With their intelligence and eagerness, border collies have dominated the world of competitive dog sports for many years, especially in the obedience ring. Originally from Scotland, the border collie gained immense popularity in Australia and New Zealand as a working sheepdog.
History and Origin
Long before Great Britain became industrialized, the British Isles depended on wool from sheep to sustain its economy. This was especially true in Scotland. The flocks of sheep required constant herding, and it was the border collie that performed this job admirably.
Border collies were first mentioned in 1570 in a book about English sheep dogs. Since then, various breeds of sheep herding dogs have been developed, but none has compared to the Scottish border collie. The breed originally evolved in the 1890s in the border counties between England and Scotland, after which it was named.
Appearance and Size
The border collie is a small to medium-sized dog with a medium-sized muzzle. The head is wedge shaped and the ears are either semi-erect or fully erect. The double hair coat is weather resistant. There are two coat varieties, the smooth coat, which is a very short coated variety and the long coat . The area around the neck has a lot more hair, giving the appearance of a mane. The border collie comes in a variety of colors and combinations. The most common color is black with or without the traditional white blaze, collar, stockings and tail tip and with or without tan points. Other colors include white, liver, red, chocolate, blue merle, color-headed whites and sable. The adult border collie stands about 19 to 25 inches at the shoulder and weighs around 40 pounds.
The great love of the border collie’s life is to herd sheep, although they can also herd cattle. The breed is able to creep and crouch and spring into action as soon as a sheep gets out of line. The dog is agile and quick and considered one of the most intelligent of all breeds. Therefore, they require a lot of structure, supervision and education.
Home and Family Relations
As a loyal and faithful breed, Border Collies are very much “one person dogs”. They will develop an intense relationship with one individual, often to the exclusion of others. This characteristic makes them a poor choice for families. Border collies can be affectionate toward friends but reserved toward strangers and make excellent watchdogs.
The border collie loves to learn and play games. The Border Collies’ intelligence requires any owner to be dedicated, consistent and willing to spend a great deal of time (more than with most other breeds) where training is concerned. Otherwise, a frustrated, confused and difficult dog will result. Many Border Collies can be trained to respond to hand signals and whistles.