The Border Collie.
In another of our breed specific articles, Holidays4Dogs looks this time at the border collie – not only popular as pets, the border collie is an expert at a number of jobs, including herding, guiding, search and rescue and drug detection. The border collie is a truly versatile dog. Read on to find out more.
Origins of this remarkable dog are not clearly recorded, but it is suggested they originated in Ireland. Here, the name ‘collie’, refers to the Celtic dialect for ‘useful’. The BC’s name could not be more fitting.
These dogs are bred to herd livestock. Many of the early Irish dogs were taken to Scotland to manage large flocks of sheep on huge swathes of upland pasture. For centuries, these dogs have been bred to work livestock and 1873 heralded the beginning of sheep dog trial competitions in the UK.
There began more consistent breeding of successful dogs, not just for general farm work, but as a trials dogs. ‘Old Hemp’ is regarded as the forefather of all modern-day collies.
Despite modern intensive farming methods the border collie still has a place as a herding dog. Their skills remain invaluable on farms worldwide, including New Zealand and Australia.
Collies are also fantastic at dog sports, such as working trials, tracking, obedience, agility, fly-ball, heel-work to music and frisbee competitions. There really is no end to the talents of a border collie.
This is a medium-sized dog, traditionally black and white with a characteristic white blaze down the muzzle, white ruff and white tail tip. However, the breed does have a wide array of different coat colours and types. They can also be long, or short, coated.
There is some variation in ear carriage too, with some strains having pricked ears and others drooped. They are an attractive breed and not too large for the average home.
As their history suggests, this is an energetic breed of dog and, therefore, they may not be the first choice for the faint-hearted dog owner.
Border collies really do thrive on being active both mentally and physically. Anyone who acquires a collie is effectively taking a working dog into their home. It is, therefore, important to pick the right breeder and get good advice.
We don’t just write articles about dog breeds, we know our breeds and will always closely match our clients to the most suitable carer for you and your dog.
Collies like to be busy, so they are one of those breeds that don’t fare well in kennels. One-to-one care in a lovely home environment by a dedicated Holidays4Dogs carer is the ideal solution for border collies.
Border collies can be absolute clowns, but they are very loyal towards their families and usually very good with people. However, they don’t always make the best family pets and this is due to their very strong working instincts. There are some collies that don’t always get along with other dogs, so care should be taken with socialisation. They can also be obsessive in nature – i.e. chasing tennis balls, shadows, small animals or even traffic, relentlessly.
The herding instinct in the majority of Border collies is very strong. When herding sheep, collies will often nip, or grip, sheep as they move them along. This is a common trait seen in pet collies and often the reason why people decide to re-home their dog. Nipping, often involves small children in the family who are apt to run around quickly, thereby triggering the collie’s instinct to herd.
However, in the right home and with suitable mental and physical stimulation, border collies are one of the most devoted and loyal breeds of all.
As well as physical exercise, these dogs need mental stimulation. It is common to come back home from a long hike with a collie, only to have him shove a toy at your feet ten minutes later.
They are excellent Houdini’s and can slip through a door, or gate, so fast and so silently. Even though you think you’ve shut the dog behind you, you suddenly find he’s in front of you. They want to be with you every minute of the day!
While they are indeed exceptionally good at picking up new things, they are equally apt to pick up things you don’t want them to. In addition, they can become quite obsessive with certain behaviours.
They can also be boisterous, reactive and exuberant. This can be quite frustrating for even the most experienced owner. While it may take five minutes for them to learn something, it could take several months for them to ‘unlearn’ it.
A point in case would be my own collie, Floss. Acquired as an older rescue dog she already had considerable behaviour issues of a more pressing nature. However, while running her one day with my Labrador, she quickly picked up the annoying habit of hanging onto the base of his tail; so much so she made it bleed.
Although this was not aggression, this neurotic habit developed partly because of her instinct to herd. In addition, collies like to have an activity when walking. In certain cases, if the dog is not provided with focused interaction they will often find their own entertainment.
I, therefore, had to begin separate walks, teach Floss to retrieve and gradually run them together again. However, it took a further few months, using the clicker and positive reward methods, to completely stop her of this habit. Collies respond very well to positive reward-based training.
While they are strong and confident dogs, they are also often sensitive and should never be treated harshly.
Despite their exuberance and, some would say, their leaning towards being as mad as a box of frogs, border collies make the most loyal pets. It’s no wonder they are one of the most popular breeds. The border collie is also possibly one of the most versatile dog breeds in the world, turning their hand to all sorts of tasks, from companion to highly trained search and rescue dogs. Not only do they have brains, but they have all the good looks too!
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