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Border Collie or Collie, in short, is a mid-sized dog breed that originated from Northumberland, England. He is amongst the most popular of herding dogs and categorised under the Pastoral Breed Group.
The Collie is highly intelligent and relatively calm but requires more than an apartment life. The Border Collie should be given a job or tasks since he's a herding dog with high levels of energy, good working ability, and great intelligence.
Grooming a Collie is not a hard chore since a weekly brushing will do. One thing to note is that the Border Collie is an expert escape artist if not kept busy. The most common health condition to watch out for is the Collie eye anomaly (CEA).
Are you thinking of getting a Border Collie? Here is a brief background of this canine, often referred to as the most intelligent dog in the world.
The Border Collie dog is one of the best performers amongst the herding dogs. The breed is believed to be a descendant of the Scottish Landrace Collie. Today's Border Collies come from a dog named Old Hemp bred by Adam Telfer.
The Border Collie breed got his name from his place of origin—Northumberland, England—which lies along the English–Scottish border. The history of the Border Collie began around the gradual dissipation of the Roman Empire.
The Romans brought small yet fleet-footed Spitz-type herding dogs during their occupation in Britain. These canines were later on bred with the dogs introduced by Vikings who raided Britain. Their compact, active, and lithe offspring mark the beginning of the Border Collie breed.
The progenitors of the Border Collie became a handy guard dog and sheepherder. There were different variations of the breed, depending on the work or terrain needed in each region. The names these dogs were linked to the regions they work in—for instance, Highland Collie, Northern Sheepdog, Scotch Collie, and Welsh Sheepdog.
The Scotch Sheepdogs were shown during the second dog show held in England in 1860. One of the dogs caught Queen Victoria's eyes, who was on a trip to Balmoral. This coincidental encounter started the Queen's fondness for the breed.
The first sheepdog trial began in Bala, Wales, in 1873. The Border Collie's natural talent for herding sheep and other livestock is shown in the event, which led to his consistent breeding.
Secretary of the International Sheep Dog (ISDS) Society, James Reid, was the first to use Border Collie name in 1915. The group wanted to separate this breed from the Collie breed that was recognised by the Kennel Club.
Although they came from the same working stock, the Border Collie was bred differently in terms of appearance.
The Border Collie had been effectively working as a herding dog for hundreds of years, but only became popular in 1984. This was when Old Hemp won the dog trials in Bala, Wales. The breed was first recognised by the Kennel Club in 1977, which standards were amended a year later.
After the Border Collie breed was introduced in America, he became a star in several films and TV shows including Babe, Hotel For Dogs, and Mad About You. Aside from basking in the Hollywood limelight, the breed proves to be adept in sniffing out narcotics and bombs.
An average Border Collie dog weighs 18–29 kilos and stands 46–56 centimetres at the withers. A Border Collie puppy will fully mature in size once he reaches 12–15 months of age. However, he will still continue to put on weight until he is about 18 months of age. When it comes to mental maturity, it will take a bit longer for a Border Collie puppy to reach—about 24 months old.
The Border Collie is a well-balanced, athletic dog that exudes intelligence, strength, and grace, once fully grown.
The Border Collie has a fairly broad skull, strong and muscular neck, moderately short muzzle, and athletic body. His eyes are oval-shaped, usually black, and set wide apart. His medium ears are set well apart and erect, or semi-erect. His nose can be black or brown if the coat is brown or chocolate.
The Border Collie sheds moderately during most of the year. However, expect heavy shedding in spring and fall. Around this time of the year, the breed blows his coat in preparation for the upcoming season.
Because of the Collie's shedding, he is not a hypoallergenic breed. If you are allergic to pets, this dog might not be the best match for you.
According to the Kennel Club standards, the Border Collie can come in various colours except for solid white. The most popular is black with a white blaze, with or without a tan. The coat can also come in other solid colours, bicolour, tricolour, and merle.
The Border Collie comes in two types of weather-resistant double coats:
(1) Moderately long and rough
(2) Short and smooth
Both coat types have dense topcoats and soft undercoats. The medium-length coat variety has thicker hair on the neck and upper shoulders that form a mane. It also has feathering on the chest, belly, and legs.
Grooming long-haired and short-haired Border Collies is a straightforward weekly brushing, enough to prevent matting and distribute natural oils. During their shedding season, brushing should be done daily to remove loose and dead hairs.
Shaving double-coated breeds like the Border Collie is not advised. It prevents hair from growing back normally, and this can spell trouble.
The breed's thick coat is essential in regulating the body temperature during hot and cold seasons. If shaved fur fails to regrow to its original state, this will put the Border Collie at risk of overheating during hot days or becoming chilled on cold seasons.
When grooming your Collie, do not focus only on the coat. You also need to clean the ears, brush the teeth, trim nails, and check for ticks or fleas. Regular checking will help in detecting diseases and other abnormalities early.
The Border Collie is an alert, sharp, obedient, intelligent, hard-working, and persistent herd dog. He is a good family pet especially when he is properly raised and trained at a young age.
The Border Collie dog was originally bred to endure physically demanding jobs. He will thrive in a home with a big area that he can run around and release his energy.
The Collie is not a breed for apartment living with no access to a fenced garden. Before getting one as a pet, make sure that you can provide him with ample exercise.
Moreover, since the Border Collie needs to stay close with his owner, he should never be kept as an outdoor dog.
Training the intelligent Border Collie dog is quite easy and enjoyable. His brainpower is incomparable, and this dog is often considered the smartest canine in the world.
As a highly sensitive canine, the Collie eagerly responds to commands and easily recognises his owners' needs. He loves physically challenging and mentally stimulating training exercises such as sheepdog trials, advanced obedience, freestyle obedience, and tracking.
In terms of temperament and intelligence, each breed may likely have different predispositions. There are a lot of contributing factors that help shape a dog's personality and abilities. These factors include genetics, the environment, and early training.
The Border Collie can get along with children, especially with older kids who know how to handle dogs properly. However, creating a bond between the two requires work and effort.
Teaching children how to handle the Border Collie gently is crucial. Excessive roughhousing can hurt the dog and may lead him to retaliate in fear.
For an adult Border Collie, a daily serving is 1 1/2–2 cups of excellent-quality dry dog food. On the other hand, a Border Collie puppy can consume only 1/2–1 cup per day as he has a smaller stomach.
A Collie's high energy needs equate to high nutrient requirements. However, like in every breed, the amount of food depends on his age, size, build activity level, and metabolism.
An adult Border Collie's typical daily calorie needs:
As an active dog, the Border Collie requires more protein and fewer carbohydrates to support his energy needs. Protein provides vital nutrients for building muscles.
The longer-coated Collie also requires more healthy fats to keep his coat shiny. Provide him with dog food containing fish, or include fish oil or flaxseed supplements in his diet.
The Border Collie is generally healthy and can live up to 12–15 years. However, he is predisposed to certain medical conditions, including:
Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA)
It is a hereditary eye disease in the Border Collie breed that can afflict puppies as young as 2 years old. CEA causes the choroid, which a thin tissue in the eye, to thin out. This can result in a slew of other eye disorders including coloboma, retinal detachment, staphyloma, and even blindness.
If a Border Collie starts having cloudy eyes and smaller and sunken eyeballs, these are the signs that he is suffering from CEA.
Unfortunately, this condition has no treatment. However, laser surgery for Border Collies with severe CEA can help lessen the disease's adverse effects.
In mild cases, CEA may not exacerbate and may not require temporary treatment. However, always get your dog checked by the vet to monitor his condition.
Another common Border Collie inherited disorder is hip dysplasia. This painful condition happens due to the inability of the thighbone and hip joint to fit each other.
Lack of proper treatment can lead to lameness on the hind limbs, loss of thigh muscle mass, and stiffness of the joints. It can also cause arthritis as the dog ages.
The treatment of hip dysplasia can vary depending on how severe it is. Pain medication and physical therapy may be needed for Collies with mild hip dysplasia. For severe cases, surgery may be advised.
The Border Collie breed is prone to developing this neurological problem. It can lead him to experience seizures that can range from mild to severe. Dangerous situations may arise once seizures occur as it can cause the dog to lose consciousness, stagger, or fall down. Symptoms of epilepsy may show within the first 6 months.
Be sure to get a proper diagnosis from the vet to rule out any other underlying causes for this condition. Once the root of the seizure is determined, proper treatment will be administered.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Another common Border Collie disease is progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), which is a group of eye issues. It is a degenerative problem that slowly deteriorates the retina.
This can weaken the dog's vision, cause night blindness, and induce permanent blindness. PRA usually occurs in 3-year-old Border Collies, but younger puppies can develop it as well.
Blind Collies are known to adapt to their surroundings quickly. With that said, keeping your home safe for your dog is a big priority to avoid accidents. Avoid rearranging furniture, instal baby gates, and use a shorter lead during walks are some of the few things required to keep a blind Collie safe.
Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)
The Border Collie is prone to acquire osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), which is a joint disease characterised by abnormal cartilage growth in the joints. This causes the joints to break down, which can lead to extreme pain. OCD usually occurs in the elbows and sometimes on the shoulders too. Border Collie puppies as young as 3–9 months old can suffer from this condition.
The Border Collie breed can suffer from lameness, swollen joints, and wasting of muscles if he has OCD. Overfeeding Border Collie puppies with high protein food or puppy food containing growth formula is linked to the development of this disease. Treatment for OCD often involves arthroscopy or surgery.
Be sure to buy a Border Collie puppy from a reputable breeder whose breeding stocks are health-screened. When potential parent breeds are tested, it shows what kinds of diseases they may pass off to their offspring.
Health screening lessens the probability of breeders to produce sickly puppies. Suggested testing for the Border Collie dog breed includes hip, eye, and thyroid evaluation and DNA exam.
The Border Collie herding breed requires plenty of physical exercises and mental stimulation. As a workaholic canine, a Bored Collie will find something to amuse himself, which is usually destructive. His exercise routine can be a mix of 40–60-minute walk, along with agility training or games throughout the day.
The Border Collie would greatly enjoy living on a farm where he can play dog sports or herd live stocks. As a highly energetic dog, the Border Collie excels in different canine sports such as agility, fly ball, flying disk competitions, and tracking.
A well-bred pedigree Border Collie puppy from a KC-registered breeder costs anywhere from £700 to £1,500.
Basic dog supplies and equipment like lead, collar, crate, bed, and toys cost around £200. You must also set aside around £40–£50 a month for a high-quality dog food that provides the daily nutritional requirements to keep your Border Collie healthy.
Other expenses, including regular veterinary visits, vaccinations, boosters, and preventive care, can add up to £1000 annually.
To ensure that you are prepared for unforeseen expenses caused by ailments or health emergencies, get pet insurance. The monthly insurance premium is about £20 for basic cover and £40 for a lifetime policy, depending on your dog's age, and health condition.
Are you sure the Border Collie is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.Dog Breed Selector Quiz
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