It’s often said border collies need warning labels; after all, genius comes with a price.
This most intelligent dog is demanding (a few trainers ask if some can be true pets), requiring constant attention and physical/mental activity. Easily bored, but quickly enthused, they’re a paradox. These creatures long to learn and should be taught something new every day. Life with a border collie feels like having an intense relationship rather than owning a pet. When their needs are met, this canine becomes a perfect soul mate.
Pros and Cons: The Border Collie Experience
Put a border collie outdoors, alone, and most will just stare at the door. They want their owner’s interaction at all times (even indoors), perhaps an inherited trait from close work with shepherds throughout centuries. Because performing is so important, this dog wants both entertainment and an audience. The dog is trying to please others in his way, which some people find annoying or pesky. Often compared to a four-year-old human child, in truth, the border collie is a needy soul and many are ultra emotional.
As shepherds, border collies do not drive flocks as many shepherd breeds, but rather gather them in, meaning they come back full circle. They are independent, yet dependent and faithful (again, a paradox). They demand intense, often pushy bonds with their owner. This canine has a mind of its own yet is eager to obey. Tricks and commands are often easily learned after only one or two repetitions. Some owners insist border collies learn with more passion than human children!
The ideal family for a border collie is where at least one person is home because these dogs can be full time jobs themselves. It’s untrue they’re only for active people; they do best with someone having much patience and time. A person willing to sit tossing balls for hours will do better than an active person never home. Some breeders discourage potential owners knowing the breed is not for everyone.
Intelligence becomes its downfall as it wanders around the house or yard, curious as a naughty and mischievous raccoon, looking for something to do. This may include stealing objects,
opening cupboards, turning on lights, inspecting counter tops, moving around light furniture, rolling carpets, and occurs almost constantly during the dog’s waking hours. Younger border collies may do these things whether exercised or not. This is a breed constantly moving, exploring, learning, thinking, who will throw toys at the family while they watch TV. They follow their owners around like shadows (sheep), ready to go anywhere, anytime, night or day. They’re not like other dogs and are often considered obsessive and strange. These canines are unique for the same reasons they are often given away.
Border Collie Puppy
A border collie puppy is often the pup from hell. Without adequate forewarning, a first time owner may be shocked at what high amounts of energy this fluff of fur condenses. Housebreaking is usually not the issue; the dog learns almost anything lightening fast, except perhaps how to behave when young. The owner may feel as if he/she gave birth to this wild child, feeling totally fatigued with weariness that often goes along with parenting a super sassy child.
The bold puppy doesn’t listen, is apt to zoom around the house, jump, nip and snap (to the point of appearing vicious, but it’s only the sheep herding instinct breaking through), is into absolutely everything, and rarely naps. The puppy is often fun and funny. They’re like excited toddlers needing constant supervision until about one year old. A potential owner must consider giving up life for awhile. They’ll be surprised to see the monster slowly morph into the perfect dog.
Adolescents can seem dominant and bossy (this usually passes). They’re rough players, many with a sense of humor, fond of grabbing the ankles, jumping up to take a hat off of the head, removing eyeglasses from the face, and just generally being intolerable. It’s actually easy to be accidentally injured around a young border collie, since many like to body slam and be underfoot at all times. At one time or another, many border collie owners wonder if they did the right thing.
It’s wrong to think border collies need a heavy hand; although it usually appears that way, the opposite is true. Physical punishment is detrimental beyond a penny-filled plastic bottle banged on the ground (or something similar that evokes fear). The border collie has a huge imagination and responds better to imagined punishment than to punishment itself. Verbal admonishments ultimately work best. Border collies thrive on a firm, but soft hand at all times. Irrational fears develop quickly and are hard to eliminate. Border collies can be clingy, easily spooked, and often get their feelings hurt by words alone.
The border collie must have obedience and hobbies to keeps its agile mind and body in tip-top shape. Since these busy dogs hate lounging around, they’re easily motivated; this makes them highly trainable. The breed comes out ahead in activities of all kinds.
Brief History and Physical Description
Descendants of Viking dogs crossed with English herding dogs and spaniel, the border collie’s amazing intelligence, physical stamina, and strong work ethics define them. Named because of their location within English-Scottish borderlands, many appear lean and scruffy, almost coyote-like. They’re typically black and white, but come in other colors. The original border collie (Old Hemp), ancestor of today’s border collie, was tri-colored. This is not a cookie-cutter breed, and many do not even resemble one another. What they have in common is their stalking, catlike, predatory movements and hypnotic eyes to intimidate sheep. They were bred for high intelligence, never for uniform looks, and hopefully such good breeding practice will remain.
Once the trained dog finally matures, owners who survive the experience will have one of the most rewarding relationships of their lifetime with a sensitive being. After all, everyone wants a soul mate! The border collie is exactly that kind of a willing spirit.