do border collies like water

Do Border Collies Like Water? A Splashy Bond?

Border Collies are a fascinating breed, known for their intelligence, agility, and versatility. (1) They are often seen excelling in various activities, from herding livestock to performing in dog sports. But one question that often arises among Border Collie owners and enthusiasts is, do Border Collies like water?

This article aims to explore this question in depth, delving into the breed’s history, characteristics, and health considerations, as well as providing practical advice on how to introduce your Border Collie to water and what to do if they seem reluctant to swim.

If you are a Border Collie owner or someone interested in the breed, this guide is designed to equip you with the knowledge you need.

Meet the Amazing Border Collie

Border Collies are a breed that is synonymous with intelligence and agility. Originating from the border region between England and Scotland (hence the name), these dogs were primarily used for herding livestock, particularly sheep.

Their exceptional intelligence, combined with their high energy levels and eagerness to please, made them perfect for this role.

Over time, Border Collies have proven themselves to be versatile dogs, capable of excelling in various activities beyond herding. From search and rescue to competitive dog sports like agility and obedience, Border Collies have shown time and again that they are a breed apart.

Do Border Collies Like Water?

The relationship between Border Collies and water can vary greatly from dog to dog. Some Border Collies absolutely love water and will jump at any opportunity to splash around, whether it’s a pond, a river, or even a kiddie pool in the backyard.

They might enjoy fetching toys from the water, swimming, or simply cooling off on a hot day.

However, not all Border Collies are natural water lovers. Some might be hesitant around water, especially if they’re not used to it. This doesn’t mean they can’t learn to enjoy it, but it might require some patience and positive reinforcement.

Can Border Collies Swim?

Yes, Border Collies can swim. In fact, most dogs are naturally capable swimmers. The ‘doggy paddle’ is a natural instinct that most dogs will use when they find themselves in water. However, just because a dog can swim doesn’t necessarily mean they will enjoy it.

For Border Collies that enjoy water, swimming can be a fantastic form of exercise. It’s a full-body workout that helps keep their heart and muscles healthy, and it can also be a great way to cool down on a hot day.

However, if your Border Collie is hesitant around water or seems to dislike swimming, it’s important not to force them. With patience, positive reinforcement, and gradual exposure, many dogs can learn to enjoy water over time.

Border Collie: A Brief History

The Border Collie’s history is deeply intertwined with the shepherding culture of the British Isles. The breed as we know it today began to take shape in the 19th century, with the advent of dog shows and the desire for a standardized herding dog.

One of the most influential dogs in the development of the breed was a dog named Old Hemp (1893-1901). Old Hemp, owned by Adam Telfer, was known for his quiet and methodical herding style, which contrasted with the more aggressive styles of the time.

Old Hemp’s style was so effective that he is considered the progenitor of the Border Collie breed, with most modern Border Collies tracing their lineage back to him.

Breed Characteristics

Border Collies are medium-sized dogs, with males typically weighing between 30-45 pounds and females between 27-42 pounds. They have a distinctive appearance, with a variety of coat colors and patterns, the most common being black and white.

Their eyes are a striking feature, often being clear and expressive, and in some cases, they can have one or two blue eyes.

But what truly sets Border Collies apart is their intelligence and work ethic. They are incredibly quick learners, able to pick up new commands with ease. Their problem-solving abilities are second to none, and they thrive when given tasks to do.

Border Collie Personality

Border Collies are known for their intense stare, often referred to as “the eye,” which they use to control sheep. This intense focus often carries over into their everyday lives, making them highly trainable but also somewhat obsessive at times.

These dogs are highly energetic and require plenty of physical and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. A bored Border Collie can become destructive, so it’s important to provide them with plenty of exercise and mental challenges.

Despite their high energy levels, Border Collies are often reserved and wary of strangers, although they are typically not aggressive. They are extremely loyal and often form strong bonds with their families.

Health Considerations for Border Collies

Like all breeds, Border Collies are prone to certain health conditions. Some of the most common include hip dysplasia, a condition that affects the joint of the hip; Collie eye anomaly, a genetic condition that can lead to blindness; and epilepsy.

It’s important to ensure that any Border Collie you’re considering adopting has been health tested for these and other common conditions. Regular vet check-ups and a healthy diet and lifestyle can also go a long way in ensuring your Border Collie lives a long and healthy life.

The Benefits of Swimming for Border Collies

Swimming is a fantastic form of exercise for Border Collies. It’s a low-impact activity, meaning it’s easy on their joints, making it a great option for older dogs or those with joint issues. Swimming also works out all the major muscle groups, helping to keep your Border Collie fit and healthy.

In addition to the physical benefits, swimming can also provide mental stimulation for your Border Collie. Learning to swim, fetching toys from the water, and navigating different bodies of water can all provide challenges that will keep your Border Collie’s mind sharp.

How to Teach a Border Collie to Swim

Teaching your Border Collie to swim can be a rewarding experience for both of you. Here are some steps to introduce your Border Collie to water:

  1. Start Slow: Begin with shallow water and let your dog explore at their own pace. A kiddie pool or the shallow end of a pool can be a good starting point.
  2. Use Positive Reinforcement: Encourage your dog with treats and praise when they show interest in the water or make progress in their swimming.
  3. Be Patient: Some dogs might take to water immediately, while others might need more time. Don’t rush the process.
  4. Stay Safe: Never leave your dog unattended near water, especially in the early stages of learning to swim. Consider using a dog life jacket for added safety.

Key Things to Remember When Introducing Your Border Collie to Water

  • Always supervise your dog around water.
  • Keep the experience positive and stress-free.
  • Use a life jacket if necessary.
  • Gradually increase the depth of the water as your dog becomes more comfortable.

What Not to Do When Teaching Your Border Collie to Swim

  • Don’t force your dog into the water. This can create a negative association and make them fearful of water.
  • Don’t throw your dog into deep water, especially if they’re not a confident swimmer.
  • Don’t leave your dog unsupervised around water.

What If My Border Collie Won’t Swim?

If your Border Collie doesn’t take to swimming, don’t worry. Not all dogs enjoy swimming, and that’s okay. There are plenty of other ways for Border Collies to get exercise and stimulation. Try different activities like fetch, agility training, or herding to see what your dog enjoys.

Why Doesn’t My Border Collie Like Water?

There could be several reasons why your Border Collie doesn’t like water. They might have had a negative experience with water in the past, they might be fearful of the unfamiliar sensation of swimming, or they might simply not enjoy it.

It’s important to respect your dog’s preferences and not force them to swim if they don’t want to.

Should I Be Concerned If My Border Collie Doesn’t Swim?

Not necessarily. While swimming can be a great form of exercise, it’s not essential for a dog’s health or happiness. As long as your Border Collie is getting plenty of exercise and mental stimulation in other ways, there’s no need to worry if they don’t enjoy swimming.


Border Collies are a versatile and intelligent breed that can enjoy a variety of activities, including swimming. However, each dog is unique, and not all Border Collies will enjoy water.

The key is to introduce water in a positive and safe way, respect your dog’s preferences, and find activities that they enjoy.

Also Read: Are Border Collies Hypoallergenic? Debunking Allergy Myths

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