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Border Collie Service Dog - Everything You Need to Know

The Border Collie's exceptional intelligence, agility, and strong work ethic make it an excellent choice for a service dog. Their quick learning ability and focus on tasks make them well-suited for roles such as guiding individuals with visual impairments or assisting those with mobility challenges.

Susana Bradford
January 12, 2024
April 14, 2023
14 minutes read
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Expert Reviewed By:
April 14, 2023
August 18, 2021
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Discover if Border Collies are the right breed for your service dog needs with our comprehensive guide.

A border collie can be an excellent choice for an emotional support animal. These animals are well-known for being incredibly smart and friendly, making them all-around excellent pets and even better service dogs. Before taking the following steps, you'll need to learn about several important topics.

If a border collie service dog is right for you, it can be a great source of joy and comfort while enriching your life.

Border Collie Service Dog

Border Collies are exceptional service dogs because of their intelligence and adaptability. They can be trained to perform a wide range of tasks, from retrieving dropped items to opening doors and alerting their handlers. Their innate herding instincts also make them naturally attentive and protective companions for those in need of a service animal.

The Bottom Line

  • What are service dogs? - Service dogs receive special training to assist handlers with physical, mental, or emotional difficulties.
  • Why Border Collies as service dogs? - Border collies possess traits of two different breeds that each make good therapy dogs and assistance dogs in their own right.
  • How to get a Border Collie service dog - You will need to be diagnosed with a mental illness and ensure your Border Collie is sufficiently trained.
  • What's the difference between a service dog vs. ESA? - Emotional support animals do not receive special training to perform particular tasks as service animals do.

What Are Service Dogs?

A service dog helps a person with a disability lead a more independent life. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal is any dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Different species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service animals.

The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability. Examples of work or jobs include, but are not limited to:

  • Assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks.
  • Alerting deaf or hard of hearing individuals to the presence of people or sounds.
  • Providing non-violent protection or rescue work.
  • Pulling a wheelchair.
  • Assisting an individual during a seizure.
  • Alerting individuals to the presence of allergens.
  • Retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone.
  • Providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities.
  • Helping individuals with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.

Types of Service Dogs

Many types of service dogs specialize in helping those with different disabilities. Below are just a few of the most common types of excellent service dogs.

Service Dogs

Guide dogs help blind and visually impaired individuals navigate their environments. Hearing dogs help alert deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to important sounds. Mobility dogs assist individuals who use wheelchairs or walking devices or who have balance issues. Medical alert dogs might also signal the onset of a medical issue such as a seizure or low blood sugar, alert the user to the presence of allergens, and myriad other functions.

Psychiatric Service Dogs

Psychiatric service dogs assist individuals with disabilities such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and other conditions.

Examples of work performed by psychiatric service dogs could include entering a dark room and turning on a light to mitigate stress-inducing conditions, interrupting repetitive behaviors, and reminding a person to take medication.

To certify your dog as an official psychiatric service dog, Pettable offers an online PSD training program that will help you train your dog as a PSD. You may also opt to get a consultation with a licensed mental health professional to certify your mental illness and need for a psychiatric service dog. To get started on this process take our short online quiz.

Did You Know?

Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSDs) are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act and are legally granted access to places where pets are prohibited, such as airplane cabins, storefronts and restaurants. Find out more

Border Collie History

The modern Border Collie is recognized to be an extremely intelligent, athletic, and energetic breed. The breed originated in Northumberland on the borders of England and Scotland, having been developed over centuries for herding sheep. There is some debate over the origins of the breed, although they are likely traced back to the Romans two thousand years ago, who brought their drover dogs with them, and the Vikings who invaded this part of England some 1200 years ago and brought their Spitz-type dogs with them. 

Regardless of its origins, the Border Collie is now recognized as the ultimate herding dog with a natural instinct to herd using its “eye” (controlling livestock by staring at them in a silent and controlled manner) that is unlike any other dog breed.

Why Border Collies Make Great Service Dogs

When choosing a service dog, there are hundreds of breeds to choose from, from golden retrievers and labrador retrievers to poodles, cocker spaniels, and more. Certain breeds can offer unique strengths, and there are several reasons why border collies stand out as good service dogs.

They're a Smart Dog Breed

Border collies are one of the most intelligent breeds because they can learn new verbal commands up to five times faster than other types of dogs. They're highly trainable and observant regarding body language, hand signals, and hand gestures.

They're Hard Workers

Initially bred as sheep herding dogs, border collies were required to work for several hours every day, so they have an instinct to stay active. This breed is happiest when it's kept busy with tasks or jobs, making it the ideal service companion.

They're Incredibly Affectionate

Many people love dogs because they can be such great companions. Border collies are gentle, affectionate dogs that love snuggling up with their owners at night. Many are also very friendly with strangers, as long as they pose no threat. A border collie may not want to sit in your lap for most of the day, but it will be eager to please and happy to play.

They Have Plenty of Energy

A border collie can accomplish a lot because of its seemingly endless energy supply. Border collie's bountiful energy supplies make them a significant workhorse, and their cheerful and vibrant disposition can offer a much-needed mood boost that's infectious in the best way. Keep in mind that they need a lot of mental stimulation and exercise to match these energy levels.

They're Loyal to Their Owners

Border collies are friendly to most people and other dogs, but they're fiercely devoted to their owners and aim to please. They can be very protective if they sense any danger. In some situations, border collies have even saved their owners' lives by getting help in an emergency, making them excellent medical alert dogs.

They’re Big Dogs

Border Collies are relatively large dogs in size. This trait makes them excellent service dogs, as they can efficiently perform tasks, such as pushing a wheelchair or calming a person down with pressure, that smaller dogs wouldn’t physically be able to do.

They’re Friendly

Border Collies are extremely friendly. They are eager to befriend any member of the family, a puppy, other breeds, some farm animals, etc. This benefits owners with disabilities because their service dogs won’t be afraid to alert others for help since they love being around other people while remaining loyal to their owners.

They’re Vocal

Border Collies are quite vocal dogs and are not afraid to let out a bark unless trained not to. While some may be bothered by this trait, this is actually a good quality for a service dog to have as they can quickly alert others, or even their owner, if something is off, such as low blood sugar or the oncoming of a panic attack.

What Tasks Can a Border Collie Perform?

The number of tasks border collies can learn can be practically limitless as long as you have the time, patience, and resources to train them. Some of their most practical abilities can help make everyday life safer and more accessible for their owners.

Open Doors

Border collies can open and close doors as needed on command or in an emergency. However, they may need special tools or adaptations installed on the doors to make this possible. A service dog trainer can help you find the right enhancements for your home.

Pick Up or Retrieve Objects

One of the easiest tricks that border collies perform well is to retrieve an object. They can pick up something in the room that someone recently dropped and any object they have learned by name somewhere nearby.

Alert People to Danger

Border collies are herding animals, so they're very attuned to potential threats. While this can certainly help you feel safer at home, it can also be a great asset when you're out and about.

Sense and React to Emotional Changes

Along with offering physical assistance, border collies are also very sensitive to even the slightest changes in your mood. Many can detect changes in your physical state that signal an oncoming anxiety episode or panic attack.

Respond to Physiological Changes

Border collies can recognize the symptoms of certain severe medical conditions when trained to. They can detect physiological changes that may point to an oncoming medical episode, such as a seizure, and can alert their owners with a unique signal so they can get help or medication quickly.

Medication Reminders

Since Border Collies are easy to train, they can be trained to remind their owners to take their medication every day, every four hours, or at any interval. A person is required to take their medicine but may be forgetful or lose track of time due to their disability.

Physical Support

Border Collies can offer physical support to those with disabilities. This can include pushing a wheelchair, leading a person to a bathroom or bed, fetching an item that fell or is out of reach for a person, or any other duties that may assist a person living with a disability.

 Border Collie Service Dog

How To Get a Border Collie Service Dog

In order to obtain a Border Collie service dog you will first need to be diagnosed with a disability that can be assisted by owning a service dog. Once diagnosed, you will then need to ensure that the Border Collie is trained to be obedient in public and perform tasks intended to assist you with that disability. If you wish to train a Border Collie as a psychiatric service dog we have created an online PSD training program to guide you through the process.

Complete Our Assessment

First, you'll need to complete our quick assessment to help us evaluate your situation and psychiatric service dog needs. Next, you'll select the type of PSD letter you need, such as housing, travel, or a combination of both.

Consult With a Therapist

After filling out privacy and consent forms to authorize our clinicians to work with you, you'll be matched with a licensed mental health professional and sent a link to book a live consultation with them. From there, you'll meet and complete a mental health evaluation to determine if you qualify for a psychiatric service dog.

Get a Psychiatric Service Letter

Once our licensed mental health professional determines that a psychiatric service dog is essential to your care and well-being, they'll write and sign a legally recognized psychiatric service dog letter for you. You'll also be given the option to receive your PSD letter within 24 hours from the time of your consultation, excluding California residents.

In the unlikely event that your PSD letter does not work for you, we will provide a 100% refund. Your satisfaction is important to us, so if you encounter any issues with your psychiatric service dog letter, don't hesitate to contact us for a full refund.

Can I Train My Own Border Collie To Be a Service Dog?

If you want to train your service dog on your own, it's important to be patient with your animal, as training can take a long time. However, if you're truly dedicated to your service animal, then training them can be a time-consuming but extremely beneficial process. If you want to train the animal yourself, we have created an online PSD training program that will teach you how to train a psychiatric service dog. The program is entirely online and can be completed at your own pace.

It's essential to remember that service animals are required to undergo training before becoming certified service animals, whether it's completed by yourself or a trained professional.

Where Can I Adopt a Border Collie Service Dog?

Like any service dog or emotional support animal, Border Collies can be adopted at local shelters or through breeders. Any dog can become a certified service animal, no matter where the dog came from or even if they're an existing pet that one has. With this option, owners will have to build a relationship with their dog, undergo training, and complete certification for their dog.

However, there are services that allow people to adopt service dogs that are already trained and require a new owner.

What Disabilities Qualify for a Border Collie Service Dog?

To find out if you qualify for a Border Collie service dog, you will need to consult with a licensed mental health professional. However, some mental and emotional disabilities that tend to qualify someone for a service dog include:

  • Depression and Depressive Disorders
  • Anxiety Disorders & Phobias
  • Bipolar Disorders
  • Schizophrenia and Psychotic Disorders
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Addiction, Substance Abuse, and Alcoholism
  • PTSD, Trauma & Stress-Related Disorders
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders
  • Dissociative and Personality Disorders
  • Autism
  • Neurocognitive and Sleep-Wave Disorders 

Some physical disabilities include:

  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Sensory Disabilities (Blind, Deaf, etc.)
  • ALS
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic Pain
  • Stroke
  • Paralysis
  • Vertigo
  • And more…

Border Collie Service Dog

What's the Difference Between Psychiatric Service Dogs vs. Emotional Support Dogs?

Emotional support dogs and psychiatric service dogs are vastly different. Below are some critical differences between ESAs and psychiatric service dogs that are important to keep in mind.


Any animal can be an emotional support animal. Under federal law, only dogs and miniature horses can be service animals.


An emotional support dog assists through its presence alone. A service animal is specially trained to perform tasks for someone with a disability.


An emotional support dog requires no training; all that's needed is a letter from a licensed mental health professional explaining its therapeutic value. Service animals must undergo individualized training.

Legal Protections

While the Americans with Disabilities Act protects service animals, it does not cover emotional support animals. Emotional support animals are covered only under the Air Carrier Access Act and Fair Housing Act with the presence of a valid ESA letter.

Public Access

A service animal can go anywhere its owner goes. While owners of emotional support animals may get away with bringing them into places where pets aren't allowed, the only places legally required to welcome them are housing units.

Frequently Asked Questions About Border Collie Service Dogs

Before you commit to making a border collie your service animal of choice, there's a lot to know. These FAQs can help you get fast answers to common questions.

How Much Does a Border Collie Service Dog Cost?

Border collies cost anywhere between $600 and $1,200, depending on the area and breeder. Trained service dogs can cost $7,500 or more. Adoption is an excellent alternative if you're willing to hire a trainer. If you wish to train a Border Collie yourself, Pettable offers an online PSD training program that starts at $199.

How Do You Catch a Fake Border Collie Service Dog?

A border collie service dog who isn't impeccably behaved may be a fake. A fully trained service dog should never:

  • Show aggression
  • Bark or whine unless commanded
  • Steal food
  • Be easily distracted
  • Eliminate indoors

Can You Get a Border Collie Service Dog for Anxiety?

Border collies can be great support dogs for people with anxiety, especially those with severe symptoms. A mental health professional must diagnose your condition first.

Can Any Dog Be a Service Dog?

Technically, you can train any dog to become a service dog, including an existing pet. Some breeds are better suited for this task than others, though. Emotional support dogs may only require minimal training.

Do Border Collie Service Dogs Have To Be on a Leash?

Most service dogs are required to be on a leash in public. Leashes are recommended not just for the safety and comfort of others but also for the dog's safety.

Does Insurance Cover Border Collie Service Dogs?

Health insurance does not cover the cost of getting a service dog, but you may be able to use HSA or FSA funds to do so. Also, many organizations offer grants for people with certain conditions who may qualify for financial assistance.

How Do You Get a Psychiatric Service Dog?

To get a psychiatric service dog, you must first be diagnosed with a mental disability. That illness must also prevent you from living on your own because it impairs your safety or well-being.

How Long Does It Take To Train Border Collie Service Dogs?

Because border collies are so intelligent, their training can be very efficient. Still, it often takes two years before these dogs are ready for service.

Are Border Collie Service Dogs Allowed Everywhere?

The Americans with Disabilities Act states that service dogs trained to help a person diagnosed with a mental or physical disability must be allowed in any establishment. These dogs usually wear certified vests to signify their status.

How Do You Get a Border Collie Service Dog for PTSD?

If you have been diagnosed with PTSD, talk with your health care team to determine if a service dog is right for you. If you are a veteran, services are available to help you get a border collie service dog free of charge. These dogs require special training, so be sure to work with a reputable company.

Meet the author:
Susana Bradford

Susana is an avid animal lover and has been around animals her entire life, and has volunteered at several different animal shelters in Southern California. She has a loving family at home that consists of her husband, son, two dogs, and one cat. She enjoys trying new Italian recipes, playing piano, making pottery, and outdoor hiking with her family and dogs in her spare time.

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