Are Border Collies Aggressive? The Truth Behind The Growl

Many people have the wrong perception of canine aggression.

All dogs have the potential to become aggressive. But just like human children, we can keep our pets from committing canine crimes by raising them well.

In this guide, we are going to unravel the truth behind the growl and learn:

  • The major types of canine aggression
  • The telltale signs of an aggravated canine
  • And much more!

Are Border Collies aggressive? As a general rule, the Border Collie is not an aggressive breed. The world’s smartest canine not only has exemplary work ethics but also a calm and collected nature. But as with any dog, it is impossible for a Border Collie not to display a bellicose attitude toward strangers and other canines.

What's In This Guide?

      Are Border Collies truly Aggressive?

      Sadly, many people surrender their Border Collies in shelters either because they have failed to cater to their dog’s needs or their dog has gone out of control. So you might be asking, “Are Border Collies aggressive? Actually, no.

      Aggression is uncharacteristic of this breed. But as with any dog, you can’t expect your pooch to greet strangers with a wagging tail and a happy drooling face. A dog regardless of the breed will get leery whenever he encounters unidentified people or any strange phenomena, especially within the premises of his beloved home.

      The Border Collie, in particular, has a strong pack mentality and as a result, he will show aggression to any being he sees as a threat to his family. There is always an explanation why your dog acts the way he does. But if your pooch has shown signs of aggression consecutively, then there might be an underlying cause that you need to address ASAP.

      Later in this article, we will discuss what factors influence canine aggression. You’ll need to understand what causes these obedient dogs to act out so that you can provide the appropriate response, instead of parting with your pet.

      7 Major Types of Canine Aggression in border collies

      There are different forms of canine aggression and each requires a different treatment. Some dogs may even have more than one type of aggression.

      Fear-Driven Aggression

      Aggression caused by fear or anxiety is by far the most common form of aggression observed in dogs, especially in rescues and strays. As a matter of fact, most types of aggression have a component of fear.

      A dog with fear-related aggression will exercise defensive displays in an attempt to drive away from the perceived threat. These actions include growling, crouching, and baring of teeth.

      This type of aggression may also be directed at loud inanimate objects, such as hairdryers and vacuum cleaners. Oftentimes, you’ll see fear-driven aggression manifested in vet hospitals and dog parlors.

      While a fearful dog will growl and have bare teeth, he will always prefer to keep his distance rather than engage in a bloody fight. An anxious pooch will not bite unless cornered and if possible, they will escape the stimulus.

      Dogs that display aggression out of fear are not necessarily dangerous. On the contrary, these canines are nervous; thus, needing a sense of security.

      Territorial Aggression

      All domesticated dogs possess territorial behaviors; it is not a result of dominance or pack hierarchy. Even Golden Retrievers and other sociable breeds will not stay mum during the arrival of a known guest or an intruder.

      Genetics can affect the likelihood with which territorial behaviors develop and this is compounded by inappropriate socialization. However, aggressive territorial behavior is often a dog’s reaction to certain environmental conditions rather than an aspect of the dog itself.

      For the average dog, the territory encompasses his owner’s house and yard. However, some guard dogs tend to become more intense in defending their domain, particularly along the boundary lines.

      Territorial aggression can manifest as early as eight months and escalate over the next 12 to 24 months.

      Intra-Household Aggression

      Dogs are needy creatures. Your canine buddy will always seek your attention and validation. However, a highly territorial pooch will often view its owners as their territory as well. If the jealous dog finds his human paying attention to other pets, they can become upset and angry.

      The probability of intra-household aggression increases exponentially as the number of dogs increases. Males, in particular, will challenge each other to establish a pecking order in which the Dog Boss gets the first right to receive affection from their parents.

      Resource Guarding

      The act of hoarding, hiding, and guarding resources is a normal behavior in domesticated canines; it is a trait that has been passed down from their ancestors in the wild. While this characteristic is normal, it can be dangerous around kids. Therefore, young children have to be taught not to take away a dog’s belongings, such as toys and treats.

      While this type of aggression appears not to be fear-driven, it is a fact that the dog is afraid of losing his high-valued possessions; thus, making it fear-based. Moreover, a sub-type of this aggression is called distance resource guarding. In this form, the dog will keep tabs on his surroundings and rushes over to whoever is approaching his precious belongings.

      Redirected Aggression

      This form of aggression occurs when a dog fails to reach the target of his aggression, so he vents his frustration to another object, person, or animal.

      Disease-Related Aggression

      Also referred to as idiopathic aggression, it is a type of aggression that is difficult to recognize right away. This form of aggression can be quite dangerous because it involves sudden and severe outbursts with minimal warning.

      Oftentimes, it is caused by medical conditions involving the thyroid and brain. These conditions are impossible to diagnose at home; they must be ruled out by your vet.

      Predatory Aggression

      Last but not least, is predatory aggression. This form of aggression is motivated by a desire to hunt, capture, and sometimes, kill. Anyone who raises poultry animals and dogs knows the anxiety that goes when introducing them.

      Some of the predatory behaviors of wolves are still deeply ingrained in domesticated dogs and some breeds tend to have a higher prey drive than others. The Border Collie is no exception. There seems to be a gene somewhere deep in their DNA that dictates them, “Chase the baby chicks!” Likewise, a dog that likes bullying chickens might also be interested in your cat, rabbit, and other smaller pets.

      On the bright side, Border Collies are teachable despite their high prey drive. You can train these canines not to use force or physical attack when herding poultry animals or livestock. 

      Are Border Collies Dangerous To Kids?

      Are Border Collies dangerous?” A research project in 2005 showed that collies and terriers top the record in biting, with children being the highest in statistics. However, the truth of the matter is the Border Collie is not an aggressive breed and such accidents are not always the dog’s fault.

      🐑🐕 Children Are Wayward Sheep, Says The Border Collie

      As you may have already known, the Border Collie boasts of exemplary herding abilities due to decades of selective breeding. Even if you live in the Big Apple, your canine buddy will always be a farm boy at heart. Since it is impossible to suppress a Border Collie’s herding instincts, you’ll have to be extra careful when you have tiny tots.

      The swift awkward movements and boisterous nature of small children often trigger the herding instincts of the dog. That is why you may hear pet parents complaining about their collies circling or following their kids around.

      Sometimes, the dog would intimidate children by pretending to bite their feet. While these behaviors appear negative and frightening for the parents, Doggo actually thinks he is doing a great job looking after his “errant stock.”

      This misplaced behavior is often the main culprit why Border Collies may end up biting children and this is further compounded by the lack of mental and physical stimulation. How would you respond if you spent years trying to obtain a degree in computer programming yet only to end up serving fries?

      👪🐺 The Key Is To Teach Children How To Behave

      Border Collies and kids can live harmoniously under the same roof and they can be best friends to boot. The secret is to train both your Border Collie and children rather than try suppressing your dog’s innate behaviors.

      Give your Border Collie a job so he can exercise his talent in a fun and appropriate way. Likewise, here are a few important reminders to give your kids:

      Never disturb a sleeping dog. I’ve known plenty of kids who got themselves in trouble for doing so. The startle reflex is instinctive; it isn’t uncommon for a sleeping canine to bite when awakened. Take note; this is a reflexive reaction and should not be linked with aggression.

      Do not take away your dog’s toys while he is playing. Nor should you disturb him when eating. Although your child might want to play with his furry sibling, your pooch might assume otherwise. Sometimes our canine buddies just need some time alone. Teach your kid to respect boundaries.

      Never chase a Border Collie. This is a form of harassment.

      Don’t butt in when your dog is barking at someone or is engaged in a fight with another dog. Your child may want to save his furry sibling from trouble, but it is dangerous. However, trying to separate two fighting dogs is an invitation for redirected aggression.

      How Do You Treat Aggression in Border Collies?

      The treatment will depend on the root cause of the aggression. Since canine aggression worsens over time, it is best to address the issue during its early stage. Unfortunately, treatment is often a challenging endeavor for the average pet owner, especially for families with toddlers.

      The best way to find the most appropriate method of treatment is to discuss your dog’s behavior with your veterinarian. If needed, your vet may refer you to a board-certified dog behaviorist.

      Signs That Your Border Collie Is Getting Aggressive

      Dogs don’t slam doors or swear like rebellious teenagers, but they are also good at indicating they are mad and want you to go away. It is important, therefore, to pay close attention to these signals so you could keep your distance until your dog calms down.

      🐺 Doggo Won’t Look You In The Eye

      Refusing to make eye contact is not always a sign of guilt. As with humans, our canine companions may sometimes avoid this type of interaction because they are upset with you. A happy pooch will always make eye contact and seek out the attention of his beloved human.

      🐺 Vocalizing Displeasure

      Dogs may not know how to speak fluent English, but they can still vocalize their displeasure. Some dogs groan in frustration while others whine incessantly. Regardless, don’t give your attention until your pooch has stopped. Doggo will learn that whining doesn’t work to his advantage.

      🐺 A Tucked Tail And A Stiffened Body

      When a dog feels threatened, his body often goes rigid. This body language almost implies, “I dare you to take one more step!” You’ll need to step back if you see your pooch in this stance, especially when he is staring at you with wide alarmed eyes. Otherwise, your dog might be forced to defend his space and in most cases, lead to biting. 

      🐺 Letting Out A Growl

      Growling has to be the most obvious but frequently misunderstood sign. A growling canine doesn’t always mean he is in beast mode. Dogs growl to warn humans and other dogs. Likewise, dogs growl for the purpose of making you stop doing something that drives them uncomfortable. 

      Don’t force any interaction on your dog and resist the urge to yell. Punishing your dog for growling ruins trust. And instead of encouraging communication and appropriate behavior, you risk worsening aggressive behaviors.

      How To Prevent Aggression In Border Collies

      We share our homes and our lives with dogs in a closer way than other pets. Our canine companions become as much a member of the family as our kids. Most dogs even have Instagram and Facebook accounts nowadays.

      While there is no problem showering dogs with love, you need to treat dogs as dogs. Because at the end of the day, dogs are just that… dogs! I’m no longer surprised to find many households complaining about their dogs behaving like little rude brats. Dogs that are more inclined to growl and bite are actually the ones allowed to take over beds and sofas.

      I’m not saying you should act like a tough disciplinarian around your dog, but you need to show who is Top Dog is and reinforce rules around the house so you will be respected.

      There are times to spoil Doggo and there are times to be more assertive. Canines look up to a strong, decisive pack leader, not someone they can scare off with their fangs or manipulate with their puppy dog eyes.

      I am saying all these because canine aggression isn’t something that would emerge out of the blue, but rather a genetic component. Dogs, big or small, are all capable of becoming aggressive when triggered. Canine aggression is inborn and a dog’s upbringing and environment can either exacerbate it or contain it.

      There is no magic cure for aggression and even training programs can only minimize its frequency and intensity. Every dog has a little wolf living inside of them. The best way to prevent canine aggression is to not give this little wolf a chance to grow.


      While it isn’t possible to uproot aggression from your Border Collie, you can at least reduce the frequency and intensity. Avoiding certain situations, people, or animals that could trigger aggression is encouraged. Since toddlers are too young to understand the do’s and don’ts of pet ownership, it’s wise not to leave small children alone with dogs. 

      Picture of Lara Writes

      Lara Writes

      Lara, a.k.a Alpha Mama, is a great dancer and belter singer, although the world tells her otherwise. However, her greatest pleasure is working with animals. If the Alpha Mama is not being delusional, she manages to create informative articles and clear-cut buying guides. She also likes to share her personal experiences that may ignite your soul or possibly change your life!

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