WHAT IS A BORDER COLLIE LIKE AS A PET?

As a general rule, Border Collies are not easy pets, and typical pet owners often find them too intense and energetic.  Border Collies are usually "workaholics."  They are happiest when they have a job to do, whether that job is herding, obedience, agility, or any of the other active occupations and dog sports they excel at.  If these dogs are not given a "job", they are very likely to become extremely destructive.  Hanging out around an apartment or house being the "guard dog" isn't enough of a job for a Border Collie!

Border Collies usually won't exercise on their own.  Most want their human counterparts to participate in whatever they do.  Putting a dog in a fenced area rarely works as a form of exercise.  These dogs need to be physically and mentally challenged, and if you cannot provide that for them, they'll do it themselves - at the expense of your lawn, furniture, walls, whatever looks tempting to dig or chew on!  They are extremely quick, high-energy, busy dogs, and they must have plenty of exercise.  They are bred for endurance:  a working Border Collie can run as much as 100 miles a day over sometimes difficult terrain, then go out and do it again the next day.  A one or two mile walk may seem like a long way to you, but it's barely a warm-up for a Border Collie.

People without the time to give a dog plenty of vigorous physical and mental exercise every day would be well advised to find a calmer dog.  A bored Border Collie can become neurotic and destructive.

What is Living with a Herding Dog Like?

Be sure you know what you're getting into if you think you want a Border Collie.  Border Collies have been bred for hundreds of years to hone and refine a very strong instinct to herd sheep.  Border Collies herd everything that moves:  livestock, birds, other dogs, cats, children, and even bugs.  Many people have absolutely no patience with the way the herding instinct displays itself and operates in a family situation, and many Border Collies end up abandoned at the local dog pound because of it.  Border Collies run hard, they chase children (sometimes biting them because they won't stop or move in a certain direction), they throw toys at you nonstop, they are continually underfoot trying to herd, they jump up on people, they bark a lot when they are playing, they love to chew and dig, they rarely lie down and sleep when they are young, and they mature very slowly.  Many, many young Border Collies are killed each year trying to herd cars by running in front of them.

Are Border Collies Intelligent?

Border Collies are very intelligent dogs and learn quickly.  This may seem like a good thing, but is actually a problem at times: they easily learn things the owner didn't intend for them to learn, and some of these newly-learned behavior patterns can be difficult to re-teach.  Their intelligence is one of the reasons that they tend to get bored and into trouble so easily.  But then, it's also one of the reasons they excel in obedience, training/competition, herding, agility, and so many other dog sports.

Are Border Collies Good with Children?

Though some individual Border Collies are very gentle with children, one of the most common reasons people give when they turn a Border Collie over to rescue or a shelter, is that they nip or snap at the children in the family.  This is most often not a sign of viciousness, but rather a problem caused by their intense herding instinct.  To a Border Collie, children are often livestock.  When a Border Collie wants a child to do something and the child doesn't cooperate, the dog's instinct tells it to push harder, and they often nip quite hard.  This instinct cannot be eliminated, but can and must be controlled by consistent training.

Are They Good Escape Artists?

Border Collies are extremely agile dogs that can easily jump/climb a 6 foot 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're determined to get out.  Being very intelligent dogs, they can also learn to open doors and latches.

Do Border Collies Have Any Special Medical Problems?

Like most medium and large-sized dogs, Border Collies are prone to Canine Hip Dysplasia, which can cause mild to severe lameness.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is another problem and causes a central loss of vision.  It generally shows up in dogs around two years of age, and progresses over the years, sometimes leading to total blindness.

Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA), a malformation of the optic nerve, is another eye problem that is becoming more and more common in Border Collies.  Like PRA, CEA can also cause blindness.

Border Collies are also prone to epilepsy, a neurological seizure disorder.

Is a Border Collie Right for You?

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 don't mind living with a dog that never really settles down, even in the house, even after a lot of exercise, even when the owner is tired from a long day at work...most important, who have a real job for the dogs to do, whether it's one of the dog sports at which these dogs excel or, of course, herding a flock of sheep.

A BORDER COLLIE IS NOT FOR YOU IF:

You don't want to spend a significant amount of time doing "dog" stuff daily.

  • You don't like going outside (in all weather).
  • You have several young children.
  • You are a couch potato.
  • You throw a tennis ball like a girl.
  • You don't like getting dirty.
  • You can only think of SIT, DOWN, and STAY to teach your dog.
  • You want a dog to stay in your house and backyard only.
  • You care deeply about your landscaped yard and flowerbeds.
  • You care deeply about your expensive matching furniture.
  • You like going to the bathroom alone.

 

A BORDER COLLIE IS FOR YOU IF:

  • You are serious about sheep herding.
  • You want a dog to do everything with.
  • You don't mind being outsmarted by a dog.
  • Your dog isn't "just like a member of the family"- it IS a member of the family.
  • You like to spend a significant amount of time outdoors.
  • You want a "hot dog" kind of dog athlete.
  • You wake up thinking, "what can I do with my dog today?"
  • You want a dog that can excel in EVERY dog sport (agility, flyball, obedience, tracking, etc..,)
  • You want a dog you can't ignore.
  • You want a dog that makes you think.
  • You don't mind a tennis ball being poked through the shower curtain at you.