Looking for a super-smart, loving dog? You need a Border Collie.
Border Collie dogs are herding canines that always need a job! These super-intelligent dogs have an extraordinary amount of energy and endurance to last them all day out in the fields. Their high energy level means these dogs are best suited for active homes where they get plenty of exercise and mental stimulation every day.
But there are many reasons why families love Border Collies, too. They're loyal and affectionate, and they're also incredibly intelligent. In addition, border Collies are easy to train, and they're well-suited for dog sports like agility.
Bred as working dogs, Border Collies are relatively new to the AKC registry. They were only recognized in 1995. However, if you want to know a little more about Border Collies, they have been around for a really long time. They came from Scotland and lived mostly on the border of Scotland and England, which is how this intelligent dog breed got their name, "Border Collie." They were actually one of Queen Victoria's favorite breeds.
Border Collies can have long hair or short coats in all kinds of color combinations, including black, red, gold, merle, brindle, blue, white, sable, and gold. They are iconically black with white markings on the ears and chest made most famous from the Border Collie characters Fly and Rex in the movie "Babe."
Herding and High-Energy Dogs
Border Collies come from the sheepdog breed that has natural tendencies to protect herds rather than hunt them. A testament to their long history of helping people with their livestock, similar to Australian Shepherds.
These dogs are very smart and excel with purpose. If they are raised with small children in the family, it is important that the child understands how to interact with dogs. Nipping at family members' heels is a common issue for these dogs, but it can be corrected with training and daily exercise. Border Collies are also notoriously wary of strangers, but, like most dogs, these characteristics can improve with adequate training.
Because Border Collies are so intelligent, the breed is known for its excellent trainability. The breed quickly learns and excels in high-energy sports like flyball, agility, and games of frisbee.
The American Kennel Club tells us that these energetic dogs are generally hardy, but there are a few health problems and issues to look out for.
"A responsible breeder will screen breeding stock for health conditions such as hip dysplasia, progressive renal atrophy, deafness, epilepsy, collie eye anomaly, neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, and trapped neutrophil syndrome."
A reputable breeder will attempt to keep health issues out of their lines. They will also alert you to any problems that may be in the line. They can also give you a recommendation on the best dog food for maintaining your pup's energy and well-being.
There are two types of coats in the breed. The rough coat is medium-length, and the smooth coat is shorter. Both coat types are double coats, which makes the pups prone to overheating. The breed standard colors include blue merle, red merle, and white and black, among other varieties and colors. They also come in a beautiful tricolor.
Border Collie puppies are very energetic and do well with lots of socialization. However, while they may be one of the smartest dog breeds, they do need a little direction. Generally, Border Collie dogs grow to about 30-55 pounds and have a 12-15 years life span.
Some fun facts? They were first classified as the Scotch Sheep Dog. This heritage breed was instrumental in developing both the smooth coat and rough coat Border Collies and the Australian Shepard. The Scotch Collie is now only seen in small numbers.
Borders are known to be the greatest herders! And don't miss sheepdog trials if these are anywhere near where you live! They are worth the drive.
Bringing Home a Border Collie
Border Collie dogs can be good for families, but borders form tight bonds with their family and want to be with them every second they can. If you live in an apartment, they will need more physical activity, so it may not be a good fit. Labradors or retriever types may be better. Purebred Border Collies may not be a great family pet if you don't live in an area where there is space for them to burn off that tireless energy with a lot of physical exercise. However, they do make a good watchdog and tend to be workaholics.
If you're interested in the breed, there are many Border Collie rescues and breeders that provide not only responsible breeding advice but thoughts on sheep herding and the breed's herding instinct.
Do you have a Border Collie dog? Show us on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page!