Border collies are wonderfully intelligent working dogs. Many breeders specialize in this particular breed. If you are new to the breed or are thinking about breeding with your border collie, there are a few things to consider.

Border collies go into heat between 5 and 8 months of age, although they are not yet ready to breed. You can tell your female is in heat when her vulva appears swollen, and there is blood or light brown discharge present. She may also appear agitated or aggressive, as well as a few other signs.

To find out more about when border collies go into heat and what to do if your border collie is in heat for the first time, keep reading this article.

Facts about Border Collie Heat

Estrous is the formal term for a dog’s heat and is the first sign that she is mature enough to conceive puppies.

The estrous cycle has two time periods; the proestrus, where the female experiences bloody discharge, and the estrous, where the female is most fertile.

Different dog breeds have differences in their estrous cycles. The size of the breed is what often determines these differences. The larger dog breeds will have more lengthy cycles that occur less frequently, and smaller dog breeds will have shorter cycles that occur more frequently (source).

When Does Estrous Occur in a Female Border Collie?

Female border collies will have regular estrous cycles up to twice a year following their first cycle. Estrous cycles typically last between one and two weeks but, in some cases, last up to 4 weeks, including the proestrus stage.

What Age Do Border Collies Have Their First Heat?

Most female border collies will have their first heat cycle between the ages of 6 and 8 months. The exact timing is different for each female, but the general window will be more or less the same.


It is essential to prepare for when your dog goes into her first heat cycle. You will want to be ready for all the necessary precautions to prevent unwanted pregnancy, discomfort, and mess.

Signs of Heat in A Border Collie

There are a few vintage signs and symptoms of heat in border collies. Not all dogs will experience the same symptoms, and some may only show very few signs for their first heat cycle.

The Classic Signs and Symptoms

The first, most obvious sign that your border collie female is in heat is a swollen vulva, the area around the opening of her vagina. The vulva will appear swollen and red.

The next symptom is likely to be a brown or bloody discharge from the vulva. Not all females will have blood in their discharge, but it is one of the most commonly associated symptoms of a heat cycle. You may only notice the discharge on her bedding or fur.

Additional Signs and Symptoms

Some female border collies may exhibit other signs associated with their heat cycle. These signs are more psychological than physical and caused by the hormonal changes experienced during an estrous cycle.

You may notice conduct that is out of the ordinary for your border collie female. She may be more clingy and attention-seeking than usual and begin to follow you around more looking for comfort for how she is feeling.

She may feel tired and agitated, causing her to behave differently by staying away from you and the other dogs, seeking isolation instead. She may also become more possessive over her food, bed, and toys, by growling when anyone comes near her.

Another odd sign may include mounting other dogs, toys, or bedding and showing “flirtatious” behavior around male dogs. She may lift her tail and perform other body gestures to get a male’s attention. These signs are usually only apparent during the fertile stage of estrous. 

Caring For A Dog In Heat

If your border collie female has her heat cycle, she may leave a mess around the house and may not be feeling herself for up to a few weeks.

There are precautions to take to prevent the unpleasant side-effects of her estrous cycle, including unnecessary agitation and unwanted pregnancy. 

Precautions to Prevent Unwanted Pregnancy

Once your border collie shows signs of heat, you must keep her separate from unneutered male dogs. You never can be too careful, so it is best not to let your girl out of your sight unless she is in a safe, male-free, guaranteed area.

Try to walk your female border collie on a lead at the least busy hours of the day, in the least popular areas, to avoid run-ins with any unneutered males.

Make sure to wait a full 28 days before resuming normal activity. A border collie can stay in estrous and be fertile for up to four weeks and may not show symptoms in the later stages.

Precautions to Prevent Mess

The very first estrous cycle in dogs often doesn’t have very much discharge to cause much of a mess. However, not all households have flooring for easy cleanings, like tiles, and even a small amount of mess could be a problem.

A common replacement for mopping floors and washing dog bedding to keep the mess at bay are hygiene pants for dogs. Hygiene pants are specialized diapers for dogs with replaceable pads. They come in many sizes and are a great way to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

Precautions to Prevent Discomfort

While your dog is in her heat cycle, it is kind to try and keep her agitation at bay.

To cater to your female border collie’s emotional state, try to keep her in a more relaxed environment with little to no nuisances for her. Keep her in a more quiet section of the house and try to keep upsetting situations like vacuuming or loud company to a minimum.

Border Collie Mating Season

Image by loic Polet via Pixabay

If you are new to breeding, try to gain as much insight and advice as possible before attempting to have your female mated. There are many complications to be aware of, so knowledgeable handling of the situation is of utmost importance.

Reasons to Breed a Border Collie

Make sure that breeding is something you are certain is right for you and your border collie female, and also consider these few points before going forth with having her mated.

Border collies have traditionally been bred as working dogs for sheep herding, and many breeders still continue on this lineage. In these cases, the bloodline is highly valued, and the offspring from these breeding homes are better suited to working homes than as mere working pets.

Many breeders do not have farm working in mind when breeding. Instead, they breed for different traits to allow the border collies to be happy as working pets or training for obedience and agility (source).

Image by Yummy Ermeton via Pixabay

Choosing an Appropriate Stud Dog

There are many factors to consider when choosing the best stud dog for your female. Choosing the right stud will result in a good litter of healthy puppies by reducing the risk of disease and deformities.

Consider the conformation, health records, and pedigree of the stud as well as other factors such as work or show experience, age, and proximity.

Avoid inbreeding, bad conformation, and potential long-term difficulties by choosing the stud wisely and considering all possible outcomes.

The Best Age to Start Breeding With a Border Collie Female

When a border collie has her first heat, although she is fertile, her body is not fully developed. At this age, she may also be too young to be able to cope emotionally with having puppies.

Responsibly, it is best to only consider breeding with your female after she has at least had her first heat. Many breeders will only breed after the second or third heat cycle to assure the female has fully developed and is mature enough emotionally to handle having a litter.

Things to Consider Before Breeding With Your Border Collie

There are many things that can go wrong during the breeding process and it is vital to the well being of your dog to be fully equipped to handle any situation that may arise (source).

Other things to consider are life expectancy, the adaptability of the breed, and the high-maintenance energy needs that border collies can have (source).

All these things are important to think about in avoidance of poor home choice for this special breed. Neglecting to consider every aspect of the breeding process from mating to homing puppies can result in a bad situation for both dog and owner and is best avoided.

Final Thoughts

Border collies are a highly intelligent, high-energy dog breed that can make wonderful working dogs or easily trained working pets.

Breeding, in general, should be left up to the professionals. However, if you have an unspayed female border collie, keep an eye out for the signs of their heat cycles to handle them responsibly.

There is plenty of advice to discover whether or not breeding is right for your border collie. Do the research and ask reputable breeders for advice before making a final decision.