Border Collies in Apartments: Can They Live a Happy Life?

By Austin F

Let’s face it, more and more people are moving closer and closer towards metropolitan areas and further from areas with plenty of land to go around. There are many reasons for this, with the main one being the hunt for bigger and better jobs.

When you make the move to an urban area, downsizing is inevitable, and backyards are almost non-existent. Trust me, we are in the process of doing this as well. So when it comes to owning a border collie, is it the right move for them?

Border collies in apartments? Can it be done? Can they live a happy life? Keep reading to find out.

Daily needs of a border collie

Border Collie With Ball PhotoBorder collies, like all other dogs, have fundamental daily needs to stay alive. These include food, water, a place to go to the bathroom, and a place to sleep.

But unlike many other dogs, border collies need a place to let loose and burn off some energy.

They are like little balloons of energy ready to pop at any moment. If you don’t give them the daily attention they need to drain this energy, then they may very well pop.

Border collies are built to work and they are built to learn. They need daily mental and physical stimulation or they will go stir crazy.

This means exercise for physical stimulation and training/activities for mental stimulation.

They need more than a walk here or there, and some training when you feel like it. Border collies need a couple hours of your time per day, at the very least.

Can border collies live in apartments?

Let me rephrase the question for you because the answer comes down to you.

Can you spend the time and energy it takes to give your border collie the attention they need to live happily in an apartment?

When it comes down to it, the answer is, of course, border collies can live in apartments. They can live anywhere as long as they meet their daily needs.

But living life and living a happy life are different things.

So, are you willing to go out of your way to provide them with what they need to live their best life?

Then yes they can live in apartments. Otherwise, probably not.

Are border collies good apartment dogs?

I’m not going to lie and tell you that an apartment is the best place for a border collie to live because it’s not.

You probably know that, or you wouldn’t be reading this article in the first place.

What it really comes down to is if you have the time and energy to give them the care and attention they need to be happy.

If you can put in the extra effort, then border collies can be good apartment dogs. If you can’t, then I would advise against it.

How to live with a border collie in an apartment

Living with a border collie in an apartment is not a breeze by any means.

There is no backyard. There is no way for you to open the back door and let them do their thing.

In an apartment, you are the one in charge of providing them with the exercise and mental stimulation they need.

With that being said, when it comes to living in an apartment with a border collie, size isn’t so much the issue. It’s more about the amount of time and energy you spend with your doggie.

There are some things you have to keep in mind if you want to live with your border collie in a flat or apartment.

If you’re thinking about making the leap, keep reading below. Some are pros, and some are cons, but all will better inform you of what you are in for.

Plan on being outside A LOT more

Because you’re the one in charge of their exercise and physical fitness, you’re going to be outside a lot more than you’re used to. Think about it, not only does your border collie need to go to the bathroom, but they also need exercise and plenty of it.

You’ll find yourself going on multiple walks, runs, or bike rides a day to wear your doggie down. Even when you don’t feel like it, or the weather is bad, you still have to do it.

I remember back when I lived in my childhood home on an acre of land. Exercising the dogs was as easy as letting them outside to run around and play fetch. It was almost too easy.

Now that I live in a house with a small backyard, it’s completely different. And living in an apartment is even harder.

Luckily for you, if you’re in an urban area, chances are there are dog parks nearby. This is what I’ll talk about next.

Dogs parks will be your best friend

Border Collie at Dog Park PhotoDog parks are great. There couldn’t be enough of them.

Dog parks are the closest you’ll get to having your own a backyard if you live in an apartment.

If you have never seen or been to a dog park, it sounds pretty much like what it’s called. It’s a park for dogs.

What makes it different from a park is that it is fenced in, and the dogs can run around without a leash. This means plenty of fetch for your border collie.

Dog parks will be your best friend when you live in an apartment because they allow your dog to run free. Your dog will love you for it too.

No more tiny living rooms or walks on leashes, just pure freedom.

Learn to love tricks and training

All border collies need mental stimulation. It doesn’t matter if you live on a farm or in an apartment. Mental stimulation can be anything from dog training, games, interactive toys, dog sports, and more.

If you have never had a border collie before, you would be surprised at the number of things they can learn. I know my collie mix will do anything if treats are involved.

If you want some ideas on games and activities you can teach them, here is a good forum thread on this.

Plan on meeting plenty of neighbors

With the amount of time you’ll spend going in and out of your apartment, you’re going to meet all your neighbors.

It’s funny because before I had a dog, I could only tell you the names of the neighbors on either side of me, and that was it.

Once I got a dog, it all changed.

Now I can tell you the names of every neighbor with a dog (And the name of their dog) because I run into them so often. For introverts, this may seem daunting at first, but it’s a nice feeling after you get used to it.

Plus my collie loves seeing the other dogs on a daily basis.

Good for your health

You’ll find that having to go out and exercise your dog multiple times a day will make you feel better as well.

Unless you’re into fitness, or already walk everywhere, chances are, you aren’t exercising a ton. Definitely not multiple times a day.

Living in an apartment with a border collie will change this for the better.

Walking, biking, hiking, and/or running daily will become part of your daily routine, and your body will love you for it.

It might be inconvenient

Let’s face it, sometimes living in an apartment with a dog can be inconvenient.

Letting your pup out the back door is so much easier than putting on clothes, leashing up and going on a walk.

Prepare for late night emergency bathroom trips in your pajamas. And taking them out in the snow, rain, or heat.

There are some times when you will really wish you could just have a backyard to let them run around in.

But if living in an apartment is your only option, and you are willing to accept this, then you can make it work.

Border collies in apartments

Now you know how you to live in an apartment with a border collie and what it takes for them to be happy. Here are some of the pros and cons listed out below.


  • Spend more time with your pup
  • Spend more time outdoors
  • Exercise a lot more
  • Have a closer connection with your doggie
  • Meet lots of neighbors and their dogs
  • Socialize your border collie
  • Go on new adventures
  • See new places


  • It can be inconvenient sometimes
  • A lot more time is required on your part
  • Your dog relies on you to do the doody
  • No backyard to run around in freely

When it comes down to it, living in an apartment with a border collie comes down to if you are willing to put in the work. If you are, then the benefits can outweigh the cons.

The final conclusion

The moment you have been waiting for. Or did you scroll to the bottom for the answer?

Either way, here’s my opinion.

Border collies in apartments: can they live a happy life?

To me, the answer is yes, with a caveat.

If you think you can live in an apartment and put little in or no time and effort, then your border collie will not be happy.

But, if you are willing to dedicate a couple hours or more a day to your border collie to provide them with the physical and mental stimulation they need, then yes they can live a happy life in an apartment.

10 thoughts on “Border Collies in Apartments: Can They Live a Happy Life?”

  1. Can I leave a border collie 8 to 9 hours at an apartment alone when I am at work. Then, I can spend at least 2 hours for physical exercise and one hour for mental stimulations.
    What about other dogs? How office workers keep their dog during the office hours?

    • Sorry, Eric. This comment must have slipped through the cracks! Yes, when I was working at an office, I would leave my border collie at home for 7-8 hours during the weekdays. I just made sure to get him some good exercise before and after, and then before bed. They will become used to whatever exercise you give them. 2 hours is just a guideline that I would try to reach every day. You’ll know when they aren’t getting enough exercise and mental stimulation because they will start gaining weight and becoming destructive while you are away at work.

  2. Hi Austin!
    I’m a little concerned for the Border Collie pup that my friend is trying to raise. He’s currently 5 months old and lives in a first floor apartment with no street facing windows. My friend spends long stretches of time away from home (7-9 hours) and when he’s away the pup gets locked into a pen for the whole time. I recently spent a couple of days with the pup because my friend had to go out of town on a business trip and he seemed pretty depressed. I couldn’t walk him very far because he already seems to be developing osteochondritis dissecans, but tried to make up for the lack of stimulation by playing with him for a couple of hours. However, when I left my friend’s apartment the pup had to go back in the pen until his boyfriend arrived in the evening (they don’t live together at the moment, so most of the time there’s only one human around when there are humans around). There is a cat living in the apartment as well, so the pup does get some interaction. It just seems quite cruel to keep a pup of that age locked up for so long, toys are useless in that situation because he doesn’t have the space to throw or chase them. I really want to talk to my friend about it, I’m just not sure how to approach the subject. When he first told me he was thinking of getting a BC I told him then that it wouldn’t be fair on the puppy because my friend leads quite a busy life – he’s a student in vet school so his schedule is very demanding and is likely to increase over the next 2 years. He wouldn’t listen to me though and was very adamant that he wanted a dog of this breed. I know he loves the dog but I also think he’s more in love with the idea of having that breed of dog than the reality of it. Not sure what to do or say, so can you give me any advice?
    Thank you in advance!

    • That’s a very unfortunate situation. I have experienced it before as well with our neighbors’ dogs who were on the balcony almost all day every day. There is not much you can do about it because it is the owner’s choice to let them live like this. Since it sounds like you know him pretty well, I would definitely talk to him and tell him (Or even show him articles) about the negative impact this can have on border collies. Heck, the vast majority of breeds shouldn’t be put in this situation. At a minimum, the dog should at least be able to roam around the house during the day. I hope you can talk some sense into him and save the pup!

  3. Hi, Austin. I’m 18, I live in an apartment with my dad and we have recently adopted a BC mix. She’s 3 months old. My dad has gone away for almost a month to visit relatives and I’m here with the little dog. She’s really active and likes to go outside as she gets really excited whenever I show her the leash. I have some concerns, though. For some reason, she hates it when I sit down to eat. She starts barking like crazy and barely nothing calms her. I usually feed her before I eat so she’s not hungry when I’m having lunch/dinner, but she keeps barking at me a lot and I don’t know what to do.

    Another thing I’m worried about is the fact that I might be going away to study abroad in a few months and my dad will stay here with her, but he works a lot of hours and I’m scared my dog Kiara will get depressed. I just want her to be happy and it gets me worried that she might not be. I love her but I don’t know if my dad really thought it through when he adopted her. And now I just hope she’ll be ok once I’m away.

  4. Hello, we’re thinking of adopting a BC but my mom has some concerns. We live in apartment, we can give him the exercise she needs but our neighbours kinda hate animals so do they bark often? It would create a problem for those unloving neighbours of ours. One of them has a dog but she said she had to have his vocal cords removed. I’m very concerned about that. There’s a little pup waiting to find a home so i would be so thankful if you can answer me asap. Thank you

    • Mine barks at squirrels and when he hears strange noises outside, so it could be a problem if your apartment complex has a lot of activity and noises. PLEASE DON’T EVER do that to a dog. That is horrible

  5. Hi Austin,
    My ex girlfriend and great friend passed away a couple of weeks ago
    Got the phone call from her daughter
    I am getting my 2 border collies back brother and sister had them since small puppies
    Thing is that I now live in a 3 bedroom apartment and is pretty big 2 empty bedrooms
    Only thing I’m worried about is leaving them alone and destroying stuff
    Pretty sure they won’t because they have each other
    They are 7yrs old
    Any advice from experience would be appreciated

  6. I live in an apartment with a 3y old male border collie. There is not much difference compared to living in a house. We used to live in a big house with a big yard. But my dog was almost never in the yard on his own. I would let him out and he would just sit at the door waiting for me to let him back in.
    I spend a lot of time outside with my dog. We go for a walk at least twice a day. And he goes everywhere with me. Pick up kid from school, to the grocery store, to the doctor’s office, … So not much difference living in an apartment compared to a house. He is just as happy living in the apartment as in the house. He spends most of his time indoors sleeping, looking at his food bowl or licking his b*lls.
    One big difference is the dirt he brings inside. In my house, I had a separate entrance leading into a big room where he could dry and shake off the dirt from his fur after a walk. Now I first have to walk him thru the common hallway / elevator and then straight into my living room. So instead of just needing to clean 1 room, I now need to clean the common hallway, elevator and the entire living room. And he gets very dirty. And wet. And smelly.


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