Border Collie Spaniel

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Border Collie Spaniel
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The Border Collie Spaniel often inherits the athletic body of the Border Collie and the handsome head of the Cocker Spaniel. They are muscular and wiry and their body is that of an athlete. They have an alert expression and are always keenly aware of what is going on around them. Their thick coat will usually have a wave to it and will be either black and white or brown and white.

Those on the lookout for a high intensity, energetic breed should look no further than the Border Collie Spaniel. These dogs love to run around and are equally happy to keep active by swimming, hiking or participating in canine activities. Extremely intelligent and intuitive, the Border Collie Spaniel makes a very rewarding training partner.

About & History

The Border Collie Spaniel is also called the Border Collie Cocker and is thought to have originated in America at the start of this century. It is typically the American Cocker Spaniel that is used in the mix rather than the English Cocker Spaniel. While the Border Collie is a high-energy, working dog, the American Cocker Spaniel has more traditionally been bred as a show dog and as a pet. As these dogs have such different personality types, the temperament of the Border Collie Spaniel can be quite variable.

The Border Collie

The Border Collie originated in the 19th century in Northumberland on the border of England and Scotland (hence the name!). While Collies had been present and working in the area for many years before this, it was not until the 1800s that the breed was standardised.

The Border Collie has always made a superb farm dog and has been used to herd livestock for many years. They are prized for their work ethic and intelligence and have been competing in sheepdog trials with great success since their origin.

The Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniels have traditionally been used to hunt on both land and water and retrieve birds and waterfowl with a soft mouth. The American Cocker Spaniel was once considered the same breed as the English Cocker Spaniel, but the two separated from one another about 100 years ago, with the American Cocker being used more for showing and the English Cocker being kept as a working dog.

Of course, both breeds are also very popular pets and are kept as companion animals throughout the world. The first Cocker Spaniel was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1878 and it was in the 1920s that the American and English versions were distinguished from one another.


Border Collie Spaniel Large Photo
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Physically, the Border Collie Spaniel is a nice mix of each parent dog and there is a good deal of variation in the appearance of each breed member. With time, they will go on to develop a more uniform look.

A medium-sized dog once fully grown, the Border Collie Spaniel will measure from 40cm to 56cm and will weigh between 12kg and 14kg. They have quite a rounded skull and a relatively long muzzle. Their eyes are dark brown with an intelligent expression. They may have the pendulous ears of the Spaniel or the semi-erect ears that some Border Collies have. They have a sturdy neck and rectangular body which is athletic and built in proportion. They should have a noticeable abdominal tuck up. Their tail is long and often curls towards the end.

The fur of the Border Collie Spaniel is long and thick with a nice wave to it. The majority of breed member will have the classic ‘tuxedo’ (black and white colours) of the Border Collie, though some may be brown and white. Speckles, patches and spots are all common markings.

Character & Temperament

The Border Collie Spaniel has a good nature with a real zest for life and they love nothing more than to be doing something. Not a dog to laze about, the main features of the Border Collie Spaniel are their exuberant energy and endearing stamina.

They enjoy doing things with their family and like to be shown lots of fuss and attention. In fact, this breed can be a bit of an attention seeker. They do not like to be left alone for too long and can be prone to separation anxiety. They crave human companionship and are not always content when left to their own devices.

Thorough socialisation is needed to prevent any nervousness around strangers and the Border Collie Spaniel should be exposed to people of all sizes and shapes in their first few months of life. They can make quite good guard dogs as they are very attentive and will certainly be the first to know if someone new has arrived.


Remarkably responsive and highly intelligent, the Border Collie Spaniel can be trained to the nth degree. They are a breed with huge potential and who can truly excel when in the right hands. Adaptable and intuitive, the Border Collie Spaniel can do well in a multitude of disciplines.

They will learn quickly and do not need a lot of repetition before they have mastered a skill. There’s no doubt that the Border Collie Spaniel responds best to positive reinforcement and does not take well to harsh criticism or punishment of any form, which will typically cause resentment and an unwillingness to continue with the training session.


As with Pedigree dogs and other hybrids, there are certain health conditions which we may see more often in the Border Collie Spaniel. Despite this, they tend to be a healthy breed and will live into their early teens.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is an issue in many breeds, though is more prevalent in medium to larger-sized dogs. Dogs can be affected to varying degrees and those with severe hip dysplasia may struggle to walk and get about.

This is a progressive orthopaedic condition that does worsen with time and will result in local arthritis that can exacerbate the associated pain and mobility issues. As the Border Collie Spaniel is such a new cross-breed, it is paramount that any breeding dogs are hip scored and that only those dogs with good hips are used to procreate.

Otitis Externa

Outer ear infections can be the real bane of some dogs lives and can be quite persistent in some unlucky individuals. Owners can reduce the likelihood of their dog developing an ear infection by cleaning their ears regularly and always drying them after they get wet.

It is generally quite obvious when a dog has an infection as they will scratch their ears, tilt their head and rub their face along the floor. They may also have red skin within their ears and an associated foul smell. When cleaning the ear, owners may notice a large amount of foul-smelling build-up.


Dogs can have fits for a number of reasons. In some cases, however, no cause is identified, and these dogs are said to have epilepsy. Before making a diagnosis of epilepsy, it is important that all other potential causes of a seizure (such as low blood sugar or liver disease) are ruled out. Once the vet is sure an animal is epileptic, they will usually start them on life-long anti-seizure medicine.

Exercise and Activity Levels

A breed with one of the highest exercise requirements around, owners need to understand what a commitment it is to take on a Border Collie Spaniel. These dogs will almost certainly develop behavioural issues if under-exercised or under-stimulated and it would be unfair to keep them in a small home and limit their activity. Typically, they will need about 90 to 120 minutes of exercise each day and this should be supplemented with lots of play time and training sessions.

The ideal home for the Border Collie Spaniel would be in a rural setting where they have plenty of land to roam freely. They would not cope well if cooped up for too long.


The thick and luxurious coat of the Border Collie Spaniel needs to be brushed thoroughly daily or every other day. With so much fur, it is no surprise that the Border Collie Spaniel sheds a lot, particularly in the summer months. Many will benefit from a professional groom two to four times a year.

Those dogs with pendulous and densely furred ears will benefit from ear canal cleanings every week or two. A veterinary professional will always be happy to demonstrate the safe way to clean ears and ears that are regularly cleaned are less prone to infections.

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