Who Should own a Border Collie?
By: Laura K. S. Shaw
A Border Collie is a breed unlike any other breed of dog in the world. As you have probably read they are loyal, highly intelligent, incredibly biddable, and also wonderfully athletic. They can make an amazing pet, excel at nearly every dog sport, and also cut a stunning picture in the conformation ring. There is a reason why the Border Collie was the choice dog of Queen Victoria! Read, More about Border Collies.
An intelligent dog must be allowed to use her mind. Imagine of you were forced to stay inside day after day and your whole life was similar to being in quarantine during Covid19! Whilst some breeds of dogs are fine being locked up and sleeping all day when their owners are at work, this is not the case for the typical Border Collie. This is a dog bred to work along side her master all day long and take direction.
Border Collies need an owner who will give them a 'job' (direction).
The Border Collie LOVES to be told what to do and it makes them happy to follow your direction and receive praise for their good actions. This is referred to as 'biddability'. Border Collies thrive on this, and they don't do bad things if they are too busy working for you! Whilst we do not all have a herding job for our pets we need to provide our dogs with the opportunity to learn new things, go on adventures, and practise listening to fun commands. We call these things 'canine enrichment'.
Border Collies love learning how to do things and need an owner who will teach them!
Border Collies LOVE training. A Border Collie owner should never stop training their dog. Even if your dog is well behaved and knows all the basics, training should not stop with this breed, EVER. There are plenty of great books (101 Dog Tricks) as well as Border Collie Sports to participate in with your Border Collie to keep them happy. Smart minds need to be exercised and mental exercise is more important than physical exercise for this breed. They require an owner who enjoys training and working with their dog in a partnership.
Border Collies are an athletic breed of dog and need an active owner.
A Border Collie owner should be active no matter the weather. If you are at work all day then come home and all you want to do is sit on the sofa most days or all winter long, that means a Border Collie is not the breed for you! They need daily exercise to be physically and mentally healthy. Obese Border Collies end up with severe mental issues due to being uncomfortable and unable to truly run, and commonly leads to frustration and in turn nippy and crabby behaviours can arise. This is not to say that you can not have an "off day" or a 'rainey day', we all do, but a Border Collie needs either a good walk and run at least twice a day, OR, a dog walker who comes to do this, a stay at a doggy day care to socialize for a few hours 2-3X a week, or even a playdate with their doggy friends. This is needed for them both for their physical state and mental one. The majority of pet dogs are obese and suffer daily for it!
Border Collies thrive with an owner who wants their dog to be their "right-hand".
If you are an owner who wants a dog to take to work with you, you work from home, or work short days with flexible hrs, or are a stay-at-home parent, then a Border Collie might be for you. If you are that person who likes to take their dog everywhere with you, then this just might be the breed for you too. This is a breed that loves mental stimulation and adventure, BUT with their people in tow. Even frequent car rides are excellent for your Border Collies mind! They are simply too smart to be happy sitting at home idle. Trust me you, if you frequently ignore them they will come up with their own entertainment, which will not be as entertaining to you!
Border Collies need stable tempered owners who have confident control over most situations.
The Border Collie is very intuitive and is somewhat of an empath. By that I mean that they truly do feel and read emotions better than most breeds. This is due to them being bred to read other animals signals and emotions in order to safely move (herd) them safely whilst preventing injury to themselves. They were bred to read and work with humans closely. This working relationship with humans for hundreds of years is why this breed is the way it is, it is in their blood to be with their people and work along side them and that is where they are the happiest. Because of this, they need a confident strong leader to lean on for direction. If you are a person who is anxious, excitable, or nervous...a Border Collie might not be a good breed as they will copy and react to your emotions and not always in a good way. If they feel that you are not in control they will take control themselves and try to deal with the situation on their own, and not always in a rational way. (i.e. if you are scared of them being scared and they feel you being scared they then become scared and either fear aggressive to defend themselves out of fear, or protective of you due to your feeling and emotions). Border Collies can smell and feel your emotions and they will react accordingly if you yourself do not have control of the situation. If you feel they are still the breed for you regardless of this and feel you are a nervous, shy, or anxious person, I suggest purchasing an older dog who are been raised to be stable tempered by another individual and then can provide you with the support you need because their temperament is already set and stable. Regardless make sure you tell your dogs breeder and ask them to match you with the puppy in the litter who is bold and outgoing and who is generally more unfazed by it's surroundings. This is where finding a good breeder comes into play!
Border Collies are the best dogs ever if you give them mental stimulation, physical stimulation, and adventure!!! I know I know, I might be a little biased. But they are the perfect sized dog running between 35-45lbs, and they don't even really drool!!! They fit into the car easily for wonderful adventures, they are perfect sized to keep up when jogging, can join you on a paddle board or boat without taking up all the room. They are great off-leash when trained, are so very loyal and easy to train, are a healthy breed with a long life span. Plus, they are comical and they practically read your mind. How did us humans get to be so blessed by such a creature who is almost mythical on our planet!? *LOL* The dog I explained in this paragraph is no accident. A dog like this is more likely to come from a well bred line, bred by an experienced Breeder, who was bred for these traits in accordance with the Border Collie Breed Standard over many generations, and thus the offspring are more probable to have all the traits that make this breed so wonderful. The pedigree of your future dog is so important, not just the Breeder and how the dog was raised and that they were born in the home, the pedigree tells you most of what you need to know before the puppies are even conceived...Read, Why are dog shows so Important? I just want a pet!
50% of a Border Collies temperament comes from its parents genetically. About 15% comes from how the puppies were reared by the breeder between 0-8 weeks of age. The other 30% or so is how you as an owner rear her during her first year of life (most notably the first 6 months!), and the other 5% is a reflection of life after a year of age. This is why it is SO SO SO important to choose a breeder wisely and to ask about the temperament of the parents and grand parents and even the great grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. This is why a pedigree is SO IMPORTANT as it is packed full of genetic knowledge about your puppies ancestors and how they will reflect on your puppies temperament and your Border Collies Health! That is what a good breeder does, breeds based on pedigree and the dogs to produce the very best combination of traits to make a dog that is a good, healthy and stable representative of the breed. Here are the Questions To Ask A Breeder, and also things to beware of while Looking for a Border Collie Puppy. Often time you will need to wait for a good puppy, good breeders are few and far between and their dogs are in high demand, this will be a 12+ year commitment, surely a good puppy is worth the wait!?
Pictured is Rory and her Border Collie "Tiana", Bellaclan Sunset Enchantress TKN, they live together in NY, USA and compete in many dog sports together!