Border Collie, Sport Dog and Working Dog

The Border Collie is a breed of herding dog originally called the "Scotch Sheep Dog" that originated in Northumberland along the borders of Scotland and England. The Border Collie are widely considered to be the most intelligent dog breeds. These highly energetic dogs are often considered the world's best sheep herding dogs; they can be hyperactive and are frequently used on farms all over the world to assist with the handling of livestock. While originally bred for farm work, the Border Collie have also become popular as pet and sport dogs. These dogs can be protective of a human family member and are, most of the time, affectionate to those they know. Border Collies must be carefully trained with a lot of physical exercise and mental stimulation included in their daily schedules.

Border Collie Appearance

In general, Border Collies are medium-sized dogs without extreme physical characteristics and a moderate amount of coat, which means not much hair will be shed. Their double coats can be anywhere from slick to lush, and can come in many colors, although black and white is by far the most common. Black tricolor (black/tan/white or sable and white), red (chocolate) and white, and red tricolour (red/tan/white) also occur regularly, with other colors such as blue, lilac, red merle, blue merle, brindle and "Australian red"/gold seen less frequently. Border Collies may also have single-color coats.

The Border Collie eye color varies from deep brown to amber or blue with occasionally one eye of each color, usually seen with merles. The ears of the Border Collie are also highly variable — some have fully erect ears, some fully dropped ears, and others semi-erect ears (similar to that of the Rough Collie or sighthounds). Although working Border Collie handlers sometimes have superstitions about the appearance of their dogs (handlers may avoid mostly white dogs due to unfounded idea that sheep will not respect a white or almost all white dog), in general a dog's appearance is considered to be irrelevant. It is considered much more useful to identify a working Border Collie by its attitude and ability than by its looks.

Those dogs bred for the conformation ring are more homogeneous in appearance than working Border Collies, since to win in conformation showing they must conform closely to breed club standards that are specific on many points of the structure, coat and color. Kennel clubs specify, for example, that the Border Collie must have a "keen and intelligent" expression, and that the preferred eye color is dark brown. In deference to the dog's working origin, scars and broken teeth received in the line of duty are not to be counted against a Border Collie in the show ring.

Height at withers: Males from 19 to 22 in (48 to 56 cm), females from 18 to 21 in (46 to 53 cm). (See various breed standards for details).

Border Collie Temperament

Border collies strive to please their owners. They are very loving dogs. Border Collies are an intelligent dog breed with an instinctive desire to work closely and intensely with a human handler. Although the primary role of the Border Collie is that of the working stock dog, this dog breeds are becoming increasingly popular as pets. True to their working heritage, Border Collies make very demanding, energetic pets that are better off in households that can provide them with plenty of play and exercise with humans or other dogs. Border collies are happiest with a job to do. However, a job to a border collie isn't necessarily working livestock. An activity such as Frisbee, chasing and retrieving a ball, or just simply playing chase will suffice. As long as the border collie is in the herding/working position (crouched down, tail tucked between legs, eyes firmly fixed on the matter in hand) it considers it work. Border Collies are now also being used in showing, especially agility, where their speed and agility comes to good use. Some Border Collies tend to bite or nip their owners due to herding instincts. They will try to bite at their owner's ankles and try to lead them which makes dog sports popular with Border Collie owners. However, in an appropriate home, with a dedicated, active owner, a Border Collie can be an excellent companion.

Though they can be a wonderful choice for some households, Border Collies are not perfect pets for all people. For example, as with many working dog breeds, Border Collies can be motion-sensitive and may attempt to control the movements of family members, cats, bicycles, cars or anything else that moves if not given enough mental and physical stimulation. These dogs are also generally not suitable for households with small children. Many Border Collies that end up in shelters or rescue groups are there because owners, who may have been attracted by their appearance and intelligence, were not prepared to meet their dog's daily activity needs.

Border Collie Lifespan

The natural life span of the Border Collie is between 9 years to 17 years, with an average lifespan of twelve years. The median longevities of breeds of similar size are usually 12 to 13 years. Leading causes of death were cancer (23.6%), old age (17.9%) and cerebral vascular afflictions (9.4%).

Border Collie Common health problems

Hip dysplasia, Collie eye anomaly (CEA), and epilepsy are considered the primary genetic diseases of concern in the breed at this time. CEA is a congenital, inherited eye disease involving the retina, choroid, and sclera that sometimes affects Border Collies. In Border Collies, it is generally a mild disease and rarely significantly impairs vision. There is now a DNA test available for CEA and, through its use, breeders can ensure that they will not produce affected pups. There are different types of hip testing available including OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) and PennHip. Radiographs are taken and sent to these organizations to determine a dog's hip and elbow quality.

Elbow dysplasia or osteochondritis, deafness, and hypothyroidism may also occur in the breed. Dogs homozygous for the merle gene are likely to have eye and/or hearing problems.

Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL) is a rare but serious disease that is limited to show Border Collies. NCL results in severe neurological impairment and early death; afflicted dogs rarely survive beyond two years of age. The mutation causing the form of the disease found in Border Collies was identified by Scott Melville in the laboratory of Dr. Alan Wilton of the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, University of New South Wales. There is no treatment or cure, but a DNA test is now available to detect carriers as well as affected dogs.

Trapped neutrophil syndrome (TNS) is an inherited autosomal recessive disease which results in mature neutrophils being unable to migrate from the bone marrow into the blood stream. Puppies affected with this disease usually succumb to infection. Because TNS creates an immune deficiency, the puppies can present a variety of symptoms depending upon the type of opportunistic infections they contract; as a result, TNS has largely gone undiagnosed in the past. Once thought to be rare, TNS is now believed to be responsible for many cases of "fading puppies". The mutation responsible for TNS has been found in Border Collies in English working dogs, in show dogs that had originated in Australian and New Zealand, and in unrelated Australian working dogs indicating the gene is widespread and probably as old as the breed itself. TNS was identified by Jeremy Shearman in the laboratory of Dr. Alan Wilton of the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, University of New South Wales. There is no cure, but a DNA test is now available to detect carriers as well as affected dogs

Border Collie for Livestock work

Working border collies can take direction by voice and whistle at long distances when herding. Their great energy and herding instinct are still used to herd all kinds of animals, from the traditional sheep and cattle, to free range poultry, pigs, and ostriches. They are also used to remove unwanted wild birds from airport runways, golf courses, and other public and private areas.

The use of dogs for herding sheep makes good economic sense. In a typical pasture environment each trained sheep dog will do the work of three humans. In vast arid areas like the Australian Outback or the Karoo Escarpment, the number increases to five or more. Attempts to replace them with mechanical approaches to herding have only achieved a limited amount of success. Thus, stock handlers find trained dogs more reliable and economical.

Shepherds in the UK have taken the most critical elements of herding and incorporated them into a sheepdog trial. The first recorded sheepdog trials were held in Bala, North Wales, in 1873. These competitions enable farmers and shepherds to evaluate possible mates for their working dogs, but they have developed a sport aspect as well, with competitors from outside the farming community also taking part. In the USA, the national sanctioning body for these competitions is the USBCHA. In the UK it is the International Sheep Dog Society, in Canada the Canadian Border Collie Association (CBCA) and in South Africa it is the South African Sheepdog Association.

Border Collie for Dog sports

Border Collies excel at several dog sports in addition to their success in herding trials. Because of the high instinct of herding, they are excellent at this sport. They perform well at some higher jump heights at dog agility competitions, so much so that in England, competitions often include classes for ABC dogs, "Anything But Collies". There are also many Border Collies competing in Flyball.

The Border Collie's speed, agility, and stamina have allowed them to dominate in dog activities like flyball and disc dog competitions. Their trainability has also given them a berth in dog dancing competitions.

Border Collies have a highly developed sense of smell and with their high drive make excellent and easily motivated tracking dogs for Tracking trials. These trials simulate the finding of a lost person in a controlled situation where the performance of the dog can be evaluated, with titles awarded for successful dogs.

Border Collie for Search and Rescue

Because of their skills, Border Collies make excellent Search and rescue dogs in Lowland, Mountain, and Urban areas. They have been trained in air-scenting, ground-scenting and as Cadaver Dogs.

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