The Border Collie

The Border Collie lies in the working collies used by shepherds on the border counties of Scotland and England in the 18th and 19th Centuries. These were often powerful dogs, difficult to control and rough with stock.

However, the keen herding instinct and great power over sheep that they possessed were useful, and was thought to be worth trying to find a milder-natured type to cross with them. A Northumbrian farmer, Adam Telfer, succeeded in finding the right blend of types in 1894, and the Border Collie of today is descended from Telfer's "Hemp."

The name "Border Collie" was coined after World War I to distinguish working collies from show collies. Bred for hill conditions, the Border Collie is outstanding when it comes to working sheep. Able to perform a variety of tasks, he is born with instinct to "gather" the sheep to the shepherd, a trait that makes him most useful on the hill. A Border Collie's ability to control sheep is measured by the "eye" (the amount of concentration on sheep that the dog shows). Because they must often work far from their handlers, Border Collies must be intelligent and independent.

Border Collies can be taught to herd a variety of livestock. Many will naturally herd anything that moves; ducks, chickens, sheep, cattle, bicycles, motorcycles, cats, cars and children. Indeed, since they were bred as sheepdogs to work as a team with a shepherd they tend to need a great deal of attention and activity. Border Collies are human oriented and don't do well in a household when left alone for long hours. They'll often get into trouble keeping themselves busy by chewing furniture, tearing off wallpaper, digging holes in gardens, chasing anything that moves. They've been known to bite children in their desire to control movement (but not out of meanness). Additionally, Border Collies may bark incessantly when tied up for long periods without human contact.

Natural versatility makes them excel in fields other than herding and sheepdog trials. Today you will see Border Collies winning obedience, agility, flyball and Frisbee matches for their owners. Border Collies are intelligent dogs, with a great deal of character who will entertain their owners from morning to night. They have a sensitive nature and can be taught to do a great many things. Like all dogs they can be loyal and loving. Before acquiring a Border Collie, check with a reputable organization to see if one is right for you. Remember they are excellent guard dogs and most certainly need obedience training from 3 months of age.

David the Dogman

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