The Border Collie is an extremely intelligent and energetic breed which makes for a challenging, but rewarding, pet.
Small brown eyes stare intensely into mine. With the slightest movement of my lips she cocks her head to one side and pricks her ears to listen. She hardly breathes with the anticipation of what I am about to say. The expression on her face is one of total concentration and somehow she nearly wills herself to speak. She is my Border Collie dog, Jess.
The Border Collie Breed
The Border Collie breed originated in the border country between Scotland and England and dates back to 1570. These dogs were bred by local farmers to work their livestock and are renown for their gentle attitude, tireless ability to work and their relentless need for mental and physical challenges.
The trait that they are probably most famous for is their “eye,” a hypnotic stare that mesmerizes all that come into contact with it.
Jess is a black and white Border Collie which is the most common colouring of this breed. They can also come in blue and white, brown and white, red and white, blue merle and white and tri-colour.
Her most prominent feature is her coat, which consists of a double coat with a moderately long, dense, medium textured overcoat, and a short, soft and dense undercoat that provides insulation from the weather.
Sporting a coat that resembles a tuxedo these dogs have a dashing and rather sophisticated aura about them.
Maintaining their good looks will take a thorough brushing twice a week to prevent knots and matting. During the summer months it is recommended to bath them at least fortnightly and when the winter months descend a bath once a month will suffice.
The Border Collie as a Pet
When considering purchasing a Border Collie as a pet please remember that these dogs are not for everyone. They thrive on work and love to be highly stimulated.
They are regarded as one of the most intelligent dogs due to their affinity for training and their eagerness to learn, but it is this very characteristic that can be detrimental if the dog is not placed in the right environment.
Having been a Border Collie owner for the past ten years I understand only too well the demand that these dogs can place on you.
Arriving as a tiny eight week old black and white bundle into our household we quickly realised that Jess was going to be a major part of our life. It was with enthusiasm and relentless persistence that she moulded herself neatly into our daily routine.
These dogs love being with people and should be included in family activities. Jess is so intertwined in our family activities that I just can’t imagine washing the car without her supervision, cooking dinner without her sniff of approval, carrying the groceries from the car without her drool of anticipation and making a decision without first asking her opinion.
They are your constant companion and will be more than happy to walk beside you no matter what the circumstances are.
Exercising Your Border Collie
Originally being bred as a working dog it is important to understand that they require regular exercise. A Border Collie that is not regularly exercised will become quite destructive as boredom sets in.
Each dog and family will be different but Jess recommends walking, chasing ball, swimming and playing tug-o-war. Agility trials are also excellent for both physically and mentally stimulating your dog.
Due to their herding instincts they will chase anything including birds, cats, lawn mowers, vacuum cleaners and brooms, and therefore it is important to keep a watchful eye on them to prevent injury.
While enjoying playing with children these dogs must be supervised to prevent them from herding the children into the corner of the garden.
Training Your Border Collie
Training for your Border Collie is also important and should start with puppy classes and continue with obedience for extra training and activity.
Not only will training allow your dog to understand what you want as its owner but it will also satisfy its needs for mental stimulation.
Owning a dog that requires you to spell the words “walk,” “drive,” and “swim” to prevent excitement and disappointment is a challenge, but this show of intelligence can be made extremely rewarding through training.
The Border Collie can be expected to live for about 10 to 15 years.
They are generally a robust dog but can suffer from hip problems, eye degeneration that causes blindness and a genetic condition that causes severe changes in the temperament of the dog.
Whether demanding or not, there is no greater stress relief after suffering a hard day at work then arriving home and being greeted by the smiling face and the wagging tail of your Border Collie. It seems that in an instant nothing else matters in this world except for you, and your best friend.