Border Collie Dog History, Health And Care

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Introduction Of Border Collie Dog

The Border Collie is a well-balanced, medium-sized dog that displays grace and agility in equal measure with substance and stamina. He is energetic, alert, athletic, eager to please and keenly intelligent. This breed is famous for its herding skills, and today they are still extremely active in livestock fields and on farms world-wide. They have a wonderful disposition but are one of the most high-energy dogs in the canine community. People with limited time and space should not own Border Collies. This breed entered the American Kennel Club’s Miscellaneous class in 1955. The breed standard was developed by the British Kennel Club in 1976. Border Collies were admitted to the American Kennel Club’s Herding Group and became eligible for full AKC registration in October of 1995.

Border Collie Dog Breed Quick Facts

Adaptability2/5
Affection Level4/5
Apartment Friendly2/5
Barking Tendencies3/5
Cat Friendly1/5
Child Friendly3/5

Dog Friendly3/5
Exercise Need5/5
Grooming Needs2/5
Health Issues2/5
Intelligence5/5
Playfulness5/5

Border Collie – History and Health

History

The Border Collie’s history probably goes back to the first century B.C., when the Romans invaded Britain and brought with them dogs to herd their livestock. When the empire crumbled, Viking raiders are thought to have brought smaller spitz-type herding dogs with them, which they cross-bred with the larger Roman dogs to produce smaller, more agile sheep-herding dogs particularly well-suited to the climate and topography of the highlands bordering Scotland, England and Wales. These animals were bred for performance rather than appearance – and especially for their stock sense and innate ability to work long hours on rugged terrain with little human guidance.

All modern Border Collies trace back to a single dog named Old Hemp, who was born in the early 1890s in Northumberland, England. He competed in sheepdog trials from the age of one year and was undefeated in his lifetime, a record that apparently has never been matched. Other influential breed sires include Tommy and Sweep – both grandsons of Old Hemp – along with Craig, Wartime Cap and Wiston Cap, who was the 1965 International Champion and who possibly had the greatest influence on today’s Border Collies. Many excellent dogs were exported to America beginning in the 1890s. The International Sheepdog Society (ISDS) was founded in Scotland in 1906. The name “Border Collie” was coined in or around 1915 by the then-secretary of the ISDS. ”Collie” is thought to refer to the Scottish Highland colley sheep, with “colley” being an old Anglo-Saxon word for “black”, pertaining to the black markings on those sheep. Another theory attributes the origin of the name to the fact that “collie” is Gaelic for “useful,” which these dogs certainly are. Now headquartered in Bedford, England, the ISDS is still active in maintaining a registry and governing body for working Border Collies world-wide. Border Collies remain invaluable to ranchers and farmers and continue to excel in herding and agility competitions. Their intensity, agility, extraordinary instincts and trainability are prized equally with their physical size and attractive appearance. This breed is considered by most to be the world’s premier sheep herding dog. They are affectionate with family and standoffish with strangers. They require vigorous exercise and mental stimulation to remain content.

Health

The average lifespan of the Border Collie is 12 to 15 years. They may be prone to congenital deafness, familial cerebellar degeneration, epilepsy, hip dysplasia and certain ocular conditions such as nodular episclerokeratits, chronic superficial keratitis (pannus), primary lens luxation, cataracts, collie eye anomaly, generalized progressive retinal atrophy and other eye disorders. Their short-to-medium length coat requires regular grooming to prevent matting and dirt accumulation.

Border Collie – Temperament & Personality

Personality

Border Collies are famous frisbee and agility champions. With an intense, watchful eye they tackle every task put before them with the focus of an Olympic Athlete. Watching a Border Collie at work, whether in a field or on an agility course is truly breathtaking. They love to take on new tasks, and make the ideal dog for farmers and ranchers.

Activity Requirements

Border Collies are some of the most intelligent dogs in the world, and they need a lot of physical and mental activity. They can be a challenge for even the most seasoned dog owner. They must have at least two hours of activity a day in order to stave off behavioral problems, and the behavioral problems that develop in Border Collies can be severe. Apartment living won’t do for this breed, a home with lots of room and time to run, play catch, chase balls and practice agility are a much better fit. Farms would be the most ideal setting for a Border Collie. Originally bred to tend flocks of sheep, they would spend hours a day running and herding and are their happiest when they are at work. Farmers are guaranteed a loyal, energetic “employee” when they adopt a Border Collie.

If this breed does not have their physical and mental activity requirement met, they will develop anxiety and destructive behaviors. Many families are attracted to the breed because of their medium build and energy, but this energy can quickly become a problem if it is not channeled in the proper ways.

Trainability

Border Collies are problem-solvers and can be easily trained to do just about any task. Intelligent and observant, they can also pick up new behaviors without being taught – but usually behaviors that are unwanted such as opening cabinets, closets and doors, where they can get into mischief.

Early training is essential with Border Collies. The earlier they learn to obey commands, the better. They like to be in charge and will take the opportunity to rule the roost, if given a little leeway. Positive reinforcement and a gentle but confident tone are needed when working with Border Collies. Their sensitive nature can cause them to shut down if they are treated with a heavy hand.

This breed excels in agility and physical competition. Border Collies are often the champions of frisbee and long jump competitions, and thrive on this type of activity.

Behavioral Traits

Border Collies are the Houdinis of the dog world. Mere fences can not keep them from escaping into the world. It is important to keep an eye on your Border Collie at all times. They have been known to jump, dig, even open the locks of fences to get out and explore.

Early socialization and exposure to new experiences is very important, as Border Collies can be shy. If left unchecked, their reserved nature around strangers can change to aggression. They are often aggressive toward other animals, and cats or small pets should not be introduced into a Border Collie’s home.

Herding is in their blood and Border Collies have been known to try and herd groups of people at parties, children, other animals, bicycles and even cars. Never leave a Border Collie off a leash when in an open area, or they will take chase and nip at people. They can also be injured when running after bikes and cars.

Separation anxiety is common in this breed, and can be severe. Because they need so much activity to stay happy, when they are bored and alone, anxiety sets I quickly. Border Collies will chew, bark, howl and dig when left alone for too long, unless they are properly exercised. Because they need so much exercise, it can be difficult to prevent severe anxiety.

Border Collie – Appearance & Grooming

Appearance

The AKC describes the Border Collie as, “a well balanced, medium-sized dog of athletic appearance, displaying style and agility in equal measure with soundness and strength.” Their bodies are a bit longer than they are tall, with moderately long, low-set tails. They have wide, flat skulls and their muzzles are usually the same length as the skull. The Border Collie’s nose color should match the main color of his body. Eyes can be any color, and some dogs have two different colored eyes (usually found in Merle patterns). Their ears can be erect, semi-erect or fully dropped. They come in two coat varieties: rough and smooth; and they may come in just about any color and color pattern including solid, bicolor, tricolor and merle.

Size and Weight

Border Collies fall into the medium size category, standing between 18 and 22 inches at the shoulder and weighing in between 30 and 45 pounds. At maturity, females tend to be slightly smaller than their male counterparts. When showing a Border Collie, overall balance of the dog is more important than his size.

Coat and Color

Border Collies’ coats come in two varieties: rough and smooth. Both rough and smooth coated dogs have double coats with a soft, thick undercoat and a rougher outer coat. But the rough coated variety has medium length hair with feathering on the belly, legs and chest. Smooth coated Border Collies have shorter hair with little feathering, and the coat is actually more coarse to the touch.

Border Collies are bred for athletic ability, not appearance, so this breed comes in just about all colors and patterns of the canine rainbow. They may be solid, bicolor, tricolor or merle. The most common pattern found in Border Collies are black with a white blaze at the neck, face, chest, legs and tail tip. The only solid color not accepted by the breed standard is white.

Grooming Needs

Border Collies are not high-maintenance in the grooming department. They shed lightly throughout the year and heavier during the change in seasons. Weekly brushing will keep shed hair from accumulating around the house and will also help distribute the natural oils in the dog’s coat and prevent mats from forming. Unless a Border Collie likes to romp in the mud, baths are only needed once every few months.

Weekly brushing of the teeth and cleaning of the ears can help keep harmful bacteria from growing and keep the dog healthy. Individuals with drop ears are especially prone to ear infections, and weekly cleanings with a veterinarian-recommended cleanser are essential.

Feeding & Dietary Needs of Border Collies

Diet & Food

The Border Collie is a high-energy working breed that requires a protein-based, high calorie, yet balanced diet in order to maintain health and happiness. The individual needs of every dog are unique. Older dogs have nutritional needs that younger dogs do not. And Border Collies that spend their days running and playing will require a higher calorie intake than less active dogs. When choosing a dietary plan for a Border Collie, it is important to keep both the needs of the breed and the needs of the individual dog in mind.

Caloric Needs

Border Collies were originally bred to herd sheep, a task that requires intelligence, speed, stamina, and energy. Their herding tendencies make them known for heel-nipping – it’s their natural instinct to keep groups in order. These deeply-rooted herding instincts are also evident in the extreme energy levels and stamina exhibited in companion Border Collies. They require several hours of exercise each day, and when they are not running or playing, this breed requires constant mental stimulation. Many Border Collie owners liken their dogs to hyperactive children.

When a Border Collie is getting the optimum level of exercise each day, a balanced, high-quality, calorie-rich diet is in order. Protein is critical for building muscle and maintaining stamina, and a diet that is rich in meat-based protein is often the best choice for an active Border Collie. The more active the dog, the more protein he will require. However, owners should not simply increase food intake based on increased activity. Total nutritional content is far more important than the amount of food the dog takes in.

As Border Collies age, their nutritional needs and daily caloric intake will change. Their activity level will decrease, and a diet modification will be required in order to prevent weight gain. No matter a Border Collie’s age, a balanced diet that includes meat-based protein and a variety of vitamins can help maintain health and quality of life.

Coat & Diet

The medium-length coat of the Border Collie can either be “rough” or “smooth.” Regardless of texture, all Border Collies have a thick undercoat that sheds lightly throughout the year, and sheds heavily in the Spring and Fall. While regular brushing and grooming can manage the mess, a proper diet can help reduce and prevent shedding associated with poor skin and coat quality.

The coat of a Border Collie should never be dull or overly dry-feeling. If the coat lacks sheen and feels like straw, or if the skin is excessively dry, the dog may not be getting enough fat or nutrients. A diet that includes omega fatty acids and B vitamins can help keep the skin and coat of the Border Collie healthy.

Supplemental Needs

Border Collies have an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years. They are prone to some minor health problems such as deafness, seizures, hypothyroidism, Collie eye anomaly, cataracts, and lens luxation. This breed is also prone to hip dysplasia, a painful, degenerative condition that affects a dog’s ability to properly stand, walk, and run. Glucosamine and chondroitin are commonly prescribed for dogs who have a predisposition to hip and joint problems, as they support collagen in the body. While supplements can improve a dog’s intake of these nutrients, it can help to choose a diet that includes glucosamine and chondroitin, especially if the Border Collie does not handle pills very well.

Conclusion

Active Border Collies require a high-protein diet that is rich in vitamins and nutrients to help them maintain their energy and stamina. But every dog is unique, and it is important to consider a dog’s age, activity level, and health concerns when choosing a dietary plan. Food labels can be confusing, so it can often help to consult veterinarians and dog-nutrition experts when mapping out a diet for a Border Collie.

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