People adopt dogs for different reasons. Common ones include for companionship, protection, guarding, aiding people living with disabilities, aiding the police and military personnel in tracking down contrabands and fugitives, hunting, and herding.
Another reason you might want to adopt a dog is that it helps to combat puppy mills. Plus, having a dog as a member of your household comes with some bragging rights.
But all dogs are not made equal. That’s primarily due to breed differences. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), there are 197 registered dog breeds. Some organizations have registered as many as 350 dog breeds.
Border collies rank among the most popular dog breeds out there. These dogs are especially preferred for their sheer strength, remarkable intelligence, and aggression in the face of danger.
When scouting around for a perfect guard dog, border collies will usually turn up among the most recommended breeds. But as someone who has never owned these dogs before, you may start to wonder, can border collies be good guard dogs?
Border collies are highly observant, remarkably smart, and incredibly aware of their surroundings. These happen to be some of the top requirements for a guard dog. So, it’s safe to say that border collies can make an excellent guard dog.
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Can A Border Collie Be A Guard Dog?
As we’ve just indicated, border collies can make excellent guard dogs. However, it’s important to revisit our earlier statement that ‘all dogs are not made equal.’ This statement holds true for dogs of the same breed and even those born in the same litter.
So, while border collies are generally considered perfect guard dogs, there’s no guarantee that your own border collie will readily possess guarding traits. In most cases, it depends on how well the dog is trained and socialized.
Read on as we unpack some of the attributes that make border collies exceptional guard dogs and what you can do to impart guarding qualities on your border collie.
More About Border Collies
The border collie is a dog breed that was developed primarily for working and herding. The breed traces its origin to the Anglo-Scottish border region, where it was traditionally used for herding livestock, particularly sheep.
While border collies are still employed for their traditional role of herding livestock in various regions around the world, these dogs are nowadays more popular as pets.
|48 to 56 centimeters (19 to 22 inches) for dogs and 46 to 53 centimeters (18 to 21 inches) for bitches
|14 to 20 kilograms ( 31 to 44 pounds) for dogs and 12 to 19 kilograms (26 to 42 pounds) for bitches
|Smooth or Rough
|Coat Color Patterns:
|Black, white, blue merle, red merle, chocolate merle, chocolate, chocolate sable, lilac merle, lilac, blue, sable merle, etc.
|10 to 17 years
|Year Registered by The AKC:
Border collies are medium-sized dogs with a double coat that varies from smooth to rough. Their coats may also be curled.
Black and white are the dominant border collie coat colors. However, some collies may also sport a range of coat colors, including blue merle, red merle, sable, lilac, brindle, chocolate, etc.
Border collie eyes often range from brown to blue in color. Their ears can be erect, semi-erect, or dropped.
Personality and Temperament
The border collie is a highly intelligent breed. In fact, collies are widely considered to be the smartest dog breeds. The breed tops Stanley Coren’s ‘The Intelligence of Dogs’ IQ ranking. Due to their incredible intelligence score, border collies are easy to train and socialize. Collies can remember commands and faces from years back.
Border collies are also playful and energetic. These dogs require more intensive physical exercise and mental stimulation compared to many breeds. Understimulation could lead to a host of problematic behaviors, such as chewing furniture, destructive digging, and excessive vocalization.
This breed is also noted for its incredible athletic and acrobatic skills. That explains why border collies have been successful at a range of dog sports, including dog obedience and dog agility.
But the question remains – can a border collie make a good guard dog for a home?
The following sections shall shine more light on that.
What Constitutes A Guard Dog?
One of the frequently asked questions before adopting a border collie is, ‘do border collies make good guard dogs?’
As we’ve already highlighted, border collies can make great guard dogs. But perhaps we should start from the beginning by familiarizing ourselves with what a guard dog is.
The simplest definition of a guard dog is a dog adopted and/or trained for the purpose of guarding persons or private property.
Guard dogs typically warn their owners of potential intruders. That alert can be in the form of barking or growling. If their owners are not around or if they’re around but do not pay attention to the alarm bells, the dogs may take it upon themselves to charge at the intruder. If the intruder ignores the dog and continues to advance, the canine may go on an all-out attack.
Based on this behavior pattern, it’s evident that guard dogs must be considerably intelligent. These dogs should be smart enough to discern a threat and report the danger to their owners. And if the situation calls for it, guard dogs will also play an active role in seeing off intruders. Again, these attributes make border collies a perfect candidate for guarding property or persons.
Another thing that comes out is that aggression is not a guard dog’s immediate reaction. These dogs mainly play the role of a warning system. They only turn aggressive if their alarm bells fall on deaf ears.
Common Terms Used For Guard Dogs
There are numerous terms used in reference to guard dogs. However, most of these words may not have the exact connotations of what a guard dog is. It’s important to understand what each term implies when looking for a guard dog, as that will offer you a sneak preview of the dog’s core attributes.
1. Watch Dogs
Watchdogs are dogs that alert their owners of unusual people or activity in their environment. Like guard dogs, watchdogs mainly issue alerts by barking or growling.
To that extent, it’s evident that the roles of guard dogs and watchdogs generally overlap. The primary difference is that watchdogs may not necessarily see off a threat.
These dogs are fundamentally trained to alert of unusual happenings. That eliminates size considerations when looking for watchdogs. Even the tiniest dog breeds can make perfect watchdogs as long as they can play an effective alarm system.
Therefore, most guard dogs can be excellent watchdogs. But not all watchdogs will be perfect guard dogs. Common watchdog breeds include German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Akitas, and Cairn Terriers.
So, where does this leave the border collie, are border collies good watchdogs?
Border collies possess one fundamental trait that makes them great watchdogs – a reliable alarm system.
In your search for a suitable watchdog, it’s not unusual to find yourself wondering, do border collies make good watchdogs?
Not only do border collies make excellent watchdogs. These dogs are also perfect guard dogs. So, adopting a border collie is a double treat in terms of watching over your property as well as guarding it in the face of danger.
2. Attack Dogs
As the name implies, attack dogs are primarily trained for all-out offensives. These dogs are mainly used by law enforcement officers, such as the police, military, and even firefighters.
Attack dogs may also perform the role of guard dogs and watchdogs. But they tend to be more inclined towards attacking than alerting their owners/handlers of an imminent threat. Therefore, they’re more suitable as guard dogs, especially in locations prone to insecurity.
Border collies may make perfect attack dogs due to their relatively huge size and sheer aggression.
3. Sentry Dogs
Sentry dogs serve the same purpose as guard dogs. However, they’re mainly used to guard specific areas, such as military bases, correctional facilities, schools, and hospitals. These dogs normally work with less human direction.
Border collies may make great sentry dogs if well-trained.
4. Personal Protection Dogs
Personal protection dogs also play the same function as guard dogs. But their main job is to protect moving targets, which is usually their owners.
In other words, personal protection dogs are the canine version of a human bodyguard. These dogs are trained to stay by their owners’ side, actively looking out for potential threats.
Most border collies can make excellent personal protection dogs. However, the dog will require months of intensive and extensive training, which include engaging in activities that foster close bonds with his owner. That will help the canine to distinguish between friend and foe.
Fundamental Qualities of a Guard Dog
Physical strength is one of the core requirements in a guard dog. That explains why most guard dogs happen to be medium-to-large breeds, such as border collies.
A guard dog should be strong and muscular enough to take down most threats. The dog should also look and act intimidating, especially in the face of danger.
Features like large sharp teeth, mean stares and a badass attitude can go a long way in complementing a guard dog’s sheer strength.
2. Physical Activity
Guard dogs should be hyperactive and not indolent. Playfulness resonates with an eagerness to work and learn.
You don’t want a dog that will retreat to his crate as soon as you step out of your home. Instead, you want him running around, prowling, and surveying his domain. That will make him easily noticeable by potential intruders.
3. Willingness to Work
Physical activity and a willingness to work often go hand in hand. As you shall find, most guard dogs are eager to please their owners or handlers.
Not only are guard dogs energetic. They also have a strong drive and sense of obedience. That combination makes them suitable for their primary role of guarding.
Border collies are undoubtedly one of the most intelligent dog breeds. Incidentally, intelligence also happens to be a fundamental trait in guard dogs.
Therefore, border collies can make excellent guard dogs on the basis of their smartness.
Nearly all dogs are territorial. Territoriality is one of the inherent traits that domestic dogs haven’t lost despite living with humans for thousands of years.
However, guard dogs should be exceptionally territorial. These dogs should be highly possessive and protective of everything in their environment. That includes their toys, their owners, other household members (including pets), the apartment, and the entire property.
Being protective of their environment, guard dogs will not hesitate to confront strangers and intruders.
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Can Border Collies be Protective?
Having just highlighted protectiveness as one of the core traits of guard dogs, you could now be wondering, is a border collie a protective dog?
Yes, the border collie is a protective dog. Although collies do not hold the record for the most territorial dog breeds, training can make them considerably possessive and protective of their surroundings.
Besides, collies have been known to develop a strong attachment to their home territory. These dogs will not stray too far unless they spot an animal or vehicle needing herding assistance.
Border collies are also smart enough to discern strangers and potential intruders. And given their relatively large size and high energy levels, these dogs can easily see off most threats.
Still on protectiveness, you might have always wondered, are border collies naturally protective?
Some border collies can become possessive over everything they consider their own. That includes their toys, food, playing patch, their owners, and the entire property. This breed also possesses a natural inclination towards bonding with his owner. So, it’s safe to say that collies are naturally protective.
A commonly asked question by dog fanciers looking to adopt a guard dog is, ‘are border collies protective dogs?’
We’ve just mentioned that some border collies may be highly protective of their owners and general surroundings. That’s mainly due to their heightened sense of territory.
However, it’s one thing to be territorial and another thing to be aggressive. An animal can lay claim to a territory but not necessarily become aggressive in defending it.
That begs the question, are border collies naturally aggressive?
Border collies may be playful and energetic. But these dogs are generally not aggressive. Despite their strong herding instincts (which is often punctuated with nipping), collies are less aggressive than many dog breeds.
That’s interesting, considering that guard dogs should possess a degree of aggression. Fortunately, you can easily train your border collie to have controlled aggression. The dog should be able to attack only when it’s absolutely necessary. This is where a collie’s remarkable intelligence comes in.
7. Stable Temperament
Stability in temperament is another essential trait when looking for a perfect guard dog. The last thing you want is an unpredictable dog, one whose moods can change in an instant. Common signs of unstable temperament include heightened nervousness, indolence, aversion to human presence or touch, skittishness, and unnecessary barking.
In the same breath, a guard dog shouldn’t be overly friendly with humans. The animal should be independent enough to spend hours without their human owners around.
The good news is that most border collies have a stable temperament. Unless your collie has had traumatic experiences, the dog is unlikely to display any signs of mental instability.
But do not confuse stable temperament for quietness. A guard dog should still be noisy enough to bark at potential intruders.
A guard dog must display undying devotion to his family. That includes loyalty to his owner and other household members (including other pets).
Regardless of how protective or aggressive a dog is, the animal will only be able to protect people that he’s loyal to.
A loyal dog will happily sacrifice his own life to defend his family. You obviously don’t want matters to come to this, but you get the picture.
Now, border collies are generally loyal to their owners. But you can also cultivate loyalty by catering to the dog’s basic, emotional, and medical needs. Just be sure not to overindulge your border collie as that could dilute his guarding instincts.
9. Alertness and Situational Awareness
Guard dogs should be alert at all times. The dogs shouldn’t be easily distractible unless the distraction is truly something worth checking out.
Situational awareness is another important quality in a guard dog. The dog should be fully aware of his surroundings and be able to pick even the subtlest changes.
Alertness and situational awareness may help a guard dog detect even the stealthiest intruder. Fortunately, border collies possess these traits, making them excellent guard dogs.
Can You Train A Border Collie To Be A Perfect Guard Dog?
Border collies are reasonably easy to train. That’s mainly due to their high intelligence. So, you can certainly train your collie to be a great guard dog.
A huge part of that training involves teaching the dog how to bark. You’d also want to teach him to come to your side if someone approaches the door.
However, it’s important to note that you cannot teach your border collie to aggressively attack an intruder or to continue barking at the said person. That’s because the dog might end up inflicting vicious bites on the target. The only exception here is if you conduct the training using motorized human dummies, such as robots.
Other kinds of training that might prepare your border collie for guarding include agility training, obedience training, and behavioral training.
Other Frequently Asked Questions About Border Collies and Guarding
Will A Border Collie Protect You?
Border collies are generally protective of their owners. But as to whether your collie will actually defend you in the face of danger depends on the dog’s individual sense of protection, aggression, and territory.
Do Border Collies Defend Owners?
Again, most border collies are fairly protective of their owners. However, their level of protectiveness varies from one dog to another.
Are Female Border Collies Protective?
Female dogs are usually less territorial than their male counterparts. Based on that fact, it’s logical to conclude that female border collies are less protective than male collies.
However, the fact that female dogs are more docile than their male counterparts doesn’t necessarily make them less protective. In general, all border collies (male and female) are reasonably protective.
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Border collies possess numerous traits that make them excellent guard dogs. Examples include intelligence, situational awareness, loyalty, stable temperament, and moderate aggression. However, you may need to subject your collie to further training to make him truly effective for guarding.
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