Border Collie: Hard-working Worker With A Heart

There is a real mastermind in the Border Collie. The hard-working herding dogs inspire with their intelligence and skill. But that is exactly her problem.

There is probably no dog breed that has become as famous for its intelligence as the Border Collie. The dog breed is considered the shepherd dog par excellence and for a good reason: the dogs inspire with their eagerness to work, independent thinking, and their impressive talent in herding sheep.

But the intelligence of the herding dogs does not stop there. Maybe you still remember the dog, Rico. The Border Collie suddenly became famous in Germany in 1999 because he proved in “Wetten, Dass ..?” that he could match 77 words to the respective toy.

Unfortunately, as impressive as the Border Collie’s intelligence is, it also brings the dogs some disadvantages. In our breed portrait of the Border Collie, you will find out everything you need to know about the appearance, character, care, and upbringing of the fluffy mastermind.

What does a Border Collie look like?

You can see immediately that the Border Collie is a hard-working worker bee. The herding dog has a harmonious and evenly proportioned body. Despite its muscular strength, the dog does not appear bulky or ponderous. On the contrary: His movements are very elegant and supple, and his paws hardly lift off the ground when he runs. Especially when the dog switches to “work mode”, it is a real pleasure to watch him do it. The Border Collie can run very fast and has a high level of stamina.

According to the FCI breed standard, the collie’s coat comes in two variants: medium-length and smooth or short coat. Dogs with a medium-length coat usually have significantly longer hair on the neck and chest (mane), tail and ears (flags) and on the back of the thighs (pants).

According to the breed standard, the coat can come in many different colors. Typical combinations are black and white or blue merle. Brown tones such as tan can also occur in the dog. However, the proportion of white in puppies should never predominate.

How big is a border collie?

Males average 48 to 56 cm and females 46 to 53 cm. The Border Collie is one of the medium-sized dog breeds.

How heavy is a Border Collie?

Since the herding dogs are primarily required to be quick and agile in their work, the dogs are not particularly heavy. Males weigh on average between 14 and 20 kg and females between 12 and 19 kg.

How old does a Border Collie get?

The fresh air at work seems to be good for the Border Collies. The breed is one of the above-average healthy and long-lived dog breeds. Collie’s life expectancy is between 12 and 15 years. With good care and health, some dogs can even live up to 18 years. Only a few, particularly long-lived dog breeds get that old.

What character or nature does the Border Collie have?

Let’s get straight to the obvious: one of the most striking characteristics of dogs is their intelligence. The breed is widely considered in the canine world to be the smartest dog breed in the world. The dogs have an alert, attentive mind – and they also want to be challenged.

The nature of the herding dogs is therefore characterized by vigilance, a quick grasp, and almost tireless will to work, and a high level of sensitivity. In short: The Border Collie demands excessive attention, activity, and workload from its people. The dogs not only want to let off steam physically but also mentally.

Energetic specialist

For centuries, breeders have specialized in the dog breed in herding livestock, especially sheep. Herding is in the dog’s blood. If he doesn’t get the work he needs, he can very quickly decide to take care of other things: the cats in the house, the children of the family, or other living or not-so-living things. It is questionable whether cats are particularly pleased when they are suddenly shooed about by a watchful furry snout. On the other hand, the herding dog only has a low hunting instinct and it is also not very suitable as a guard dog.

If the Border Collie is used well in the sense of versatility and plenty, it turns out to be a very playful, affectionate, and calm fellow. His will to please is very strong. At the same time, the dog is also considered sensitive. Harshness and violence are anathemas to him – and they have absolutely no place in keeping dogs anyway!

The History of the Border Collie

The Border Collie’s history is no less impressive than its intelligence. The first written records of the breed date back to 1576 in England. But the Romans and the Vikings are said to have reported on hard-working and clever herding dogs that they brought with them from Britain at the time.

The targeted breeding of the Border Collie as a hard-working herding dog finally began towards the end of the 19th century in England. Farmer Adam Telfer’s dog Old Hemp turned out to be an extremely clever and skillful herding dog with the local sheep. Enthusiastic about the dog’s skill, Telfer began breeding the breed. Today, Old Hemp is considered the ancestor of many Border Collie lines.

Incidentally, the dogs got their name from English or Scottish: their place of origin, the border region (border) between Scotland and England, was supplemented by the Scottish paraphrase for “useful object” (collie or Colley).

Since 1910, the breed has been bred solely for its work performance by the International Sheep Dog Society. Unlike many other dog breeds, there hasn’t been a single breed standard set for appearance. Instead, breeding focused primarily on herding ability. This only changed when the Border Collie was officially recognized by the FCI in 1975.

Many breeders still give their puppies exclusively to shepherds or farmers. However, some breeders are increasingly selling the dog as a family dog. However, these families often pose enormous challenges to the upbringing and keeping of the Border Collie.

Border Collie: The right attitude and training

As cute and intelligent as the dogs are, they are not very suitable as pure family dogs. Even for people who consider themselves very athletic, the Border Collie is not necessarily the right choice. The dogs can accompany you every day when you go jogging, cycling, and swimming – at the end of the day, they are still not fully utilized wait and see which mountain you want to climb next.

In addition to sporting activities, the Border Collie absolutely needs mental activity. If he is kept as a pure family dog, he needs a corresponding balance. For its people, this means a complex and time-consuming occupation with the dog with activities such as retrieving or search tasks or intelligence games – and that for years.

On the one hand, their intelligence makes training the dogs easy. On the other hand, it is made more difficult by the fact that if you make a mistake, the Border Collie will see through it more or less IMMEDIATELY. If you are inconsistent or careless in the upbringing of the dog, he will shamelessly exploit this. He probably knows the most common mistakes in dog training better than many people.

Because dogs are such jocks, you also need to teach them when it’s time to relax. Their eagerness to work is sometimes so pronounced that they continue to work until they drop, regardless of their health, if you don’t intervene.

What care does the Border Collie need?

Grooming the Border Collie is not particularly difficult. Brush the fur regularly and make sure that there are no tangles. Because the dogs are true to nature lovers, you should check more often when grooming them to see whether small parasites such as fleas or ticks have nested in their fur.

So that its coat continues to shine as beautifully, good nutrition for the dog is also part of the care. As a herding dog with an immense urge to move, he primarily needs dog food that provides him with sufficient energy.

What are the typical diseases of the Border Collie?

Among the medium-sized dog breeds, the Border Collie is one of the most enduring dogs with very good health. However, there are a number of breed-specific hereditary diseases. This includes, for example, the MDR1 defect that is widespread among collies. This causes an allergic reaction to several drugs. Other possible diseases are:

  • Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA): progressive loss of vision
  • Canine ceroid lipofuscinosis (CL): incurable, fatal metabolic disease
  • Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome (TNS): Disease of the bone marrow

Border Collies from Merle x Merle litters are also often congenitally deaf and/or blind. This variant is therefore registered and prohibited in Germany as torture breeding.

How much does a border collie cost?

The Border Collie is very popular. Puppies are available from reputable breeders from around 1,000 euros upwards. At the same time, fortunately, many breeders in Germany still make sure that their puppies end up with people who also have the resources and qualities to raise a Border Collie well and in a species-appropriate manner.

Better yet, you go to the animal shelter and see if there is a homeless Border Collie looking for a new home. Unfortunately, many dogs of the breed often end up in animal shelters because their owners do not get along well with the intelligence and high demands of the dogs or are simply overwhelmed.

If you are convinced that you can offer the dogs with faithful eyes exactly what they need, you can offer them a new home and show them that not everyone is overwhelmed by an intelligent dog.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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