The Best Qualities of The Amazing Border Collie Breed
When it comes to smarts, no dog can beat the Border Collie.
Alert, energetic and full of personality, the Border Collie can charm even the pickiest dog owners.
The world's smartest dog isn't for everyone, though. Before you take home one of these remarkable pooches, make sure you read our guide to everything you need to know about the Border Collie.
A Basic Overview of the Border Collie
The first thing you'll notice about the Border Collie is his eyes. They don't "pop" the way Weimaraner eyes do, but they are striking nonetheless. Those intense eyes come in handy when scaring predators away from sheep.
Also, the Border Collie has a unique gait. Because of his skeletal structure, the Border Collie can crouch like a cat, circle his flock quickly, and still look graceful while he's at it. Combined with his stare, his crouch-walk makes predators think twice about harming any sheep under his protection.
Since herding takes up a lot of time, Border Collies are bred to have ample amounts of energy. He'll gladly take any chance to let off steam, whether it's chasing after a Frisbee or ripping the covers off your sofa. Don't let that last one put you off, though: If you know how to harness a Border Collie's energy, you won't have to worry (much) about ruined furniture.
What is the Personality of the Border Collie?
The Border Collie is a firecracker to the core. Instead of lying on your couch all day, he'd rather jump all over it. Unless you give him something to do, he can get frustrated and destructive enough to ruin everything in your house.
As we said earlier, he's a smart pooch. In fact, he's a perennial title holder for "World's Smartest Dog." Many Border Collie owners even claim that their dogs have a sixth sense. For example, even if you don't specifically ask him to fetch the day's paper, he'll probably bring it to you anyway.
Because he's a herding dog, the Border Collie is instinctively wary of strangers. If he isn't socialized early on, he can become fearful and shy around people he doesn't know. On the other hand, if he's constantly exposed to different people and stimuli, he can become a wonderful, sociable pooch that everyone in your neighborhood will love.
If you want to be on good terms with a Border Collie, it helps to be an experienced dog owner. It also helps to have a large yard for him to play in, and to be patient and persistent enough to train a dog who'd rather train himself.
History and Background of the Border Collie
It's generally believed that the Border Collie came from the Anglo-Scottish border. The Scots already had collie-like dogs by the time they set foot on the British Isles, and some believe that the word "collie" came from a Scottish word.
However, the Border Collie — as we know him today — didn't exist until the 19th century. Many of today's Border Collies trace their ancestry to Old Hemp, who lived from 1893 to 1901, and Wiston Cap, whose image appears on the badge of the International Sheep Dog Society to this day.
Eventually, the Border Collie found his way into New Zealand, Australia, the U.S., and other parts of the world. In 1995, the American Kennel Club recognized the breed, and the Border Collie now ranks as America's 38th most popular pooch.
Are Border Collies Playful and Fun?
It might not be a stretch to say that the Border Collie is the most playful dog you'll ever meet. He's always up for anything exciting, be it the standard "run and fetch" routine or complicated acrobatics.
However, a Border Collie shines brightest when he's performing tricks. He can understand and follow commands that most dogs can't, like "play deader than dead" and "pick the x between these two objects." Unsurprisingly, most of the pooches who top obedience class are Border Collies.
On the flip side, a Border Collie can get a little too playful. If you're already at your limit, and your Border Collie still wants to play "Fetch," you might want to find another outlet for his restless energy.
How Much Exercise Does a Border Collie Need?
At the very least, a Border Collie should run for 30 to 40 minutes a day. (That's right: Walking won't suffice for this hyperactive pooch.) If you're not already an active person, meeting a Border Collie's exercise requirements can be a challenge.
Ideally, a Border Collie should be within walking distance from a place where he can run around freely. If you don't already have a big yard (and you should, for your Border Collie's sake!), you might want to move near a dog-friendly park instead. Border Collies don't like cramped spaces, so locking him up in a tiny apartment is a no-no.
Aside from stretching their limbs, Border Collies also like to stretch their minds. Teach them basic commands like "Sit" and "Stay," then move on to "Play Dead," "Roll Over" and similar tricks.
If your Border Collie is still up for Round 2, and you're already beat, consider getting him a playmate. The playmate doesn't have to be another Border Collie: As long as the other dog can keep up, and as long as they've been socialized with each other, they should be fine.
What are the Grooming Needs of the Border Collie?
You'd think a Border Collie's double coat will make it harder to groom him. Actually, the Border Collie is one of the easier breeds to clean.
Since his fur is covered with natural protective oils, a Border Collie doesn't need to be bathed often. It's okay to bathe him only once every four months. If you do need to bathe him, only do so when he's got himself really dirty. Usually, a weekly brushing is enough to keep his coat spiffy.
As for his teeth, they need to be brushed every other day to prevent tartar buildup. You should also clip his nails whenever they get too long, or whenever they start making clacking noises on the floor.
If you want your Border Collie to be really comfortable with grooming, get him started as soon as he's old enough. If that doesn't work, take him to a groomer who's used to Border Collies.
Are Border Collies Easy to Train?
As any dog owner will tell you, intelligence doesn't necessarily mean trainability.
Although Border Collies learn faster than almost any other dog, they can also be stubborn. A poorly trained Border Collie will act out, and have a "my way or the high way" attitude. If you want your dog to tone down his hardheadedness, train him as early as possible.
For dogs between 12 to 16 months, you can start with the basics. Ask him to "Sit," "Stay" and "Heel" until these commands are second nature to him. Gently guide him outside whenever he needs to urinate or defecate, and say "Good boy!" every time he does it in the right place. Give him positive encouragement whenever he masters a trick or command, and avoid punishing him when he doesn't.
If you're queasy about training a Border Collie, you can always let a professional do it for you. Look for trainers in your neighborhood who are experienced with Border Collies. While you're at it, ask your trainer for pointers on keeping your dog happy and well-behaved.
How Much Does a Border Collie Puppy Cost?
There isn't one standard price for Border Collie puppies. Depending on where he's from, whether he has papers, whether he's bred for show or work, and a myriad of other factors, he can cost anywhere between $1,000 and $1,500, or even higher.
Keep in mind that the above prices don't include the annual costs of raising a Border Collie. For visits to the vet, toys, training, food, supplies and other doggie essentials, it's safe to set aside an additional $500 to $1,000 per year.
Of course, the healthier your Border Collie is, the less expensive he'll be to care for. If you don't want to burn too much cash on your pooch, make sure you buy him only from reputable breeders in your area. The more reputable the breeder, the more likely a dog will be healthy and have little to no behavioral issues.
Border Collies aren't for everyone. For the wrong owner, they can be more than a handful. For the right owner, they can be the smartest pooches, the liveliest companions and the most loyal friends you can ever have.
What do you think of Border Collies? Care to share any experiences with this awesome breed? Share away in the comments below!