The Border Collie is a well-balanced breed. It is a medium-sized dog, agile, hardy, elegant and alert in appearance. A hard muscular body resonates a true hard working dog with a lot of endurance. The height of the Border Collie ranges between 46 to 56 cm. Males are typically taller than females. Strong muscular body encases a medium to light but strong skeletal structure. The overall appearance of the Border Collie is that of an intelligent, alert and eager breed, ready to follow whatever the owner commands.
The head has a relatively flat skull that is moderate in width. The top of the skull is parallel with the top of the muzzle which tapers slightly to the nose. The oval shaped eyes come in all shades of brown and sometimes blue with pigmented eye rims. Medium-sized ears are carried erect and/or semi-erect, whereby the tips may fall either forward or outward to the side. The head is supported by a strong and muscular neck. The athletic body is level from the withers to the loins which is slightly arched. It has a low setting tail which is raised when excited. The front legs have slightly sloping pasterns while the muscular hind legs slope elegantly to the low set tail. Well-turned stifles and parallel or slightly turned in hocks complete the dog’s hindquarters profile.
The double coat of the Border Collie is close-fitting, dense, and weather resistant. The undercoat is soft and dense while the outer coat is either straight or course and wavy. The rough Border Collie has a medium length coat with featherings on the front legs, haunches, chest and underside while the smooth variety has a short coat over the entire body with the same slight feathering as the rough variety. Colours comes in a variety of combination – solid, bi-colour, tri-colour, merle and sable with random white patches on the body and head. Males weigh between 14 and 20 kg while females weigh from 12 to 19 kg.
The Border Collie was originally known as the Scotch Sheepdog and is a descendant of the Scottish landrace collies found along the borders of Scotland and England, hence the name “Border”. The ancestries were originally used by the Vikings in reindeer herding. The name “collie” was used as a general term for the cattle droving cur dog in medieval Scotland which also means “useful” in the old Celtic language.
Many of the modern breeds we have today owe their lineage to a dog known as Old Hemp – a tri-colour Border Collie from West Woodburn, Northumberland owned by Adam Telfer. Born in 1893, Old Hemp’s father, Roy was a white and tan sheepdog with a good-natured temperament while Hemp’s mother, Meg, was a quiet and very strong-eyed black sheepdog. Hemp was a true working dog who herded sheep but unlike any other sheepdogs of the era. He was far more mild-mannered and worked more quietly that the rest, squatting down and hypnotizing the sheep with its powerful stare – a trait which the modern Border Collies of today inherited.
The Border Collie is a highly intelligent breed of dog. It has an amazing instinct, well aware of its surroundings and has an ability to work unsupervised. This extraordinary ability makes it the world’s best sheepdog. It makes for a good watch dog and guardian because it will bark and alert its owners around strangers or when it sees any danger. It is also highly protective of its family and highly adaptable to all types of weather conditions.
They are represented in various dog sports, outclassing competitors in agility skills, obedience competition, sheepdog trials and Frisbee contests.
Considered as probably the most intelligent among all domestic dogs, the Border Collie is an easy dog to train. It is known to listen to commands and obey without a lot of repetitions from the trainer. This breed can be receptive but early socialization as a puppy is the key to prevent bashfulness. A firm and confident pack leader is required to handle this dog because it has a tendency to challenge its owner’s authority because of its intelligence.
The smooth or rough double coat requires regular grooming to keep the hair healthy and the skin free from allergies. Trimming or stripping is not required for the Border Collie. It is a moderate shedder so routine brushing is advisable.
Border Collies can live between 10 and 14 years. The average lifespan being 12 years. Common health problems include:
The Border Collie is a very active breed and will need daily exercise to remain healthy. An hour of play in a large yard, a long walk or running alongside a bike is an ideal exercise. It is, however, not suited to an apartment life because it is an active breed. The best home for the Border Collie is a home with a large yard where it can frolic every day.
It is a caring, playful, energetic and protective breed which suits very well with children and other pets. First time dog owners will find the Border Collie a lovable dog to be with. With enough exercise, the Border Collie will get along well with other animals, although sometimes they may show dominance towards other dogs of the same sex, but a firm and confident pack leader can overcome this aggressive behaviour.