The Border Collie
The Border Collie is a sheep-herding dog of exceptional qualities. For many years the Border Collie has excelled at sheepdog trials as a dog with uncanny instinctive abilities to herd sheep. The dog performs this function often without any direction from the herder. When direction is given it is through low whistles or hand signals on the part of the human Master. The Border Collie will lie down with uncanny timing and precision, will dart in or out at just the right moment to guide the sheep, all the while maintaining an intense eye contact or “staring” at the sheep; this eye contact is a well known characteristic of the breed. Anyone who has seen this dog perform at herding trials cannot help but be fascinated by the outstanding talents of the breed.
The Border Collie originated as the name implies, from the border territories of England and Scotland. The first Sheepdog Trials were held in North Wales in 1873, where a dog named “Tweed” won the trial and also a prize for being “the most handsome dog”. It is said that this dog became the foundation of the Border Collie breed.
The Border Collie was imported into Australia as a working sheepdog. The breed developed in that country as a versatile herding dog. It was used very successfully on both sheep and cattle and in the vast ranchlands of Australia became well known as the herding dog of choice. When it later began to be imported into the United States, it also joined the ranks of the dogs who are shown in dog shows and is popular as an Agility dog and Obedience dog.
The dog is extremely agile, able to crouch, spring and corner skilfully for the purpose of driving the recalcitrant sheep or cattle into line. The Border’s coat should not be overly abundant yet should be double and thick enough to be weather resistant. In appearance it is most like the collie but with shorter length of feathers. There is a “smooth coat” variety of this breed, however this variety appears mostly in Great Britain and the most popular type of coat is the “rough coat”. The dog is of medium height and build and comes in many colors, but white should never be predominant.
This breed is highly instinctive. Coincidentally, both The Border collie and the Newfoundland have been used in the genetic studies of the Human Genome Research Project as the DNA markers for comparison of strong inherited behavioral tendencies. The Border Collie is noted as one of the most intelligent of breeds and is not happy without a job to do. It learns quickly and enjoys the challenge of learning. This is not a dog who will be happy left alone for hours in a house and also should not be left unsupervised in an unfenced area. This dog needs mental and physical stimulation to be happy and healthy.
The dog does well in Obedience, Rally Obedience, Agility, Flyball, Sheep Herding Trials and is a popular Conformation breed. Furthermore their medium size and high intelligence have made them quite useful as Search and Rescue dogs. These dogs should always exhibit stable temperament and be absolutely without shyness. People who have this dog as a pet or as a utility dog will have a loyal and faithful friend, one who will respond eagerly and willingly to any request and is happiest when asked to perform a job.
Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Animals.
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- Border Collie page on Wikipedia
- Border Collie Club of Victoria (Australia)
- Border Collie Club of NSW (Australia)
- Border Collie Club of QLD (Australia)
- Border Collie Society of America
- American Border Collie Association
- Canadian Border Collie Association
- Border Collie Club of Great Britain
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