The Border Collie is a herding dog that originates from the English-Scottish border region. They are descendants of the landrace collies from the British Isles and were developed to herd livestock, mostly sheep. Border Collies are bred to have a very intense work ethic and they strive to always have a job to do. Most of the Border Collies today have bloodlines that can be traced back to a dog named Old Hemp. The term Border Collie was first used in 1915 to distinguish them from the traditional Collie. Today, the Border Collie is most commonly used a companion animal.
The Border Collie is widely considered possibly the most intelligent of all the dog breeds. Besides being incredibly smart, they are also energetic, athletic and playful. They are best suited pets for families that are active and enjoy spending a significant amount of time exercising them.
Like all working breeds, Border Collies retain the traits needed for the job they were created to do. This means that despite proper training and socialization, they may still exhibit behaviors we consider unwanted in a non-working home environment. Border Collies maintain their natural herding instincts which often do not make them suitable pets for households with small children. They are known to nip at the feet and legs of children in order to herd them. Most parents are not appreciative of these herding behaviors and often choose to rehome the dog. Border Collies get along well with other animals, but may try to herd them which can cause conflict. Border Collies are welcoming to strangers, but may have the desire to herd houseguests. While Border Collies may not mind living with other family pets, other family pets may not enjoy living with a Border Collie. Border Collies should not be trusted with small animals that could be potentially be injured from their herding behaviors. Caution should always be taken when they are around these animals. Some Border Collies may adjust to not herding their families, but this instinct is intense and may be hard to control. Due to their breed history, Border Collies are often sensitive to motion and may chase things, such as cars. It’s important to understand that this has nothing to do with ‘dominance’ or ‘prey drive’, but with the genetic endowment of the sheep herder.
Border Collies extremely active dogs and require regular daily exercise to stay physically and mentally healthy. If they do not get enough exercise and stimulation they may become bored and nag you constantly to do something fun with them. Some Border Collies will develop neurotic behaviors if their needs are exercise needs are not met. Owner must be dedicated to spending several hours a day exercising their Border Collie. Border Collies enjoy participating in activities such as agility, competitive obedience, Frisbee, Flyball, sheepdog trials, and performing tricks. Border Collies continue to be very active indoors and often do best with large yards to be active in.
The Border Collie’s superb intelligence makes it one of the most highly trainable dog breeds. They have the perfect combination of brains, energy, and work ethic. They can be trained to do everything from tricks to police work. They love to do any activity and will always give their 100%. Border Collies have been bred to work cooperatively in pairs or groups, so they are highly social. Owners who believe in ‘dominance’ theory will baffle and even frighten this breed. Border Collies are prone to developing fear problems and even fear aggression if harsh or punitive training methods are used. It’s an absolute to build your relationship with the Border Collie based on trust and to use only positive training methods.
Bred for centuries to work to the shepherd’s whistle and voice, Border Collies can be unusually sensitive to sounds. They can develop noise phobias (fear of fireworks, thunderstorms, marching bands and the like). The Border Collie benefits from early socialization because it helps reduce shyness and prevents them from developing fear issues.
Border Collies require regular brushing to keep their coats healthy. They are average shedders, but may require more brushing when their undercoat sheds. The Border Collie is prone to medical issues such as epilepsy, hip dysplasia, Collie Eye Anomaly, deafness, and allergies. Some dogs may carry a gene that makes them very sensitive to certain drugs. The breed typically weighs 30-45 lbs and has a lifespan of 12-15 years.