Are Border Collies Aggressive Dogs?
[With Videos]

Aaron Rice Expert Dog Trainer
Written: January 17, 2022

It’s not easy to watch your furbaby get all cranky when you try petting them or simply sitting near them. Most dogs enjoy being around humans and love getting cuddles from their owners and other furry friends. But some canines don’t necessarily enjoy a regular pet life, or at least they don’t seem to. 

Many people believe that a dog’s breed has a lot to do with the dog’s nature. Assumptions like Labradors are the most friendly, Chihuahuas are hyperactive, or Border Collies are naturally aggressive, float around all the time. We are here to take a look at the last one.

Understanding Border Collies

Border Collies were originally bred to be shepherd’s dogs and were used for herding. Herding majorly involves nipping at sheep and cattle.

This fact may tempt us to believe that Border Collies have evolved to be aggressive, but it is not so. The breed has characteristics of being highly energetic, athletic, and intelligent even, but being aggressive or tempered isn’t one of them. 

Non- officially, many owners report their Border Collie being bossy and protective of them. Your pet may start barking loudly when a stranger comes in, or you are in a new place, but that is your dog trying to protect you, some say. 
One of the most attractive things about a B. Collie is its sharp mind. That’s why people looking for a guard or watchdog choose to take a B. Collie home. 

They are quick learners,  active and pretty fast. Best of both worlds, right?  Once trained with discipline, they won’t disappoint you. 

So, why does a lovely dog like your Border Collie go haywire sometimes? Any reason that is, we know we have to deal with it on priority and with care. But before remedying the problem, we must understand what the problem is, in fact, if there is one at all.

How to know if your Border Collie has temper issues?

A couple of episodes of your canine going crazy do not mean he has anger issues. Understanding the difference between circumstantial and persistent aggression is very important.

If your pet starts barking at a party, the reason could be a huge amount of strangers, accidental injury, or anything else! In such a case, aggression is a reaction, not a tendency. However, if your furbaby feels more like Hulk than Bruce Banner regularly, then there could be an underlying behavioral issue that needs to be addressed ASAP. 
Throughout this process, keep in mind that your dog is innocent and has no malice in their heart. A behavioral problem can be treated, and you must avoid getting sour feelings for your pet at all times.

Signs to check for

If you’re unsure of which behavioral characteristics could mean that your dog has aggression issues, then check for the below-given signs in your pet.

  1. Ignoring commands: Not listening to or not obeying your usual commands is one of the most common signs. 
  2. Doing things they aren’t allowed to do: If your dog isn’t permitted on the lawn, had been following that rule but now doesn’t, then this could be a sign.
  3. Barking for no reason, growling: These might go unnoticed amongst others but are essential to note, nevertheless.
  4. Showing teeth, staring, jumping, and chasing.
  5. Barking at people and other dogs, biting: Some of the most direct and visible signs.

Why is your Border Collie aggressive?

After you confirm whether your canine does have anger issues or not, the time comes to answer the real question. Why is he being aggressive? The reason could be one or a few of the below.

  • Your B. Collie doesn’t respect you: This is one of the hardest pills to swallow, but the truth is if you didn’t make an effort to establish your position during the training years, the dog has very less chances of seeing you as the alpha. The boss.

If this is the case (which most of the time is), then the dog likely feels superior to you and sees their tantrums (biting, growling, scratching, barking) as ways to get their way. If their aggression has made you submissive, then you have unknowingly reinforced their belief. 

  • Physical pain, Injury: If your furbaby is acting weird (when they usually don’t), then the first step is always to get them checked by your vet. Any physical pain can make your dog super sensitive, and this could be resulting in anger. 
  • Distrust, Insecurity: A dog can behave aggressively when they don’t trust their company/ owners/ trainers. In such a case, you have to step back and think about building a relationship with your pet from scratch.

If you’ve acted hostile, disrespected your dog’s space, or ill-treated them unknowingly, they will take time to give in, and you will have to be patient. 

If you’re looking to rebuild your relationship with your pet, this video might prove to be of help.


  • Uncomfortable with strangers/ Protecting you from strangers: In such a case, your canine may feel unsafe themselves or need to protect you because they don’t trust the stranger. This may be accompanied by relentless barking or/ and jumping. 
  • Insecure about food: In most pets, the restlessness to finish their food in one go is present. This is because they aren’t sure if the food will still be there if they leave it alone. In this case, the dog will show symptoms of aggression around mealtime.
  • Hyperactivity, anxiety: As mentioned earlier, Border Collies are highly enthusiastic dogs and need a vent for that energy. If your pet is not getting the right outlet for all that pent-up fire, then the volcano is bound to burst in all the undesired directions.
  • Natural instincts: As we know, B. Collies are shepherd dogs, and their ancestral tendencies can sometimes show up unexpectedly, maybe for long durations. Even though it’s a natural phenomenon, you shouldn’t ignore it and wait for it to recede on its own. 

What can you do about your Border Collie’s Aggression?

First off, ask the question, “Why?” Why is your dog being aggressive?

With the help of the above-given signs, eliminate improbable possibilities and make a note of what could be the root cause of your pet’s angst. 

  • First and foremost, direct to the vet: Even if you don’t find a physical injury or visible bodily problem, head to the vet for a better insight into what’s going on with your baby. If medical attention is required, you know what to do. If all is fine at the vet’s, you can proceed to the next methods.
  • Exercise: The most impactful remedy for aggression in dogs is exercise. Especially for a breed like Border Collie, physical activity is necessary to use up all that energy and channel the inherent hyperactivity. Going for walks, being a little liberal with their playtime are basic ways to ensure your pet doesn’t get worked up and restless. As a trainer, I use playtime not just for recreation but also for the rehabilitation of my trainee pets. 
  • Behavioral training: Going through an extensive routine of behavioral training for your pet (which includes exercise as well) will uproot their foundational beliefs and build in new, healthy ones with ease.

It mainly includes three stages: Correction (Stopping them from doing an undesired act), Redirection (Showing what should be done instead), and Reinforcement (with treats/ cuddles/ anything they want/ like).

Here’s an example of what the training should look like

Get a companion: Dogs are social beings, and a lot of times, just getting a companion solves their behavioral issues. If your dog is feeling lonely, ignored, or depressed, it may be causing them to get irritated and annoyed for no visible reason. Getting another dog then is a wonderful idea.

If that’s not feasible, you can set up playdates and friendly meet-ups with other dog-parents, so your buddy can socialize and feel better. 

  • Consistency: No matter which method you choose, consistency is the key. A Border Collie is sharp, but they take time to accept new knowledge. Once you start, don’t give up. You will see very few or no changes at all for a while, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there is no progress. Be patient. 
  • Method matches cause: While choosing a way to work with your pet, make sure you’re addressing the correct problem. Don’t make assumptions, assess carefully, and be prepared to try out different solutions.
  • Consider a Trainer or Behavioral Specialist: If you feel that it’s not your cup of tea to solve the problem, don’t be embarrassed to seek help. Most people can’t afford the time and energy to be spent in training their pet and handover the task to professionals.  After all, what are we here for? 

Training your pet that is overflowing with energy can be challenging. Remember, the larger the dog, the more difficult it gets. Your pet can sense the nervousness, fear, or uncertainty in your body. So, be calm and hold the power in your hands.

In the end, we are trying to establish that you are the alpha, and they must respect that. This doesn’t mean you can’t get all lovey-dovey with your baby. The training is just a method to strike that fine balance between love and discipline.

A set of DON’TS to keep in mind

  • Don’t try to invade your dog’s personal space. Especially during meal times. If you need to put away their bowl or plate, distract them and proceed to do so.
  • Don’t force them by any physical means. This means no pulling, tugging, lifting, poking, or even cuddling if visibly unwanted. 
  • Don’t leave children or strangers alone with them.
  • Don’t pressurize them into doing anything they clearly decline to. Find other ways to make them do so by themselves. 
  • Don’t shout. Don’t try to irritate them to get some reaction. 
  • Don’t play games that require dominance-based behaviors. Includes Tug of war and games alike.
  • Don’t show your fear. Keep your body language in control. 
  • Don’t confuse your pet with too many commands or instructions. The simpler you keep it, the better and faster results you will see.
  • Don’t be rigorous. Give them a break whenever needed.

Remember to DO this

  • Leave their food alone. Use distraction and other playful activities they like to train them into leaving their food alone without fear.
  • Respect their space. Don’t coax them into anything.
  • Play peaceful games. Fetch is the best example.
  • If possible, train since they were a puppy.
  • Set boundaries as early as possible.
  • Socialize them at every opportunity.
  • Be ready to correct and teach behaviors all day, every day.
  • Give precise and exact instructions.
  • Give appropriate mistake punishment. Don’t under or over punish.
  • Leave the room if you feel you are losing yourself or your temper. Avoid interactions at such times. 
  • Seek help immediately if you have been under attack, are scared, or need help.
  • Be patient.



While you try out different ways to deal with your Baby Collie, at all times, remember to be in the commanding position. You love your dog, and I know you don’t want them to be scared of you, but a little fear is healthy for your relationship. Don’t lose sight of your goal, and be strictly disciplined. You will, for sure, see results.

Behavioral struggles are difficult to overcome but not impossible to deal with. Analyze your limitations and choose a method that’s appropriate to your setting. Be patient, take care, and stay safe.