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Border Collie

 Photo of Border Collie
Photo: courtesy of Sara Carver

Border Collie Books

Group: Pastoral - Breed Standard


No-one knows for certain when the breed originated, but one of the earliest references is made during the mid 1500s. The breed probably incorporated a variety of other breeds including the Bearded Collie, the Old English Sheepdog, and even a sprinkling of the early gundog breeds. Many of the early dogs were owned by sheep and cattle drovers who were out on the road for weeks at a time. Their dogs had to fulfil several different roles - hunting food for the drovers, guarding the herd and actually handling the stock. By the late 1800s the sport of Sheepdog Trialing had developed. It varied a great deal from the day to day working of the sheep, but soon came to be very competitive. In 1906 a meeting was held which resulted in one of the most important of all breed-registering societies to be established. This was the ISDS - The International Sheep Dog Society. The ISDS has done much to address the problems of inherited eye conditions (first PRA and latterly CEA anomaly) and to encourage responsible breeding. Their registration system actively encourages breeding only from eye-tested stock. In 1964 the Kennel Club agreed to register the Border Collies who were already in the ISDS Stud Book. This is where the registration of the latter-day Border Collie began. In 1976 the KC upgraded the Border Collie to a breed in it's own right, though it was sometime before shows scheduled classes for them, and not until 1982 was it granted CC status. Shortly afterwards, a working test was devised by a group of people representing the KC, the ISDS and the two Breed Clubs of the time. By passing this test and also gaining Show Champion status a dog was able to claim the title of Champion.


Ideal height: dogs: 53 cms (21 ins); bitches slightly less.

The Border Collie is a medium-sized dog, with sufficient substance for endurance. Well balanced, athletic and graceful. Courseness or weediness is undesirable. The eyes are oval and brown, although where the coat colour is merle one or both or even just part of the eye may be blue. There are two varieties of coat, moderately long and smooth. Both require a dense topcoat with an undercoat that is soft and dense in order to be weather resistant. A variety of colours are found, but white should never predominate. An abundant coat that forms a mane, breeching and brush is required for the longer coated.


The character of a Border Collie is very much tied in with its temperament, and the BC should be neither nervous nor aggressive. It is a highly intelligent dog who, if left untrained, risks becoming an unruly hooligan and a liability to all concerned. However, a well-bred dog from a good source will, with the correct training, reward you be becoming an adoring keen to please, intelligent companion for life. Children and dogs can form a really fruitful relationship provided that the children understand that the dog is a living animal and not a toy to be played with at will.

Breed Health

The Border Collie is generally a health and long-lived animal. 12 to 15 years is an average life expectancy.

When purchasing a puppy the questions to ask are: (1) has the puppy been eye-tested for CEA by the time it has reached 8 weeks old? (2) has it also been BAER hearing tested? (3) have the parents been eye-tested, hip scored and preferably hearing tested? Puppies eye-tested after the age of 8 weeks may be affected by CEA, but it might no longer be visible. We call these "go-normals". These animals may show no evidence of CEA, but could well produce off-spring who are seriously affected.

Breed Care

A short daily brush is sufficient, taking care to check ears, eyes, etc. for any problems. Use a good quality bristle brush, or a metal "slicker" or "carding" brush. Dogs tend to moult annually, bitches after each season.


An adult Border Collie will need two good walks daily and will enjoy some off-lead exercise as well. However, it must be noted that mental stimulation is EQUALLY important for a Border Collie. It is not advised that a Border Collie be left to its own devices for hours on end - its intelligence will surely mean that it will find something to occupy itself - usually to the dismay of the owners! It will be happy watching you make the beds or washing up, and if you can take a few minutes now and then to play, it will be in doggy heaven.


A must for any first-time Border Collie owners is a good pet-training club. ALL Border Collies must receive training, as mentioned before, if they are to remain a credit both to their breeders and their owners. As with any intelligent animal, you will get back as much as you are prepared to put in! Hard working, keen, alert and responsive the Border Collie tends to be willing to please. See our books on training

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Last link added: 29 Apr, 2008