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The Border Collie

Before thinking about adopting a Border Collie, we strongly recommend you learn all you can about this highly intelligent breed.


Simply put, a Border Collie is not your average pet. They are not cuddly lap dogs content with being indoors.

For centuries Border Collies have been bred to herd sheep and their herding instinct, when not fully understood and given a proper outlet, will result in destructive and undesirable behaviors ranging from chasing cars and incessant barking to “herding” small children or chewing furniture. Border Collies need a great deal of activity, whether in the form of exercise or “work” they can perform, such as herding, agility, obedience trials or fly ball.

Equally important, Border Collies need human companionship and should not be left alone for long hours each day. If you are considering adopting a Border Collie you must be willing to devote time and attention to meeting the needs of the dog.

Border Collies are an intense and interesting breed. While a group of one hundred Border Collies will probably look as if they belong to the same breed, they will not have a uniform appearance. Since a “good” dog can be judged only by its herding performance, there is no “breed standard” of appearance to which Border Collies should conform. In general, they are of medium size (25-55 pounds), with coats that may be smooth, medium, or rough. Colors are black, black with tan, and, less common, reddish-brown, all usually with white markings as well as blue and red merle. Predominantly white Border Collies, though unusual, also occasionally appear.

The main characteristics of the Border Collie come from being bred to be perhaps the best herding dog there is: “Because their early work was to gather sheep from the hills, Border Collies are, by nature, gatherers rather than drovers or tenders. They can, nevertheless, be taught to drive stock away from the shepherd and even to keep their charges within certain boundaries. They are also sensitive to commands from their handlers and can distinguish slight variations in the many whistles they understand, responding appropriately to each tone.

Working Border Collies most often have exceptional athletic ability, a biddable nature, and superior livestock sense. In general, a dog that is light on its feet, flowing in its movement, quick to cover its stock, and has great endurance is the most valued. The dog’s temperament must be sensitive enough to bend its will when asked, tough enough to stand up to the pressures of training, eager to learn, with enough confidence and determination to carry on with its work without constant guidance. Some Border Collies are reserved rather than outgoing, but they must love to work with and for the master. While innate livestock sense is bred into all good working collies, their working style can vary. Most people admire a dog that works with its head low to the ground, with its hindquarters high and its tail tucked between its hind legs. They can run as fast as the wind, yet stop in an instant or switch directions without stopping. They don’t take their eyes off their sheep. Their intense gaze is focused on the stock, willing them to obey, to go where the dog directs them, to stop if the dog blocks their path. The stock aren’t rushed or afraid, but they certainly respect the dog. A good Border Collie’s obsession is its livestock, and this is as it should be.

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