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