Border Collies are statistically, not usually aggressive. It is very rare if you come across a border collie that is naturally very aggressive. However, it can happen. So, if this breed is not actually aggressive, you may be wondering why some individuals are. Let’s explore the aggression in these dogs below.
Are Border Collies Aggressive and Why?
Whilst there are dogs that are more naturally aggressive, the Border Collie is not one of these breeds. They tend to be described as having an average level of aggression. That being said, there are a few Border Collie individuals that have aggressive behavioural problems. There are several reasons as to why Border Collies may become aggressive. These reasons are very similar across all dog breeds. Despite Border Collies not being naturally aggressive, they do not appear to have any unique reasons for aggression. We’ll explore some of these reasons in more detail below.
Reasons for Border Collie Aggression
Do Border Collies have Dominance Issues?
One possible reason for aggression in dogs is dominance. Dogs are descended from old species of wolves and wolves are known for having a dominance hierarchy in their social groups. These behaviours have carried on into the genes of dogs. Some dogs will display behaviours of dominance that may be construed as aggressive, this is sometimes referred to as Dominance Theory. Dominant behaviours may include light nipping, particularly at the ankles and also herding behaviours. Herding is particularly common in Border Collies as these working dogs have been bred to be ideal sheepdogs. Herding is an essential behaviour for working sheepdogs.
In fact, dominance issues seem to be one of the most common reasons for aggression in dogs. That being said, dominance aggression appears to be much lower in Border Collies compared to other types of aggression. Dominance aggression appears to occur most often in terrier breeds.
Do Border Collies Display Territorial Aggression?
Territorial aggression is one of the most common types of aggression displayed in dogs. It occurs when strangers, either humans or other dogs, come too close to a dog’s property. This type of aggression is usually due to fear or anxiety rather than simply being malicious. You are most likely to see these kinds of behaviours at fences, doors or windows. However, in Border Collies this range extends farther. As sheepdogs, they may start to show territorial aggression when someone comes too close to their fields and farmlands.
In the journal of Applied Animal Behaviour Science, a study was conducted comparing the different types of aggression displayed in different breeds of dogs. Territorial aggression was the most common type of aggression amongst Border Collies. This suggests that whilst border collies may not be naturally aggressive, they are territorial dogs. It is also possibly a result of herding sheep. Border Collies enjoy chasing sheep, which is why they are ideal sheepdogs, and they would likely become jealous at the thought of another dog getting to close to their sheep.
Do Border Collies show Aggression due to Fear?
Sadly, fear is a reason for which dogs may be aggressive. They have a very similar ‘fight or flight’ response that us humans have. This can cause many people to assume that dogs are aggressive when they are simply frightened. Displays of fear aggression usually occur when a dog feels either cornered or trapped. Thankfully though, you are able to train your dog to stop them from becoming fearful and aggressive. This training can take a long time and is easiest to do when they are young, but you can still train older dogs to overcome fears.
Whilst Border Collies are not naturally aggressive, several owners have reported their problems with fearfulness and aggression to dog forums. A lot of the time, this fear is associated with other people and other dogs. Fear aggression commonly includes behaviours such as snarling, barking and nipping. This is why it is so important to socialise your dog at an early age. It will help to reduce both their fear and aggression and it will also help you to train them better.
What Behaviour Problems do Border Collies have?
Border Collies are likely to develop behavioural problems as a result of boredom. These dogs are incredibly energetic, and therefore need a large outlet for this energy. Sometimes the problems that can develop as a result of this boredom can be mistaken as aggressive displays. Usually, these behaviours are not actually aggressive but just displayed to garner some attention.
To prevent these behaviours form occurring, you need to make sure that your Border Collie has appropriate stimulation. They require long walks and a lot of play time. Give them a selection of toys so that they don’t get bored with the same old things. It is also important to train your dog out of any bad behaviours that they may start. The best way to do this is by using positive reinforcement on desirable behaviours.
Common Border Collie Behaviour Problems
Do Border Collies Suddenly Become Aggressive?
As we have previously mentioned, Border Collies are not naturally aggressive. If your Border Collie has suddenly become aggressive then it is likely due to a change in situation. These playful puppies have been shown to have increased levels of aggression as they age, if they are not trained correctly that is. Due to being common sheepdogs, Border Collies have been bred to have very sensitive hearing and sense of smell. This means that new and disturbing sounds which we may not hear might be upsetting to these dogs, causing a sudden and unexpected burst of aggression. If you have brought a new alliance, such as a vacuum, that makes noise make sure to introduce it to your dog slowly. Praise them when they are calm around the new noise and this will help them keep calm and alleviate their fear.
Sudden bursts of aggression are therefore most likely to be a cause of fear. If your dog has become suddenly aggressive, you should try to locate the change and stressful stimulus. Finding out what is causing your dog to act out is the easiest way of solving the problem. However, if there has been no changes and your dog continues to be aggressive, you may want to take your dog to a behaviour specialist.
Are Border Collies Aggressive to other Dogs?
Border Collies are not especially aggressive to other dogs however, they are territorial around them. Despite not being violent, Border Collies have a large tendency to bark around other dogs. This may be misinterpreted as aggressive even though there is no malicious intent by the barking. Usually, aggression to other dogs is because of the individual, not the breed.
Like lots of other types of aggression, aggression towards dogs is usually due to fear. This can be fixed, but it is much easier to prevent this behaviour in the first place. Preventing aggression towards other dogs is easy to do. Making sure to socialise your puppy at an early age is the best thing that you can do. It will show your dog that there is nothing to be afraid of and will make them much calming when encountering both new and old dogs in later life.
Are Border Collies known for Snapping at Other Dogs?
Snapping is a display of aggression, one that is often used to try and display dominance. Border Collies are not likely to snap at other dogs. They are more likely to bark frequently at other dogs if they feel threatened or scared. However, a small number of owners have said that their Border Collies have snapped at that. Border Collies are most likely to snap when they are being touched when they do not want to be. This snapping does not come without warning. They will growl and snarl as a warning before eventually snapping if the behaviour continues.
Are Border Collies Aggressive dogs to Children?
If you have young children, it is good to be aware of what dogs would be compatible with them. Border Collies are not naturally aggressive towards children. However, you should still be careful. Border Collies are very energetic and can use their herding behaviours as a form of play. Their way of playing can also be very bouncy, meaning they may unintentionally cause harm to a small child. Never leave a young child alone with a dog, this is the case for any species of dog which you buy. With all this said, Border Collies can still be wonderful dogs for families with children.
Border Collies can also be a good addition to the family as they can help keep you all fit. Their boundless energy means that they require lots of longs walks and a large amount of playtime. This is a perfect excuse to take a long forest walk with your loved ones. As well as Border Collies, I have provided a list of some of the most popular breeds of dogs for families with children. Their medium size, intelligence and playfulness still make them very desirable breeds for both working and for families.
Family Friendly Dogs
- Irish Setter
- Bichon Frise
To summarise all that we have talked about, Border Collies are not commonly aggressive dogs. They do display aggressive behaviours when they feel afraid or territorial. Their aggressive behaviours usually include barking and herding, to both dogs and humans. Border Collies require lots of attention and stimulation and if they do not get this, they may develop problem behaviours. These dogs can be great for families, but you should still be careful when keeping them around small children. If you have a Border Collie with severe behavioural problems, you should consider seeing a professional behavioural specialist.