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The herding dog Border Collie originates from the border of Scotland and England, where they have been bred to guard and herd sheep for centuries. These British canines are known for their endless energy and working drive, along with their “intense stare” that makes them so good at their job.
Today, Border Collies continue to work on farms and ranches worldwide. However, they have also entered the family home because of their high trainability and intelligence. These active and loving pups are popular companions for many people in the UK and beyond, particularly those living in the countryside.
Meet the Border Collie
Border Collies are medium-sized dogs that stand between 20 to 22 inches tall and weigh between 30 to 45 pounds. They look like a smaller version of the Australian Shepherd, but they sport a long feathered tail rather than a curly one.
The Border Collie has a thick, weather-resistant double coat, consisting of coarse outer hairs and a soft undercoat. Their coats will be one of two varieties; rough or smooth, although confusingly, this does not refer to the softness of their fur.
Those with rough coats have medium-length (3-inch) hair with plenty of feathering on their legs, chest, and belly. Those with smooth coats will have shorter (1-inch) fur of the same length all over. Smooth-coated Border Collies will usually have coarser feeling hair. Both types shed a lot and need brushing at least once a week but rarely require baths.
Border Collies most commonly are black and white, with black backs, ears, and tops of legs, and white faces, neck, chest feet, and tail tips. However, although rarer, Border Collies can also come in other colours. They can be any form of bicolour, tricolour, or merle and can also have tan markings.
The two most distinctive features of a Border Collie’s face are its ears and eyes. Interestingly, this breed can have fully erect, partially upright, and entirely dropped ears. In addition, their eye colours can vary between blue and brown. It’s also possible for those with the merle patterning to have odd coloured eyes.
Border Collies are a healthy and robust breed with an average 12 and 15 years lifespan. However, two primary genetic diseases are possible; Collie eye anomaly (CEA) and epilepsy. CEA is a congenital, inherited eye disease-specific to Collies. It can be very mild, not impairing vision. Still, if it progresses to Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), it can result in blindness.
The temperament of a Border Collie
Border Collies are full of energy and possess impressive stamina, with most Border Collie owners tiring out well before them. These remarkable canines would run up to 50 miles a day in the Scottish border country! Therefore, they naturally need more daily exercise and mental stimulation than most dog breeds. So, they are not low maintenance or laidback pets by any means.
As a working dog, a Border Collie must have a way to direct positive energy. Therefore, leaving him in the garden is not enough, as this pup needs interactive play and challenging games. If you don’t have a flock of sheep for them to herd, you’ll need to find this Collie another job.
Luckily, they are very bright dogs, making them a joy to train. Thus, you can keep their minds and bodies active with tricks, dog sports, and agility courses. If a Border Collie does not get the mental stimulation it needs, it will create games. Almost always, these will be destructive, like digging or chewing.
While they need an outdoor space to release steam, your garden must be secure as these dogs will herd anything that moves. They can create mayhem with the neighbourhood cats, wildlife, and potentially even cyclists or children if they get out.
10 reasons to add a Border Collie to your family
- They are master craftsmen - Border Collies do their job of herding sheep incredibly well, and watching them in action is mesmerising. They can intuitively respond to the shepherd and skillfully manoeuvre the sheep with their intense stare.
- They make incredible athletes and acrobats - With their high energy and intelligent minds, these dogs can excel at almost anything. They can master agility courses, dog sports such as flying discs, tracking, and advanced obedience training.
- They can learn almost anything - Bordie Collies have a strong desire to learn and will set their mind to understand anything that you try to teach them.
- They can remember up to 1000 words - The amount of commands you can teach them is almost infinite.
- They are sensitive to their owners’ needs - Border Collies have the impressive ability to predict what you need from them before you even ask.
- You will increase your fitness and stamina - You cannot be a couch potato with a Border Collie. Meeting their high energy needs will help you improve your fitness abilities too. No need to pay for a gym membership anymore!
- They were made for the British weather - As a breed from the UK, Collies and their thick, water-resistant coats can withstand the country’s unpredictable weather, from rain to snow.
- They are one of the hardiest dog breeds - Border Collies have been around for centuries, and their genetics have not been altered much during this time. Therefore, they are generally very healthy canines.
- They are adaptable - When trained and socialised from an early age, Border Collies can adapt to any situation, providing their needs continue to be met.
- They are loyal companions - These canines are always looking for a way to help their owners out. Moreover, they will repay the time you put into them with affection, protection, and infinite devotion.
Best homes for a Border Collie
The most important thing to consider before getting a Border Collie is if you have the time and desire to exercise and play with them. A short daily walk and five minutes of fetch are not enough for this dog, so if you decide to bring this pup home, you’ll need to dedicate hours to their physical and mental health. Therefore, they are most suited to someone very active, which is why they do well with farmers who spend all day outside.
It’s best not to bring a Border Collie into a home with cats or other small animals. They are also not a good choice for families with young children. Even though early training can mould this canine into a domestic pet, you cannot train their instinct to nip, nudge, and bark out of them. Moreover, the noise of children playing will stimulate this instinct.