Border Collies: Active Service Dogs

Border Collies are devoted clever people and incredible workaholics who openly despise a passive lifestyle and come to an indescribable delight from any activity associated with increased physical activity and energy consumption. The ancestors of modern borders were excellent shepherds, so the passion for orderliness is in the blood of these shaggy “managers”. If there is no flock of sheep nearby, the border collie will graze any other living creature, and only an exciting game can distract him from this activity. Representatives of this breed are loyal friends, capable students, and consummate intellectuals. However, in order for the animal to have the opportunity to reveal its potential, the owner will need maximum effort: the border collie is not one of those dogs who are content with a soft bed and a mountain of food in a bowl.

The History of the Breed

The closest ancestors of today’s border collies were the shepherd dogs of English peasants who lived on the border with Scotland. Hence the name of the breed – border collie (from the English “border” – “borderline”). These picky and frisky dogs grazed flocks of sheep, guarded the estates, and did not bark loudly for their phlegmatic owners. At the same time “farm collies” were not quoted among the British nobility and for a long time remained a typical rural dog.

A chance meeting of its representatives with the Queen of Great Britain, Victoria helped to bring the breed out of the shadows. In 1860, English Shepherds took part in one of the first dog shows, after which they were presented to the royal court. “Grandma of Europe” liked intelligent and devoted animals, so soon several representatives of this glorious breed settled in Buckingham Palace. During the entire era of Victoria’s reign, many border collies lived in her chambers, but the Queen’s main favorite was a dog named Sharp, who was awarded an impressive memorial in Windsor after his death.

It was only possible to officially register the Border Collie breed in 1915, although the standard of appearance for its representatives remained unformed for a long 60 years.

The most famous progenitor of modern borders is the Old Hemp Sheepdog, born in 1893 in Northumberland. The strong tricolor handsome man was distinguished by outstanding intelligence and exemplary behavior, for which he was selected as a manufacturer for subsequent mating. It was the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of old Hemp who achieved their first success at exhibitions, becoming prize-winners of international and European championships. Another famous representative of the breed is the dog Winston, recognized as the official symbol of the boarders club. According to breeders, all modern individuals carry Winston genes.

The Appearance of the Breed

The Border Collie is far from the glamorous handsome title. Modest spotted or marbled color, average size, light shaggy coat to this day give them typical “villagers”, whose main vocation is to run around the moorland, drive away uninvited guests from their homes and pack sheep. But the lack of external gloss is more than compensated by the amazing charm and intellectual inclinations of the animal. According to the breeders of these charming shy guys, the remarkable intelligence of the border collie is read in their eyes.

  • Head

Wide skull with a flattened occipital region. The cheekbones are normal, without roundness, not flat. The cheeks are medium, without excessive fleshiness. The muzzle is of medium width, tapering slightly towards the nose. The transition from the nose to the frontal part is distinctly expressed. The length of the muzzle is approximately equal to that of the skull.

  • Jaws

The jaws of the Border Collie are strong, strong, with a regular scissor bite (the upper canines cover the lower ones). The teeth are white and even.

  • Eyes

Oval, medium size. The distance between the eyes is wide. The color of the iris is brown, but blue eyes are acceptable for marbled border collies. A wise and probing glance.

  • Ears

Triangular, medium in size, of moderate thickness. Set wide apart. Both standing and semi-standing positions are acceptable.

  • Nose and lips

Border Collie lips are dry. The nose is black, shale (for blue), or brown for chocolate. The nose is of medium size, the nostrils are large.

  • Neck

Elongated, well-muscled, strong. There is a slight bend.

  • Housing

Wide and deep chest. The upper backline is characterized by a slight slope towards the tail. The loin is muscular, the groin line is not tucked up. Ribs are springy, rounded. The croup is of medium width, elongated, and slightly sloping.

  • Legs

The forelegs of the Border Collie are parallel. The elbows are pressed to the sternum, the shoulder blades are deflected back, but do not close together. The hind legs are well-muscled, broad, with a sloping line at the base of the tail. The hock joint is low and tilted slightly back. Paws in the form of a regular oval with massive black pads and toes gathering in a “ball”. The claws are short and thick.

  • Tail

The tail of the Border Collie is saber-shaped, of medium length, reaching the hock joints. Fluffy, closer to the tip, it bends in an uncool curl. In an emotionally excited individual, it often rises to the level of the upper backline.

  • Wool

Border Collies can be either smooth-haired or moderately long-haired. Both species have a soft, springy undercoat that acts as a warming and water-repellent coat. Unlike smooth-haired, long-haired individuals can boast the presence of a lush neck “collar” and fluffy “panties”. Some dogs may have so-called “feathers” or “feathers” on the back of the forelegs. In this case, the muzzle, ears, and frontal part of the forelimbs should have smooth and short hair.

  • Color

To date, there are no restrictions on the types of border collies. However, black with white spots or tan, chocolate with light tan and white markings, and merle (blue or marble) are still considered priorities. White markings are usually found on the forehead, chest, legs, and tail, and maybe mottled.

  • Dimensions

The average weight of an adult does not exceed 15-20 kg. Bitches are slightly smaller than males, the standard height of a female dog is 47-52 cm, a dog is 50-53 cm.

  • Defects in appearance and disqualifying defects of the border collie

The most loyal selection criteria apply to shaggy people from English farms. Only an aggressive or cowardly dog with an inadequate reaction to speech addressed to it and not complying with the FCI standard can be banned from participating in exhibition and competition events. All other shortcomings are forgiven to the boarders.


Border Collies are observant, good-natured workers with an extremely peaceful character. Lying aimlessly on the rug, English Shepherds will always prefer doing some responsible assignment or intense training in the fresh air. Work for these dogs is not a routine, but the meaning of life, so you should not try to transform an energetic border into a “couch city dweller”.

Border Collies are not considered aggressive dogs, but animals still experience a certain distrust of strangers. But these modest intellectuals love children quite sincerely. Still, after all, they can be “grazed” day and night, tirelessly driving individuals who have strayed from the “herd” into a safe zone and not letting them out of it until permission is received from an all-powerful and respected owner. Speaking of the relationship with the owner, it’s hard to find a creature that can love you more than a border collie. These executive workaholics are ready to completely and completely dissolve in their master, without demanding anything in return.

Education and Training

Borders are dogs that need not only regular physical activity but also constant training. They learn lessons on the fly, in addition, this is one of the few breeds that does not need to be endlessly stimulated with tasty treats in order to work out a simple skill. And yet, discipline and perseverance in puppies are poorly developed: if the animal is tired of performing monotonous commands, it will simply change the type of activity to another, from his point of view, more interesting.

Border owners themselves call their pets the best fitness trainers for the simple reason that they do not have time for passive rest. Standard walks at a sluggish, relaxed pace with these comrades will not work. The Border Collie requires a full run with games and challenging tasks for quick wits and agility. Frisbee, flyball, bike during, agility, diving – these are the standard entertainments that representatives of this breed very quickly get hooked on. Shepherd dogs also respect hide-and-seek and catch-up, but sometimes they can lose control of themselves and slightly bite the legs of the runner during the game.

Border Collies understand human speech well and understand the meaning of many words. Some owners use this feature in games. For example, the names of toys are memorized with an animal, after which the owner pronounces the word for the object, and the dog must bring exactly the toy that the person asked for. Pets are no less delighted with hunting for a hose connected to a water column and catching soap bubbles. Simply put, border collies love everything that is associated with the manifestation of at least some kind of physical activity.

Forced doing nothing is fraught with a mental disorder for the animal, and for the owner – inevitable financial losses. A bored dog can turn even an ideal apartment into a backdrop for a post-apocalyptic blockbuster. Border puppies are a little headstrong, which is not a good enough reason to postpone training to a later period. The sooner you teach your pet the rules of behavior in the house/apartment, the less material damage you will incur.

Usually, puppies are ready to learn the simplest commands at the age of 3-4 months. The average duration of training for a baby is 10-15 minutes, after which the animal begins to experience boredom and fatigue. When the dog reaches 6 months of age, the training is complicated, not forgetting to repeat and consolidate the material passed. You can train and educate a pet yourself, by trial and error, or you can entrust this matter to a professional. The advantages of the second option are obvious: the animal quickly masters the basic complex of skills, and the owner saves his own time and nerves.

Care and Maintenance

The ideal habitat for boarders is a country house or farm, where nothing will limit the activity of the animal. The maintenance of representatives of this breed in apartments also takes place, but only on the condition of good walking. If this is not possible, you should choose a less active pet.


When purchasing a border collie puppy, it makes sense to spend money on a powerful vacuum cleaner, since border collie dogs shed, though seasonally, but extremely abundantly. It is required to comb the dog during the molting period at least once every two days, otherwise, you will have to deal with mats. In the interval between molts, it is enough to do this procedure once a week. Before combing, the wool is slightly moistened with a conditioner diluted in water, which should greatly facilitate the process. It is not recommended to use a slicker and furminator, since their use negatively affects the structure of the coat.

To speed up the shedding process, experienced breeders recommend using a simple recipe:

  • dilute a small amount of shampoo in water and bathe the dog;
  • repeat the procedure again;
  • take clean water into the bath, dilute the balm-conditioner in it;
  • moisten the animal’s fur with the resulting solution (rinsing is optional);
  • blot the wet coat with a towel and comb thoroughly, thus removing the bulk of the undercoat and guard hair.

Border Collies love to swim in open water but are uncomfortable in the bathroom. The dog should be washed with a special shampoo no more than once every 1-2 months.

Border collies are clipped once a month. If the pet leads an active street lifestyle, this procedure can be neglected, because, during jogging and training, the claw plate is simply erased.

To prevent tartar and remove plaque, you can give your dog tomato juice or occasionally treat yourself to “cleansing” bones. Close attention should be paid to the ears, which actively “collect” various kinds of pollution. Cleansing the ear funnel is done with a cotton pad soaked in lotion available at any veterinary pharmacy.


The border collie’s daily menu must include meat (preferably not pork) and offal. The meat is served raw. If this is a frozen product, it should be doused with boiling water. It is allowed to include in the diet of the animal frozen sea fish, from which the bones have previously been removed. In addition, it is useful to mix fish oil, kelp, and vegetable oil into the feed, which serves as a source of essential amino acids and trace elements.

Broccoli, squash, green beans, pumpkin, spinach, and green apples are must-haves in the Border Collie’s diet. They are usually served mashed or chopped in a blender. Sour milk and eggs are given once a week. Of cereals, buckwheat and rice are the most useful. For training purposes, opt for dried liver treats and any other veterinarian-approved low-fat delicacies.

Of the dry food options, the most useful are options with salmon, turkey, and lamb. Since the activity of most borders is of the scale, the optimal diet for them will be “drying” with a high protein content (about 30%) and fat (up to 20%). In addition, the right food should contain chondroitin and glucosamine, as well as sources of Omega-3 and Omega-6. Meat-based varieties, as well as foods that include soy, corn, and wheat, do not have the best effect on the dog’s digestive system.

Health and Disease

The average life span of dogs is 12-13 years. An elderly animal can be identified by its gravitation towards a more relaxed lifestyle, while the appearance of borders, even with age, remains unchanged. As for hereditary diseases, they are few. Most often, border collies suffer from hip dysplasia, osteochondritis dissecans, retinal atrophy, and epilepsy. Some individuals may have a congenital eye abnormality, often leading to blindness. It is possible to identify an animal affected by this ailment as early as 10 weeks of age.

Border Collies are sensitive to barbituric anesthetics due to the dog’s low fatty tissue content. It is extremely rare, but still, there is a disease such as hypothyroidism, accompanied by disorders in the thyroid gland and hair loss. Pets of lazy owners are usually obese, which is a direct consequence of a passive lifestyle, as well as overfeeding the dog.

How to Choose a Puppy

We choose an active, contact, moderately well-fed animal and refuse lethargic, apathetic puppies with dirty ears and dry nose. Previously, it is worth getting to know the parents of the future pet, and of course, clarify information about the vaccinations given to the dog. If pedigree and reference appearance are important, it is better to contact reputable nurseries.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.