Like their parent breeds, boradors are extremely active and will do best in families that provide a lot of exercise and social interaction. A happy, healthy borador is sweet-natured, athletic, affectionate, and playful, says Jami-Lyn Derse, DVM, founder of Veterinary Housecall Care in Chicago.
Because the borador is a mixed breed that inherits traits from both parent breeds, what a pup can look like can vary wildly. If a borador takes after his Lab side, he can have a short coat in black, brown, or yellow. Or, if they lean more toward their border collie parent, they can have a medium-length coat that's solid black or black and white.
Like their parent breeds, boradors are medium-to-large dogs. Depending on the traits inherited from their border collie and labrador retriever parents, boradors can stand 18–25 inches tall and weigh anywhere between 30–70 pounds. Most border collie and Lab mixes, Derse says, tend to be on the smaller end of the range. But, she adds, "It depends on whether an [shorter, stockier] English lab or an American lab [which is taller and has a more athletic build], was the parent."
"These are all signs of pent-up energy," she says. "They have a good temperament as long as they're getting their energy out; otherwise, they're ornery."
Boradors tend to be outdoing and will greet strangers, children, and other dogs with wagging tails and an eagerness for attention. They are especially affectionate with their families and appreciate opportunities to tag along on all kinds of activities.
When it comes to their dream living situation, boradors have one wish: space. "The bigger the yard, the better," Derse says.
Your borador might romp around the backyard solo for a short period, but sniffing around the fence line solo won't be enough to fulfill his need for exercise. You'll need to provide plenty of opportunities for him to burn off his boundless energy, from long—very, very long—walks and trips to the dog park to epic games of fetch. The adage, "A tired dog is a good dog," definitely applies to the borador.
"You took two of the highest-energy breeds and combined them, [which means] you cannot walk this dog enough to get rid of [his] energy," Derse says.
Although boradors are easygoing dogs that will happily nap on the sofa after a good workout, they are probably not the right dogs for apartment life. In fact, Derse says, "If you live in an apartment and you're thinking about [a borador], you might want to rethink it."
While boradors can be "ideal family pets" that get along well with children, dogs, and other pets, Derse warns that the herding instincts from their border collie heritage can remain strong. But with early and consistent training (and adult supervision during puppy and kiddo playtime), a borador can quickly learn that kids are not something to herd.
Boradors are just as smart as they are sporty. Training is a great way to give them a mental challenge—but it's not just about teaching basic cues like "sit," "stay," and "leave it." Games that teach your borador new skills and provide intellectual challenges are good go-tos—and borador puppies will happily accept treats and praise for learning new things.
Labs tend to have short, straight, and dense coats, while border collies have longer, coarse, often wavy coats; boradors can have some combination of these coat types. Both parent breeds are heavy shedders, which means boradors will need regular grooming, regardless of which coat type they inherit. Expect to brush your borador daily to remove dead hair and keep it off your couch.
The typical borador lifespan is 10–15 years and they are typically healthy pups. However, these border collie and Labrador retriever mixes can develop a few health issues their parent breeds are prone to. This includes:
- Hip dysplasia: Both border collies and Labrador retrievers are prone to hip dysplasia. The condition, which causes grinding and pain, is diagnosed when the hip joint and socket don't fit together. There is no cure, but physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications can help ease the pain. Sometimes surgery is needed.
- Ear infections: Excessive head shaking, pawing or scratching the affected ear, odor, discharge, redness, swelling or scabs in the ear canal are common signs of ear infections. Thanks to their floppy ears and love of swimming, boradors may be diagnosed with ear infections more often than breeds with small, pricked ears. If your borador has chronic ear infections, your vet may also look for underlying causes such as allergies, thyroid disease, or other endocrine disorders and autoimmune disorders.
- Epilepsy: Epilepsy is an inherited disorder that causes recurrent seizures. It's the most common neurological condition diagnosed in dogs. While the condition isn't painful, it can cause dogs to feel anxious and confused. A CT scan or MRI are the most popular options to diagnose epilepsy. Medication can help control seizures.
Keeping up with regular veterinarian appointments will keep your pup healthy, and make sure to consult your vet if you notice signs of any of the above conditions.
Both border collies and Labs have centuries-long histories. Border collies are known as indispensable working dogs, herding sheep and other livestock in the Scottish Highlands and in Wales for generations. Labs were also bred to work, though on the other side of the pond; they were used to retrieve ducks and keep fishermen company in Newfoundland, Canada.
Given that the border collie and Labrador retriever consistently rank among the U.S.'s most popular breeds, it's not surprising that there is interest in crossing the breeds. In fact, there were likely a lot of Lab and border collie crosses before anyone dubbed the mixed breed a "borador."
But because the borador is a mixed breed with no official standard, not much is known about his history. But one thing is certain: These outgoing, active, athletic dogs are the ideal companions for active owners who want enthusiastic four-legged companions for outdoor adventures.
- The borador might not be recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club, but they are recognized by the American Canine Hybrid Club.