Border collies are highly intelligent dogs that can easily learn many tricks, including shaking, rolling over and playing dead. Based on their instinct to herd, most border collies can learn to chase and catch a Frisbee. Border collies are easily trainable because they are motivated by food and wish to please their owners. They are bred specifically for obedience and intelligence.

Many border collies excel in agility competitions. Training can start at home with encouraging the dog to jump through a hula hoop. With their extreme focus, border collies can be taught to eat a treat placed on their nose only once the owner gives a command. Border collies understand their owners' hand gestures as well as voice commands, providing the ability to enhance a trick like "play dead" with an accompanying hand signal.

Border collies are often noted as one of the most intelligent breeds of dog. They are very active dogs and need lots of play time with their owners and with other dogs. Like other dogs bred for working, they are sensitive to movement and may chase cars. They live an average of about 12 years, with the leading causes of death being cancer and old age. The lineage of all pure border collies can be traced to Old Hemp, a border collie that was used as a stud before his death in 1901. Old Hemp was strong and quiet, and sheep responded well to him.