Thinking of getting a clever Collie? If you’re a fan of sheepdogs, but you want to know more about their history and temperament, you’ve come to the right place. Check out our Border Collie breed profile below…
Breed group: Herding dog
Border Collies are part of the herding group; a category of dog breed specifically for shepherding livestock like cattle and sheep. Herding is almost a modified version of predatory behaviour, with the dogs having been selectively bred to minimise ‘attack’ behaviours whilst keeping hunting instincts.
Pups in this group, much like Border Collies, demonstrate a high level of obedience and intelligence as they learn the extensive glossary of herding commands. There are several ways which herding dogs achieve their goal and for Collies, in particular, this is done by ‘staring down’ their livestock and constantly returning to the front of the animal to keep them from moving out of the group.
Collie dogs are thought to originate from an interesting mix of Roman herding dogs and Viking sheepdogs, who brought over their livestock and dogs during their occupations.
Borders, in particular, descend from some of the best herding dogs in the 16th century along the English-Scottish border – hence the name ‘Border’ Collie. A 17th century Border Collie, Old Hemp, is thought to be one of the first ancestors of the breed, with many of today’s pure-breds being able to trace their lineage back to him.
It is thought that the full Border Collie name was first used in 1915 to distinguish it from other types of Kennel Club collies. The distinctive Border Collie look has become standardised ever since their introduction to the show ring in 1860.
You’ll find Border Collies are quick, agile dogs with incredible intelligence and loving demeanour.
At a glance, Border Collies are:
- Highly intelligent
- Highly energetic
- Agile & athletic
- Obedient & trainable
- People pleasers
What are they bred for?
It’s no secret that Border Collies were bred for their great intelligence, obedience and herding instincts, after all many Border Collies today are still in a working capacity all over the UK alongside farmers.
However, many have branched out and their agility and athleticism have been coaxed out in sporting competitions and show rings over the years. This dog has been specifically bred to work in partnership with their human counterparts, which you’ll notice in how quickly they pick up visual, vocal and behavioural cues.
What sort of owner would they suit?
Border Collies are super energetic, highly intelligent and a little bit work-crazy so they’d do well with experienced owners who know how to provide for them. Having said that, a first time Border Collie parent willing to put in the time to learn about them and attend obedience classes with them shouldn’t be put off.
These lovable dogs make good family pets and are great with children, particularly if there’s a big garden for playing in. These pups are inherently used to working and burning off energy so owners will need to have the time for daily exercise and will need to provide mentally stimulating toys and activities for any periods of time they’re left alone. Agility-based games like frisbee and fetch are some of the best games to keep your Border Collie engaged.