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The Border Collie dog breed was developed to gather and control sheep in the hilly border country between Scotland and England. Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make — plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart.
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blase attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello.
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space.
Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly.
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps.
Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate.
If you've ever had the pleasure of watching a Border Collie herd sheep, you know you're watching a master craftsman at work, with his intense stare as he approaches the sheep, his almost intuitive response to the shepherd's command, and the skillful manner in which he maneuvers the sheep exactly where the shepherd wants them to go.
The Border Collie, a medium-sized dog at 30 to 45 pounds, possesses a seemingly supernatural amount of energy and stamina — a hardiness that was developed when he was required to work all day in the hills and valleys of the rugged Scottish border country, sometimes running 50 miles or more a day. If there is a dark side to the Border Collie's energy and workaholic attitude, it comes out when he's brought into a family that doesn't understand him. The Border Collie is a herding dog, which means he has an overwhelming urge to gather a flock. The Border Collie is a good match for an owner who is as active as he is, especially one who's eager to get involved in dog sports.
The owner or family that's willing to properly socialize and train the Border Collie will find a soul mate in this intelligent, sensitive breed.
The Border Collie is highly sensitive, often responsive to the subtlest command and seemingly able to predict his owner's desires in advance.
A workaholic who thrives on mental and physical stimulation, the Border Collie must have a positive way to direct his energy. The Border Collie will herd anything that moves, including children, cars, people on bikes, cats, and squirrels. The noisy play of young children can stimulate the Border Collie's herding instinct and cause him to nip, nudge, and bark.
The Border Collie doesn't usually roam, but his curiosity and intelligence can lead him to become an escape artist. To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. HistoryThe Border Collie's ancestors have been around since humans in what is now Britain first began using dogs to help guard and herd sheep.
The Border Collie is also renowned for being highly sensitive to his handler's every cue, from a whistle to a hand signal to a raised eyebrow. HealthBorder Collies are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions.
Collie Eye Anomaly: This is an inherited condition that causes changes and abnormalities in the eye, which can sometimes lead to blindness. CareWhile the Border Collie is a highly adaptable dog, he's best suited to an environment that gives him some elbow room: a city home with a securely fenced yard, or a country farm or ranch. NOTE: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level.
Coat Color And GroomingThe Border Collie breed boasts two varieties of coat: rough and smooth. His coat is most often black with a white blaze on the face, neck, feet, legs, and tail tip, with or without tan. The hardworking Border Collie isn't prissy, and he doesn't need excessive grooming to keep him looking good. Brush your Border Collie's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Children And Other PetsThe Border Collie is a good family dog, as long as he is raised properly and receives training when he's young. As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Rescue GroupsBorder Collies are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. Breed OrganizationsBelow are breed clubs, organizations, and associations where you can find additional information about the Border Collie. Dogs that tend to be more sturdy, playful and easygoing around children and more tolerant of children's behavior. Border Collies are known as herding dogs, but a BC currently holds the Guinness World Record for Fastest Car Window Opened by a Dog. A good Border Collie can be the companion of a lifetime, but only if he is paired with a clever owner who can keep him busy with dog sports -- agility, flyball, flying disc games, herding trials, obedience, tracking -- or who will teach him to do chores around the house or farm.
If you're ready to provide loving leadership to your dog, train him consistently and fairly, and give him plenty of exercise and an outlet for his considerable intelligence, then yes, the Border Collie can be right for you.
Alert watchdogs, Border Collies can be barkers, so help yours develop appropriate barking behavior when young so it doesn't become a nuisance later on. You should also know that there are two types of Border Collies: those bred strictly for their herding talents and those bred for the show ring and AKC performance events. The show dogs tend to be small and blocky with heavy coats, while the herding dogs are more diverse in size, coat type and overall appearance.
The black-and-white Border Collie is most familiar, but the breed comes in all colors and combinations of colors and markings.
Border Collies are frighteningly smart, active workaholics who must have a job that can be as simple as chasing a tennis ball or as demanding as training for something like herding, agility obedience, or freestyle.


The Border is an excellent watchdog and will alert you to the arrival of the letter carrier, a burglar, or a squirrel. The classic working farm dog, the Border Collie originated in the border country between Scotland and England. At the royal castle in Balmoral, Queen Victoria fell in love with a Collie, and that's the point at which the differences between today's Collie and Border Collie began to form. Border Collies from good working lines are still the best sheepherding dogs in the world, and highly prized for their work ethic and capabilities. A Border Collie can excel at any performance activity: sheepherding, agility, obedience, flyball, freestyle, and Frisbee.
Borders tend to have many seemingly compulsive behaviors, such as chasing bugs, waiting for the cat to wake up, or waiting for the dishwasher cycle to end. You could keep a Border Collie in an apartment as long as you are extremely physically active, doing something your dog can also do, such as training for marathons or cycling races. Any dog, no matter how nice, can develop obnoxious levels of barking, digging, countersurfing and other undesirable behaviors if he is bored, untrained or unsupervised. All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. A spectacularly hardy dog, the Border Collie nonetheless can be affected by some genetic diseases.
Border Collies are also affected by Collie Eye Anomaly, a group of eye disorders ranging form minor to serious. Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (CL) and trapped neutrophil syndrome (TNS) are two fatal genetic disorders of the Border Collie. A good breeder will be able to discuss the prevalence of all health problems in her dogs' lines, those with and without genetic screening tests, and help puppy buyers make an informed decision about health risks to their dog. Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy develops one of these diseases despite good breeding practices.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind. Border Collies are an intelligent, biddable breed with an instinctive desire to work closely and intensely with a human handler.
Although the primary role of the Border Collie is that of the working stock dog, dogs of this breed are becoming increasingly popular as pets. Border Collies are now also being used in showing, especially agility, where their speed and agility comes to good use. The Border Collies range of skills and high intelligence also make it an excellent detection dog which is commonly used by police, customs and other government agencies. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.
Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem.
Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people.
When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments. In the border country between Scotland and England, the herding dog became one of the most valuable assets a shepherd could have, and the best working dogs were bred with each other.
These herding dogs became associated with their particular regions and were eventually known as Welsh Sheepdogs, Northern Sheepdogs, Highland Collies, and Scotch Collies. On a trip to Balmoral a short time later, Queen Victoria saw one of the dogs and became an enthusiast of the breed. The breed's superior herding ability leads many fanciers to advocate breeding Border Collies only to working, not conformation, standards. In fact, he must be busy or he becomes bored, which leads to annoying behavior, such as barking, digging, or chasing cars.
Puppy classes and plenty of exposure to a variety of people, places, and things help the sensitive Border Collie gain confidence. Not all Border Collies will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.
Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but others don't display outward signs of discomfort. Early in the disease, affected dogs become night-blind; they lose sight during the day as the disease progresses.
It causes a painful stiffening of the joint, to the point that the dog is unable to bend his elbow.
Teach your child never to approach any dog while he's eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog's food away.
His ability to impose his will on sheep makes him the best sheepherding dog in the world -- but watch out, because he'll try to impose his will on you, too. This is among the smartest of all dog breeds, and one whose owners need to pay attention lest they find themselves outsmarted. Never let this go uncorrected, and then redirect the behavior by giving your Border Collie demanding and interesting tasks or games that will provide him with exercise and mental stimulation. During most of the 20th century, BC breeders chose dogs based on their working ability, and the dogs varied widely in appearance.


Breeders who select for herding ability would rather have their dogs recognized for the way they work than the way they look.
If you plan to actually work stock with your Border Collie, you will want a puppy from working lines. The Border Collie was admitted to the ranks of American Kennel Club breeds in 1995, much to the dismay of many of his adherents. Dogs with hip dysplasia may appear perfectly normal, but because the head of the thigh bone doesn't fit properly into the hip socket, over time the bone begins to wear away. It usually appears early in life, and there is currently no screening test for seizure disorders in Border Collies. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in most cases the dogs can still live a good life.
Keeping a Border Collie at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. True to their working heritage, Border Collies make very demanding, energetic pets that are better off in households that can provide them with plenty of exercise and a job to do.
However, in an appropriate home, with a dedicated, active owner, a Border Collie can be an excellent companion. He's a dog with unlimited energy, stamina, and working drive, all of which make him a premier herding dog; he's still used today to herd sheep on farms and ranches around the world. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard.
The Border Collie's name reflects his partially Scottish heritage: the word collie, which refers to sheepdogs, is derived from Scottish dialect.
He's not a dog to lie quietly on the front porch while you sip a glass of lemonade; he thrives on activity. Many affected dogs adapt well to their limited or lost vision, as long as their surroundings remain the same. Seizures are frightening to watch, but the long-term prognosis for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy is generally very good. If you're considering a Border Collie, make sure you can provide him with a proper outlet for his natural energy and bright mind. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. Expecting a Border Collie to spend his days in the backyard and his evenings keeping you company while you watch your favorite TV shows is a sure way to create a barking, bored, destructive dog instead of the calm, well-behaved, loyal companion you thought you were bringing into your home.
But in 1995, the AKC recognized the Border Collie -- much to the fury of many of its adherents -- and since then the breed has split into show and working lines.
A Border Collie from show lines may still have a strong herding instinct, but even dogs that do well in AKC herding trials are not generally considered good enough to do real work on farms. As Borders often tended their flock alone, they had to think independently and be able to run around 50 miles a day in hilly country. His drive, ease of training, and desire to please often put him at the top of the list for serious competitors in dog sports. Cats can live with some Border Collies, but the cat has to be pretty darn tolerant of being herded and checked on all the time.
Whatever you want from a Border, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
The highly trainable and intelligent Border Collie also excels in various canine sports, including obedience, flyball, agility, tracking, and flying disc competitions. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs.
Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility. An account in the Livestock Journal described the astonishment of the spectators at the keenness of the dogs, whose only assistance from their handlers was in the form of hand signals and whistles. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred — so if you're buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems.
It's important to take your dog to the vet for proper diagnosis (especially since seizures can have other causes) and treatment. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl. If you don't see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Border Collie rescue. However, the name Border Collie didn't come into use until after World War I when they needed to differentiate working and show dogs. Make sure your puppy's breeder has had the eyes of all the dogs in the litter tested before selling them, and that the parents were tested as well. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
Keeping up with the Border Collie's intense mental and physical stamina is exhausting, even exasperating, to an owner or family that wants a laid-back family pet. Other compulsive Border behaviors include twirling in circles constantly or bouncing up and down. This type of compulsive behavior (as opposed to herding) usually occurs in stressed-out Borders or those without sufficient mental stimulation.



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