Height: 18-22 in
Weight: 27-45 lbs
Life Span: 12-16 yrs
Coloring: Can be solid colored, bicolored, or tricolored; blue merle, red merle, chocolate merle, tan merle, black and white, red and white, brown and white, brindle
Area of Origin: Northumberland, Scottish/English border
Similar Breeds: Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd, Australian Kelpie, Texas Heeler, Rough Collie, Smooth Collie
History and Origin:
The Border Collie is a herding dog, specializing in sheep. Originally called the Scottish Sheep Dog, the Border Collies ancestors were used in the Scottish/English border region of Northumberland to tend to large herds of sheep and cattle. A descendent of reindeer herders brought over to the British Isles by the Vikings, the Border Collie was noticed by Queen Victoria in the 1860’s, and breeding to refine the dogs unique qualities began. Spaniel blood was added to give the Border Collie its famous crouching profile; like the spaniel, which stalks and points at the prey it is hunting, the Border Collie controls the animals it herds by stalking them and staring them down. The term Border Collie was first used in 1915 by the International Sheep Dog Society, officially distinguishing the dogs that had been bred with the spaniel from the older-type Rough and Smooth Collies.
Personality and Temperament:
Exceptionally intelligent, the Border Collie is a sensitive dog that loves to please. It lives to please its owner, and thrives in an environment of constant stimulation. While playful, the Border Collies working instincts make it untrustworthy around small, non-canine pets, however with proper handling, the dog can develop deep bonds with even the household cat. Above all, the Border Collie craves being active with its owner, and excels at agility, flyball, sheep trials, and obedience tests. It can develop shyness if not socialized properly, and requires strong and confident leadership from its handler, or it may demonstrate dominant behaviors, such as the desire to herd children or strangers. This breed is not suitable for apartment living, and a large yard is recommended to help keep it from destroying its owners home when bored. Because of its quick-wit, its strong instincts and its sensitive nature, the Border Collie is not recommended for first-time owners or owners who cannot provide consistent leadership.
The Border Collie is an extremely high-achieving student of obedience training; it has an excellent ability to connect words to actions, and is among the most trainable of breeds. Consistent leadership and positive reinforcement will encourage the Border Collie to be a confident, attentive partner, and satisfying the dogs physical and mental exercise needs is the key to success. If these needs are met, the dog has an unwavering attention span that makes it a joy to work with at the highest levels of obedience testing and dog trials. An intense, varying exercise regime will keep the Border Collie happy and healthy; it is happiest when performing a job, and enrollment in canine activities such as agility or sheep trials not only satiates the dogs endless energy, but also forms a strong bond between dog and handler that continue through the dogs life.
The Border Collies thick double coat requires regular combing to keep it untangled and shiny. Debris such as burs or leaves tend to get trapped in the dogs fur, and a good brushing after exposure to tall grasses or forested areas will prevent further tangling and matting. When the Border Collies soft under coat is shedding out, extensive brushing will help remove dead hairs and keep the skin healthy.
The Border Collie has shared ancestry with the other Scottish Collie breeds of Britain, such as the Rough Collie and the Smooth Collie. It has influenced the development of the Australian herding dogs (Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Kelpie, Australian Shepherd), and is cross-bred with the Australian Cattle Dog to produce the Texas Heeler.
Interesting Facts about the Border Collie:
1. It is thought that the word collie is derived from an old Celtic word for useful.
2. The Border Collie’s herd-control technique is known as “the eye”. By staring intently at the animal, the Border Collie asserts it’s dominance over the sheep, herding it the direction the dog wants it to, which is shown through the dogs movements.
3. A very intelligent breed, the Border Collie is considered to be the most intelligent of all dog breeds in the book, The Intelligence of Dogs, by Stanley Cohen.
4. Used to develop the Australian Cattle Dog, the Border Collie was imported to Australia in the late nineteenth century after it had proven its utility in Britain.
Organizations dedicated to the Border Collie:
American Border Collie Association
United States Border Collie Club
Canadian Border Collie Association
Border Collie Rescue – Where Every Dog Has His Day
Border Collie Society of America – Rescue
Mid America Border Collie Rescue