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A Border Collie as a pet

The Border Collie was originally called A Working Sheepdog and was known as the shepherds companion. There are many misconceptions about this wonderful breed and many are born of a lack of knowledge and of ill informed information.

Farmers and shepherds did not breed purely for work ability and with little regard for temperament. A good sheepdog must be able to handle the most truculent ewe and be able to switch in a second to a kind gentle mentor when moving new born lambs. It must be able to judge each flock or individual sheep and handle them accordingly, and it is of little use if it constantly wants to use its teeth.

Border Collies can be excellent companions. However they do not thrive on being kept shut in a house with no exercise, they don’t like being pulled and nipped by children and they don’t like being shouted at. They are very sensitive and the quieter and calmer these dogs are handled the better they respond. They won’t thrive at the top of a high rise flat but neither do they need an acre of land. They need parenting, they need to be loved, they need to belong and they need both mental and physical boundaries.

They don’t have to be doing agility or any other of the disciplines. Collies were around long before these events were ever thought of and they survived. In fact if not handled correctly some of the disciplines can wind them up. They need a sensible low energy diet, they need teaching how to walk on a lead politely and they need a pack leader – not a dominant aggressive one, but one who understands them and their needs. They don’t need hours of walking every day, they just need a sensible walk, some quiet and constructive mental stimulation and a quiet time to themselves where they can rest and actually enjoy their own company. Dogs are perfectly capable of being content and quiet if we allow them to be.

There are far too many collies in rescue and, sadly, many of them are young dogs who have been taken in to rescue because their owners can’t cope with them. This is not the fault of the breed and in many cases nor is it the fault of the owner, but a mixture of poor advice and training techniques that wind collies up rather than teach them patience.

Before deciding on having a Border Collie you need to ask yourself one question, “How much of myself am I prepared to give.” Border Collies are very intelligent and sensitive, being a part of your life for a game with a ball, a half hour walk or a weekly training session isn’t enough, they need to be part of your life and they need a leader who is strong, quiet, gentle and understanding.

Anyone studying the pedigree sheets of the great Border Collies of this century will see a link back to the same foundation dogs. These dogs were the cream of the cream, not because they have won accolades (and not all did) but because their genetic make-up was strong enough to influence the future generations.

Good breeding it is not simply a matter of mating two dogs and expecting the desired results because they are good looking, or one or both of them has won prizes.

The genetics of at least seven generations of ancestors should be studied, as breeding for compatibility is essential but breeding for looks is not. There are now problems arising within the breed that didn’t used to exist due to people breeding with their dogs without having sufficient knowledge of the line of ancestors they have used.

© Barbara Sykes MBCC