Border Collie is the most popular and widespread variety of the collie dog breeds. Its origins lead to Anglo-Scottish border regions, where it was developed for herding sheep and other livestock. This dogs are very popular among fans of dog sports due to their extreme energy and athletic capabilities. Border Collies are considered the most intelligent of all dog breeds by many breeders – in January 2011, one Border Collie was documented to follow 1022 word orders by its owner.
I created this blog to give you the basics you need to know about the Border Collie breed and how to keep them. Follow the menu on the top, or simply scroll down for the latest posts about Collies I posted. In case you own a Border Collie yourself, please send me a photo of your pet as I would love to post it on this blog and let other see it too. Thanks a lot.
Border Collies are a working breed. This means that they are not what you would call cheerful, but are very energetic, they are very obedient and devoted to their owners and they thrive when they are given a task to perform.
The breed is used to spending the entire day running around and herding sheep, this leaves them with a lot of energy and no tolerance to boredom and inactivity. Luckily there are plenty activities that you can undertake with this breed. They not only very agile and full of stamina, they are amazingly intelligent. This combination qualifies them for a number of tasks, activities or events.
They are a very popular choice for agility and obedience contests, as well as most other types of dog sporting events. They have shown such competence that an ABC (Anything But Collies) class needed to be introduced to some competitions in the interest of fairness.
They are very loyal and devoted to their owners, but they are not exactly welcoming of strangers, they usually won’t be hostile towards them, but their attitude won’t be warm. They learn new commands with incredible speed, but you should be careful when training them, as they absorb everything about you, your gesticulation, tone of voice and body language, change one of these and the dog might think that you are giving him a different command, despite the fact that you used the same word.
Like most dogs, they don’t like being left alone for too long, not only do they get bored and restless, they start missing their owner. If this goes on for too long it might cause serious, sometimes permanent behavioral problems.
Border Collies make excellent pets and even better herding dogs. They excel at dog sporting events because of their unique and amazing combination of agility, strength, intelligence and obedience. They are considered one of the smartest if not the smartest dog breed. A lot of people have heard these things about them and thought that a Border Collie would make an ideal pet for them. Sadly, they are quite often wrong.
The fact that people decide on getting a Border Collie without first getting to know exactly what this breed requires in its owner is the reason for the very high abandonment rates of Border Collies. People who rushed into finding one soon discover that they bit off more than they can chew. It is true that these dogs make great pets and that all the qualities that people are used to assigning them are indeed present, but they also require a lot of attention, a large yard is almost a must and their herding instinct can sometimes cause quite a bit of trouble if misdirected.
Border Collie is a working dog. This breed is used to spending days in open fields, running for hours on end and gathering sheep. That kind of work requires incredible amounts of energy, and Collie is in no short supply. Now, imagine what happens to a dog that is bred for that kind of life when he is placed in small apartment and only occasionally taken out for walk. If you don’t give him enough exercise and enough activities to occupy his more than alert mind and body, Collie will start going crazy with boredom and pent up energy. He will try to release it in any way he finds possible, which usually means destroying anything that he can get a hold of. Don’t allow this to happen, make sure that you are keeping him almost constantly occupied.
Another problem with Collies is that they might be dangerous around children. Now, it’s not that they are by nature violent or that they have something against children, it is just that they were bred to herd and that instinct overrides everything else. If a Collie sees a child running around he will perceive it as an animal that is trying to break away from the flock. He will rush to contain the child, which will, naturally, frighten the child and make it try to run away. Collies generally herd sheep without physical contact, instead they use their intense gaze (this is called ‘the eye’) to get them in line. Only if that fails will Collie proceed to nudge and, eventually, bite the sheep. This can happen with a child if the chase goes on for too long. If you do have a small child you mustn’t let it run in Collie’s vicinity. If the child is still or just normally walking this won’t trigger the reaction in Collie. This is also not something that you can train your dog to stop doing. This behavior is instinct, and as such overrides any training that you could throw at him.
If you are ready to make this kind of commitment and you meet the necessary conditions, by all means buy, or even better, rescue a Border Collie. You will be getting a great new friend.
Border Collies are bred as working dogs, and as such they are very resilient and hardy. However, there is a number of conditions, some genetic some not, that often afflict these beautiful dogs. The list given her is not complete and you should consult your vet if you want a fully comprehensive set of possible conditions. You need to get acquainted with these problems in order to be able to notice the initial symptoms and report them to the vet before the condition gets the chance to progress and become a serious threat to the health of your pet.
One of the more common genetic conditions afflicting border Collies (as well as many other dog breeds) is hip dysplasia. This condition is characterized by the irregularities in hip bones and cartilage. If left untreated for too long the chafing between the bones can become rather serious and impede the dog’s walking ability. If you notice that your dog is limping and you can’t link that to a recent injury you should contact the vet and tell him or her about the problem. Surgical solutions are available and they can help your dog recover completely.
Another genetic disorder related to Collies is Collie Eye Anomaly. This disorder causes some parts of the eye to develop improperly. The negative effects of this condition can vary from complete blindness to no ill effects at all. The disease is not progressive and dogs that suffer it might lead completely normal lives. It can be diagnosed with most certainty before the dog reaches 12 weeks of age. Some dogs might have undetectable from of the condition because of the fact that sometimes healthy tissue can grow over the afflicted and completely conceal it.
Another eye condition that often afflicts Border Collies is progressive retinal atrophy. As its name implies this is a progressive condition that can, over time, cause the destruction of the dog’s retinas. It initially makes the dog lose the ability to see in dimly lit areas, and can in time cause complete blindness.
It is not uncommon to find Collies suffering from epileptic seizures. They are quite easy to notice and usually harmless, but the dog can be set on a medication therapy that was shown to be successful in most cases.
One of the more insidious diseases that occur in Border Collies is ceroid lipofucinosis. Also known by the name “storage disease”, this condition attacks the nerve cells and, sadly treatment is not available. Its symptoms usually occur when the dog is 12 to 18 months old, but it can quickly progress from then on. There were no dogs afflicted by this disease that lived past two and a half years of age. Vets usually recommend euthanasia in such cases. Early symptoms of the disease are unsteadiness in walking, unreasonable fear of previously familiar people or objects as well as odd behavior, possibly coupled with bursts of rage. Luckily the disease is not too often occurring, but it has been known to target Border Collies.
Border Collies are extremely intelligent and alert dogs that make great pets, but their intelligence, extremely high level of energy and their strong herding instincts can make them somewhat difficult to handle for inexperienced owners.
First of all you need to make your home safe for the new puppy. They learn very fast, many people have complained that they just can’t seem to keep their Collie contained; they learn how to open doors and navigate fences. This might be dangerous for a puppy that could get out on the road and possibly be hit by a car. You need to make sure that the dog is securely held somewhere where it can’t get hurt.
You’ll need to have a vet come and administer required vaccinations, do this as soon as possible and make sure that your puppy doesn’t come into contact with other dogs before this is done. Once he is vaccinated, however, you’ll want him to socialize with other dogs and with people as often as possible. Collies are extremely loyal and devoted to their owners, but they can be somewhat suspicious of strangers. Socializing them enough while they are young will prevent them from reacting badly to people that they don’t know.
They have dense coats that offer great protection from cold, so they could and should be kept outside. They are extremely energetic and will need tons of exercise. Apart from walking them daily you should play with them s often as you can and try to really get them tired – play Frisbee with them or give them an activity that will drain them of their insane amounts of energy before they decide to use it to destroy your furniture.
Their intelligence can be a double edged sword when it comes to training them. On one hand they adopt new commands easily, on the other they can notice the slightest shifts in the way that your issuing the command and think that those shifts are intentional and that you are in fact giving them a different command. Be patient and precise and you shouldn’t have any problems.