Are Border Collies Good Guard Dogs?

Border collies have long been known for their intelligence and are regularly found being trained as agility dogs and obedience dogs but this intelligence also lends them to being a good watch dog.

I find border collies ranked at the top of many intelligence lists; however, I have seen few that list them as being good guard dogs.

In this article I am going to explore the reason for this.

So, let’s dive in!


Are Border Collies Good Guard Dogs?

Border collies are not natural guard dogs and training them to do anything other than be a watchdog comes with a certain level of liability.

Experts agree that a good guard dog should have some if not all of the following traits:

An effective guard dog should have strong instincts to protect, should the situation arise it will need to protect both you and your family.

It’s important not to confuse this trait with aggression. Aggressive dogs are dangerous, protective dogs are trained and can respond as commanded.

Because of this training they can be controlled to either release the bite or hold as appropriate.

Aggressive dogs tend not to respond to commands and in a consequence should never be used as guard dogs.

Border collies exhibit treats that could make them natural guard dogs; they are affectionate, loyal and intelligent.

They have keen observation skills and have a level of vigilance that is important in a guard dog.

They are also not known to bark at anything they see or hear.

Border Collies as Watchdogs

Spicer, a facility dog with the 118th Wing, Tennessee Air National Guard (CC BY 2.0)

A watchdog is supposed to be vigilant, you don’t want it to disturb your neighbors every 5 minutes.

Border collies can be trained to be good watchdogs as they have a balanced and well-rounded temperament.

They can easily discern when something new enters their environment and whether or not it poses a threat.

Border collies also tend to bond with one owner which makes socializing and training them from a young age straightforward.

It’s important that watchdogs have a natural ease around strangers and are not afraid of them.

You don’t want your watchdog to be territorial and protect your back at every hands turn. Border collies are also known for maturing a little bit later than other breeds.

This means to train them as watchdogs maybe easier as they tend to reach maturity a bit later so they can easily be discouraged from many of the negative traits that other dogs pick up past the age of 9 months

The watchdog’s job is to sound the alarm and remain vigilant if it senses anything out of the ordinary.

This is a task that border collies can comfortably do.

Border Collies as Guard Dogs

However, a good guard dog goes a step further by deterring or attacking intruders as necessary.

Border collies are not renowned for these characteristics which means while they might be adequate watchdogs they’re not necessarily the best guard dogs.

It’s difficult to determine whether a border collie can be trained as a good guard dog, because of their natural intelligence most professionals will say yes.

However encouraging a dog to go against its natural instincts should never be encouraged.

It could create an unpredictable animal, resulting in an unhappy dog that is no longer a family companion or your friend.

There’s no doubt that the Border Collie possesses the natural intelligence and obedience needed to become a good guard dog, they can easily learn and follow a specific command and be taught to respond in specific scenarios.

When deciding are border collies good guard dogs, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons and consider what you lose in the process

The Natural Instincts A Border Collie Possess That Help It When Acting As A Guard Dog

Originally bred in Northumberland which is on the Scottish English border these dogs were primarily used to help shepherds herd sheep and have been used for this purpose for hundreds of years.

Early breeding of the border Collie focused on their ability to work closely with shepherds and develop instincts to gather sheep into flocks and prevent them from wandering.

As a consequence, they are extremely vigilant and have a tendency to control but not harm, they also have incredible stamina.

It is their vigilance that makes them excellent guard dogs as they will quickly notice any threat and naturally want to ward It off.

But, Border Collies will rarely attack people unless they have been trained to do so.

Can Border Collies Be Trained To Protect?

Despite their initial training to hurt but not harm sheep border collies form extremely close bonds with their families and their owners despite this they’re often wary of strangers and they’re not shy to bark whenever they feel playful, fearful, stressed, bored, or excited.

You’ll notice, if a stranger enters your home or yard, border collies will likely bark in order to alert you.

However, it’s unlikely they will attack in this situation.

Because of hundreds of years of working with sheep border collies will naturally circle, stare, and occasionally chase or stalk sheep who don’t obey.

However, unless they’re dealing with a particularly stubborn animal it’s very unlikely that they will ever bite.

When they do this it’s never meant to cause any harm it’s just designed to reinforce that the sheep should follow the directions of the dog.

This particular trait could be very useful as a guard dog as you want your border collie to deter Intruders and at the same time refrain from biting wherever possible.

So the most straightforward answer to the question of whether a border collie would protect you or not depends on the situation.

For example, if growling or barking provides enough of a deterrent to a potential attacker then your border collie would make the perfect guard dog.

In many cases thieves and assailants are only looking for easy targets and rarely want to deal with a growling and barking Border Collie.

However, should the situation escalate and your Border Collie has to bite someone to keep them away, it’s unlikely they’ll cause any damage especially when compared to the bite of a Doberman or Rottweiler

Border Collies unless trained to do otherwise will follow their natural instincts. This is not to cause severe harm but to instruct and pass on the clear message, that they are in charge of the situation.

When a Border Collie encounters an intruder it will simply want them to go away injuring them is not part of the equation.

Having said that, I know border collies are extremely intelligent and can be trained to go against its best instincts.

With the correct approach they could be encouraged to attack humans however this should never be done unless you’re fully aware of the potential liabilities of this training

Should Border Collies Be Trained As Guard Dogs?

At this point it’s important to differentiate two key terms guard dog and watchdog.

Neither should be confused with an attack dog.

  • A guard dog will growl and bark at any unwelcome person that shows interest in its environment, but it’s also trained to restrain or attack people or animals who do not retreat from the area
  • Watchdogs on the other hand are only trained to alert their owners by growling or barking they’re not trained to attack.
  • A sentry dog is somewhat similar to a watchdog or guard dog but has been trained to limit its patrol to a specific area and can operate independently of human commands.
  • Personal protection dogs are the high end of guard dogs and they have been trained to protect you on the move. As a consequence they create huge bonds with their owners and require extensive training.
  • Attack dogs are usually only used in military or law enforcement situations they have been trained to tackle all the situations listed above but they can also disarm Intruders

To answer the question, you have to take into account the natural instincts of the dog breed.

Border collies are not natural guard dogs and training them to do anything other than be a watchdog comes with a certain level of liability.

You have to remember that you’ve trained your dog to act outside of its comfort zone and you may be liable for any injury that results from this training.

You will have to encourage your dog to act aggressively and this should never be done without getting professional assistance.

If you’re looking for a watchdog your Border Collie will ensure that you’ll be alerted in the event of any infraction to your property.

However, if you’re going to rely on a border collie to be your guard dog you might want to get some backup including high quality CCTV and alarm system for your property, as well as having a law enforcement on hand to deal with anyone who isn’t deterred by your Border Collies barking

Authored By

Madeline Wright

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