A Border Collie bred to Kennel Club (UK) standards
|Country of origin
|Classification and breed standards
||Group 1 Section 1 #297
||Group 5 (Working Dogs)
||Herding Dog Breeds
|Not recognized by any major kennel club
|This breed of dog is
A Border Collie is a hard-working
breed of dog
that originated in the border country of
Border Collies are highly intelligent
dogs. Like most
dogs, they have a tendency towards
destructive behavior if not given enough to do. They are still frequently used
on farms all over the world for assisting with the handling of
Though known to be reserved with strangers, these dogs can also be protective of
a human family member and affectionate to those they know.
Border Collies commonly have red and white or black and white coats.
Because Border Collies have historically been selected for working ability,
and not looks, they vary widely in appearance. In general, they are medium-sized
dogs without extreme physical characteristics and a moderate amount of coat.
double coats can be anywhere from slick to lush, and can come in many
colors, although black and white is by far the most often seen in the
and herding trials and therefore the most common in public perception; tricolor
(black/tan/white) and red and white also occurs regularly, with other colors
such as, blue and white, red
merle, blue merle, or sable seen less frequently. Eye color varies from deep
brown to amber or blue with occasionally one eye of each color. The ears of the
Border Collie are also highly variable -- some have fully erect ears, some fully
dropped and other are semi-erect (similar to that of the
Collie). Although working Border Collie handlers sometimes have
superstitions about the appearance of their dogs (many handlers do not prefer
red dogs, or mostly white dogs), in general a dog's appearance is considered to
be irrelevant. It is much more useful to identify a working Border Collie by its
attitude and ability, not its looks.
Those dogs bred for the conformation ring are much more uniform in appearance
than working Border Collies, since to be successful
they must conform to
standards that are specific on many points of the anatomy and furnishings.
Kennel clubs specify that the Border Collie must have a keen and intelligent
expression; the preferred eye colour is generally brown. In deference to the
dog's working origin, scars and broken teeth received in the line of duty are
not to be counted against a Border Collie in the show ring, although how many
show collies actually work might be arguable.
merle BC puppy at 14 weeks using herding eye (gaze and lowered
stance); this dog's
are different colors, which is not uncommon in merles.
Border Collies are extremely energetic and require a lot of attention. They
are better off in a household that can provide them with plenty of exercise and
a job to do. Like most herding breeds, they will attempt to herd family members,
cats, squirrels, bicycles, cars, or anything else that moves in the absence of
other charges. Border Collies make bad pets for people who cannot provide a
considerable amount of daily exercise, both physical and mental. Many Border
Collies end up in
groups because families, attracted by their appearance, discover that they
cannot provide the attention and effort required for this driven, active, easily
bored breed—though this problem can be alleviated by giving the dog lots of
mental and physical stimulation. This can be done by taking them to training
classes and for long, brisk walks. Participating in
sheepdog trials, dog sledding races and
obedience are also popular with Border Collie owners for this reason. It may
also help to have more than one dog; with
Border Terriers and other Collies the most ideal companions. Among some
breeders of the breed in Britain, there is a common saying: "no sheep, no
collie", referring to the dog's usual unsuitability to people who just want a
"smart dog". Border Collies love to play and do not always know when to stop on
their own; owners must ensure that they do not overexert themselves, especially
in hot weather, which can be dangerous.
Hip dysplasia is widespread among purebred Border Collies. Elbow dysplasia
also occurs, along with
merle gene are likely to have eye and/or hearing problems.
Collie eye anomaly (CEA) can now be tested for genetically. Some Border
Collie breed clubs are active in promoting research into hereditary diseases of
A smooth-coated Border Collie cross
As is the case with many breeds of dogs that are still used for their
original purposes, breed standards vary depending on whether the
registry is more interested in a dog that performs its job superbly or a dog
whose appearance meets an ideal standard.
There are two types of tests, or standards, to determine the breeding quality
of a Border collie. The original test was the ISDS sheepdog trial, where a dog
and handler collect groups of livestock and move them quietly around a course.
The 'standard' comes from the fact that, the world over, there are certain
standard elements to this test. Sheep must be gathered without being too much
disturbed, from a distance farther than the typical small airport runway. They
then must be directed through obstacles at varying distance from the handler,
and then the dog must demonstrate the ability to do work close at hand by
penning the sheep and sorting them out. It is these elements which have shaped
the working abilities of the Border collie and defined the breed until very
recently. These dogs are necessarily capable of incredible feats of athleticism,
endurance, intense focus, and high levels of trainability.
In nearly every region of the world, the Border collie is now also a breed
which is shown in ring or bench shows. For the people who participate in these
events, the Border collie is defined by the breed standard, which is a
description of how the dog should look. In New Zealand and Australia, where the
breed has been shown the longest, the Border collie standards have produced a
dog with a long double coat (smooth coats are not allowed), a soft dark eye, a
body slightly longer than square, a well-defined stop, and a gentle and friendly
expression. This style of Border collie has become quite popular in winning show
kennels around the world, as well as among prestigious judges, so it is to be
expected that this type will soon predominate even in countries like the US
where the native lines are very different.
It is possible (although unlikely) for a dog to do both, but a working dog's
options for competition in
might be limited depending on its ancestry and on the opinions of the various
involved, and most handlers of working Border Collies are uninterested in
participating in dog shows. Conformation-bred dogs are seldom if ever seen on
the sheepdog trial field.
there are two separate registries for Border Collies. International Sheep Dog
 and other similar organizations encourage breeding for herding ability,
Kennel Club (UK) encourages breeding for
Red and white Border Collie playing a favorite game
United States, the vast majority of Border Collies are registered with the
American Border Collie association, which is dedicated to the preservation of
the working dog. However, the breed was also recognized in
1995 by the
American Kennel Club, which promotes standards based on appearance and
promotes registration of dogs whose parents were registered. The recognition was
from the majority of Border Collie-affiliated groups, such as the United States
Border Collie Club, that felt that emphasis on the breed's working skills would
be lost under AKC recognition.
Some people believe that the emphasis placed on appearance might ruin the
breed for its traditional livestock work because breeding for appearance
eliminates emphasis on intelligence and working ability. Others believe that, in
today's world, where livestock work is uncommon, the beauty of the breed is the
factor that should be preserved.
Freya fetching at a sheep dog trial.
The many people who depend on the breed for their livelihood in managing
livestock know that Border collies bred strictly to work are the best
representatives of the original premier livestock working breed. Breeding for
"beauty contests" has long been understood to water down this ability.
However, most people who own Border Collies as pets and also compete with
them in the wide variety of
available to them prefer to have Border Collies who come from working lines, not
show lines, because the intelligence, drive, and athleticism are preserved over
coat or standard size and weight. The future shape of this breed is still
very much in question and is largely dependant on whether working breeders will
accept being marginalized or whether they can educate people to appreciate the
breed for what it really is, a premier livestock working dog.
Black and white Border Collie - working dog or family pet all have a great
Dog activities and sports
These collies can take direction by voice and whistle at long distances when
herding. Their great energy and herding instinct are still used to herd all
kinds of animals, from the traditional
and pigs, to
They are also used to remove unwanted wild birds from airport runways, golf
courses, and other public and private areas.
Border Collie competitions may involve actual herding or simulated tasks.
Shepherds in Britain have taken the most critical elements of herding and
designed a sheepdog competition. Originally farmers used such competitions to
evaluate possible mates for their working dogs, but they have now developed into
a true sport with many competitors from outside the farming community taking
part. In the US, the national body for these competitions is the USBCHA.
In Britain it is the International Sheepdog Society, and in Canada the CBCA.
Because of their working background, Border Collies excel at several
They dominate the higher jump heights at
agility competitions, so much so that in
Border Collies occasionally are given competitions separate from all other
Famous Border Collies
Rico. Dog who was studied for recognizing dozens of objects by name.
Shep. Long-term companion to
Noakes of the BBC's
Peter and also Meg, companion of
Baker, current presenter of
- Fly and Rex from the movie
- Bingo from the movie
- Nop's Trials by Donald McCaig. Book about a man's search for his Border
Collie, Nop, with lots of herding stories.
- Dog in the cartoon strip
Mike. Dog in the movie
Down and Out in Beverly Hills.
McNab, a variety of Border Collie
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