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Do Border Collies Like Water? Benefit Of Swimming For Dogs

Do Border Collies Like Water? Benefit Of Swimming For Dogs

When you think of a herding dog breed, chances are you think of Border Collies. These cute and intelligent canines are a helping hand for farmers.

If you’re considering owning this dog, one of the questions you may ask yourself is, do Border Collies like water?

As a dog who will spend a lot of time in the field, bathing is a must if you want to keep your Border Collie as an apartment dog.

Thus, it’s important to know do Border Collies like water and how well they deal with water.

Let’s dive right in!

Breed History

border collie lying on the grass

Before you learn do Border Collies like water, you should understand the history behind these purebred dogs.

While they make great house pets, Border Collies weren’t always considered apartment pups. These medium-sized cuties were great farmer dogs for centuries!

Farmers from fields between England and Scotland bred Border Collies to control sheep.

You can easily recognize Collies by the intense stare they used to control flocks with. In fact, people still use them as herding dogs all over the world, as they do this job without a mistake.

Quickly, the Border Collie became one of the most important assets a farmer could have! You could hardly ever find a shepherd without his loyal four-legged companion who would herd sheep or even cows.

It’s important to note that these working dogs weren’t always known as Border Collies.

In fact, they had names such as Northern Sheepdogs, Welsh Sheepdogs, Scotch Collies, and Highland Collies. As you’ve probably guessed, the name derives from the location the dog was found.

However, all of them are essentially one breed – the Border Collie.

Border Collie dog in water

Photo from:@finley.thegoodchoice

Back in 1860, Queen Victoria saw one of these dogs in the second dog show in history. She felt enchanted by the breed, and immediately wanted one for herself.

Around this time, people started to make a difference between a working Border Collie and a Border Collie bred to be a family dog.

The man who is considered the founder of sheepdog trials is R. J. Lloyd Prince. In 1876, he brought a few Border Collies – still unknown under this name – to London’s Welsh Palace. He also brought 100 sheep for demonstration.

The Livestock Journal reported these dogs doing an astonishing job of herding the entire flock of sheep! The only assistance from their handlers were whistles and hand signals.

As you can see, Border Collies are master craftsmen when it comes to working.

They are great at following commands, and will understand your intentions at first glance. This is extremely useful for maneuvering the sheep in the right direction.

As time went by, even people from the city fell in love with this highly energetic breed.

This led to Collies slowly but surely running all the way from Scottish fields to our homes. Today, Border Collies are a beloved breed worldwide. So much that breeders crossbred these amazing dogs with other dog breeds to get some remarkable hybrid dogs. Due to this, there are also many Border Collie mixes you can find nowadays!

Breed Characteristics

Border Collies are medium-sized dogs. While males usually stand between 19 and 22 inches in height, females are about an inch shorter.

As for their weight, they typically weigh 30 to 45 lbs. While rare, some Collies can reach the size of a small Retriever.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Border Collie can have one of these two coat varieties: smooth or rough. Both types of Collies have double coats – a coarser outer coat and a gentle undercoat.

The smooth-coated Collies have shorter fur while the rough ones’ hair is medium-length, with feathering on the belly, chest, and legs. This gives them a somewhat unique appearance.

As for the color, Collies are mostly black with white markings on their face, neck, legs, feet, and tail tip.

Some may have a tan; however, you can find Border Collies in any bicolor or tricolor combination. They can even be merle and in any solid color but white.

Border Collie Personality

border collie running on the green grass

To put it simply, Border Collies are high-energy workaholics. They are constantly alert, active, hardworking, and intelligent, and breeders consider them as one of the smartest canines.

Mental exercise is a must with these dogs. They love to be busy; otherwise, they become bored very quickly.

This can become somewhat dangerous, as a bored Collie will bark, dig, or even chase cars around the neighborhood!

These canines were bred to run around in the field all day. Actually, Border Collie owners may have a hard time keeping up with their best friends.

If you plan for your dog to cuddle on the bed with you always, this isn’t the breed for you.

Because of their constant need to stay active, Border Collies are great for dog sports. They will love a good game of fetch, flyball, frisbee chasing, and sometimes even swimming – but more on that a bit later.

The herding instinct is extremely strong, even in a Border Collie puppy. Because of this, you need to train them as soon as you can. In the end, you can’t teach an old Border Collie new tricks!

If you fail to train your Collie, his instincts will prevail. When they don’t have sheep to herd, they’ll try gathering other pets, kids, or even you!

In the field, Collies would nip the heels of sheep and cattle to let them know where to go. As family dogs, they may start nipping at you and your children.

This doesn’t mean your pooch is malicious, it is just that these dogs sometimes don’t know how to behave in the house.

Luckily, these dogs have high trainability. You can teach them how to behave with just a little effort. Give them enough mental stimulation to keep them busy, but don’t let them become spoiled!


Border Collie runs away from the owner

Before we answer the question do Border Collies like water, we should take a look at the breed’s overall health.

Border Collies are healthy dogs. However, just like every other breed, they are prone to certain diseases and health problems.

Some of the health issues you can find in a Border Collie are:

• Progressive Retinal Atrophy

• Osteochondrosis Dissecans

• Hip Dysplasia

• Epilepsy

• Collie Eye Anomaly

• Allergies

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) includes a spectrum of eye diseases in which the retina slowly deteriorates. In the beginning stages of this disease, the dogs become night-blind, and as the disease progresses, they may become entirely blind.

Another sight-related illness is the Collie Eye Anomaly. This is a genetic condition that causes abnormalities inside the eye.

A Collie will typically show first signs of the disease when he is around two years of age.

If you wonder how your Border Collie will adjust to blindness, don’t worry too much. While you should treat these diseases, Collies can handle well having limited vision.

Even if they lose sight altogether, they won’t panic. Just make sure not to change their surroundings too much.

Epilepsy is a fairly common neurological condition that is usually inherited. It causes seizures that can range from mild to severe.

Hip dysplasia and Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD) are inherited conditions, but a bad diet and lack of activity may worsen them. Both are painful issues that will influence your dog’s movements.

While hip dysplasia usually occurs in old Border Collies, OCD can affect younger pups.

Genetics play a huge role in your dog’s overall condition. If you’re purchasing a Border Collie puppy, look for a reputable breeder.

Always ask for the parents’ health. This way, you can know what issues to expect. For more info on reputable breeders, check our picks of the top 4 Border Collie breeders in the UK!

If you’re adopting an adult dog, you may not be able to find out about his entire medical history. This shouldn’t worry you too much.

Most Collies won’t have any severe health issues anyway. Not to mention that the loyalty rescue dogs have towards their owners is enough to take the risk.

Do Border Collies Like Water?

Border collie runs on water

Now that we’ve learned a bit more about this hard-working breed, we can move to the fun parts. Do Border Collies like water, and will you have problems teaching them to swim?

As we’ve already established, Border Collies love to run around a lot. It seems like nothing can stop them once they’ve set their mind on something.

But, there is not much water in the field. Most dog owners worry about how their pooch will handle such an intense change in the environment.

Whether your Collie will like water or not depends on the individual dog. While it seems most dogs love to get wet and dirty, others will hate it.

However, if you encourage them in time, you’ll increase their chances of liking water.

Many things influence whether your dog will love water and how well the breed adjusts to bathing.

However, you may have noticed that most Border Collies stay away from deep water. They’ll prefer to paddle in shallow water and jump and splash through puddles.

Still, the most important thing that will influence your dog to love or hate water is his personality.

Every pup has its own preferences. While some will enjoy spending time in a cool pool, others will even run away from baths!

Overall, though, it’s safe to say that most Border Collies don’t mind water.

Can Collies Swim?

Border Collies swims in the pool

Similar to liking water, most dogs that you’ve encouraged since puppyhood will love swimming. For a Border Collie, swimming is an excellent exercise.

It is a good way for these active dogs to get rid of their high-energy levels during hot, summer days.

Not only that, but going for a swim is an excellent activity for a dog with a condition such as hip dysplasia.

It can strengthen the muscles supporting the legs and hips without putting any pressure on the joints.

Still, once again, it is up to the individual doggy to decide whether or not he’ll want to go dog paddling.

While many Border Collie owners praise their pups for being excellent swimmers, others will state their pet hates being anywhere near water.

It’s essential to understand that all dogs can swim. This doesn’t depend on whether they like water or not. No healthy dog will drown just like that.

Border Collies are among the dog breeds that make excellent swimmers. They are athletic and agile canines, and no physical activity is difficult for them.

Their bodies can handle continuous training, no matter the type.

And, as we’ve mentioned, swimming is an excellent method to help them channel their energy.

Benefits of Swimming

Border Collie Swimming in River With Stick in its Mouth

Swimming is extremely beneficial, especially for dogs with joint issues. It will demand the use of every single muscle without injuring the joints. The same goes for their owners.

Even the neck and stomach muscles will remain active during swimming! If you happen to have a somewhat chubby pup, this way, you can help them lose those extra pounds healthily.

If a Collie doesn’t have enough exercise, his muscles can deteriorate, which can lead to weakness and joint issues. Luckily, this is avoidable. All you need to do is ensure your doggy spends enough time running around or paddling in a pool.

Yes, in this way, dogs are quite similar to humans. In fact, most health benefits of swimming are the same for both species.

So, first and foremost, swimming improves overall health. It will get the blood flowing stronger through the dog’s veins. At the same time, it will increase the volume of blood inside the entire body.

The number of red blood cells that the bone marrow produces also increases when a dog goes for regular swims.

Red blood cells distribute oxygen all over the body, and the more blood cells, the more energetic your dog will feel.

Simultaneously, this will also improve their heart health. Actually, no activity is as good for the heart as swimming.

As it will reduce cholesterol, this also means fewer chances for a heart attack, which is excellent news for your doggy!

Dogs with any joint issues will highly appreciate every time they go for a swim. Swimming flexes joints and makes them stronger.

Considering that Border Collies are a very active breed, this is essential for them. Older Border Collies will also significantly benefit from swimming.

When you have an anxious dog, swimming is a great way to help him get stress relief. It improves mental health and encourages endorphin production, and no one, not even dogs, can have enough endorphins!

If your dog has muscle cramps or other similar aches, swimming is a way to reduce this.

As you can see, there are many reasons why swimming is very beneficial for your dog!

Don’t be discouraged if your Collie won’t come near water, though. This is normal, and there are other ways you can help him improve his health or lose weight.

Why My Border Collie Doesn’t Like Water

a border collie stands by the pool

If your dog panics at the mere sight of water, don’t force him to get wet. There are a lot of reasons why your pooch might not be a fan of bathing or swimming.

When you try to make your dog get in the water against his will, you can traumatize him. Never do this. Instead, try to understand why he acts the way he does. A few possible causes of this are:

•  Lack of exposure

• They prefer to stay on land

• They hate getting wet

• Trauma

• They simply don’t like it

If you didn’t expose your dog to water in time, then he might shy away from it. Canines fear what they don’t know, and water doesn’t look like something pleasant to them.

Also, it is perfectly normal for Collies to prefer to stand firmly on the ground. After all, they were bred for sheep herding and not for chasing fish. Many Collies simply don’t feel that getting in the water is natural.

Long-haired dogs sometimes hate feeling wet. Their thick fur will become too heavy, and it will prevent them from moving around freely.

In comparison, a Collies’ coat isn’t as long as, for example, a Cocker Spaniels’, yet it is still dense enough for them to hate the feeling.

If you’ve forced your dog to get wet in the past, he might have negative associations with water.

This is especially the case if you’ve thrown him into the water, knowing he doesn’t like it. Dogs develop traumas easily, and you should never do this.

Finally, some Collies simply won’t like swimming no matter what you do. There doesn’t have to be an underlying cause of such an attitude. This is fine, as not every dog has to like it.

A Border Collie is a stubborn breed. If they form an opinion about something, it will be tough to change it. Therefore, don’t traumatize your dog by forcing him to swim if he hates it.

How to Teach Your Border Collie to Swim

Beautiful young red-haired girl in a blue sweater standing in the water with the dog breed border collie, they make merry and rejoice

Teaching a Collie how to swim might not be easy, especially if he isn’t too fond of water! However, you can do it. While you’ll have to be patient, swimming with your pup will be worth it.

First, you have to think about the comfort levels of your Collie. How much do they really hate water? Are they okay with bathing and standing in the rain, or do they panic at every drop?

Unless your Border Collie is very young, this is something you probably already know.

If you feel like he is comfortable enough to get in the pool without issues, this is excellent. You can go straight into training.

Some Collies, though, need some time getting used to this. If your doggie is among them, give them all the time and space they need.

You can make things easier for them if you ensure the water is mildly warm. Many Collies hate the cold, and they’ll be more open to the idea of swimming if the pool is warmer.

If you wonder do Border Collies like water more when it is cold or warm, now you know.

If he isn’t panicking, place your companion into a body of shallow water.

Comfort him as much as you feel is needed. Whisper to him and cuddle if he wants to. Just keep in mind that a frightened Collie might act aggressively. It might not be the best idea to be close to him face to face.

Once your dog is comfortable enough standing in the water, you’re on the right track.

Put your dog on a leash as this can help you keep control over him. Use treats if necessary to make him enter the pool or lake on his own. Don’t train him in the sea or in any moving water, such as a river.

As soon as your dog enters the pool, he’ll probably start paddling. Every canine knows how to do this, but not all are comfortable with it.

If you notice him doing this, reward him with more treats. You have to let him know this kind of behavior is desirable.

Since Collies love chasing things, you can toss a ball or their favorite toy into the pool. This might make them go straight in the water with no hesitation.

Keep practicing for a few days. If you feel like it might help, get inside the pool to help your pooch see that it isn’t dangerous. Also, don’t force him to do everything in one day. This can be overwhelming for both of you.

Another good piece of advice is to give your dog a life jacket if you want him to swim in deep water for the first time. You don’t want to stress him out and risk injuries.

What Not to Do

Border Collie at the funny mode and swimming activity

Of course, just like with anything, there are some things you really shouldn’t do while teaching your Collie to swim.

Canines are sensitive to harsh voices and yelling. If you act in such a manner during swimming lessons, Collies might become resentful.

These stubborn dogs can stop cooperating if they feel like it, so a calm voice makes them feel safer.

Be mindful of your pup’s limitations. Practicing for hours every day can bring more harm than good. Not only will it make your Collie hate spending time with you, but you will also risk damaging his health.

Most importantly, never punish your Border Collie if he doesn’t do something right.

Dogs don’t understand punishments the same way we do. He’ll learn to fear you instead of trust you, and this is never helpful.

Key Things to Remember

Border Collie swims in the river

Swimming is an extremely beneficial activity for dogs and owners alike. It can improve your pooch’s overall health and help them get rid of that extreme energy they have.

Dogs with specific health issues should swim as often as possible, without overwhelming them. This type of sport is excellent for remaining flexible without hurting joints.

Still, Border Collies are herding dogs that may prefer to stand on the ground.

It is entirely normal for a Collie not to want to get wet.

If you feel like you can teach your dog to feel comfortable in the pool or in other bodies of water, then go for it! Training can be a great way to get even closer to your pet.

Just remember, positive reinforcements are necessary, but your dog won’t understand why he is being grounded if you decide to punish him. Don’t give him any negative associations, as this won’t end up well.

The Bottom Line Is…

border collie puppy runs across the field

Do Border Collies like water? There isn’t a right answer to this question.

Some Border Collies will enjoy any kind of activity, and this includes swimming! However, a lot of them aren’t too fond of it.

If your pup doesn’t feel like water is his thing, then don’t force him into swimming. Sometimes, you have to let them be.

Not every dog has to love water, and that is okay. The more you force a stubborn dog, such as a Collie, to do something, the more he will resent it.

You can do plenty of activities with your Collie if he doesn’t want to become a swimmer.

You can play fetch, chase a frisbee, or just run around in the park. Spend as much time as possible with your pup, no matter whether he likes swimming or not.

Read Next: Can French Bulldogs Swim? The Answer Is Simple

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