Workaholic specialist or intelligent family dog? The Border Collie is one of the dogs that currently enjoys a large media presence. Whether in advertising, in films or in talent shows: the docile herding dogs impress not only with their great looks, but also with their above-average intelligence, which makes them easy to learn even difficult tricks. As its popularity grows, negative reports about the breed are also increasing: it is said again and again that they are hyperactive, annoying, prone to biting and need to be kept busy all day long.
Brief racial history
The Border Collie comes from the borderland between Scotland and England, the “Border Line”. Over the centuries, independent, yet easily manageable, medium-sized dogs were bred here to work with herds of sheep. Understandably, the shepherds were not concerned with the appearance of the dogs, but primarily with their character and their way of working. And so it took a long time until a breed image emerged from the different dogs. The name Border Collie itself first appeared in 1910 – making it the youngest British herding dog breed.
While other herding dog breeds, such as the Bobtail or the Scottish Collie, were discovered as fashion dogs early on, the Border Collie remained in its original working line for a long time. Today’s Border Collies still have a correspondingly strong herding instinct, as well as a sometimes extreme work ethic, so that this breed is only partially suitable for keeping as a family dog.
The appearance of the Border Collie
After a long time of breeding mainly for character, the appearance of the Border Collie is now increasingly coming to the fore. According to breeding criteria, it should be medium-sized (45-55cm shoulder height), have medium-long to long fur, in which the white portion never predominates. The body structure is harmonious, the movements are flowing and elegant. While initially only black and white dogs and the tricolor color (i.e. black and white with brown markings) were permitted for breeding, many different color variants are now possible. It remains to be hoped that the typical character of the Border Collie does not fall victim to the attempt to create a certain visual image.
What is immediately noticeable about the Border Collie and distinguishes it at first glance from other breeds, such as the otherwise visually very similar Australian Shepherd, is the innate herding posture: crouched, head low, tail lowered and eyes unwaveringly open the herding object, a herding Border Collie is a fascinating sight. This rigid fixation is usually a sign of aggression in dogs, but in the Border Collie, “The Eye” was bred to use its gaze specifically to set the flock of sheep in motion and to control them, without directly looking at the livestock like other herding dog breeds having to go and possibly causing injuries to the animals.
The character of the Border Collie
The Border Collie’s character was always much more important than his appearance. Breeding goals were always a pronounced “will to please”, i.e. the desire to please one’s owner, as well as independence, unbridled work ethic, intelligence, persistence and absolute goodness towards people (biting herding dogs used to be immediately sorted out and killed by the shepherd in order to avoid losses in the case). Livestock should be avoided).
Every dog is only as perfect as its owner
The Border Collie’s character traits make him the perfect dog at first glance: Who doesn’t want a four-legged friend who is highly intelligent, but at the same time always tries to obey all commands? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, because ultimately every dog is only as perfect as its owner. If the Border Collie is given an appropriate task (this can be herding work, but also another activity) and a confident leadership, he shows himself to be a well-balanced dog who is cuddly, fond of children, loyal, willing and devoted and is actually close to the perfect dog.</ p>
However, if he lacks a task and/or confident leadership, the Border Collie shows his worst side: he becomes jittery and sometimes even aggressive. He often looks for a task himself: it could be that he “redesigns” your apartment (the creativity of these dogs often makes their destructiveness particularly impressive), maybe he also starts children, cats, carsor something similar, he may even mutilate himself – there are no limits to creativity, even in a negative sense.
Too much work can have the same negative effects as too little, because Border Collies do not have an innate “off switch”: They are bred to work without tiring or even completely exhausted. In the past, the compensation for work was the time when the sheep were in the stable – today the owner has to responsibly introduce rest times and ensure that they are adhered to, otherwise there is a risk of a completely overexcited Border Collie.
The Border Collie’s intelligence is a blessing and a curse at the same time: it makes him the most pleasant companion, but it also requires absolute consistency in training – otherwise it can quickly happen that a Border Collie has its owner wrapped around its finger before he is even aware of it.
Like no other dog breed, the Border Collie demands activity, consistency and dog instinct. When selecting a puppy, the dog should be selected according to its suitability (working dog with a strong herding instinct or a weaker instinct and suitability as a family dog) and your own willingness to invest time and patience in training the Border Collie should be checked. Then nothing stands in the way of keeping a Border Collie responsible.
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