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Border Collies

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A border collie named Trixie.

If you live in Great Britain, Australia or New Zealand, this breed of dog will be very familiar to you. Border collies are highly intelligent, loyal, faithful and hard-working, responding quickly and eagerly to training. They are the world's premier and unsurpassed sheepdogs: very patient, agile and willing to please. They need quite a lot of mental, as well as physical, activity to remain well balanced. So if you are a couch potato, don't even think about owning one.

Border collies originate in Great Britain and have been bred for stamina and brains from the bearded collie and some other herding breeds. The name was derived from the border counties of England and Scotland. Most working collies are registered with the ISDS, the International Sheep Dog Society. The Kennel Club did not start to register border collies until the 1960s.

Their bodies are well proportioned and of lean muscle. They can spend hours stalking sheep, ducks, goats, cattle, chicken or, if they're not given sufficient activity, they will herd people or children. A border collie has boundless energy and a great desire to work.

They come in a variety of colours, but black-and-white predominates.

Breed standards say the border collie should display grace and agility in equal measure with substance and stamina. The hard, muscular body has a smooth outline which conveys the impression of effortless movement and endless endurance. But looks are not everything. A dog that does not meet all of the standards can still be registered with the ISDS, as long as it works with sheep.

Although they are also very good in sports like obedience, agility or flyball, their skills as sheepdogs and cattle-herders are unsurpassed. Many people like watching them at work in sheepdog trials1. They make very good watchdogs, but perform poorly as guard-dogs.

Border collies need a lot of care. Brush them often (most collies really like this!), bath only when necessary and check their coat and ears for ticks. But, most importantly, work with them. Idle border collies might become badly behaved and even aggressive. When left alone, they get bored easily. The best place to keep a border collie is on a farm.

Border collies are famous throughout the world for their tremendous intelligence, their desire to please and the speed at which they learn new commands. Their method of facing sheep is unique. Sometimes they seem to keep the flock together by hypnotic or paranormal powers.

In Britain, for some breeders there is still an unwritten rule they would never dare to break: no sheep - no collie! So, if you live in a city, you don't own sheep and won't have the opportunity to work with the dog properly, they won't sell you a border collie2.

1In a sheepdog trial, the goal is to move sheep from one point to another along a designated route and to perform various livestock handling tasks efficiently and with the least possible stress.2It's not like that in other countries, especially on the European continent.

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