The boundless energy and amazing agility make the border collie an excellent choice for taking along on outdoor recreation that involves physical activity, from fetching a Frisbee in the park to navigating wooded hiking trails. His willingness to please his owner also makes the border collie a loyal companion and dedicated watchdog.
Physical CharacteristicsThe athletic, medium-sized border collie is built for his traditional role of herding sheep, with strong bones and muscles that make his movements agile, tireless and effortless. He stands 18 to 22 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs between 30 and 45 pounds. His ears are usually held upright, but the tips may fall forward, and their sensitivity and mobility enhance his sheep watching duties. His tail is carried low during periods that require concentration, and it is raised during periods of excitement.
The double coat of a border collie enables him to carry out his tasks of surveying his flock in all types of weather. The coat may be smooth over his entire body, or it may be medium length with feathering on the chest, underside, haunches and the backs of the forelegs. While black and white remains the most popular choice, the coat coloring may be solid, bi-color, tri-color, sable or merle. Random white markings may appear as patches or as ticking.
The facial expression of a border collie conveys an attitude of alertness, intensity and intelligence. Although brown eyes are preferred in the show ring, blue eyes are also accepted.
TemperamentThe border collie possesses a devoted work ethic and a keen intelligence, making him happiest when he is both physically and mentally challenged. This makes him an ideal candidate for obedience training, agility courses and other competitive canine sports. He is easy to train and eager to please, and he is a loyal companion and devoted watchdog.
His intense focus provides him with a trait known as the eye, a concentrated, hypnotic stare that is used in his herding duties. It can be intimidating to people who are unfamiliar with this habit. Border collies are on guard and reserved when encountering strangers. Their inherent need to corral objects and herd people can result in badgering and nipping of young children and smaller pets.
As a vigilant and responsive dog, the border collie tends to bark more than average. He will alert owners to the arrival of family members returning home, raccoons ravaging the garbage cans and any other sight, sound or presence that he deems worthy of barking at. With diligent training, regular exercise, mental stimulation and a firm hand for guidance, the border collie makes a faithful canine companion.
Care & GroomingThe border collie’s high level of energy must be expended with more than occasional short walks or brief backyard outings. Not suited to apartment living, these dogs need to run fast and play hard in an expansive yard or a park on a daily basis. Their minds must also be exercised with mental stimulation by way of puzzle toys, new tricks and tasks to learn and regular, focused interaction between dog and owner. If the dog is not adequately stimulated physically and mentally, he will divert his restless attentions to potentially destructive behaviors to occupy himself.
Border collies shed, so brushing his coat every couple of days will remove dead hair and minimize knotting. Brushing his teeth at least three times a week will preserve his dental and overall health. Border collies are hardy and live average lifespans of 10 to 14 years. Some potential health issues to be aware of with border collies include compulsive disorder, eye disorders, hip dysplasia, epilepsy and hypothyroidism.
HistoryThe border collie’s exact country of origin remains unknown, but he is believed to have developed from various other sheepdogs that kept watch over flocks along the border of England and Scotland during the 1800s, resulting in the name of border collie. Shepherds valued the sheepdog for his ability to work alone and remain diligent as he monitored and safeguarded large flocks of sheep for as far as 50 miles along the region’s hilly terrain.
While vacationing in Balmoral castle, Queen Victoria was captivated by the collie and became an enthusiastic supporter of the breed’s development, leading to a divergence that would differentiate today’s modern collie from the border collie. Sheep herding trials took place in Great Britain in 1876, and the amazing work abilities demonstrated by the border collie ultimately made him the foremost skilled sheepherding dog worldwide. Referred to simply as collies or sheepdogs until 1915, the border collie earned his present name after that, retaining many of his original traits.
The American Kennel Club first recognized the border collie as a member of the herding group in 1995. He has become a beloved pet in many households, and working border collies are still favored today by ranchers and farmers throughout the world.