How Much Exercise Does a Border Collie Need? (Puppies, Adults, and Seniors)

By John Martin - August 11, 2022

Border Collie exercising with ball

As a dog parent, you are aware of how important daily exercises are for your canine friend. The amount of exercise each breed requires varies. Larger dogs usually require more physical activity compared to smaller dogs.

What about Border Collies? Have you ever wondered how much exercise they need? Border Collies are working dogs. They are highly spirited and extremely intelligent dogs. Given their level of endurance, they need to constantly be on the move.

In this article, we will cover how much exercise Border Collies need at various stages of their lives and the different types of exercises.

About Border Collies

Border Collies are hyperactive dogs bred for their sheep herding abilities. This role requires a massive amount of stamina and energy. Their herding skill gave them universal recognition.

The origin story of Border Collies can be traced to hills lying along the borders of Scotland and England. They eventually crossed the ocean and made an appearance in the United States, gaining popularity and recognition among various organizations.

Herding dogs commonly require plenty of exercise. Herding is an energy-intensive activity. It involves a lot of running around and barking for great spans of time. Border Collies tirelessly work to keep sheep within the flock and sometimes cover more than 50 miles in a day.

Since this skill comes naturally to them, they are cannonballs of energy. While working dogs have an outlet, it is hard for domesticated Border Collies to release their innate pent-up energy.

Besides being a high-energy breed, Border Collies also ranks number one in the list of the smartest dog breeds in the world. This ranking is based on canine psychologist and researcher Stanley Coren’s dog intelligence criteria.

While these criteria are not without flaws, they allow us to measure canine intelligence better than any other method. The evaluation gave us an insight into the workaholic mentality of the Border Collie breed.

Their minds need to be stimulated with work. This work involves not only physical activities but also mentally stimulating tasks. Failure to provide sufficient stimulation will result in them becoming restless and bored. This road may then lead to behavioral problems down the line.

How Much Exercise Does a Border Collie Need?

Border Collies require much more exercise than your average canine breed. How much exercise, to be exact? This depends on several factors such as the dog’s age, health, and level of fitness.

For instance, a healthy adult Border Collie needs daily one to hours of exercise to keep them busy and healthy.

Exercising a Border Collie does not only involve physical activities. This breed of dog is so intelligent that they also need adequate amounts of mental stimulation to keep from getting bored and destructive. Both these forms of exercise are equally important and should not be neglected.


Border Collie puppy outdoors

A Border Collie puppy does not require much exercise. In fact, the general rule says that you should not take them on any walks during the initial six months of their life.

Their physical activity requirements will be fulfilled during their playtime. Even as puppies, they have high levels of energy, bouncing around the house and chewing up everything. However, since they are in the developmental phase, their ligaments and bones are quite fragile.

However, if you do want to walk them, you should be careful. Wait for them to get all their vaccination before you step outside. Puppies get their rabies vaccination at 12 weeks. It takes an additional three weeks for the vaccination to kick in.

To calculate how long to walk them for, consider five minutes for every month of their life. For example, if they are 16 weeks old, take them on a 20-minute walk.

Follow the five-minute rule until they are 12 months old. You do not want to overwork their developing body because it can lead to joint issues when they are older.

However, this is not a rigid rule. It is more of a general guide that will help you decide how much exercise your puppy needs.

Puppies are extremely curious. The world around them will smell and look new. Allow them to explore their environment. This exploration will stimulate them mentally.

When introducing the concept of walking, take them on shorter walks. You can do this in your backyard or around the block. Shorter walks will give your puppy time to get accustomed to a leash.

Besides short walks, you should also introduce mentally challenging tasks to your puppy. Mental stimulation is equally important with Border Collies. However, be careful that you do not overstimulate them. Excess stimulation can cause behavioral issues and fatigue.

This stimulation can take the form of training them to follow simple commands. You can also entertain them with some games or puzzle toys to keep them busy and well-stimulated.


Once a Border Collie hits the 12-month mark, they are in the active zone. Their body is ready to handle vigorous levels of physical activity.

At this stage of life, they require about two hours of active exercise every day. In addition to this, they will need more mental stimulation to stay entertained.

With proper stimulation, Border Collies make the greatest of pets. They are a boon for those who want to be active since it is truly a task to keep up with their dog’s energy.

In practice, the level of exercise will vary. For example, some pet parents take their Border Collies on short walks during weekdays and keep them entertained with activities at home. They increase the exercise duration on weekends.

The important takeaway is that regardless of how you split the hours, you need to make sure your Border Collie is kept adequately stimulated. However, do not overdo it. Maintain consistency. A consistent daily routine is always better than a massive workout at the end of the week.

It is also not necessary to incorporate vigorous exercise into the routine unless your Border Collie has been conditioned for such activity. You can simply take your furry friend on regular walks or runs to wear off their energy.

Also Read: When Do Border Collies Stop Growing?


Border Collie senior exercising outside

As dogs grow older, their activity levels decrease. They become more sedentary and they are not as stimulated as they were in their active years.

With decreased levels of endurance and inactivity, they are more prone to fall into the trap of obesity. Obese dogs suffer from various health issues such as heart disease and joint problems.

Therefore, it is important that even senior dogs receive an adequate amount of exercise to manage their weight and keep their joints and muscles strong.

However, you will have to bring down the intensity of exercise so that your senior dog can keep up with it being too much for them.

There are certain signs you will notice indicating that your dog has started to slow down. They will show reluctance towards activities they used to enjoy in their prime years. There will be a slow shift in their pace. It will not happen overnight.

If you notice these signs happening overnight, it will be worth taking them to visit a vet to assess their health.

Keep things short and sweet for your senior Border Collie. Get them involved in low-impact activities such as swimming or shorter walks. Besides these, do not forget mental stimulation. Even old dogs need mental stimulation to keep their mind active.

Is It Possible to Over Exercise a Border Collie?

Yes, you can over-exercise a Border Collie who is not used to physically demanding activities. While Border Collies have an abundance of stamina and energy, they may need to be trained to accomplish certain tasks.

For example, if you start off the bat with a 10-mile run, it can be challenging for a dog who is not used to such vigorous activity. You will also risk injuring them or causing mobility issues. You will have to monitor your dog to see what activity level they are initially comfortable with and then increase the challenge.

How to Exercise a Border Collie

There are plenty of ways you can exercise a Border Collie. Besides leisurely walks around the block, there are many exercises that will challenge their endurance. You can create a variety in the physical activities they do to keep stimulated and interested.

Since they need about two hours of exercise daily, you can break this duration into small, manageable chunks with different activities for each portion. Below is a list of some great exercises you can do with your adult Border Collie.

Running and Walking

These are common forms of exercise for dogs. They are convenient and good for both the pet and the pet parent.

Taking your Border Collie on runs is a great way to increase their stamina. It is very likely that they will outpace you, so you will need to be careful.

If you have no clue about their endurance level, you should start off with short walks or jogs. Once you are able to gauge how well they handle their run, you can increase its length. Starting off with longer miles is not a good idea as it ups the chances of your dog getting injured if they are not used to it.


Hiking is a great way to offer your Border Collie physical and mental stimulation. It puts them in an environment where everything is stimulating to their senses. On any hiking trail, your dog will find plenty of new scents to investigate.

Outdoor hiking is the ideal activity to undertake for both you and your Border Collie. They make wonderful hiking companions. In their prime years, Border Collies can cover up to five miles without a fuss.

While it is not feasible to go hiking every day, you can make it a fun weekend activity every now and then.


Swimming is a great pastime for herding dogs. While it is not something that comes naturally to them, they can be trained. If you have a puppy, you can encourage them to step into a kiddie pool and train them to swim, eventually moving to bigger pools.

Swimming is a low-impact activity, making it an ideal form of exercise for senior dogs or dogs with conditions like hip dysplasia. It provides adequate exercise to strengthen muscles without straining their joints.

When you go swimming for the first time, carry a dog life jacket with you. Not every dog likes swimming. So you should monitor their reaction and make sure they are comfortable in the water. Safety and comfort should be a priority.

Border Collies are agile and love learning, so they make excellent swimmers when properly trained.

Herding Activities

Border Collies were bred for herding. There is no better stimulation than getting your Border Collie involved in herding activities and tapping into their instinctive intelligence.

Most Border Collies are natural herders. This activity shaves off a lot of energy and meets their exercise levels. It is not necessary for you to own a farm to pull this off. You can look into herding programs that run trials for dogs. However, this is not likely to be cheap to do consistently.

Agility Training

Border Collies top agility contests. This ability revolves around how rapidly a dog moves, stops, and changes directions. Since Border Collies are quite nimble, agility training is a great way to exercise them and give them a purpose.

It not only works them physically but also creates mental stimulation. It creates a work ethic and teaches them self-control.

You can set up agility training in your backyard. You will require some homemade obstacles to get started. Start off small to get your dog comfortable around the course before moving on to advanced moves.


There are a plethora of games you can enjoy with your Border Collie. Consider games that involve physical and mental activity. Rotate these games to keep things interesting.

For example, you can play fetch. It is a great way to spend quality time with your pup while keeping them physically active. Instead of throwing a ball, you can use a frisbee to make it more fun and give your dog more distance to run.

You can also add a twist to the hide-and-seek game by strategically hiding their treats and getting them to find them.

The Final Word

Border Collies require lots of exercise to wear down their high levels of energy. If they are under-stimulated, they will look for destructive ways to keep busy.

The intensity and duration of exercise vary depending on their age. Border Collie puppies require very less exercise since they are growing. Once they hit their prime, they require two hours of physical exercise to keep them mentally and physically fit.