AGILE, HIGHLY INTELLIGENT, HERDER
History & Origin
Dogs resembling the modern Border Collie have been around for centuries and their primary use, as working dogs, was for herding sheep. The breed, as we know it, however, is relatively young, with the 19th century having the first mention of the name ‘Collie’ as seen from a few publications of the time.
The origin of the word ‘Collie’ as pertaining to the breed has a few possibilities. It could be derived from the German “Alt Deutscher Kuli” which is indeed a German sheep dog, or, as is more popularly believed, either from Old English ‘colley’ or ‘coley’ which means ‘coal’ and in fact refers to the color black (the predominant color of the breed. Another possibility is that it is derived from the Gaelic word that sounds similar and means useful. Then, of course, it could come from the English ‘coollie’ which means ‘worker’.
Whatever the origin of the name, this is indeed a breed that has mostly black markings and which makes a heck of a wonderful working dog!
The breed as it is known today is believed to have originated in Northumberland which is on the Scottish/English border. Its main purpose was herding, especially sheep, and to this end, this extremely intelligent breed excels.
It grew in popularity after the first sheepdog trials were held in Wales towards the end of the 19th century. As a breed, it excelled in all disciplines. It also gained popularity as a household pet due to their wonderful temperament and adaptability to different situations. These dogs are smart!
The Border Collie was officially recognized by the AKC in 1995.
- HIGHLY INTELLIGENT
PERSONALITY AND TEMPERAMENT
By nature, your new puppy is a herder. It is a characteristic that has been bred into the breed. Border Collies are, arguably, possibly the most intelligent dog breed around, but it needs specialized training in order to become a good house pet.
Many Border Collies are put down every year because improper training at a young age makes it nearly impossible to retrain this breed. Many people purchasing a Border Collie find that this is too much dog for them to handle! If you are not willing to put in the time and effort, this is not the breed for you!
The breed, as a whole, has an incredible need to work! They are sharp of eye, agile, and quick thinkers. Collies also need exercise and a lot of it! They have a huge amount of energy that needs to be let out! To this end, they need a large yard space, and, if they having nothing to herd, they need to be taken on long, regular walks as often as possible.
Besides the physical stimulation, however, they also need tons of mental stimulation. This is an extremely intelligent breed that is very good with regards to problem-solving. Without adequate stimulation, your puppy will become bored, frustrated, and immensely destructive, which is a situation that no puppy owner wants.
Because they are so intelligent, they learn new skills extremely quickly – good ones as well as bad ones, and once they have set their mind on doing something, they will quickly work out a way in which to do so! They are, in fact, masters of escape.
The breed, once again, due to their intelligence, tends to be quite highly strung. It, therefore, needs a firm handler and adequate training on an ongoing basis. To this end, sports such as agility training where the dog works very closely with its owner are an ideal opportunity to both stimulate and educate the dog constantly.
For someone that wants just another family pet, please do not purchase a Border Collie. They are so much more than that.
NUTRITION AND FEEDING
When bringing your new puppy home, it is best to feed it the same food that it has become accustomed to at the breeder. If you want to make changes, do so gradually by supplementing only a portion of its own food with the new one, upping the percentage by which you add the new food gradually. A puppy’s tummy is delicate and needs time to adapt to changes in its food.
Of course, the best food to feed your dog is homemade, including chicken, beef and fish with vegetables and brown rice added. Homemade food, however, is not always possible for everyone, due to various reasons, so if considering a commercial dog food, make sure that it is good for your breed and of a high quality. However, this is not always possible for everyone, so if considering a commercial dog food, make sure that it is good for your breed and of a high quality. This is essential as the majority of commercial dog food has little to no real nutritional value, something which is not acceptable, especially for a Border Collie with its high energy levels.
A mistake with regards to feeding a Border Collie puppy that a number of first-time owners make is as to the quantity of food the puppy should have at each meal. A Border Collie will eat as much as it possibly can get a hold of, even when it is not hungry. Overfeeding your dog could lead to health problems, so they should never be fed on the basis of ‘he will stop eating when he is full’ – they very seldom are!
As to the frequency of feeding, a new puppy would typically eat around four meals a day which should be reduced to twice daily by the time it is approximately six months old. This regime should preferably be adhered to for the rest of the Collie’s life.
COAT AND GROOMING
Although a working breed that loves the outside, your puppy, as it forms a very close bond with its owner, needs to be with you. They do make excellent house pets when trained correctly, and will just as happily lie at your feet or work outside alongside you. This is a breed that has a close affinity with humans and working with us.
For their size, they are a relatively long-lived breed of dog and can live for between 13 to 16 years if cared for well.
Typically, a male puppy will grow to stand at between 48cm to 56 cm and weigh anything from 14kg to 20kg. A female, on the other hand, is slightly smaller than her male counterpart, standing at a height of 46 cm to 53 cm, weighing in at between 12kg to about 19kg.
Border Collies have a double coat that is resistant to water. There are two variations, however. One type of coat is short and sleek while the other is course and rough and quite long. Typical colors are sable, black, black and white, yellow and white, yellow, red and white, black and gray, and tricolor.
Its coat, interestingly enough, does not only serve to keep him warm in winter, but to keep him cool in summer as well. Although they tend to shed throughout the year, they tend to shed more when the season changes to summer. Regular brushing is therefore highly recommended, not only to keep your home hair-free but to prevent the dog’s hair from matting as well.
A Collie that is brushed often does not need to be bathed too often (let your nose guide you), although cleaning its ears regularly is a good idea. Damp cotton wool is ideal for this purpose, and if you notice any irregularity, a trip to the veterinarian is in order as coloration or discharge could be signs of an ear infection.
This breed, because it is a working dog, rarely needs its nails clipped as they tend to file down naturally during the course of a working day.
Training should begin the moment your new puppy arrives at your home. To this end, proper socialization is essential, and he should be introduced to all family members and pets right from the outset. As these are herding dogs, their instincts to do so are extremely strong, and proper socialization will teach them not to try herding all the members of the family! If there are younger children in the family, they need to be taught not to run around while the puppy is near, as he may just start acting on his natural instincts!
This breed, for housetraining purposes, takes well to crate training. It also provides him with a safe haven where he can rest, sleep, or just go to when he needs a little peace. A puppy should, ideally, be taken outside approximately 15 minutes after a meal to defecate, as this is the time it takes for his stomach to digest and let go of waist while it also teaches him that outside is the place to do his business. As they are highly intelligent, housetraining, with this breed, is usually extremely easy.
Puppy training classes are also recommended, as is advanced training. These dogs, with their keen eye and love of learning, excel at agility training and there are many competitions around in which they can compete and show off their prowess.
As far as sleeping goes, your new puppy is a baby and needs up to 16 hours of sleep a day! It is quite normal to have a period of play time followed by a period whereby he just wants to sleep. Remember, he is growing, and that takes a lot of hard work! As he gets older, however, as is the case with human babies, he will sleep less.
As a breed, the Border Collie is quite a healthy dog and is susceptible to mainly minor ailments.
Unlike other breeds that are also extremely active, they tend to be more prone to hip dysplasia, and, as such, you need to make very sure that you purchase your dog from a reputable breeder, know the history of both your new puppy’s parents, and have your newest family addition checked out by means of an x-ray.
They have been known to develop epilepsy, but seemingly, this is a genetic, inbred trait in certain strains, as is the Collie eye anomaly which can lead to blindness. Less common ailments that affect them are glaucoma and what is known as juvenile eye cataracts. Both these conditions are easily treatable, however.
Some are prone to hearing problems, but once again, this tends to be genetic. When two dogs with merle genes are bred (they tend to have odd eyes, one blue and one brown while their coat is mottled), their offspring tend to develop both eye and hearing problems.
Two other conditions are found in the breed. Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis is a disease that is genetic and shortens the dog’s lifespan drastically, although it is not present in any working dogs of today it is still present in the lines of show dogs. Trapped neutrophil syndrome, also hereditary, weakens the dog’s immune system so that it is not able to fight off infections and disease. Although there is no cure, genetic testing can ascertain its presence.
As a working dog, very few breeds come close to the agility, speed, cunning, patience, learnability and intelligence of a Border Collie. In trials and competitions, they surpass all expectations and are equally good companions as they are hard workers.
They are not, however, for the faint of heart, as they desire and need constant, adequate training and activities, both mental and physical, in order to lead a full, productive and happy life. They are therefore best suited to farms or people that have large backyards for them to run around in, as well as something that they can herd. They are not wilting violets and, although they love nothing more than being indoors with their owners after a long, hard day of work, they are, essentially, a breed that needs their time outdoors.
They have extremely high energy levels, and, if cooped up and ignored, can become excessively destructive and really not a pleasure to have around. Although they get along well with children, smaller children are at risk of being herded or having their heels nipped, so they are best suited for families with older, more mature children.
If you decided to get a Border Collie puppy you need to make sure you are in a position to take care of all its needs. Love, affection, and food, for this breed, are not enough. They need and deserve so much more!
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