Modern Dog Training and Behaviour Advice
Breed: Border Collie
Breed Group: Pastoral/Herding
The Border Collie’s ancestors have been around since humans in what is now Britain first began using #dogs to help guard and herd sheep. In the border country between Scotland and England, the herding dog became one of the most valuable assets a shepherd could have, and the best working dogs were bred with each other.
The type varied, depending on the terrain or the work required in each region. These herding dogs became associated with their particular regions and were eventually known as Welsh Sheepdogs, Northern Sheepdogs, Highland Collies, and Scotch Collies. The Border Collie’s name reflects his partially Scottish heritage: the word collie, which refers to sheepdogs, is derived from Scottish dialect.
In 1860, Scotch Sheep Dogs were shown at the second dog show ever held in England. On a trip to Balmoral a short time later, Queen Victoria saw one of the dogs and became an enthusiast of the breed.
One R.J. Lloyd Price is given credit for beginning sheepdog trials. In 1876, he brought 100 wild Welsh sheep to the Alexandra Palace in London for a demonstration. An account in the Livestock Journal described the astonishment of the spectators at the keenness of the dogs, whose only assistance from their handlers was in the form of hand signals and whistles.
Today the Border Collie is recognized as the premier sheepherding dog. The breed’s superior herding ability leads many fanciers to advocate breeding Border Collies only to working, not conformation, standards.
The Border Collie breed boasts two varieties of coat: rough and smooth. Both are double coats, with a coarser outer coat and soft undercoat. The rough variety is medium length with feathering on the legs, chest, and belly. The smooth variety is short all over, usually coarser in texture than the rough variety, and feathering is minimal.
His coat is most often black with a white blaze on the face, neck, feet, legs, and tail tip, with or without tan. However, he may be any bicolor, tricolor, merle, or solid color except white.
Quite simply, the Border Collie is a dynamo. His personality is characteristically alert, energetic, hardworking, and smart. He learns quickly — so quickly that it’s sometimes difficult to keep him challenged.
This breed likes to be busy. In fact, he must be busy or he becomes bored, which leads to annoying behavior, such as barking, digging, or chasing cars. He’s not a dog to lie quietly on the front porch while you sip a glass of lemonade; he thrives on activity. Remember, he was bred to run and work all day herding sheep.
The Border Collie is also renowned for being highly sensitive to his handler’s every cue, from a whistle to a hand signal to a raised eyebrow.
Of course, the Border Collie isn’t perfect. He can be strong-minded and independent, and his compulsion to herd can become misdirected. In the absence of sheep, or some kind of job, he is apt to gather and chase children, cars, or pets.
He can also become fearful or shy if he isn’t properly socialized as a puppy. Puppy classes and plenty of exposure to a variety of people, places, and things help the sensitive Border Collie gain confidence.
While the Border Collie is a highly adaptable dog, he’s best suited to an environment that gives him some elbow room: a city home with a securely fenced yard, or a country farm or ranch. Because he has a propensity to herd and chase, he must be protected from his not-so-bright instinct to chase cars.
Regardless of the environment, he requires a great deal of mental and physical stimulation every day, and he needs an owner who is willing and able to provide that. This can be a great burden to owners who don’t know what they’re getting into. If you’re considering a Border Collie, make sure you can provide him with a proper outlet for his natural energy and bright mind. If you don’t have a farm with sheep, dog sports are a good alternative.
Children and Other Pets:
The Border Collie is a good family dog, as long as he is raised properly and receives training when he’s young. He gets along with children and other pets, though his instinct to herd will cause him to nip, chase, and bark at kids (especially very young children) and animals if his herding instincts aren’t otherwise directed.
As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
Border Collies are generally healthy, but like all #breeds, they’re prone to certain health conditions. Not all Border Collies will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed.
If you’re buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy’s parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.
In Border Collies, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand’s disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).
- Hip Dysplasia: This is an inherited condition in which the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but others don’t display outward signs of discomfort. (X-ray screening is the most certain way to diagnose the problem.) Either way, arthritis can develop as the dog ages. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred — so if you’re buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This is a family of eye diseases that involves the gradual deterioration of the retina. Early in the disease, affected dogs become night-blind; they lose sight during the day as the disease progresses. Many affected dogs adapt well to their limited or lost vision, as long as their surroundings remain the same.
- Epilepsy: This is a neurological condition that’s often, but not always, inherited.Epilepsy can cause mild or severe seizures that may show themselves as unusual behavior (such as running frantically as if being chased, staggering, or hiding) or even by falling down, limbs rigid, and losing consciousness. Seizures are frightening to watch, but the long-term prognosis for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy is generally very good. It’s important to take your dog to the vet for proper diagnosis (especially since seizures can have other causes) and treatment.
- Collie Eye Anomaly: This is an inherited condition that causes changes and abnormalities in the eye, which can sometimes lead to blindness. These changes can include choroidal hypoplasia (an abnormal development of the choroids), coloboma (a defect in the optic disc), staphyloma (a thinning of the sclera), and retinal detachment. Collie eye anomaly usually occurs by the time the dog is two years old. There is no treatment for the condition.
- Allergies: There are three main types of allergies in dogs: food allergies, which are treated by eliminating certain foods from the dog’s diet; contact allergies, which are caused by a reaction to a topical substance such as bedding, flea powders, dog shampoos, and other chemicals; and inhalant allergies, which are caused by airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, and mildew. Treatment varies according to the cause and may include dietary restrictions, medications, and environmental changes.
- Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD): This orthopedic condition, caused by improper growth of cartilage in the joints, usually occurs in the elbows, but it has been seen in the shoulders as well. It causes a painful stiffening of the joint, to the point that the dog is unable to bend his elbow. It can be detected in dogs as early as four to nine months of age. Overfeeding of “growth formula” puppy foods or high-protein foods may contribute to its development.
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I chose a border collie because they are a reasonably sized dog for my average sized home. I wanted a highly intelligent breed that I could do lots with ie. tricks, agility. Border collies are high energy so we can go on days out to wales or lake districts etc and she won’t get tired easily. I did 6 months research before I set out to get one. I probably managed to adopt the laziest border collie but still high energy and I knew what their temperaments can be like so nope, no surprises. I would suggest to brush up some basic knowledge on dog sports and games as they really enjoy it. Border collies make a mess, they’re really good at bringing an entire mud puddle in and throwing it all over your house. Mine is really sensitive as far as training and handling. She’s been easy to train but the right methods need to be used else they won’t respond. They need to be socialised young or it will take a while to bring them round, it took me a nearly 18months to stop Jesse being so scared of other dogs and took us 4-6months to bring her round to people. She’s very loyal and I would definitely have another.
I knew I wanted to train and compete agility and border collie seemed a popular choice.
I am 22 and a first time dog owner. I didn’t realise how much work a border collie would be. No regrets though, he is coming on brilliantly.
He is as clever as I had heard border collies are. However I wasn’t expecting his high drive to cause problems with shadow/light/car chasing (all of which have been worked on and are 100x better)
Make sure you research!!! If you are going to a breeder, get the pup at the right age 8 weeks. Got my boy at 5months due to lack of research (no regrets) and he missed out on a lot of vital early training and socialising! Also, be prepared to work your butt off otherwise the BC will not settle! Trust me the dog will have 100x more energy than you.
I train mine but he presents a new challenge all the while. Love training as love to watch the progress and to see hard work paying off. Socialising is vital to a dogs upbringing. Dog shows are great to attend to build social skills and get your dog used to a busy environment. In terms of handling – I do my best – I think I do ok! Lots of trainers say my dog is not the easiest to handle but we understand each other and thats how we make progress.
Now that I’ve had a border collie I never want anything else BC every time!