Are Border Collies Aggressive Dogs? (Signs Of Aggression)

Are Border Collies Aggressive Dogs? Photo of a Border Collie showing his teeth and looking aggressive to another dog.

Border Collies are not usually considered to be aggressive dogs, but they should be treated with respect. They have a reputation for being intelligent and capable of completing complex tasks.

This breed has an instinctive herding nature and will try to control people and animals around them.

They will often bark at strangers or other animals in order to herd them away from their territory.

Failure to train this behavior may lead to biting incidents where the dog feels threatened or challenged by another creature or human.

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Are Border Collies Dangerous?

Border Collies are usually not dangerous. They are friendly dogs and an easy-to-train dog breed. They should not be aggressive towards humans or other animals unless they feel threatened.

Are Male Or Female Border Collies More Aggressive?

Male Border Collies are more likely to be aggressive than female Border Collies.

As they get older, male dogs may become more aggressive and territorial even with their owners.

This can lead them to be less social towards new people or animals they meet. It is best to keep any female Border Collies away from dominant male dogs until they are properly introduced and calm.

However, there are some exceptions to this generalization. Some male BCs are very affectionate, while others are aggressive.

Causes for Border Collie Aggressive Behavior

There are many different causes for dog aggression. It is important to identify the root cause to resolve the problem.

Some common reasons for Border Collie aggression may include:

1 – Feel Threatened

Suppose your dog is feeling afraid of other dogs, or something else drives fear into him. In that case, he will be aggressive towards them as a way to defend himself against the threat.

Fear is the most common reason dogs are aggressive and can lead them to lash out and bite without establishing communication and warning the other creature what might happen.

2 – Dominance

Dominance aggression can lead dogs to try and take control of another dog, person, or pet.

This usually happens when the dominant dog meets another that is smaller or submissive than them.

They may also feel threatened by a human if they are engaged in a physical activity that they are not comfortable with.

Dominant dogs usually have a deep bark and stand tall in an attempt to intimidate the others away.

3 – Poor Socialization

Poor socialization can lead dogs to be aggressive towards strangers.

This is often seen in younger dogs that have not been properly introduced and socialized with new creatures or people they meet.

4 – Poor Training

Border Collies that are not properly trained may lash out at humans and other pets.

A dog will learn what they can get away with if their owners do not set boundaries and teach the dog how to behave correctly.

5 – Frustration

Frustration can lead to aggression in dogs. Suppose they are not given enough physical or mental stimulation. In that case, your dog may be frustrated and act out aggressively.

Anxious or nervous dogs may behave aggressively if their owner does not provide them with the attention and reassurance they need to feel calm.

6 – Territorial Aggression

Some dogs become protective of their territory and will challenge any unfamiliar animal or human who enters it, resulting in them lashing out to drive the intruder away.

7 – Possessive Aggression

A possessive dog will lash out at other pets or people if they feel like they are trying to take something away from them. This is called resource guarding.

Border Collies may get upset if someone tries to take their food bowl, toys, bed, etc., away. They may also become aggressive when another dog is around one of their favorite people. 

8- Medical Reasons (Illness or Injury)

There can be several medical reasons that lead dogs to develop aggressive tendencies and biting.

Pain can cause aggressive behavior in dogs. If your dog is experiencing pain, he may not be able to control his emotions which could lead him to lash out at other pets and people.

Certain types of medication may also cause aggression in dogs, whether it be due to side effects or an unbalanced emotional state as a result of the drug itself.

9 – Predatory Aggression

Prefatory aggression is often seen in herding and hunting breeds. If your Border Collie is feeling threatened by another creature, he may display predatory behavior.

Dogs that have been pushed too hard and feel threatened by the handler will also display predatory behavior.

This type of aggression is often seen in working or highly motivated dogs, so if your dog’s training has been too intense, he may be a risk to bite.

Photo of two Border Collies rough playing and looking aggressive.

Signs Of Aggression In Border Collies

Signs of aggression in Border Collies vary depending upon the reason for it.

Some of the signs of aggression in Border Collies include:

1 – Won’t Look In Your Eyes

If your dog isn’t looking you in the eyes, this could indicate your Border Collie is feeling threatened.

If you feel uneasy about his behavior when he doesn’t look in your eyes, it may be time to have a serious talk with a canine professional.

2 – Ears pinned down

Ears pinned down and laid against the head can be a sign of aggression in Border Collies.

Some dogs pin their ears back when they feel uncomfortable or threatened, and this could indicate you need to take action and change your behavior, or else your dog may lash out at you. 

3 – Tucked Tail and Stiffened Body

If you notice your BC’s tail tucked, and his body is stiff, this may be a sign that your dog feels threatened or anxious.

This could lead to aggressive behavior if the dog does not feel comfortable in the situation at hand.

4 – Fur standing up on back and neck (hackles)

The fur standing up on your BC’s back and neck is a sign that he is trying to look bigger.

This may be because he is trying to intimidate the individual who is bothering him.

If you notice this behavior, it’s time to intervene before your BC becomes aggressive.

5 – Barking, growling, and snarling with bared teeth

These are signs of displeasure vocalization.

When a dog vocalizes his displeasure, it’s usually a sign that he is acting out. This could be because he feels threatened, uncomfortable, or irritated.

If your dog becomes aggressive, his vocalizations could become louder and more intense.

Loud growls, whines, or even barks are all warning signs that your Border Collie is not happy with the way things are going. 

6 – Snapping or trying to bite without communicating.

When a dog snaps or tries to bite without communicating, it usually indicates that he has reached his limit with the situation.

This type of aggression is usually a last resort, as your Border Collie has tried to tell you something, but you haven’t been understanding.

If your dog snaps or tries to bite out of the blue, then it’s time for you to take notice and react accordingly. You must act quickly to ensure the safety of all individuals around you.

Are Border Collies Aggressive to Other Dogs?

Border Collies are generally not aggressive to other dogs. In fact, you could even say they’re a bit too friendly and eager to please at times.

All dogs are different, so some may become submissive while others may lash out. It all depends on the individual dog.

What Makes Border Collie Aggressive to Other Dogs?

The aggressive behavior of your Border Collie will depend on the frequency and intensity of negative experiences he’s had with other dogs in the past, as well as his socialization skills.

The more negative experiences a dog has, the harder it is to remedy the issue.

If your BC has been attacked and bitten by other dogs in the past, or he’s had very few positive interactions with them, then you may have an aggressive dog on your hands.

Are Border Collies Aggressive To Strangers and Children?

Border Collies are not naturally aggressive to strangers or children.

If your BC is generally friendly towards other dogs, then the chances are good that he will be friendly to strangers and children as well.

However, if your dog is not very socialized with different types of dogs or people, then he may have a more difficult time being comfortable around them. This could lead to him acting out in an aggressive manner.

Photo of a Border Collie walking and looking like he is going to attack.

How to Control and Prevent Aggressive Behavior Issues?

Controlling and preventing aggressive behavior issues is all about socialization and your actions towards your dog.

By spending plenty of time outdoors with your BC, paying attention to how he responds to different individuals and situations, and caring for him in a positive manner, you will be taking the steps required to avoid any aggressive behavior problems from occurring in the future.

However, suppose you spend most of your time indoors with your dog and rarely take him outside (especially where there are other dogs or people). In that case, he’ll probably become aggressive toward others.

If you find yourself with an aggressive Border Collie on your hands, follow the advice below.

1 – Keep Your Distance… If You Can

If your BC is showing signs of aggression, then it’s best that you keep your distance from him.

When he’s in this state of mind, there’s no telling what could happen. You don’t want to get bitten or injure him while trying to stop his behavior.

2 – Use Your Voice

If your BC is on a leash and showing signs of aggression towards another dog, then you can try using your voice to get his attention.

Often, a firm voice is enough to snap your dog out of his aggressive state and refocus him onto you.

If this doesn’t work, then try the steps below.

3 – Use A Distraction Technique

A distraction technique can quickly pull your Border Collie out of his aggressive mood.

By doing something fun with him, you’ll be helping him to forget all about whatever he was fixating on before.

4 – Positive Reinforcement

If your BC has been acting aggressively for a long period of time, then it’s likely that he may ignore your attempts at positive reinforcement.

At this point, it’s important to train him with negative reinforcement in order to get him to listen.

You should only use negative reinforcement as a last resort, though, since it can potentially cause more harm than good.

5 – Instill Peace Of Mind

Instilling peace of mind is essential when it comes to preventing aggressive behavior problems.

The positive experiences your Border Collie has will outweigh the negative ones, so make sure he gets plenty of exercise, love, and attention. Also, be sure to socialize him with different individuals regularly in order to keep his mind active.

This will help to avoid any aggressive behavior issues from cropping up in the future.

There are various ways that you can train your Border Collie to stop his aggressive behavior towards other dogs or individuals.

Just remember that none of these methods will work overnight, so be patient with your doggo and don’t give up.

Photo of a calm Border collie being peted

Why Is My Border Collie Getting More Aggressive?

If you find your Border Collie getting more and more aggressive for no apparent reason, then you may want to stop and consider the reasons behind his behavior.

There is always a trigger for any type of behavior, whether it be positive or negative, so make sure that you are looking into all the possibilities before simply labeling your BC as an aggressive dog.

Check out some of these common causes for why your Border Collie has been acting extra aggressive lately:

1 – Your Dog Is In Pain

A dog in pain will not only act out physically but emotionally as well. If your Border Collie has been acting more aggressive than usual, then he may be in some sort of physical discomfort.

If you suspect this to be the case, try to pinpoint his behavior and see if it is making any pattern.

For example, does your dog always become aggressive when you brush his teeth? Are certain activities like taking him for a walk resulting in more growls than usual?

If you can find the root of your BC’s pain or discomfort, then you’ll easily be able to fix the behavior.

2 – Are You Yelling At Your Dog?

To a dog, a raised voice is just as much of a command as a firm one. Are you constantly yelling at your Border Collie for no reason?

If so, then he may have started to become used to this type of treatment and will begin acting out more and more.

It’s important to always use a calm, firm voice when it comes to training your Border Collie so that you can maintain his respect and obedience.

3 – Are You Ignoring Your Dog?

If you’re constantly ignoring or neglecting your dog, he will start acting out to get your attention.

If this is the case, try to make sure that you always give him your full attention and affection when he’s acting calm and peaceful.

This will help to avoid any aggressive behavior in the future because he’ll know that you are meeting his needs.

4 – Are You Over-Grooming Your Border Collie?

Border Collies can become quite anxious when it comes to being touched and groomed by you.

If you tend to over-groom your dog, then he may start acting out aggressively in an attempt to either get you to stop or simply because his anxiety has reached a point where it is too much for him to handle anymore.

While it is perfectly normal to want to groom your Border Collie, you should always use a gentle touch so that you don’t cause him more stress than necessary.

Try using treats as an incentive for letting you groom him and avoid any physical contact until he has had enough.

5 – Are You Over-Feeding Your Dog?

Border Collies can be prone to obesity which can often lead to health problems and behavior problems. Are you overfeeding your Border Collie?

If so, then he may start acting out if he feels that he is aggressively taking food away from his siblings or other dogs in the house.

This will only make the problem worse in the future if your BC is overweight.

Make sure that you always regulate the amount of food he gets each day and give him enough exercise to help keep him in a healthy body.

6 – Are You Tired Of Training Your Dog?

If you’re constantly finding yourself with a lack of motivation when it comes to training your Border Collie, it may be because you’re tired of doing the same old routines over and over.

If this is the case, then you might find that your BC starts acting out more aggressively in an attempt to get you to play with him or simply because he doesn’t know how else to communicate his frustrations with you.

Always resist the temptation of only training your Border Collie when you’re in the mood. Make it a priority to teach him good behavior and keep up with his training, or he will eventually start taking advantage of you.

7 – Are You Introducing New Dogs Too Quickly?

Sometimes, two dogs just won’t get along no matter how hard you try. Are you bringing new dogs home too quickly after the last one has left?

If so, then your Border Collie may start to act out aggressively in an attempt to cope with his stress.

It’s important for him to have time alone so that he can get used to being on his own for a while instead of constantly having new dogs around all the time.

Don’t rush the introduction of new dogs into your home until he has had time to get used to his new environment.

8 – Are You Giving Your BC More Attention When He Is Acting Out Aggressively?

When your Border Collie starts acting out aggressively, do you immediately give him more attention and start fussing over him without thinking about the consequences? If so, then this will only encourage him to behave this way again in the future.

Instead, ignore his behavior and only reward him when he starts behaving correctly. This will help him understand that doing the right thing will always result in positive reinforcement. He’ll then learn that acting appropriately is the best way to get your attention.

9 – Are You Reacting To Your BC’s Behavior?

Does your Border Collie know that you’re reacting to his bad behavior, and therefore, he feels as though he is in control of the situation? Are you allowing him to think this?

When your BC starts acting out aggressively towards you or any other members of your family, try not to overreact.

These are some common causes for extra aggressivity on your Border Collie. If you’re unable to pinpoint what it is, that’s causing the problem, then talk to your veterinarian for some advice.

If you can recognize why your Border Collie has started acting this way, then you’ll be better equipped at stopping his aggressive behavior before it gets out of control.

Photo of a Border Collie barking and looking aggressive.

Things To Avoid With An Aggressive Border Collie

With an aggressive Border Collie, you must avoid anything that the dog may see as a threat.

Certain things which could trigger their aggression are:

  • Being left alone for long periods of time;
  • Strangers invading their space or touching them without permission;
  • Loud noises;
  • Other animals entering their territory;
  • Rewarding them for aggressive acts;
  • Excessive and inappropriate discipline;
  • Yell at them;
  • Use physical violence towards them;
  • Be rough with them in any way;

Above all, they need to know that you are their pack leader and that nothing will be done unless it is allowed by you, the pack leader.

Why Does My Border Collie Growl at Me?

Your Border Collie is growling at you because he is agitated or uncomfortable with something that is going on.

He may be uncomfortable because you’re forcing him into a situation that makes him nervous, such as trimming his nails.

He could also be trying to tell you something like, “leave me alone”. Or he may feel threatened by the presence of another individual or animal.

When your dog growls at you, it’s essential to take notice. If you continue to force him into an uncomfortable situation, then he may become more aggressive or lash out.

It’s vital that you take the time to figure out what is causing his discomfort so that you can respond appropriately.

How to Discipline a Border Collie

Discipline is something you give to your dog on a daily basis.

It’s not just one moment that determines if he will be obedient or stubborn. It’s all the moments combined that show him what behavior is appropriate and what isn’t.

You’re already disciplining your Border Collie by giving him affection, food, toys, etc.

You can use this daily discipline to your advantage by setting rules, boundaries, and limitations for him to follow.

For example, you can tell your Border Collie that he cannot bark at night or chew up the remote control. He will then know what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t.

Positive reinforcement is the best approach because it helps your dog make good decisions.

If he continues to do something that pleases you, then he will know that this behavior is worth repeating or continuing.

Positive reinforcement can help to build trust between you and your Border Collie. And with increased trust comes increased respect.

In General

Border Collies are not aggressive dogs towards humans or other dogs unless it is trained to be so.

They are extremely intelligent and hardworking. As such, they require a lot of exercise and training.

If you don’t provide for their mental and physical needs, they will develop an array of problem behaviors that can be very dangerous to those around them, especially children.

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Andre owns a Border Collie dog named Sula. He writes about the breed to educate people so they can know more about this dog before deciding if it's the right pet for them. Read More...