The Border Collie dog breed was developed to gather and control sheep in the hilly border country between Scotland and England. He is known for his intense stare, or “eye,” with which he controls his flock. He’s a dog with unlimited energy, stamina, and working drive, all of which make him a premier herding dog; he’s still used today to herd sheep on farms and ranches around the world. The highly trainable and intelligent Border Collie also excels in various canine sports, including obedience, flyball, agility, tracking, and flying disc competitions.
The Border Collie was originally called the “Scotch Sheep Dog” and originated in Northumberland along the borders of Scotland and England. It is a descendant from dogs used by the Vikings to herd reindeer, the old British droving breeds, with spaniel added. Named a “workaholic” for its sheer drive and love for working, the Border Collie has an eye that can hypnotize cattle. It can master any type of herd by crouching down and mesmerizing the animals with its intense stare. One of the most trainable breeds, the Border Collie also serves well as a narcotics and bomb detection dog and is a frequent high performer in obedience, agility, Frisbee™ trials, police work, search and rescue, Flyball, performing tricks and competitive obedience. Some Border Collies have been trained very successfully as guide dogs for the blind. Currently very good results are obtained with them for general assistance to the handicapped in The Netherlands. The Border Collie was first recognized by the AKC in 1995.
In general, Border Collies are medium-sized dogs with a moderate amount of coat, which is often thick and frequently sheds. They have a double coat which varies from smooth to rough, (and occasionally curled). Whilst black and white is most commonly seen colour pattern of the Border Collie, the breed appears in just about any colour and pattern known to occur in dogs. Some of these include black tricolour (black/tan/white), liver and white, and red tricolour (red/tan/white) have also been seen regularly, with other colours such as blue, lilac, red merle, blue merle, brindle, and Australian red (also known as ee red, blonde, recessive red, or gold) which is seen less frequently. Some Border Collies may also have single-colour coats.
Border Collies require considerable daily physical exercise and mental stimulation. The Border Collie is an intelligent dog breed; in fact, it is widely considered to be the most intelligent dog breed. Although the primary role of the Border Collie is being a livestock herding dog, this type of breed is becoming increasingly popular as a pet. In January 2011, a Border Collie was reported to have learned 1,022 words and acts consequently to human citation of those words.
If there is a dark side to the Border Collie’s energy and workaholic attitude, it comes out when he’s brought into a family that doesn’t understand him. He is not a cuddly, couch-potato dog. He doesn’t want to be coddled. He wants — and needs — a job. Keeping up with the Border Collie’s intense mental and physical stamina is exhausting, even exasperating, to an owner or family that wants a laid-back family pet.
The Border Collie is a herding dog, which means he has an overwhelming urge to gather a flock. That flock could be sheep, children, cats, squirrels, or anything that moves, including cars. This instinct to nip, nudge, and bark, along with his energy, cannot be trained out of him. Rather, it must be directed. He must have a task, whether it’s actually herding sheep or competing in dog sports. A brisk walk or a game of fetch every day isn’t enough activity for the Border Collie.
That said, for the right owner, a Border Collie is a wonderful dog to live with. His intelligence and tractable nature make him easy to train. He’s sensitive and, according to those who know him well, he has an uncanny ability to know what you’re going to ask of him before you ask it. If he is well socialized and trained from puppyhood, he can adapt to almost any living situation that provides the mental and physical exercise he requires.
The Border Collie is a good match for an owner who is as active as he is, especially one who’s eager to get involved in dog sports. With the right training, this breed excels in any activity he tries, including sheepdog trials, agility, flyball, flying disc, advanced obedience, freestyle obedience, or tracking.
The owner or family that’s willing to properly socialize and train the Border Collie will find a soul mate in this intelligent, sensitive breed.