The Border Collie dog breed was developed to gather and control sheep in the hilly border country between Scotland and England. He is known for his intense stare, or “eye,” with which he controls his flock. 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. The highly trainable and intelligent Border Collie also excels in various canine sports, including obedience, flyball, agility, tracking, and flying disc competitions.
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. It is awe-inspiring. The Border Collie, a medium-sized dog at 13 to 20 kg, 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 80 km or more a day. When it comes to the ideal working dog, it doesn’t get much better than the Border Collie. 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. He is not a cuddly, couch-potato dog. He doesn’t want to be coddled. He wants — and needs — a job. 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. The Border Collie is a herding dog, which means he has an overwhelming urge to gather a flock. That flock could be sheep, children, cats, squirrels, or anything that moves, including cars. This instinct to nip, nudge, and bark, along with his energy, cannot be trained out of him. Rather, it must be directed. He must have a task, whether it’s actually herding sheep or competing in dog sports. A brisk walk or a game of fetch every day isn’t enough activity for the Border Collie. That said, for the right owner, a Border Collie is a wonderful dog to live with. His intelligence and tractable nature make him easy to train. He’s sensitive and, according to those who know him well, he has an uncanny ability to know what you’re going to ask of him before you ask it. If he is well socialized and trained from puppyhood, he can adapt to almost any living situation that provides the mental and physical exercise he requires. 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. With the right training, this breed excels in any activity he tries, including sheepdog trials, agility, flyball, flying disc, advanced obedience, freestyle obedience, or tracking. 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. Otherwise he’ll invent his own games — and he can become a problem to live with. The Border Collie will herd anything that moves, including children, cars, people on bikes, cats, and squirrels. He can become a real problem if he’s allowed to roam in a neighborhood; a securely fenced yard is essential. The noisy play of young children can stimulate the Border Collie’s herding instinct and cause him to nip, nudge, and bark. To prevent shyness, the Border Collie must be well socialized. 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. 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.