Do Border Collies Bite or Nip?

By John Martin - August 11, 2022

Border Collie puppy posing next to leaves

Having a Border Collie as a pet can be a great experience but they also tend to bite or nip quite often. It can be difficult to figure out why and deal with but it can also help you out significantly once you manage it.

You can go through the following points to understand why Border Collies bite or nip and how you can reduce this habit.

Why Do Border Collies Bite or Nip?

Border Collies can start with a nipping habit, but this can easily develop into biting if you do not take care of it properly. Let’s try to understand why Border Collies bite or nip.


A common reason for Border Collies to nip or bite you, your clothes or any object or furniture they can reach is that they might be teething. Their teeth might still be developing which could cause them pain and general discomfort.

Whenever they sink their teeth into an object, then, this can provide them with relief from the pain, which is why they tend to seek out things that they can bite.

If this is the issue, then you do not need to worry too much as you can simply wait it out and provide your dogs with some chew toys in the meantime.

Also Read: When Do Border Collies Stop Growing?


Border Collies were initially bred for herding sheep on farms where they sometimes had to gently nip the legs of sheep to drive them forward. This instinctive behavior can sometimes show itself even if you only keep your Border Collies as your pets.

This can help explain why Border Collies continue to bite or nip even though they may no longer be teething. This can also be their way of alerting you of potential threats or simply to seek your attention in case they are hungry or bored.

Luckily, you can train your dogs to reduce the intensity of this instinctive behavior.


Border Collies have a playful and curious temperament. When you first bring them home, nipping can act like their way of exploring their surroundings and getting to know everything around them.

This can also be their way of playing with you so that you can create a bond. This can, of course, be quite painful for you at the receiving end but Border Collies are also easily trainable and eager to please.

It is important for you to teach them to stop playful nipping, otherwise it could easily lead to aggressive biting.


Border Collies might get territorial and defensive if they face an external threat (such as another dog or person) or feel afraid. Biting and nipping, therefore, can be their way of protecting you, themselves and your home.

It can also be their way of signaling you to stop with some kind of behavior or action that might be causing them discomfort.

Another form of defense can show itself through resource guarding. This can lead them to protect their food or toys, causing them to nip at anyone who gets in the way of these resources.


Quite simply, your Border Collie might be bored of sitting around the house. They might need more attention from you and could be feeling insecure and restless due to the absence of this attention.

Border Collies are highly energetic and active dogs, needing plenty of exercise on a daily basis so that they can stay healthy and occupied. They also require mental stimulation in the form of toys and dog puzzles.

In case of neglect and a lack of affection, these dogs can develop unhealthy habits that include nipping or biting. This could either be their way of grabbing your attention or a form of fear if they are not yet used to being around you.

Lack of Training

Border Collies are extremely easy to train and intelligent enough to learn what you teach them immediately. However, it is important to provide this kind of training from a young age to allow them to learn as well as retain habits better.

If they do not receive this kind of training or if you do not control certain behaviors soon enough, then this could make it difficult for you to deal with them later on.

This can make certain issues such as biting and nipping even worse and widespread. This can also be a bit dangerous for you and others around you if the biting turns severe.

Other Health Issues

In many cases, Border Collies might be going through other health issues that could be causing them pain and discomfort. This can then cause them to lash out if they cannot find any other relief from the issue.

In case you notice such an issue in your Border Collie, then you should take them to the vet immediately to figure out what the issue is. Once they calm down and find relief from the pain, then the biting and nipping will also reduce.

Also Read: Are Border Collies Good with Cats?

How to Stop Border Collies from Biting or Nipping

Now that you know the causes behind your Border Collies biting or nipping, what can you do about it? Let’s take a look!


A huge part of the biting and nipping can come from a lack of stimulation which Border Collies require plenty of. The obvious solution to this is to provide mental and physical stimulation to your dogs.

Take them out every day for a walk or a run, play around with them at home, give them toys and puzzles to work on and give them enough attention and affection.

This can then wear them out, causing them to seek rest without needing to bite anything or anyone.

Chew Toys

Chew toys can be another good solution to help your Border Collies find relief from teething pain while also keeping them occupied and interested in case of boredom.

However, make sure you keep alternating between different kinds of chew toys so that your dogs do not end up losing interest easily.

Apart from chew toys, you can also use chew treats or bones that are safe for dogs. This can also help if your Border Collies are simply tired and cranky, causing them to spend their energy on the toy or treat.


Proper training can be a great solution for the long run as it can get rid of the biting and nipping habit once and for all.

No matter what, make sure you use positive reinforcement instead of punishment so that your dogs can learn in a safe environment without any kind of fear. In fact, punishment can end up making the issue worse by leading to aggression in your dogs.

Make sure you consistently provide treats and praises to your Border Collies so that you can give them an incentive, but do not make them too dependent on them either.

Proper socialization and desensitization can also teach them how to be less fearful of their surroundings, including new people and pets.

There are several other training techniques that you can make use of that you can go through below.

  • Whenever they bite or nip you, express your pain or discomfort sharply so that your Border Collies can back away. Make sure you also learn to say no after this in a calm and not too harsh way.
  • You can also use an object to make an unpleasant rattling sound to condition them to stop.
  • Crate training as a way of creating a safe space for your dog can be something for you to consider as well.

Also Read: Can Border Collies Live in Apartments?

Final Thoughts

It is now clear that Border Collies do bite or nip. This can be a result of causes such as teething, instinct, temperament, boredom, defense and poor training.

However, you can deal with the issue successfully by providing proper stimulation, chew toys and sufficient training through positive reinforcement. If nothing works, you should consult a vet or a professional trainer.