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Last Updated:
7/24/2024 8:37 AM




Before thinking about adopting a Border Collie

We strongly recommend you learn all you can about this highly intelligent breed. Simply put, a Border Collie is not your average pet. They are not cuddly lap dogs content with being indoors.  If you have never had the pleasure of belonging to a Border Collie, please read this article entitled Border Collie -- a problem dog!? before going any further. Just disregard the comments about asking a breeder for further information -- go directly to a reputable Border Collie rescue! 

For centuries Border Collies have been bred to herd sheep and their herding instinct, when not fully understood and given a proper outlet, will result in destructive and undesirable behaviors ranging from chasing cars and incessant barking to “herding” small children or chewing furniture. Border Collies need a great deal of activity, whether in the form of exercise or “work” they can perform, such as herding, agility, obedience trials, or fly ball.

Equally important, Border Collies need human companionship and should not be left alone for long hours each day. If you are considering adopting a Border Collie you must be willing to devote time and attention to meeting the needs of the dog.

Border Collies are an intense and interesting breed. While a group of one hundred Border Collies will probably look as if they belong to the same breed, they will not have a uniform appearance. Since a "good" dog can be judged only by its herding performance, there is no "breed standard" of appearance to which Border Collies should conform. In general, they are of medium size (25-55 pounds), with coats that may be smooth, medium, or rough. Colors are black, black with tan, and, less common, reddish-brown, all usually with white markings as well as blue and red merle. Predominantly white Border Collies, though unusual, also occasionally appear.

The main characteristics of the Border Collie come from being bred to be perhaps the best herding dog there is: Because their early work was to gather sheep from the hills, Border Collies are, by nature, gatherers rather than drovers or tenders. They can, nevertheless, be taught to drive stock away from the shepherd and even to keep their charges within certain boundaries. They are also sensitive to commands from their handlers and can distinguish slight variations in the many whistles they understand, responding appropriately to each tone.

As pets, Border Collies have a mixed record. While some people have no difficulty controlling the dogs' herding instinct, high energy and quick minds, less-skilled owners may be frustrated by these traits. The calm, well-behaved dogs seen at sheepdog trials are the result of careful attention to the dogs' mental and physical needs. Border Collies that herd are fulfilled. In pet environments, with experienced dog people who give them the structure, love, and fellowship they crave, they can be superb pets. With less-skilled owners, unfortunately, they can become a neurotic nuisance. An honest appraisal of your lifestyle, skills and needs before getting a Border Collie can save you from heartache. It is very hard to find a farm home or a new pet home for a Border Collie which has developed bad habits, and every year many Border Collies are destroyed because they proved to be too much dog for their owners.


Taken from the USBCC at http://www.bordercollie.org


About the Breed: Energy Levels of Border Collies


Companion: This type of dog is the quintessential family dog. This dog is content with simple daily exercise such as walking or playing fetch. He/she just enjoys being with the family. Watching TV, doing yard work, taking an evening walk to the park, are all activities that may be done with this type of dog. While basic obedience might be needed to help acclimate the dog to your home, competing in dog sports is not something needed for this type of dog.


  Active: This type of dog needs long walks or runs, retrieval games, basic obedience, and tricks on a daily basis. This dog will be happy in a home in which the owners are active and interested in making a dog part of what they do in their everyday activities. He/she needs more exercise and stimuli than the average dog, and this can be accomplished through daily exercise, a weekly agility class or obedience class for fun. Casual competition in dog sports (i.e., agility, flyball, disc, herding) may be very beneficial for a dog like this without the dedication and intensity of a Performance level dog. 

One of the differences between a Companion level dog and an Active dog is that the Active dog needs a mental workout as opposed to a physical workout.  For example, a dog doing agility may seem to be getting less exercise than a dog with the same energy level who spends hours at the dog park with his/her owner.  The dog involved in agility may be calmer, and the reason for this is that the agility provides the dog with a chance to actively use the dog's mind.

A Companion Border Collie may be the right dog for you if you are looking for an Active dog in any other breed.  On the other hand, if you are considering an Active Border Collie, ask yourself if you are prepared to give the dog a life long job!


Performance: This type of dog needs constant training to challenge his/her higher drive and energy level. This dog will do well in an active home where the owners are dedicated and compete regularly in agility, hobby herding, flyball, or disc. This type of dog will need multiple walks or runs every day. Owning a dog like this becomes a hobby unto itself because it takes dedicating multiple hours a day to meet the energy demands of a dog of this level. The adage "Idle hands are the devil's playground" definitely applies to this type of dog. Unless this dog is given a job to do, he/she can become destructive or neurotic or both.


Working: This type of dog displays intense herding instinct and some talent, which may need to be channeled into stock work or other intense, continuous activity. These dogs do not do well in average pet homes. A weekly herding lesson or agility class is not enough for this dog. He/she must have a job everyday.


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