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Can Border Collies Be Aggressive?

Can Border Collies Be Aggressive?

Are you thinking of getting a Border Collie but want to find out if the breed is aggressive? Maybe you want to know how to stop them being aggressive or nipping at you? Here’s everything you need to know about Border Collies and aggression.

Can Border Collies Be Aggressive? Yes, Border Collies can be aggressive. Even though it’s relatively uncommon for them to show aggressive behaviours, they can sometimes nip. Being bred to herd livestock, this can result in them trying to herd and control children, adults or other dogs in the home.

Read on to find out whether Border Collies bite, how they are around children of all ages, what they’re like with other dogs, why they become aggressive, and how to stop it from happening.

Never use the advice in this article as a substitute for professional veterinary advice or treatment. I am NOT a Vet, qualified dog trainer or dog behaviourist. This article is based on research, personal opinion and experience of owning dogs over the last 12+ years. 

What Is Aggression In Border Collies?

Aggression is a set of behaviours used by Border Collies that show that they’re uncomfortable in a particular situation.

These behaviours commonly include growling, snarling, baring teeth, lunging, biting and fighting.

It’s important to remember that, just because a Border Collie shows aggressive behaviours in a situation, doesn’t mean they’ll always be aggressive. It just means that they’re uncomfortable in that given moment.

Aggression is a reaction to how a Border Collie is feeling at that time, not a personality trait. 

Do Border Collies Bite?

Border Collies can bite, but it’s not common. As with any breed of dog, Border Collies are capable of biting if they feel the need to. This is most likely to happen if they feel scared or threatened by something or someone. 

In fact, it’s rare for Border Collies to simply bite for no obvious reason. Instead, they usually give very clear warning signals that they’re uncomfortable in a situation, before escalating to biting. 

Having been bred for generations to herd livestock, some Border Collies have a high chase drive and strong desire to round things up.

They might try to nip at children, adults, other dogs, other pets or anything else that moves. They’re only doing this as part of their natural instinct to keep control of the situation.

Although it’s not usually their intention to cause harm, it can hurt if they make contact!

But, with careful training and guidance, you can teach your Border Collie that this isn’t a desirable or acceptable behaviour. 

Border collie looking aggressive on a bright turquoise background with a speech bubble that says 'do you think I'm aggressive?'
Border Collie barking and looking aggressive

Can Border Collies Be Aggressive With Children?

No, Border Collies are not usually aggressive with children, provided they’re introduced from a young age. As long as children are respectful of them, there’s little reason for a Border Collie to show aggression. Being an active breed, they bond well with kids!

However, as Border Collies have a natural instinct and strong desire to herd, it’s possible for them to unintentionally injure a small child if they’re trying to round them up.

A Border Collie is capable of knocking over a toddler or young child accidentally. They could also nip as part of the ‘herding’ process, which could really hurt.

So, as with any dog, it’s never a good idea to leave a Border Collie unattended with a child for any length of time, even if they’ve bonded and you trust them.

If your Border Collie has never been around children before, it’s even more important to make sure they’re introduced to each other properly.

Some Border Collies may find young children a little bit too hectic to handle so will need really close supervision.

Because younger children are sometimes erratic with their movements and noises, this can be very over-stimulating for a Border Collie. They may feel scared by this, or want to control the situation by herding. 

Both of these instances can lead to Border Collies nipping at children. And that’s why it may be better to only allow older, calmer, more dog experienced children to live alongside a Border Collie. 

Can Border Collies Be Aggressive With Other Dogs?

Border Collies are not usually aggressive with other dogs. But, having been bred for centuries to work alongside shepherds, they don’t always get to interact with other dogs as much. In fact, many Border Collies prefer the company of humans to dogs. 

Most commonly, a Border Collie would be expected to work alone with just one person. So they wouldn’t come into regular contact with other dogs outside their own homes. 

Occasionally, herding requires a couple of Border Collies to work alongside each other, so they can get along with other dogs if the situation arises.

In fact, if Border Collies are regularly socialised with other dogs from an early age, they’re more than capable of learning to enjoy the company of other dogs. 

However, other dogs can sometimes feel scared or uncomfortable if a Border Collie is staring at them or trying to herd them. Although these are both very natural traits for a Border Collie, staring can sometimes feel threatening and intimidating to other dogs.

Depending on the situation, this could result in the other dog retaliating and could even lead to fights breaking out.

Although a Border Collie is unlikely to want to start a fight, they may well find themselves in that situation unintentionally. 

Border collie barking on a black background with a speech bubble that says 'do you think I'm aggressive?'
Border Collie barking and looking aggressive

Why Is My Border Collie Being Aggressive?

These are the main reasons why Border Collies are aggressive:


Border Collies can be prone to anxiety, particularly if they haven’t be well socialised with the outside world.

If they feel anxious or scared in any given situation, they may resort to displaying aggressive behaviours. They do this to get themselves out of the situation that’s frightening them.


Reactivity is a very common trait in Border Collies. It’s basically when they overreact to a certain stimulus like cars, people, other dogs, other animals, sound – and anything else that moves!

They were originally bred to react quickly to things that move, like livestock, and often mimic this behaviour with other moving objects, like animals or people.

Because they tend to be a highly-strung breed, they can find things very overwhelming. Unfortunately, this can increase their reactivity. 

Health Issues

If your Border Collie is in pain they may behave aggressively.

If they haven’t shown any aggressive behaviours in the past but have recently started doing so, then you need to get them checked by your Vet. 

Lack of Socialisation

Not being socialised well from an early age can cause your Border Collie to show aggressive behaviours in situations where they feel uncomfortable. 

For example, if they’ve never been to a busy town before with lots of people, they may growl at them to let them know that they’re feeling threatened. 

Chase Drive

Border Collies have a very intense desire to chase things that move.

This can manifest itself as lunging and snapping at cars as they drive past, or trying to nip at your ankles as you walk! 

Border collie looking aggressive on an orange background with a speech bubble that says 'do you think I'm aggressive?'
Border Collie looking aggressive

How Do I Stop My Border Collie Being Aggressive?

This is how to stop your Border Collie being aggressive:

Find The Cause

First you need to find the cause of your Border Collies aggressive behaviour and work from there.

Watch closely to see what’s happening directly before they show any aggression to figure out what’s going on.

Once you know the reason why your Border Collie is being aggressive, you can then focus on the right training to correct it. 


By making sure your Border Collie doesn’t get put into situations where they might behave aggressively, this limits the chances of them behaving this way.

For example, if your Border Collie growls or snaps at you if you wake them up suddenly, then this can easily be managed by making sure they’ve got a comfortable place to sleep where they won’t be disturbed.

Vet Checks

If your Border Collie is showing aggression because of an underlying health issue or pain, then contact your Vet for advice. They may need medication and pain relief to manage or help heal their condition.


Socialising your Border Collie regularly can help curb any aggressive behaviours. If they feel comfortable in new situations and around new people and animals, they’re less likely to act aggressively in these situations. 


Border Collies are really smart dogs so, with consistency, they can pick up new training quickly. Rewarding them for showing calm behaviour makes them more likely to behave in the same way again in future. 


If your Border Collie’s aggression is down to pent-up energy, then increasing their daily exercise can really help.

However, it’s usually best to avoid high intensity chase games such as repetitive fetching of a ball. This can keep their adrenaline and cortisol levels raised, long after the activity has ended.

Surging adrenalin and cortisol can actually contribute to your Border Collie being more reactive or aggressive, not less!

So, it’s best to choose a calming exercise routine such as long walks where you let your Border Collie sniff as much as they like.

Not only is this is great for them physically, but it also enriches them mentally too, keeping them calmer in the process. 

Professional Help

If you’re unsure on the best way to help your Border Collie with aggression issues, then it may be best to contact a qualified dog behaviourist.

Not only can they help to guide you through the process, but they can show you what to do too! 

So there you have it! Border Collies can be aggressive but it’s fairly uncommon for them to show aggressive behaviours. Being originally bred to herd livestock, this can mean that they try to nip, herd and control other dogs, children or even adults in the home. The don’t mean to be aggressive, they’re just doing what comes naturally to them. Giving them plenty of exercise and socialisation can help to curb any aggressive tendencies.

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