them associate the behavior with the reward and encourage them to repeat it in the future.


Discipline training  is also an important part of training your Border Collie.

Establishing clear boundaries and rules are essential so that your dog knows what is expected of it.

The most important part about discipline training, is not that your dog fears you, but that it respects you and looks up at you.

This will keep any aggressive behavior at bay.


Professional trainers can be an excellent resource for training your Border Collie.

They have the experience and knowledge needed to help you correct any behavioral issues and ensure that your dog is well-trained.

With the right approach and techniques, you can ensure that your dog is well-behaved and obedient, and that the spontaneous aggressive tendencies are kept under control.

Dealing with Aggressive Behavior

Dealing with aggressive behavior in Border Collies can be a challenging task. However, with the right approach, it is possible to mitigate and manage aggressive behavior effectively. Here are some tips to help you deal with aggressive behavior in your Border Collie:

Consult with a Veterinarian

If your Border Collie is exhibiting aggressive behavior, a good idea, might be to talk to a veterinarian.

Aggressive behavior can sometimes be linked to underlying medical conditions like depression, or anxiety, and a veterinarian can help determine if this is the case or not.

Also, a veterinarian can provide advice on possible treatments or medications that may help manage aggressive behavior.

Socialization. Yes. Again.

As we’ve been mentioning throughout this article, socialization is critical in preventing aggressive behavior in Border Collies.

If your dog ever gets aggressive in front of other people, barks at the doorbell, barks at kids or at cars nonstop, then it’s possible that they need a bit more socializing.

Socializing your Border Collie from an early age can help them develop positive social skills and reduce the likelihood of behavioral problems. 

Avoid Punishment-Based Training

Punishing your dog, almost never works, so you should avoid it at all costs.

Punishment-based training can make aggressive behavior worse and lead to other behavioral problems.

It can also make a dog that’s not aggressive at all…become aggressive, which is something that we do not want.

Instead, focus on positive reinforcement training and redirecting negative behavior.

In conclusion, dealing with aggressive behavior in Border Collies requires a multifaceted approach.

With that said, any aggressive behavior can be mitigated or even totally dealt with, with a little bit of patience and a little bit of hard work.

Remember that even though most Border Collies aren’t aggressive, every dog is different, and every situation is different too.

If obedience training and removing triggers aren’t enough, try seeking some professional training and don’t forget to consult with a vet. It might not be anything other than something physical that’s disturbing your pup. 

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