feat_bordercollie.jpg (12594 bytes) by Rebecca Shouse (A Hero in North Carolina)
The Border Collie was developed in the hilly sheep pastures on the border between Scotland and England. The dogs that herded sheep in that area had to work great distances over broken, mountainous land, moving the sheep, not with barks or bites, but with an intense stare and posture that communicated without force.

They have high levels of intelligence to allow them to work independently of the shepherd. At the same time, they have a great desire to please their master, and the greatest reward for them is in performing the task desired of them. This combination of abilities and personality traits is their hallmark, more so than any particular color or coat or ear type.  Border Collies have been bred for years for the particular mix of stamina, brains, and personality that makes them the world's greatest working dogs. Most often black and white, with long ("rough") coats, there are other colors, such as red and white, tri-colored (red or black and white with tan markings), or merle (diluted red or black). Some have "smooth" (short) coat and ears in any position.

Unique behaviors can stem from the Border Collie's herding instincts. They can develop obsessions with fish, ceiling fans, flashing lights, passing cars, or running children. Little children and small pets can be endangered by the herding instinct, when their quick or jerky movements awaken a Border Collie's strong prey drive!

A person considering a Border Collie as a family pet should use extreme caution, and possibly look into another breed. If only a Border Collie will do, it would be wise to select an ADULT Border Collie that has been evaluated for herding instinct and exposed to children and small animals.

People who do decide to include a Border Collie in their lives, find they are tireless and talented companions in nearly any active sport or work. They have an incredible ability to learn hundreds of commands and anticipate what is expected of them. Of course, they demand absolute consistency in training and an unbreakable routine. Any change in routine can have memorable repercussions!

To keep most Border Collies from getting bored, activity is essential. Physical exercise is not enough as their brains need to be stimulated with training activity as well. They
excel in dog sports such as formal obedience, agility, flyball, tracking, or competitive Frisbee. Participation in some structured activity is advisable for this highly driven breed. They are workaholics, most preferring a game of fetch to a treat or a pat on the head. Many people find it difficult and unnerving to spend so much time in the company of a dog that does not care for cuddles, but refuses to go amuse itself. Others enjoy the slimy ball dropped in their laps, the blazing stare that demands, "Throw it! Just once more won't hurt!"

More information about Border Collies can be found at http://www.bcrescue.org/bcwarning.html, which is part of Dr. Nick Carter's excellent Border Collie Rescue web site.

1. Energy level: Needs regular structured activity - space doesn't matter

2. Good with children under 5: No (extreme prey drive can be problematic)

3. Good with children over 5 & under 10: Maybe (see above)

4. Good with children over 10: Maybe (with proper outlet for herding/prey drive)

On items 2-4 making the assumption that the person getting the dog is your 'average' family with little breed-specific or dog behavior knowlege. (NOTE: We would NOT recommend a Border Collie for this type of family)

5. Ease of care: Teflon coat - rough needs occasional brushing - twice yearly shedding for both rough and smooth

6. Housebreakability: Extremely clean, easy to housebreak under normal circumstances

7. Life limiting disorders: Average incidence of cancers, heart and metabolic defects

8. Non-life limiting disorders: CHD 14% and rising, other disorders: CEA, OCD, PRA (rare)

9. Length of average life span: 14 yrs

10. Trainability: VERY quick to learn but easily bored

11. Less than lovely breed quirks: VERY quick to learn - will learn undesirable behaviors faster than acceptable ones. Examples: Attacking TV or ceiling fans; chasing cars or children; unlocking cabinets, doors and gates. ALSO, very susceptible to separation anxiety - NOT a good dog for the average "nine-to-five" worker.

12. Average weight/size: 35 to 55 pounds

13. Personality: Quirky, thirsty for companionship, clingy, can be stubborn and single-minded