Are Border Collies Vocal? A Comprehensive Guide to Their Barking Habits

Border Collies are a popular breed of dog known for their intelligence, agility, and herding abilities.

They are often used as working dogs on farms and ranches due to their ability to control and move livestock.

One common question that a lot of potential Border Collie owners ask is, “Are Border Collies vocal?”, and in this article, we’ll be looking at whether or not that is the case.

Border Collies are not necessarily very vocal dogs, although they can be if needed. They usually communicate by light barking, and howling to a lesser extent, and can be even more vocal when expressing their emotions of if they’re in pain.

This behavior can stem from various reasons, such as expressing excitement, boredom, or seeking attention. In fact, their vocal behavior is often a result of their high energy levels and need for mental stimulation.

Let’s look deeper into the topic of whether or not Border Collies are vocal, and what owners can do to manage their dog’s vocal behavior, if it gets too out of hand.

Are Border Collies Vocal

Origin and History

Border Collies are a breed of dog that originated in the Scottish-English border region as herding dogs.

They were bred to be intelligent, agile, and have a strong work ethic.

The breed’s name comes from their job as “collies” or “colleys,” which means to herd and protect sheep.

Herding Nature and Work

Collies are natural herders, and have been bred specifically for working with flocks of sheep.

Border Collies communicate with their handlers and flock through vocalizations like barks, whines, and grunts, making them naturally vocal, but not extremely vocal.

They are also known for their intense stare, which they use to control the flock.

Physical Characteristics

Border Collies are medium-sized dogs that have a distinctive appearance and in this section, we’ll be looking at some of their characteristics to see if they affect how vocal they are.

Height and Weight

According to, Border Collies are typically between 18 and 22 inches tall at the shoulder.

They weigh between 30 and 55 pounds, with males being slightly larger than females.

Coat and Colour

Border Collies have a smooth, medium-length coat that is weather-resistant. They come in a variety of colors, including black, blue merle, lilac and red merle.

The coat colors can be solid or have various markings. The website Betterpet lists over 17 recognized coat colors!

Some Border Collies have a white blaze on their face or a white collar around their neck. Others have a combination of colors, such as black and white or red and white.

Temperament and Personality Traits


Border Collies have a strong herding instinct, which means that they may try to herd people, other animals, or even objects. 

Barking is one of the techniques they use, to deal with sheep, and so it’s only natural that if they feel they need to be vocal with cattle (or objects or people) they will “speak out”.

They may also bark or nip at heels to try and control movement, and occasionally howl.

Border Collies are also known for their loyalty and affection towards their owners. They are highly trainable and eager to please, making them great candidates for obedience training.

They are also confident dogs, which can sometimes come across as stubbornness. However, with proper training and socialization, they can be well-behaved family pets.

Personality Traits

Collies need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior.

They are also known for their athleticism and excel in sports such as agility and frisbee.

Due to their herding nature, Border Collies might not be the best families with small children or other pets, but for the most part, they’re great pets.

They may try to herd them, which can result in nipping or chasing behavior. However, with proper training and socialization, they can learn to control their herding instincts and coexist peacefully with other animals.

Vocal Behavior and Communication

Vocal Behavior

When it comes to the question of whether or not Border Collies are vocal, the answer is that they really aren’t the most vocal dogs.

Of course, they can exhibit some vocal behavior, ranging from barking to grunting from time to time. 

That’s natural. It’s there, but it’s not excessive.

Just like with any other dog, there are different triggers and circumstances that can make a Border Collie be more vocal, or less vocal.

Circumstances that could cause a Border Collie to become more vocal include:

  • Irritability
  • Perceived threat (strangers, territorial, other dogs) 
  • Anxiety.
  • Pain.
  • Lack of attention.
  • Lack of exercise. 

Circumstances that could cause a Border Collie to become less vocal include:

  • Absence of other dogs and animals.
  • Exhaustion and tiredness.
  • Upset stomach.
  • Depression and solitude.
  • Lack of socializing.

These are just some of the expressions you could see in your dog’s vocal behavior, when it comes to different circumstances. 

According to DogCareLife, Border Collies tend to vocalize a bit more on average due to their intelligence and need for engagement in communication.

It’s essential to understand that even though some barking or growling is 100% natural an expected in most dogs, excessive barking can be a sign of anxiety or stress and should be something to look out for.

Are Border Collies Vocal 2

Communication Methods

In addition to vocalization, Border Collies use body language to communicate with their owners.

They may use different body postures, facial expressions, and tail movements to convey their emotions.

According to Petwah, Border Collies are highly attuned to their owner’s body language and can pick up on subtle cues.

Whines and growls are also used to communicate with their owners.

  • A low growl may indicate that the dog is feeling threatened.
  • While a high-pitched whine may indicate excitement or anticipation.

In conclusion, Border Collies are somewhat vocal dogs that use a variety of communication methods to interact with both their owners as well as other animals.

The more interactive you are with a Border Collie, the more it’ll be trying to communicate back to you through barking, growling and body language.

Triggers that Can Cause a Border Collie to Become Vocal

As we’ve mentioned throughout this article, Border Collies are known for their stamina and high energy levels.

They’re used to vocalizing to do their jobs herding and aren’t afraid to use their voices when needed. 

Some of the more common factors that might cause a Border Collie to become vocal are:

Environmental Stimuli

Border Collies have a heightened sensitivity to their surroundings.

They might react vocally to unfamiliar noises, such as sirens, thunderstorms, or even the doorbell ringing.

This alertness is a result of their herding background, where they needed to stay vigilant to protect livestock.

Loneliness, Boredom and Separation Anxiety

When left alone for extended periods or not provided with enough mental and physical stimulation, they may resort to vocalizing out of boredom or to express their loneliness.

Border Collies form strong bonds with their owners and become distressed when they are separated. 

This is where excessive howling can come into play. Make sure to try to teach your pup to calm down while you’re out. 


Border Collies have a rich vocabulary of barks, whines, and howls to communicate with their owners and other dogs.

They might bark to signal excitement, invite play, or express frustration.

Protection Instinct

The protective nature of Border Collies can lead them to bark at perceived threats.

This instinctive behavior is an echo of their herding past, where they were responsible for warding off potential predators from livestock.


Physical discomfort and pain can also serve as triggers for vocalization in Border Collies.

When experiencing pain, they might vocalize as a response to the distress they are feeling.

Training and Mental Stimulation

Border Collies are dogs that like to interact. They need both physical and mental stimulation to be happy and content, and will look up to a leader for guidance, which means communication is pretty crucial.

A lack of proper exercise and stimulation can lead to boredom and frustration, which in turn results in increased vocalization which can lead to problematic behaviors and even aggression.

To keep their minds occupied and energy levels in check, these dogs should engage in regular exercise, training, and interactive play sessions.

Training Techniques

Training your Border Collie is essential to ensure that they are well-behaved and obedient in case they start barking too much or become anxious.

Here are some tips for effective Border Collie training:

  • Start training your dog at a young age to establish good habits early on.
  • Even if your dog is an adult using positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise to encourage good behavior, works to override most habits.
  • Be consistent with your training and use the same commands and techniques every time.
  • Keep training sessions short and fun to avoid boredom and frustration.
  • Socialize your dog with other animals and people to ensure that they are well-behaved in all situations.

Mental Stimulation Methods

Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise for Border Collies.

These dogs thrive on mental challenges and enjoy learning new things.

Here are some methods to keep your Border Collie mentally stimulated:

  • Provide interactive toys and puzzles that require problem-solving skills.
  • Teach your dog new tricks and commands to keep their mind engaged.
  • Play games with your dog, such as hide-and-seek or fetch, to keep them active and mentally stimulated.
  • Take your dog on regular walks and explore new environments to keep their senses engaged.
  • Use food puzzles and treat-dispensing toys to provide mental stimulation while also satisfying their appetite.

Exercise and Physical Activity

Exercise Needs

In general, an adult Border Collie will need at least 90 minutes of exercise per day.

However, some dogs might need more or less exercise depending on their age, health, energy, fitness, and other factors.

Exercise is important to keep your Border Collie healthy and happy. Remember that a lack of exercise and physical activity can lead to obesity, behavioral problems, and health issues.

Physical Activity Examples

There are many ways to provide your Border Collie with the necessary physical activity.

Here are some examples:

  • Long walks or hikes: Border Collies love exploring and being outdoors, so taking them for long walks or hikes is an excellent way to provide them with exercise and mental stimulation.
  • Running or jogging: If you are a runner or jogger, your Border Collie can be the perfect companion. They have the stamina to keep up with you and will enjoy the physical exercise.
  • Playing fetch: Border Collies love to play fetch and can do so for hours. It is an excellent way to provide them with physical exercise and mental stimulation.
  • Agility training: Border Collies are incredibly agile and love to learn new things. Agility training is an excellent way to provide them with physical exercise and mental stimulation while also strengthening your bond with them.
  • Swimming: Most Collies love water and swimming, and it is an excellent way to provide them with low-impact physical exercise.

Conclusion: Are Border Collies Vocal?

In conclusion, yes Border Collies are inherently vocal dogs, but they’re not overly vocal.

They communicate with other dogs and with their owners, using different methods like body language, growls, barks, grunts, tail wagging and even howling.

Loneliness and boredom can make them less vocal or more vocal, as can separation anxiety, a testament to their deep bonds with their human companions.

The communication aspect of their vocalizations enables them to express excitement, seek attention, or convey their playfulness and emotions.

Even pain emerges as a significant trigger for vocalization among Border Collies.

Their ability to voice their discomfort through yelps and whines underscores the importance of recognizing and addressing their physical well-being promptly.

Managing Border Collie vocalization is not about stifling their natural tendencies, but rather channeling their expressions in a positive direction.

So with consistent training, mental and physical stimulation, addressing separation anxiety, and gradual desensitization to triggers, owners can create an environment that encourages appropriate vocalization.

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