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What was the Border Collie originally bred for?

The Border Collie is a working breed and in the past the majority of the dogs lived on farms. Every Border Collie is the inheritor of decades of selective breeding for the ability to control livestock sometimes without the farmer even being there to supervise.
Other jobs well performed, in England - mountain rescue work, in Canada - detecting gas leaks in the new gas pipelines, in Australia - customs and bomb detection dogs. They are also trained as Pets for therapy dogs, tracking lost persons and have the natural ability to compete and compete well in obedience, agility, jumping and endurance trials.

Is the Border Collie a big dog?

A Border Collie is classed as a medium sized dog and generally grows to between (48 - 53 cm) 19 - 21 inches tall, a female can grow to between (46 - 51 cm) 18 - 20 inches tall. A healthy dog depending on bone and musculation, can weigh anywhere between 20 - 25 kgs, a female from 15 kgs upwards.

How old do Border Collies live to?

From our experience, 13 to 14 years is a fair time to share with us, though we have had some dogs that lived to 16 - 17 years. Remember, it is the quality of life that we share with our dogs that is more important, so before getting any breed of dog ask your self, "Will I make a suitable dog owner?" not will a dog be a suitable pet for me.

Do Border Collies make a good family pet?

The Border Collie was originally bred to work with a single master, locked away when not at work, trained only by one person and any other company away from the livestock was probably another dog. Times have changed where now the dog interacts with all family members, the dog is expected to work loyally with all handlers whether family or other.
Though the pack mentality has been bred out of this breed hundreds of years ago, the basic instinct of the dog is still to pick out a dominant person in the family and be answerable to that person though not always obedient with that person. At the same time the dog will also work out who hands out the rewards, who will be more likely to walk or play with them, who owns those car keys, basically who will interact with them and be the most fun to be with.
From our experience the environment in which the dog grows dictates how the dog will grow, allow your Border Collie to be an active part of your family and they will make a very good family pet.

Are Border Collies good with children?

Generally, YES, as with all dogs, good training, common sense and time together will help to make your potential Border Collie a wonderful new member of your household. As a young pup/dog, the Border Collie tends to focus on and wants to participate in any activity going on around it, this is normally where the children are very important, as an active dog they tend to reflect the energy of the children around them. Importantly, if you treat/rear your Border Collie the same way as your treat/bring up your children, they should all grow up properly, healthily and together.
Healthy puppies enjoy playing with children, provided the children are kind. As part of the bonding process, teach your children how to groom the pup, carry it correctly, how to lift and put the little pup down and how to help prepare its regular meals. The pup must never be allowed to become exhausted or overexited, the pup will need a period of deep sleep after each play session and children must be taught to respect this.

Is the Border Collie an active breed?

If you keep a Border Collie as a pet or companion, it will be a lively dog and will probaly have more energy than you, so you can give it as much exercise as you like. There is no minimun amount of exercise with this breed, the Border Collie is adaptable and provided that you take interest in your dog and understand the sort of instincts that drive it, it will live happily whether in country or town.
Importantly, the Border Collie perhaps more so than most breeds has a keen desire for human company.

At what age do Border Collies settle?

The first 18 - 24 months of age for a Border Collie, is like a child growing to 18 years of age. There is a lot to learn and the Border Collie will learn quickly, there is a lot to participate in and it is difficult preventing a Border Collie from joining in. There is so much to see and so much to do, but unlike the 18 year old youth, the Border Collie has to fit it into a short life time, with some training your Border Collie will grow up with some control and not as a delinquent.
I have found that our Border Collies have matured mentally, faster, through involving our dog in more activities where they have human involvement, whether chasing a football or frisby, obedience/agility/jumping or herding or simply being by our sides during that long walk.
Importantly, let your Border Collie enjoy it's childhood, it is a very important part of it's lifetime and a time of learning.

How much exercise will my Border Collie need?

The Border Collies life style tends to dictates its needs and it needs a lot of physical and mental exercise, each being as important as the other. As an active, athletic, mobile dog they are happier when they have something to do, be it anything from herding sheep, agility trials to obedience trials, long runs or following you on a long bike ride.
Like us, the Border Collie needs to be physically exercised every day, ideally at least for 1 hour, use your imagination and they will find a way to participate. Share your exercise with them, this can be a walk, a swim, chasing the ball, anything, provided you are giving the dog physical and mental stimulation.
Importantly, don’t forget that ‘down’ time is just as important as ‘up time’, give yourself time to relax and rest and enjoy each others company after each exercise period.

Do Border Collies become destructive if left alone?

We all tend to find other things to amuse us when life around us becomes boring, if the only time you spend with your dog is while feeding and cleaning their kennel, that leaves a lot of the day (roughly 23.5 hours) for the dog to become bored. Spend more time with them and importantly include a little bit of training, make it enjoyable and you both will want to do it more often.
What was once cute as a puppy, has a tendency to become destructive as an older dog. Do not play tug-o-war with the pup using and old pair of shoes, feather duster, broom or mop or article of clothing etc, then get annoyed when, as an older dog, the dog buries your good shoes, pull clothing off the line or destroys your new broom.
Like all breeds of dogs, the Border Collie has a very good nose for trouble, but unfortunately the first time that they dig up your beautiful roses or new fruit trees, they did not know that it was wrong. No body told them that it was wrong, did they?
Importantly, if one of our children did something wrong for the first time, we would take them aside and explain why it is wrong, a little more difficult with your dog, because they don't relate the punishment you just dealt out for something they did hours before.

All of my family works, is a Border Collie still the breed for me?

If all your family works, is any dog the right dog for you. YES. Provided you give your dog the stimulation it needs when you are not there and plenty of attention when you arrive home. Border Collies need to be mentally active as well as physically active, if you don’t give them something to do, they will find their own entertainment. This might be digging a hole deep to China, herding your neighbours cat and/or neighbours, working out how to unlatch the gate and introducing themselves to the neighbourhood or chasing and barking at the birds as they fly past. There are an infinite number of ways to keep your dogs mind active during your time away, you just have to think like your dog! Maybe a companion dog is a way of relieving boredom or simply plenty of interactive toys to keep your dog interested until you arrive home.
Importantly, give them your time when you get home, even having the luxury of lying at your feet is important to your dog.

How important are obedience classes?

All dogs including your Border Collie needs basic obedience and this can start at home. Most training at home is simply relating words/commands with actions, the dog already knows how to sit, lie down, jump etc. You simply say the word "sit" every time the dog sits, "stand" when the dog stands, "no" when the dog does something wrong, "where's your lead" or "find the car keys" when you want to go somewhere and this is normally enforced through rewards.
Basic training is essentially about teaching your puppy to be considerate and obedient, to come immediately when called and to have acceptable manners when at home or out and about. Play is an important aspect of introducing obedience and tricks to young dogs and dogs like children find it easier to learn if learning is made easy and enjoyable.
The benefits of obedience classes vary as a form of mental stimulation to form of socialisation with other dogs and people, it also gives your Border Collie the opportunity to show off his family to other dogs. Obedience classes also teaches you and your family how to control your dog and what responsibilities you have or we expect from you and your dog.  Importantly, it is always nice to think that we, not the dog is in charge, sometimes.

How often do I groom my Border Collie?

The Border Collie comes in many coat types, but most are double coated and have medium length hair. They generally require grooming with a slicker brush and comb regularly, so at least once a week for 10 mins each time to keep the coat in good condition. Pay particular attention to the tail, behind the ears and the pants, these areas mat easily and are havens for burrs and grass seeds, knots can appear under the arm pits, in the area of the groin and always behind the ears.
Shorter coated dogs require less grooming, but it still needs to be done on a regular basis for a healthy coat. During shedding your Border Collie, regardless of coat type will require almost daily grooming to remove the dead coat. Bathing your Border Collie every 4 weeks in summer and 6 weeks in winter will help keep odours and dirt to a minimum.
Whenever your dog has been in an environment where it may have been exposed to grass seeds, please check the feet (between the toes) feathering on the legs and coat under the belly for seeds. Grass seeds can work their way under the skin and cause infections in a short period of time.
Don’t forget to worm your dog every 3 months, flea treat and heartworm treat every month and vaccinate every year.
Important, know where your nearest Vet is, ALWAYS, prevention is always better than cure.

Where are the good puppies sold?

Make sure that you start in the right place by obtaining addresses of reputable breeders through the different breed clubs in your state or country. The price of a Border Collie puppy varies, but generally don’t expect to pay less than $400.00, more for a show quality dog.
Ensure that breeder vaccinates (7th week), worms (fortnightly), microchips the pups before purchase, that the breeder, parent dogs and pups are registered with a canine association of that state or country.

Q:   My Border Collie pups likes to nip?

A:   Border Collies tend to nip when they want to move/herd things that don't normally want to be moved, or when they want to get your attention, they see this as a normal function and until told/scolded, they don't see anything wrong with it. Keep in mind that young pups have sharp fragile teeth, what we tend to do is tap the pup under the jaw, just enough to hit the teeth together and jar the jaw. At the same time use a correction (we use "no") to indicate to the pup its actions are not wanted. Tap your self under the jaw and see how it works. Don't forget to reward your pup/dog when he/she does as you ask.
You might be able to simply hold the puppy's muzzle with applying to much pressure, at the same time use a correction, such as "no" to indicate to the pup its actions are not wanted. Again, don't forget to reward your pup/dog when he/she does as you ask.
As with all dogs, teasing and harassing any dog yet a Border Collie is something which children or adults SHOULD NOT do. The dog knows it is not allowed to bite, and in desperate times, the only form of defence for the dog may be the act of nipping the offending child or person.

Q:   
I have just purchased a Border Collie Pup, we purchased her from a farm and she is not microchipped yet or vacinated, she is 7 weeks old do we take her to the vet now or is she too young?

A:   Pups should be vacinated about 7 weeks definately by 8 weeks, about a week before pups go to their new home. Then vaccinated again about 12 weeks/3months, which will last them for the next twelve months, then vaccinate every 12 months. This is also based on the area and any prevalence of disease in that area, and the type/brand of vaccination. Different vets will recommend their preferred brand of vaccination.
Parvo - distemper is an airbourne  disease, but at the same time you can visit an area affected and carry it home on your clothing or shoes. It can be life threatening but it is the suffering to the pup and the cost to cure the pup which is the strongest incentive to vaccinate.
As a matter of routine, breeder/s should microchip the pups at the same time. (We have seen the benefit of microchipping as a pup that we sold went missing and when it was found by the pound they notified us. Luckily the pup went missing with an older dog that wasn't microchiped and both were returned to their rightful home fit and well.) Also a microchipped dog when registered with the local (rural) council in NSW, (check your state)  is $60 for its life time , which is very good value. Check with your local council as rural may differ in cost structure to suburbia based council.

Q:   How can I get my Border Collie to quit chewing holes in our sofa when we leave our house for a couple of hours.  She has lots of chew toys?

A:   Try a product called "bitter apple spray". It should be available from most pet stores or Vets. Most dogs hate the taste of it and it is NOT harmful to the dog.
Check to make sure that one of its toys or food is not stuck down the side of the chair, don't leave the dog unattended in that room.

Q:   I have a one year old desexed bitch, who is inclined to snap at people she does not know. She cowers a little, and then snaps and it is usually with people that she doesn't know, although most people she seems very comfortable with and doesn't worry about. She has been to obedience classes, is kept busy and is basically a very good dog, but I am getting worried about this trait in her personality. An instance the other day, which was probably the first time that she actually looked like she really meant to snap, occured when a delivery man walked into our factory, and she was tied up at the time. She has been going to our factory since she was a pup, and mostly is good with visitors, but with some people she just doesn't seem to like and cowers and snaps a little bit. When my son takes her to the beach, she is good - ignores people and just plays with my son and her ball. She is good with other dogs, and just likes to play with them?

A:   If it is a behavioral problem, then we have to look at whether she only behaves this way when left with you/your son is away. Does she see a need to act as your defender, is she simply trying to protect you, if your son is not there has she taken on the responsibility.
Does it only happen when she is tied up - one idea is that she cannot move away from strangers when restricted/tied up, where when she is free from the lead she has the ability to create a distance that she is confortable with and will introduce herself when confident with the situation. Have you released her from being tied up and allowed her to naturally approach the stranger or have you introduced the stranger under friendlier circumstances.
Also if she is tied up at the entrance to your factory, she might see herself  as a defender/gate keeper. It will be wise to tie her away from general (pedestrian) traffic where visitors can approach her under a less stressful circumstances.
Sometimes there is a need to speak to the dog the same way we would sternly speak to others/our children/better halves, if the dog hasn't been told that it is wrong, then she will continue to behave in the manner she does. Do not be afraid that you are going to upset the dog, if done at the time the girl snaps, she will quickly relate to that and will modify her behaviour, remember to reward her when she stops the adverse behaviour.
Sometimes we have to trust their instincts, and note her opinion of the stranger, but let her know to keep her opinion to herself.

Q:   I have a 13yr old Australian Shepard and a young female Border Collie, who we just got from the Dog Pound about 5 weeks ago and the vet figured she was probably about a year old. My problem ... she definitely has a mind of her own, how do I get her to come right away when called and leave what ever it is she happens to be chasing at the moment, not when she feels like it. As it is now, I really can't let her off the leash as she is so unpredictable?

A:   
As you have only recently got the pup, there must be time for bonding, make this time enjoyable and she will learn very quickly.
Don't forget that as a young dog, everything is more interesting than us, they know we wont go with out them, therefore we can wait for them as they investigate what ever it is that has their attention at that time. Just like any teenage child.
What we use is a long lead, made out of very heavy fishing line or cord, with a small clip on the dogs end and a piece of dowl (wood) on your end. We allow the pup to run away and settle and get use to the line, then call it back to you, and use the line to encourage the pup back to you, then  reward when the pup has came back to you. The length of the cord can vary, don't always do recalls while she on the cord, AND always make it fun.
You can introduce a toy which she favours, when she runs away show the toy, if she doesn't come straight away, turn and walk away from her. Let her play with the toy on her return or give another type of reward. If you can, sometimes use the cord at the same time.
Does she follow the older dog, if so call the older dog then walk with the older dog in a different direction, then at the same time call the pup. If you can be active with the older dog, the pup might return quickly to join in with the action.
Sometimes there is a need to speak to the dog the same way we would sternly speak to others/our children, just to get their attention. Once you have their attention practice your recall, and always reward when the pup returns even if there was some anxiety at first. We can not afford to chase the pup away by being cross with her.

Q:   How do I stop my Border Collie from barking incessantly at night and early in the morning?  He also barks when we are not home. I am afraid he has attained "top dog" status in our family and would like to find out how to gain control of my dog and discipline him without going over board?

A:   The strongest word in our vocabulary is "NO", I am yet to own a dog that doesn't understand the meaning of it. You do not have to raise a hand or lift a foot, the seriousness is determined by your tone of voice.
If the dog hasn't been told that it is wrong, then it will continue to behave in the manner that it does. Do not be afraid that you are going to upset the dog, if corrected at the time, he will quickly relate to that and will modify his behaviour. Remember to reward when he stops the adverse behaviour.
Dogs bark for different reasons, it is their primary form of communications. We need to determine why the dog is barking at that time of day; I observed a neighbour recently who when his dog barked he went outside to the dog and asked it nicely to be quite, I don't believe that the dog knew it was wrong to bark because when the friend went back inside, the dog continued to bark until the friend went back outside. In this this situation it was the dog who was in control. The neighbour regained control (and his dog remained a very good friend) when he introduced/leant to use the "NO" word.

Q:   Do Border Collies get hip problems and if they do around what age?

A:   Yes, some lines do carry problems with hips and elbows which is not specifically a problem with Borders but with all breeds of dogs. The Border Collie can suffer from Hip Dysplasia (HD) but through strong breeding ethics by registered Border Collie breeders in Australia, (and hopefully elsewhere in the world) this problem is being greatly reduced.
As it is not always an inheritted problem, diet and living conditions can also contribute to hip or elbow problems.
The following two sites should give you an insight into H.D.

http://www.bordercollie.org/hd.html
http://www.online-vets.com/HipScores/

 

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