Border Collies - Breed Introduction
Known as the most intelligent breed of dog, Border Collies have an extremely high energy level and must be kept physically and mentally active or they will quickly become destructive or neurotic. Raised in the right environment, though, the Border Collie can make a wonderful, devoted companion.
His high energy level, unparalleled intelligence, and strong work ethic make the Border Collie the perfect companion for those who wish to compete in flyball, agility competitions, or herding.
Border Collies are an average-sized dog, reaching 18 to 22 inches in height (46 to 56 centimeters), and weighing 27 to 45 pounds (12 to 20 kilograms).
History of Breed
A dog known as Old Hemp, born in September of 1893, appears to be the foundation sire for the current Border Collie. The breed originated on the Scottish and English border during the late 19th century, and is descended from old droving dogs.
Although they have achieved great popularity and success in the areas of competitive herding, agility, and flyball, Border Collies are still widely used to herd sheep, cattle, and any number of other animals all over the world.
Color and Coat
One variety of Border Collie has thick, straight, coarse hair that reaches about 3 inches in length, while the other has sleek, straight hair that reaches about 1 inch in length. Both types can be black and white, tricolor, red and white, black and grey, and all black.
Blue merles, red merles, and sable are seen, though not as commonly. Eye color can include brown, amber, or blue, and even each eye a different color. The Border Collie should never be predominantly white. Hair on the face, ears, and front legs is usually short.
Personality and Temperament
The Border Collie is one of the smartest and most trainable breeds, but care must be taken to give this dog a job that requires both physical and mental exertion. This dog wants nothing more than to work closely with a human companion and receive his praises, but the Border Collie must also be able to expend his excess energy in a constructive manner. Without the proper outlet, the Border Collie will quickly become destructive.
Border Collies are masters at herding sheep and livestock, escalating their use of force on the herd from a stare-down to barking, nipping, and finally biting in order to gain compliance. Unfortunately, if a Border Collie is not sufficiently worked at home, he will begin herding children, other family pets, and anything else that moves.
This can be intimidating for the other members of the household. If the strong herding instinct is already present in the Border Collie, it cannot be “trained” out of the dog. On the other hand, older children can be taught to not run from the dog, therefore ceasing to trigger the innate herding response.
Border Collies have been said to have the energy of a nuclear reactor, and that energy needs to be utilized every day in order to maintain a happy home life with the dog.
To achieve this, at least two hours each day should be dedicated to playing with and exercising the dog. Mental exercises seem to exhaust the Border Collie more easily than physical activity alone.
There are two sets of standards for Border Collies, depending upon whether they are being shown for appearance or for performance. In those areas where Border Collies are rated on appearance, the standard calls for a longer double coat that may be coarse or smooth, a gentle and friendly temperament, and a soft dark eye. Merles are allowed one blue eye.
The body should be slightly longer than it is tall with a bobbed tail. The muzzle tapers to a black nose, and the ears are usually half perked. The dog should have a keen and intelligent expression. As a tribute to its work, dogs with broken teeth or scars received while working will not have those flaws counted against them.
In the performance arena, the standard is set by a predetermined course of tests. The Border Collie must approach a herd of sheep from a distance without alerting or upsetting the herd. It must then quietly direct the herd through a series of obstacles. Finally, it must pen and sort the sheep.
The breed is defined by the dogs’ athleticism, high degree of trainability, mental focus, and endurance.
Typical Health Concerns
The Border Collie is typically a healthy, hardy animal. Afflictions found in this breed include hip dysplasia, Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA), and epilepsy.
This average shedder requires regular combing and brushing to keep the coat in good condition. This is especially important when the undercoat is shedding. Bathe only when necessary.
Country of Origin
The Border Collie originated on the Scottish/English border in Northumberland.
Average Life Span
The life expectancy of the Border Collie is 12 to 15 years.