Border Collies are best known for their intelligence and working roles as sheep herding dogs.
Border Collies are a highly intelligent breed and need lots of exercise and training. If you are thinking about owning a Border Collie be prepared to spend in excess of 2 hours a day with your dog keeping that intelligent mind occupied. These dogs need lots of space, games, puzzles and ideally a job or sport to do, like agility or farm work.
Border Collies really do need an experienced owner who loves to train and someone very active. In exchange a Border Collie will be responsive, loving and fun to share your life with.
WHAT DOES THE BORDER COLLIE WANT IN THEIR PERFECT LIFE PARTNER/FAMILY?
I’m looking for an owner as active as I am. Someone who loves a run at the beach, playing ball, training and agility or flyball. I would love to live on a big property with lots of other dogs and people. I bore easily, so I really need to be kept busy and I do not like to be alone. Please remember I love to herd and if you don’t have anything for me to do, I will round up the family!
AT A GLANCE
|Height (at shoulder)||50-53 cm|
Playful – Life is just a game to your average Border Collie. They love chase, ball-games and playing with other dogs. As they get older they can become a little lazy, but if kept at a healthy weight will often stay playful into middle age.
Lively – Border Collies are very active dogs and need lots of activity and stimulation. They are often very excitable, particularly when their owners come home.
Loyal – A Border Collie will often bond very closely to one person in the family and be extremely loyal. This can translate to a dog that is not suited to long periods of being alone and perhaps even a bit snappy if not socialized appropriately.
Intelligent – These intelligent dogs are very trainable and need at least 2 hours a day of exercise and training when young and continuing on into adult-hood. Without mental stimulation and training they become easily bored and sometimes destructive.
EXERCISE & TRAINING
|Exercise Requirements||Very High – 2+ hours per day|
|Training Requirements||Very High – 2+hours per day or working dog (eg property or assistance dog)|
Border Collies are high energy dogs that need lots of exercise and training. An activity like agility, flyball, obedience work or dancing would be ideal. If you live near a beach or on a property and have lots of spare time, the Border Collie would be a good fit.
|Trips to the Groomer||No- easy care at home|
|Brushing||High – Daily brushing required|
|Hair fall||High Shed – you will be living with lots of hair|
Border Collies really need a daily brush or to be clipped regularly as they have a dense coat that can be high maintenance. They are ideally suited to colder climates, rather than hot climates, but their coat can also be insulating in warmer conditions. Just make sure there is a dam or pool to jump into on hotter days if you live somewhere with hot summers.
|Good With Kids||Excellent – Good with kids of any age|
|Good With Other Small Pets||Medium – Ok with other pets, supervision advised|
|Sociability||High – Loves other dogs and best in a multi-dog household.|
Border Collies are ideal dogs for multi-dog households. Having a canine playmate can help to alleviate boredom and burn off some of that boundless energy. They are generally okay with kids, but are often very busy dogs so need their own space and can be very excitable as young dogs. An adult Border Collie tends to be very gentle with young or older kids if socialized when young.
Border Collies do have a tendency to ‘herd’ other pets such as cats, so if they are not given an outlet for this behavior, they should be watched around smaller animals inclined to scare easily.
|Overall Expenses (Annual)||Medium – $1500-$2000|
|Veterinary Expenses (Annual)||Medium – $200-$500|
|Food Expenses (Weekly)||High (large and giant) – $20-$30+|
Border Collies tend to be robust, healthy dogs who don’t have large health problems. That being said they do often put 110% effort into activities and can easily injure themselves in the process. They also need good quality food and lots of it to power that energy house.
HEALTH & WELLBEING
MAJOR HEALTH CONCERNS
Ivermectin sensitivity – first described in 1983 some Collies are uniquely sensitive to ivermectin, which is used for parasite treatment. The MDR1 gene mutation that causes this sensitivity can be tested for. Those dogs with the mutation should be given ivermectin containing medications with caution and may be more susceptible to loperamide, digoxin, odansetrom and many chemotherapeutic drugs also.
Hip Displaysia – Border Collies are prone to hip dysplasia, and while more breeders are hip scoring in an attempt to breed out this devastating disease, in some cases it can still occur, particularly with overfeeding at a young age.
OCD – Osteochondrosis Dissecans is a painful cartilage defect that occurs in large breed puppies and commonly involves the shoulder joint, but can also effect the elbows, knees or ankles (hocks). Like hip dysplasia it has been linked to over-feeding during the growth phase and excess calcium supplementation.
PREVENTATIVE CARE & WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
Border Collie breeders are usually very proactive in testing for the genetic diseases Collie Eye Anomaly/Choroidal Hypoplasia, Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis and Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome, but you should check with your breeder before buying a Border Collie on the status of their dogs for genetic diseases.
Border Collies are not ideally suited to areas with ticks or seeding grass, due to their long coat. However if regularly brushed or clipped they can be a little easier to manage.
Border Collies should be fed a high quality diet and an appropriate ration should be determined to ensure they are not over-fed when growing to reduce the chance of hip dysplasia and OCD. They are also more inclined to develop cruciate ligament rupture and other orthopaedic injuries if allowed to become overweight.
BREED ORIGIN AND INTERESTING FACTS
Border Collies are all descended from a dog in Northumbria in the north of England called Old Hemp who was a legendary sheep dog. His fame and skills meant that he sired large numbers of puppies for farmers who wanted excellent sheep dogs. Sheep dogs typically need to be fast, stealthy and intelligent. They should be able to read sheep, respond to hand signals and love to work and herd sheep.
The bronze statue that stands at Fort Benton Montana, US was erected for Old Shep who kept a 6 year vigil for his owner who died in the town. Legend has it that Old Shep saw his owner’s coffin being loaded onto a train after he died in hospital and from then on he met each train coming in, waiting for his owner to return. Sadly he was hit by a train and died in 1942.
The Border Collie is ranked at number one in Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs.
Owners of working Border Collies may be reluctant to own a white dog as it is thought that the sheep would not respect a white dog.
RESCUE A BORDER COLLIE
Petfinder lists all types of dogs who need homes, both purebred and mixed breeds, adults and puppies.
Border Collie Rescue has Border Collies across most of the US needing new homes.
Border Collie Society of America also coordinates fostering and rescue of Border Collies US-wide.
The ASPCA often has Border collies for adoption, just do an advanced search on their adoption page.