general appearance shall be that of a well-proportioned dog.
The smooth outline showing quality, gracefulness and perfect
balance, combined with sufficient substance to ensure that
it is capable of enduring long periods of active duty in its
intended task as a working sheep dog. Any tendency to
coarseness or weediness is undesirable.
The Border Collie is a moderate dog without exaggeration.
Balance is not simply the relationship between fore and
hindquarters; balance refers to the dog as a whole - from
head proportions and carriage to correct set and carriage of
tail. The height at the wither being in proportion to length
from prosternum to rear point of buttock - 10:9.
is moderately long, length being in the length of rib cage
(rib cage carried well back) not the loins. The forelegs
about half the height of the dog, the length of the head and
neck always in balance to the whole of the dog, with correct
set and carriage of tail.
Think about the phrases used in the description:
Well proportioned…Smooth outline….Quality, gracefulness and
perfect balance Sufficient substance ……. No tendency to
coarseness or weediness
Border Collie is highly intelligent, with an instinctive
tendency to work and is readily responsive to training. It's
keen, alert and eager expression add to its intelligent
appearance, whilst its loyal and faithful nature
demonstrates that it is at all times kindly disposed towards
stock. Any aspect of structure or temperament foreign to a
working dog is uncharacteristic.
skull is broad and flat between the ears, slightly narrowing
to the eye, with a pronounced stop, cheeks deep but not
prominent. The muzzle tapering to the nose, is strong and
the same length as the skull. The lips are tight and clean
and the nose is large with open nostrils. The colour in all
dogs will be a solid colour with no pink or light pigment
and shall complement the background colour of the dog.
The size of the head and the length of head and neck should
always be in balance to the whole of the dog.
The standard is very specific:
Skull and muzzle should be of equal length
Stop is pronounced
Skull is broad and flat between the ears
are set wide apart, oval shaped of moderate size harmonising
with the colour of the coat but darker colour preferred,
except in the case of chocolate where a lighter colour is
permissible and in the case of merles where blue is
permissible. The expression is mild but keen, alert and
Clarification - the eye colour should be some shade of brown
(except in the case of blue merles) and ‘darker colour
preferred’ does not apply to all coat colours. Black
genotype dogs should have black pigment and medium to dark
eyes. Chocolates will have a liver coloured nose and light
brown to amber eyes. Blues will have slate coloured noses
and lighter eyes. In this breed reds can have either a
chocolate or black genotype, therefore some reds may have
liver noses and lighter eyes and some can have black noses
and darker brown eyes.
Expression however is more important than colour - 'mild,
keen, alert, intelligent‘….
Think also about size, shape and placement – moderate, oval
and set wide apart……
should be of medium size and texture, set well apart,
carried semi-erect. They are sensitive in their use, and
inside well furnished with hair.
The current standard is specific in terms of size, set and
carriage, however, you will find a wide variety of ear
carriage within the breed.
Mobility in the ear, regardless of carriage, is important as
is the correct ear placement and set. When assessing
expression it is important to look to both the eyes and
teeth should be sound, strong and evenly spaced; the lower
incisors just behind but touching the upper, that is a
is of good length, strong and muscular, slightly arched and
broadening to the shoulders, without throatiness or
Both the neck and tail should be used to balance the dog on
the move. The reach of neck is important. The front feet of
the Border Collie when gaiting, should reach to the nose of
the dog, a short neck will see a short stepping or hackneyed
When a Border moves whether in a clean gait or when
crouching, the dog should be able carry the neck and head at
shoulders are long, and well angulated to the upper arm,
neither in nor out at elbow. The forelegs are well boned,
straight and parallel when viewed from the front. Pasterns
show flexibility with a slight slope when viewed from the
is moderately long with well-sprung ribs tapering to a
fairly deep and moderately broad chest. The loins are broad,
deep, muscular and only slightly arched, flanks deep and not
hindquarters are broad and muscular, in profile sloping
gracefully to the set on of tail. The thighs are long,
broad, deep and muscular with well-turned stifles and strong
hocks, well let down and when viewed from the rear are
straight and parallel.
shape, pads deep, strong and sound, toes moderately arched
and close together. Nails short and strong.
Self explanatory. A strong working foot able to endure all
terrains and working conditions. There should be no weakness
is moderately long, set on low, well furnished and with an
upward swirl towards the end, completing the graceful
contour and balance of the dog. The tail may be raised in
excitement, but not carried over the back.
Tail is set as a continuation of the spine and should reach
the hock in length
Used like a rudder to balance the dog on the move
Refer photos in the movement section for examples of correct
carriage on the move and the upward swirl.
coated, with a moderately long, dense, medium textured
topcoat while the undercoat is short, soft and dense, making
a weather resisting protection, with abundant coat to form
mane, breeching and brush. On face, ear tips, forelegs
(except for feather), hind legs from hock to ground, the
hair is short and smooth.
Phrases to remember:
'double coated', 'weather resistant', 'moderately long and
dense', 'medium textured topcoat', 'short soft dense
undercoat'. The coat should "outline" not obscure the body.
The description 'abundant' should read as 'sufficient', the
length and density of the coat being in moderation.
The "smooth outline" would indicate that a flat, straight
coat is preferred.
movement is free, smooth and tireless, with a minimum lift
of the feet, conveying the impression of the ability to move
with great stealth. The action, viewed from the front,
should be straightforward and true, without weakness at
shoulders, elbows or pasterns. Viewed from behind the
quarters thrust with strength and flexibility, with hocks
not close or too far apart. When trotting, the dog's feet
tend to come closer together as speed increases, but when
the dog comes to rest he should stand four square. Any
tendency to stiltedness or to cowhocks or bowhocks is a
The movement of the Border Collie is one of the hallmarks of
and white, blue and white, chocolate and white, red and
white, blue merle and the tri-colour black, tan and white.
In each case the basic body colour must predominate and be
the background colour of the dog.
Dogs 48 - 53 cm (approx. 19 - 21 in) at withers. Bitches 46
- 51 cm (approx. 18 - 20 in) at withers.
Size is not a disqualifying feature and all things being
equal correct conformation should be preferred.
departure from the foregoing points should be considered a
fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be
regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.
Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles
fully descended into the scrotum.