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rec.pets.dogs: Border Collies Breed-FAQ

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Last-modified: 20 Apr 1900

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This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below. 
It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without
alteration provided that this copyright notice is not removed.  
It may NOT reside at another website (use links, please) other
than the URL listed above without the permission of the Author(s).  
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                               Border Collies

     * April M. Quist, revised February 18, 2000
   Many thanks to Laura Alfonso, Carolyn Chamblin, Robin French, Terri
   Hardwick, Kathy Kemper, Janet Lewis, Nancy Gagliardi Little, Rita
   Susanto, Richard Whorton, and M. Christine Zink, DVM, for their input.
   Most of all, thanks to my first Border Collie, Summerwind Shiloh, UD
   (9/83 - 5/94), who taught me more about Border Collies than all the
   books in the world could have.
   Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000 by April M. Quist. All
   rights reserved. You may download and print a copy of this file for
   your personal use. Further distribution must be with the explicit
   permission of the author, except as noted below.
   NOTE: Border Collie Rescue organizations and animal shelters may
   freely give a copy with each Border Collie they place, as long as the
   entire article remains intact, including copyright notice.
Table of Contents

     * Characteristics and Temperament
     * Frequently asked Questions
     * History
     * Description
     * Training/Behavior Hints
     * Is a Border Collie For You?
     * Recognized
     * Special Medical Problems
     * References
          + Books
          + Periodicals
          + Email List about Border Collies
          + Breed Rescue Organizations 
          + Breeders
          + Registries
          + Breed Clubs
Characteristics and Temperament

   The most outstanding characteristic of Border Collies is their desire
   to work above all other things. They herd with their heads lowered,
   eyeing the sheep with an intense stare. They notice every movement of
   the livestock, and they react by moving, at times almost
   imperceptibly, to take advantage of or counter it. Movement of both
   dog and stock should be calm and steady. These dogs are the world's
   premier sheep-working breed and are known for their athleticism,
   intelligence, and strong work ethic.
   Border Collies are heading or gathering herders, as opposed to
   heelers: their instinct is to run wide around a herd or flock, gather
   the animals, and return them to the shepherd. Border Collies can be
   (and are) taught to drive stock away from the shepherd, but they do
   not usually do it by instinct.
   Typical Border Collies are workaholics. They are happiest when they
   have a job to do, whether that job be herding, obedience, agility, or
   any of the other active occupations and dog sports at which they
   excel. They are extremely quick, high-energy, busy dogs, and they must
   have plenty of exercise. They are bred for endurance: a working Border
   Collie is able to run many miles a day over difficult terrain, then go
   out and do it again the next day; a one- or two-mile run is barely a
   warm-up this athletic breed. People without the time to give a dog
   plenty of good, vigorous exercise every day are usually happier with a
   calmer breed. A bored Border Collie can become neurotic, obsessive,
   and destructive.
   Border Collies herd livestock, birds, other dogs, cats, children,
   squirrels, rabbits, deer, bugs, and often lawn mowers, vaccuum
   cleaners, brooms, rakes, and anything else that moves. Although Border
   Collies herd by "eye" rather than by nipping at the heels of
   livestock, many are still nippy and will nip at the heels and legs of
   people when they   run. Young children are common targets of that
   behavior, because they don't know how to control it. In other words,
   if not handled properly the herding behavior can turn a Border Collie
   into a real pest. They also tend to be car-chasers, and many Border
   Collie lives have ended early under the wheels of a car.
   Border Collies are always underfoot. These dogs watch you constantly
   (as if you are the stock), and rush in front of you if they think
   something is going to happen. They thrive on attention and are very
   affectionate and people-oriented. However, good early socialization is
   important for puppies: adults can be reserved with people they don't
   know, and aggressive with other dogs. Border Collies are highly
   intelligent and quick learners, but they are slow to mature - they are
   "puppies" until around 2 or 3 years (or older), and many 10- and
   12-year-old dogs are still very lively and full of energy. Don't
   expect a Border Collie to start acting mature and dignified at 3 or 4
   years of age!
Frequently Asked Questions

   I heard that Border Collies are the most intelligent dog there is. Is
   this true?
     Defining "most intelligent" is a highly subjective thing, and
     depends on what traits (such as trainability, reasoning ability,
     independent thinking, fitness for a particular task, etc.) you
     consider to be signs of intelligence. Still, by most standards
     Border Collies are very intelligent dogs. They are highly trainable
     and have good reasoning abilities. It's not unusual for them to
     learn a new command in just a few minutes with only a few
     repetitions. But their intelligence can also be a problem: many
     times they quickly learn things that the owner didn't intend for
     them to learn, and would prefer they didn't know! Their
     intelligence is one of the reasons that they tend to get bored (and
     into trouble) easily. But then, it's also one of the reasons they
     can excel in obedience training and competition. However, Border
     Collies do not train themselves. All dogs need owners who are
     willing to commit the time to obedience training if the dogs are to
     become good companions, and the Border Collie is by no means an
   Since they're good herding dogs, I can let my Border Collie run loose
   around my livestock when I'm not there, and he won't hurt them, right?
     This is not the case at all. Herding instinct is a modified prey
     drive. An unsupervised Border Collie will chase, injure, and kill
     livestock just like any other dog, especially (but not only) if
     he's untrained .
   How are they with children?
     When properly socialized and well-supervised with children, some
     Border Collies can be fine. Those individuals often seem to know
     how boisterous or how gentle they need to be with different
     children. But Border Collies must be supervised around children to
     make sure neither hurts the other inadvertently. As previously
     mentioned, they often nip at fast-moving children. Border Collies
     that aren't well-socialized with them can be fearful and untrusting
     of children, and a nervous dog will snap at a child.
   How are they with cats and other small animals?
     It depends on the dog. Typically, a Border Collie will get along
     with cats and small animals that belong to the family, but chase
     those that don't. However, you often need a good-natured cat to
     deal with one of these dogs. Remember, if a dog's instinct is
     strong enough that it chases and nips at humans when they move,
     it's also going to be strong enough to constantly harrass the cat.
     It's usually a good idea to separate a Border Collie from all small
     animals when you're not there to supervise.
   Are Border Collies hyperactive? Do they need a lot of exercise?
     Border Collies should be very intense, high-energy, busy dogs, both
     indoors and out. If bored, they will chew anything (books, shoes,
     carpet, furniture, walls...). They also love to dig holes. Good
     forms of exercise for a Border Collie include playing fetch (they
     usually love to chase balls and Frisbees), swimming, jogging,
     running with a bicycle (be careful they don't try to cross in front
     of the bike to herd it!), and hiking.
     Border Collies won't usually exercise on their own, and merely
     putting a Border Collie into a fenced area as a form of exercise is
     not enough for them. They tend to either lie around waiting for you
     to join them, or they spend their time digging up the yard and
     chewing things they shouldn't.
     When exercising a Border Collie, especially in warm weather, you
     must watch very carefully for signs of heat exhaustion. Because
     they are so intense in their work and play, they often don't stop
     when they get too tired or too hot. They can easily work themselves
     to death, even on cool days. Another problem is that they can
     physically injure themselves because they are so quick and
     concentrate so completely on their task that they don't always pay
     attention to where they are going and can run into obstacles if
     they happen to be in the way. It's also very common for Border
     Collies running on gravel, concrete, and asphalt to wear the pads
     of their feet down to the point where they bleed, especially when
     they're not used to hard, rough surfaces. Most Border Collies won't
     even limp until the fun is over, so be sure to keep an eye on your
     dog's feet!
   How much exercise is enough for a Border Collie?
     The answer to this question is as individual as the dogs
     themselves. Plan on two 45-minute walks per day, snow, rain, or
     shine - your dog won't care what the weather is like! At least 20
     minutes of each of those walks should be off leash in a safe area,
     and should include a game of fetch or something equally vigorous.
     In addition, a 15- to 30- minute daily training session (obedience,
     tricks, etc.) helps to keep your dog mentally stimulated and
     well-behaved. If you think your dog still needs more, you may be
     better off increasing the amount of training and/or mental exercise
     as opposed to increasing the physical exercise. For a dog with the
     Border Collie's physical stamina, working his mind is much more
     likely to tire him out than taking him for another run. Don't
     expect all this work to keep that soggy tennis ball out of your lap
     when you're watching television, though. Your Border Collie will
     still have plenty of energy to spare!
   What active sports and activities can I participate in with a Border
     Because of their agility, energy, trainability, love of work, and
     good scenting ability, Border Collies are extremely versatile dogs
     that excel at many things: competitive dog sports such as
     obedience, agility, Schutzhund, Flyball, Scent Hurdles, Frisbee,
     and tracking; they make good search and rescue dogs; some
     well-trained, well-socialized Border Collies are wonderful
     pet-therapy dogs, and some organizations train them as signal
     (hearing) and assistance dogs; police departments in several states
     are using them as drug detection dogs. And, last but definitely not
     least, Border Collies are among the best herding dogs in the world.
     Be very careful, though, if you get a Border Collie and decide to
     try herding, because it can be addictive. Many people who got a
     Border Collie as a companion dog wind up buying property and sheep
     just to work the dog!
   Do they play "Fetch"?
     One of a Border Collie's favorite games is "Fetch," and it's great
     exercise for them. They love chasing balls, Frisbees, and anything
     else that moves, and their gathering instinct makes them natural
     retrievers. In fact, the fetching can become obsessive and, to some
     people, annoying. Not everyone enjoys having tennis balls
     frequently dropped in their laps as they're trying to relax, and an
     insistent dog staring at them or scolding them until the ball is
     thrown - only to have the process repeated again (and again and
     again...) a few seconds later.
     A word of warning about playing Frisbee with a Border Collie (or
     any other dog): according to M. Christine Zink, DVM, Ph.D., author
     of the book Peak Performance: Coaching the Canine Athlete:
     "Frisbees can be very dangerous for dogs, particularly when they
     are thrown so that the dog must catch them with all four feet off
     the ground. The problem lies not in the dog jumping and catching
     the Frisbee, but in the fact that the trajectory of a Frisbee can
     change unpredictably, causing the dog to twist to catch it and then
     land in whatever position it can. The most common injuries as a
     consequence of Frisbee-catching are herniation of the disks of the
     spinal cord and tearing or rupture of the anterior cruciate
     ligaments. Both of these injuries can be severe enough to end a
     dog's performance career."
   Do Border Collies like to swim?
     Border Collies love to swim if encouraged to do so when they are
     young. Swimming is an excellent way to exercise these high-energy
     dogs during the hot summer months. It's also a good way of
     exercising a dog that has hip dysplasia because it strengthens the
     muscles that support the hips without putting any weight on the
   What other things do they like to do that will help me exercise my dog
   and keep it mentally stimulated?
     Remember: if it moves, it will probably interest a Border Collie.
     Many love to chase and bite at bubbles blown from a children's
     bubble set. They also often love to chase water coming out of a
     hose (or spray bottle) - a great activity for hot days. Border
     Collies that understand the stay command (or that have someone who
     can hold onto them for a minute while another person hides) love to
     play hide and seek, and they get very good at locating hiding
     people (be sure to give them "hints" at first by calling them when
     they have trouble finding you so they don't get frustrated and give
     up). You can also hide their toys, and teach them to look for them.
     Teach them the names of their toys, and then to retrieve a specific
     toy. They love a good, fast game of "Tag" (and they love to be "It"
     - but don't let them nip your legs!). Many Border Collies enjoy
     using their herding instinct to push basketball-sized balls around
     the yard, and it's not unusual to find Border Collies that will
     play tetherball by jumping at, biting, nosing, and pawing a
     tetherball around the pole. You can teach your dog some informal
     agility by making use of the slides, tunnels, bridges, and
     teeter-totters available in your backyard or some parks'
     playgrounds. Teach them tricks - the more complicated, the better
     (and most Border Collies just love showing off to an appreciative
   Do Border Collie jump fences? Are they escape artists?
     Border Collies are extremely agile dogs and can easily jump/climb a
     6-foot or taller fence if they decide there's something more
     interesting on the other side. They are also good diggers and
     chewers, so if they can't jump a fence, they might try to dig under
     it or chew through it if they want to get out. Some Border Collies
     can even learn to open doors and latches!
   How big do Border Collies get?
     Border Collies average between 30 to 50 pounds. However, if size is
     important to you, be aware that some Border Collies are as small as
     25 pounds, and some are as large as 65 pounds. You can usually tell
     how big a dog will get by looking at his parents, but if you plan
     to get a puppy and you need or want a dog whose size you can count
     on, you might want to consider a breed with less variation in size.
   Do they make good guard dogs?
     Because Border Collies are bred to herd rather that protect
     livestock, they are not reliable guard dogs. They can be protective
     of their families and generally bark if they hear or see something
     they don't like. (There are, however, some Border Collies that have
     been trained to advanced Schutzhund degrees.)
   Do they shed?
     They are moderate shedders. Like most dogs, they shed most in early
     spring and late fall.
   How much grooming do they need?
     Border Collies are fairly low-maintenance dogs when it comes to
     grooming because their coats actually shed dirt very nicely.
     Generally, a good 10-minute brushing two or three times per week
     helps to keep their coats clean and in nice condition; more
     frequent brushing while they are shedding helps to control the
     amount of hair that ends up on your carpet. Because Border Collies
     should not have a strong odor, bathing should be necessary only
     when your dog starts feeling dirty to you, or if the dog has rolled
     in something noxious. If your Border Collie starts to smell bad
     soon after a bath, a trip to the vet for a check for skin and ear
     problems is probably in order.
     Like all dogs, they also need to have their toenails clipped
     regularly unless they do a lot of running on hard surfaces. In that
     case they often wear their nails down on their own. However, even
     then it's a good idea to check the nails once a week, just to make
   Do they bark much?
     Any dog can become a barker if it gets bored, and Border Collies
     become more easily bored than most other dogs. In general, however,
     well-trained, well-exercised Border Collies that get plenty of
     attention are relatively quiet dogs.
   How long do they live?
     Border Collies are fairly long-lived dogs. Their average lifespan,
     barring accidents, is probably around 12 to 13 years, and it isn't
     at all unusual to find individuals that are 14 years and older.
     They usually hold their age well - a 12-year-old Border Collie
     often still looks and acts like a young dog.
   Where should I get my dog?
     There are several options, some good, others not so good. If you
     choose to get an adult dog, you can get one from a shelter, from a
     Border Collie rescue organization, or from a breeder who is looking
     for a home for an adult Border Collie. If you decide to get a
     puppy, you should do some research and find a breeder with a good
     reputation. Do not buy a Border Collie puppy from a pet store.
     Although these puppies are adorable, they are generally from puppy
     mills and are incredibly overpriced. Most people don't realize that
     they can usually buy a very well-bred, well-socialized, pet-quality
     puppy with exceptional guarantees from a reputable breeder for less
     money than they can buy a puppy from a pet store. Pet store puppies
     have usually been bred for profit with little consideration given
     to long-term health. They are often prone to many problems, such as
     epilepsy, hip and joint problems, and early blindness. They are
     also usually poorly socialized, which means they can grow up to be
     timid, fearful dogs. Do not even buy from pet stores advertising
     that their animals are not from puppy mills: no reputable breeder
     would ever sell puppies to a pet store! You will often encounter
     the same problems with health and socialization with puppies sold
     through ads in the newspaper. The best way to find a good breeder
     is by asking people who already own healthy Border Collies with
     good temperaments.
   Don't "rescued" Border Collies have a lot of behavior problems? Do
   they have trouble bonding with their new owners?
     Rescue can be an excellent way of getting a Border Collie,
     particularly if it will be your first one. The dogs that come into
     rescue are often well-bred, healthy dogs screened by the rescuer
     for temperament, whose only "faults" were that they were in homes
     that could not deal with the exercise and training needs of the
     breed. The dogs are often housebroken, and sometimes partially
     trained in basic obedience. Border Collies that go from rescue into
     active, loving homes seem to bond very quickly and strongly to
     their new owners. You can even sometimes get a puppy from rescue.
     (See the section on Breed Rescue Organizations for contacts and
     further information.)
   How do I choose a puppy?
     If you want a healthy puppy with a good temperament, the most
     important thing is to not be in a hurry! First, decide what
     activities you want to do with the dog: herding, obedience,
     agility, active pet (jogging, hiking), etc. Once you know what
     you're looking for, talk to breeders and discuss your concerns and
     ideas. Since Border Collies are prone to eye diseases such as
     Progressive Retinal Atrophy and juvenile cataracts, and hip
     problems such as hip dysplasia, look for a breeder who has all
     dogs' eyes and hips checked and certified: eyes are certified by
     C.E.R.F., and hips are certified by O.F.A. Be sure to ask to see
     the certificates issued by those organizations. Make sure the
     puppies are well-socialized: they should be friendly and confident.
     When you find a someone that you like and who has a good
     reputation, allow the breeder to help you select your puppy. Most
     good breeders have a pretty good idea of what the puppies'
     personalities are like and will help you to make a good choice of
     the best puppy for your particular lifestyle.

   The Border Collie originated in the border country between Scotland
   and England. It is a very old breed, with references in literature
   going back to at least 1570 in writings by Dr. Caius. Caius mentions
   him as "not huge, vaste and bigge but of indifferent stature and
   growth". The breed has been known as the Working Collie, Old-Fashioned
   Collie, Farm Collie, and English Collie. It was in 1915 that James
   Reid, Secretary of the International Sheepdog Society in Great
   Britain, first called the dog a Border Collie.
   The first sheepdog trials were held on October 9, 1873 in Bala, Wales.
   In the United States, the trials started in 1880.
  Famous Border Collies
   Two Border Collies that have had a great deal of influence on the
   modern Border Collie are Old Hemp and Wiston Cap.
   Old Hemp, a tri-color dog, was born September 1893 and died May 1901.
   He was bred by Adam Telfer from Roy, a black and tan dog, and Meg, a
   black-coated, strong-eyed dog. Hemp was a quiet, powerful dog that
   sheep responded to easily. Many shepherds used him for stud on their
   bitches, and Hemp's working style became the Border Collie style. It
   is believed that Old Hemp's blood runs in the veins of almost all
   Border Collies today.
   Wiston Cap is the dog that the International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS)
   badge portrays in the characteristic Border Collie herding pose. He
   was the most popular and used stud dog in the history of the breed,
   and appears in a huge percentage of pedigrees today. Bred by W. S.
   Hetherington and trained and handled by John Richardson, Cap was a
   biddable and good-natured dog. His blood lines all trace back to the
   early registered dogs of the stud book, and to J. M. Wilson's Cap, who
   occurs sixteen times within seven generations in his pedigree. Wiston
   Cap sired three Supreme Champions and is grand-sire of three others,
   one of which is E. W. Edwards' Bill, who won the championship twice.
  The Border Collie Controversy
   The Border Collie brings out a great deal of passion in the people who
   love it, especially in regard to what is best for the breed.
   Unfortunately, there is much disagreement on that subject, and the
   disagreement has created some hard feelings among people who are all
   intensely concerned about the Border Collie's future. Following is a
   very simplified summary of the three main factions.
   Many people, particularly Border Collie owners from the herding
   community, feel that American Kennel Club (AKC) recognition in the
   United States, and Canadian Kennel Club recognition (CKC) in Canada,
   will irreparably harm the Border Collie. These people believe that
   breeding the dogs to a conformation standard (that is, for beauty or a
   certain look) will, at best, split the breed in North America by
   creating a set of Border Collies that are pretty but can't work. They
   take the dogs' herding instinct very seriously, and believe it would
   be a serious injustice to the breed if this were to happen. These
   people refuse to have anything to do with the AKC, and do not register
   their dogs with the AKC.
   Many other people, especially those involved in showing their dogs in
   AKC obedience trials and other performance events, hope that, with
   enough people committed to keeping the dog a working dog, and with an
   AKC parent club committed to the same thing, they will be able to keep
   a major split from happening by placing the emphasis on herding and
   performance, especially when it comes to breeding dogs.
   There is also a group of Border Collie owners who are primarily
   interested in showing in conformation. Many of these people have
   imported conformation-bred Border Collies from the UK, Australia, and
   New Zealand, where the breed has been recognized by the Kennel Clubs
   for a number of years.
   In 1994, breed clubs for all breeds that had been in the Miscellaneous
   group for many years without seeking full recognition were notified by
   the AKC that they had to either seek recognition or be dropped from
   the AKC entirely. The AKC had made the decision that the Miscellaneous
   group should be used as it was intended: as a temporary holding place
   for breeds actively seeking recognition.
   In December 1994, the AKC voted to officially recognize the Border
   Collie after decades of its being in the Miscellaneous group (no one
   seems to be sure exactly how long it's been, but it's apparently at
   least since 1955). Registration began in February, 1995, with stud
   books to be kept open for three years (in October 1997, the AKC
   decided to allow an additional three years; as of this writing, stud
   books are now due to close in January 2001). As a Miscellaneous breed,
   the Border Collie was allowed to show only in AKC obedience and
   tracking trials; on February 1, 1995, the breed also became eligible
   to show in herding and agility trials. In October 1995, Border Collies
   were seen for the first time in AKC conformation as part of the
   herding group. And finally, in the summer of 1996, the AKC selected
   the Border Collie Society of America (BCSA) as the AKC parent club for
   the breed.
   The Canadian Kennel Club, due to its inability to recognize the breed
   at this time, removed the Border Collie from its Miscellaneous group.
   (The process of breed recognition is regulated by the Canadian
   government through the Animal Pedigree Act.) As a result, any Border
   Collies not CKC miscellaneous certified by the end of 1993 are not
   allowed to participate in CKC- sanctioned events. The Border Collie
   Club of Canada (BCCC) is continuing to work with the CKC to regain
   their showing privileges.

   For the sheep rancher looking for a Border Collie, emphasis is on
   intelligence, trainability, and herding instinct rather than on
   beauty. He doesn't care what color the dog is, how big he is, or
   whether his ears stand up or flop down. The rancher needs the dog to
   be physically and mentally capable of performing the work.
   In general, Border Collies are medium-sized dogs, averaging between 35
   and 50 pounds, but individuals can be as small as 25 pounds, and as
   large as 65 pounds. The most common color is black and white, but
   black, white, and tan (tri), red and white, red-tri, red merle, blue
   merle, and blue and white also exist. Ear set can be almost anything,
   from floppy or "rose," to semi-prick, to prick, and both ears don't
   necesssarily look alike. Eyes can be of any color: some dogs have one
   blue and one brown eye. "Typical" Border collie markings are colored
   body with a white blaze up the face, white collar, white feet and
   legs, and a white tail tip, but there are many dogs that are almost
   Be aware that many excellent breeders do not breed to the AKC
   standard. They believe that working ability alone is the only way to
   define a Border Collie. In the writer's opinion, if a breeder is
   breeding toward the AKC standard, s/he should also be breeding for
   herding ability, and the only way to make sure of that is to train and
   work the dog regularly. Passing a herding instinct tests does not mean
   a dog can stand up to the rigors of regular training and work in tough
   circumstances on difficult stock.
Training/Behavior Hints

   Border Collies are often "soft" dogs; that is, they are sensitive to
   rough treatment and corrections. You must be firm and consistent
   because these dogs will try to get away with as much as they can, but
   you must also be fair in your corrections and training. Typical
   reactions from a Border Collie that has been stressed by rough or
   unfair treatment are that it may shut down, possibly rolling onto its
   back in submission, or acting very engrossed in something else and
   paying no attention to you; or it may become more anxious and wound
   up, trying to do everything in triple time, which causes it to make
   even more mistakes. Motivational-type training, with plenty of treats
   and/or play, works best with soft dogs for obedience training. It
   brings out the best in them, helping to turn them into excellent,
   happy workers that love their training sessions.
   Attention-training is important for Border Collies that will be shown
   in obedience competition. These dogs are very sight-oriented, and are
   easily distracted by anything moving around them. A dog that is
   closely watching his handler cannot pay attention to other things that
   are happening around him.
   Border Collies make wonderful trick dogs. They love to learn new
   things and can be taught many behaviors, such as sitting up, playing
   dead, and rolling over, and they usually love to show off. They can be
   very undignified and clownish if they think it will get them attention
   or make people laugh. This is why these dogs are so popular in movies
   and television.
   Border Collies can be very sound-sensitive. This sensitivity manifests
   itself in a couple of ways: some dogs become very frightened at loud
   or unusual noises (i.e., fireworks, the sound of a smoke alarm, even
   something as simple as hand-clapping); other dogs might just be
   extremely distracted by different noises.
Is a Border Collie For You?

   With the recent appearance of the Border Collie in movies,
   commercials, and television programs, many people are now considering
   one as a potential new pet. While Border Collies are very intelligent,
   they also require a larger time and energy commitment from their
   owners than many other breeds. They are active, spirited, and
   sometimes strong willed. Although some may be calmer than others,
   others are decidedly hyperactive, always wanting to be up and doing
   something. They often exhibit obsessive behaviors, like chasing
   lights, shadows, and running or dripping water. Many owners have no
   patience for this kind of activity, but breed lovers seem to enjoy
   this loony streak.
   There is no way of telling how highly developed a pup's herding
   instinct will be. If you acquire one that wants to work above all
   else, its frustration may take the form of herding and possibly
   nipping at the heels of children, running adults, or other animals.
   This is not a sign of viciousness, but it is something that must be
   controlled, especially with small children who can become frightened
   with the behavior.
   The people who make the most satisfied Border Collie owners are people
   who enjoy spending a lot of time with their dogs and are willing and
   able to make the commitment to exercise and train in some way every
   day; who are very active, who like to hike, jog, and/or take long
   walks with their dogs; who don't mind living with a dog that never
   really settles down, even in the house, even after a lot of exercise,
   even when its owner is tired from a long day at work; and most
   important, who have a real job for the dogs to do, whether it's one of
   the dog sports that these dogs excel at, or, of course, herding a
   flock of sheep.
   In summary, Border Collies are much more work than most other breeds.
   They do not typically make easy family pets. If you have never been
   around one, try to spend some time with the breed before you decide to
   get one. Many Border Collies end up in shelters when their owners find
   that they are just too much trouble to have around because they need
   so much exercise, attention, and training/mental stimulation.

   American Kennel Club
   Australian National Kennel Council
   Kennel Club of Great Britain
   Raad van Beheer
   United Kennel Club
Special Medical Problems

   There is a mistaken belief by some breeders that the Border Collie's
   work weeds out unhealthy breeding stock and, as a result, the breed is
   unaffected by the genetic disorders common in other breeds. This is
   absolutely untrue! Many Border Collies in the U.S. have disorders such
   as hip dysplasia, eye problems, and epilepsy. If a breeder tells you
   that the breed is unaffected by these problems, find another breeder.
   Also, if a breeder tells you he doesn't check and certify hips and
   eyes because his particular breeding lines are unaffected by hip and
   eye problems, find another breeder.
  Hip Dysplasia
   Like most medium- and large-sized dogs, Border Collies are prone to
   Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD), which can cause mild to severe lameness,
   so be sure to look for breeders that certify their dogs through the
   OFA and insist on seeing the certificates. Dogs do not have to be
   obviously lame to have this condition and pass it on to their
   offspring. As a dog approaches middle age, symptoms of CHD often show
   up as mild arthritis: the dog limps or appears somewhat stiff after
   hard exercise or upon getting up from a nap. Often the dog seems fine
   after he moves around and stretches himself a bit. These symptoms can
   become worse as the dog ages. Depending on the dog (age, activity
   level) and owner (finances, ability and williness to commit to helping
   the dog with its rehabilitation), treatment varies from pain
   management (using drugs, managed exercise, and rest) to several
   choices of surgery (including total hip replacement).
  Osteochondritis Desicans
   A disease that can cause lameness in the joints of young dogs (usually
   from 6 to 12 months of age) is Osteochondritis Desicans (OCD). This is
   a degenerative disease of the joints, and is possibly associated with
   over-nutrition and too-fast growth of puppies. Treatment includes rest
   and/or surgery.
  Progressive Retinal Atrophy
   Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and Central Retinal Atrophy (CPRA)
   are two eye problems. PRA generally shows up in dogs around two years
   of age. At first it shows up as night blindness, and slowly progresses
   over eight years or so to total blindness. Dogs that are bred should
   have their eyes checked and certified by a veterinary ophthalmologist.
   Again, insist on seeing the CERF certificates.
  Collie Eye Anomaly
   Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) is another eye problem that is becoming more
   and more common in Border Collies. Like PRA, CEA can also cause
   blindness. However, unlike PRA, it is not a progressive disease. A
   puppy with this problem will not get progressively worse. The entire
   litter should be tested for CEA between the ages of six and ten weeks
   by a qualified veterinary ophthalmologist. An official certificate
   should be available if the litter has been tested, and every puppy in
   the litter should be listed as normal.
   Border Collies are also prone to epilepsy, a neurological seizure
   disorder, which can be extremely serious. Although epileptic seizures
   can usually be controlled by drugs, that's not always the case. Dogs
   have been known to die of uncontrollable seizures. Unfortunately,
   there is no test for this. Ask the breeder if there are any known
   epilepsy problems. Ethical breeders will be more than happy to discuss
   this with you.
  Canine Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (Storage Disease)
   This is a rare disease found in some dogs, which affects the nerve
   cells of the body. It is caused by a metabolic defect that allows a
   waste product called ceroid lipofuscin to accumulate in body cells.
   Dogs appear normal until around 18 months, at which time the build-up
   is substantial enough that symptoms start to appear. Symptoms include:
   unreasonable fear of familiar objects and surroundings; abnormal gait,
   unsteady on feet, difficulty jumping; demented behaviour, mania,
   hyperactivity, or rage. There is no treatment for this disease, and it
   is terminal.
   Congenital deafness can be a problem in some Border Collies, and more
   breeders are starting to have breeding stock and litters hearing
   (BAER) tested.
  Malignant Hyperthermia
   This is a very serious, although fairly unusual condition that affects
   some Border Collies. Typical symptoms include staggering after a brief
   period (5 or 10 minutes) of exercise. If left to run they would
   collapse. Body temperatures shoot up extremely high, and take a long
   time to return to normal, even in cold weather. Any exercise or stress
   can trigger an attack. If the temperature goes high enough, it can
   trigger seizures, strokes or even death. Dogs with this condition must
   have their exercise carefully controlled and monitored.
   Because of their low body fat, some Border Collies may be sensitive to
   barbiturate-based anesthetics. This is something that you should
   discuss with your veterinarian before any kind of surgery or procedure
   for which your dog will be anesthetized.

   Billingham, Viv, One Woman and Her Dog, 1984
   Carpenter, E. B., Blue Ribband of the Heather: The Supreme Champions
   1906 - 1988, Farming Press Books, Ipswich, UK, 1989
   Combe, Iris, Border Collies, Faber and Faber, London, 1978
   Jones, H. Glyn, A Way of Life, Diamond Farm Enterprises, Alexandria,
   NY, 1987
   Larson, Janet E., The Versatile Border Collie, Second Edition, Alpine
   Publications, Inc., Loveland, Colorado, 1999
   Longton, Tim, and Hart, Edward, The Sheepdog: Its Work and Training,
   Newton Abbot, North Pomfret, VT, 1976
   McCaig, Donald, Nop's Trials (Fiction), Crown Publishers, New York,
   NY, 1984
   McCaig, Donald, Eminent Dogs, Dangerous Men, Harper Collins, New York,
   NY, 1991
   Wilcox, Bonnie, DVM, and Walkowicz, Chris, Atlas of Dog Breeds, TFH
   Publications, Inc., 1991
   Zink, M. Christine, DVM, Peak Performance: Coaching the Canine
   Athlete, Second Edition, Canine Sports Productions, 1997
   American Border Collie
   218 Stagecoach Lane, Crawford, TX  76638
   (Newsletter for BCSA)
   Editor: Helen Phillips
   Arvada, CO
   The Ranch Dog Trainer
   PO Box 599, Ellendale, TN 38029
   The Shepherd's Dogge
   Woolgather Farm
   Box 843, Ithaca, NY 14581
   The Working Border Collie Magazine
   14933 Kirkwood Road, Sidney, OH 45365
   United States Border Collie Club Newsletter
   14401 Poplar Hill Road, Germantown, MD 20874
  Email List about Border Collies
   A mailing list is available for discussing issues and topics relating
   to Border Collies. You can join by sending a message to:
   leave the subject line and body of the message blacnk, and send the
   There is also a mailing list specifically for herding with Border
   collies. To join, send email to:
   In the body of the message, put the lines:
     subscribe SHEEPDOG-L firstname lastname
  Breed Rescue Organizations
   Many Border Collie rescue volunteers are experts at matching dogs with
   the right homes, so, for example, you won't end up with a dog with
   intense herding instincts if what you want is just an active
   companion. Many are also very knowledgeable about dog behavior, and
   are happy to answer any questions and help you with any problems you
   might have after you get your new dog home.
   The following website lists most of the rescue organizations in the
   United States.
   For lists of breeders, contact the one of the breed clubs listed later
   in this article. Be sure to interview the breeders very carefully, and
   expect them to interview you to make sure you can provide an
   appropriate home for one of their puppies. Responsible breeders are
   very careful about who they send their puppies home with.
   The American Border Collie Association Inc. (ABCA)
   82 Rogers Road, Perkinston, MS 39573 USA
   (601) 928-7551
   The American-International Border Collie Registry, Inc. (AIBC)
   c/o Senette Parker, PO Box 274, Chappell Hills, TX 77426, USA
   (409) 836-4864
   The American Kennel Club. (AKC)
   51 Madison Avenue, New York, NY USA
   The North American Sheep Dog Society (NASDS)
   RR 3, McLeansboro, IL 62859, USA
   Raad van Beheer
   Postbus 75901, 1070 AX Amsterdam, The Netherlands
   The Kennel Club
   I-4 Clarges St. Piccadilly, London, W1Y8AB, England
   The International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS)
   Chesam House, 47 Bromham Road, Bedford, England MK40 2AA
   The Australian National Kennel Council
   Royal Show Grounds, Ascot Vale, Victoria, Australia
   The United Kennel Club (UKC)
   100 East Kilgore Rd., Kalamazoo, MI 49001 USA
  Breed Clubs
   Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with any inquiry.
   The Border Collie Club of Great Britain
   Ted Keeton, Acting Secretary
   Hunters Quay, Dale Bank, Ashover, Chesterfield, Derbyshire  S45 0EX
   Border Collie Club Nederland
   Amerlaan 31, 5626 BR Eindhoven
   The Netherlands
   Tel: +31 (0)40 2904066
   Border Collie Club of Tasmania
   Syd Munton
   Lot 1, Lower Shield Street, Huonville 7109 Tasmania  (002)641659
   Border Collie Society of America, Inc (BCSA)
   (AKC Parent Club)
   14328 W. 96th Avenue, Arvada, CO  80005
   The United States Border Collie Club
   12813 Maple Street, Silver Spring, MD  20904
    Border Collie FAQ
    April Quist,
   April Quist,

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