Border Collies are medium-sized dogs with a moderate amount of coat, which is often thick and can shed. Their double coats vary from smooth to rough, (and occasionally curled). Whilst black and white is most commonly seen colour pattern of the Border Collie, the breed appears in just about any colour and pattern known to occur in dogs. Some of these include black tricolour (black/tan/white), liver and white, and red tricolour (red/tan/white) have also been seen regularly, with other colours such as blue, lilac, red merle, blue merle, brindle, and Australian red (also known as ee red, blonde, recessive red, or gold) which is seen less frequently.
Eye colour varies from brown to blue, and occasionally eyes of differing colour occur; this is usually seen with merles.
The ears of the Border Collie are also variable — some have fully erect ears, some fully dropped ears, and others semi- erect ears. Although working Border Collie handlers sometimes have superstitions about the appearance of their dogs (handlers may avoid mostly white dogs due to the 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.
Dogs bred for showing 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. Kennel clubs specify, for example, that the Border Collie must have a "keen and intelligent" expression, and that the preferred eye colour 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.
[see below for the KUSA breed standard]
Border Collies require considerable daily physical exercise and mental stimulation. The Border Collie is the
most intelligent dog breed. Although the primary role of the Border Collie is being a livestock herding dog, this type of breed is becoming increasingly popular as a pet and performance dog.
Due to their working heritage, Border Collies are very demanding, playful, and energetic. They are better off in
households that can provide them with plenty of play and exercise, either with humans or other dogs. Due to their
demanding personalities and need for mental stimulation and exercise, many Border Collies develop neurotic behaviours in households that are not able to provide for their needs. They are infamous for chewing holes in walls, destructive biting and chewing on furniture such as chairs and table legs, and digging holes out of boredom. One of the prime reasons for getting rid of a Border Collie is their unsuitability for families with small children, cats, and other dogs, due to their strong desire to herd. This was bred into them for hundreds of years and still one of their chief uses outside the household. However, it is still possible for them to live happily with other pets.
Though they are a common choice for household pets, Border Collies have attributes that make them less suited for those who cannot give them the exercise they need. As with many working breeds, Border Collies can be motion-sensitive and they may chase moving vehicles, children and animals.
The natural life span of the Border Collie is between 10 and 17 years, with an average lifespan of 12 years.
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. Radiographs are taken and sent to specialists to determine a dog's hip and elbow quality.
Two types of hearing loss occur in the breed. The first type is pigment associated and is found in Border Collie puppies, although the puppies can have congenital sensorineural deafness from birth as well. The second type is known as adult onset hearing loss. These dogs have a normal auditory brainstem response test as pups but gradually lose their hearing some time between one and eight years of age. A study is currently underway at The Translational Genomics Research Institute to identify the genetic cause of adult onset hearing loss in the breed.
Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome (TNS) is a hereditary disease in which the bone marrow produces neutrophils (white cells) but is unable to effectively release them into the bloodstream. Affected puppies have an impaired immune system and will eventually die from infections they cannot fight. There is no cure, but a DNA test is now available to detect carriers as well as affected dogs.
Other diseases found less commonly include glaucoma, juvenile cataracts, osteochondritis, hypothyroidism and diabetes mellitus. A syndrome of exercise induced collapse similar to that seen in Labrador Retrievers (otherwise termed Border Collie Collapse), and triggered by episodes of collapse associated with periods of intense exercise has been described in Border Collies as well, and is currently the subject of further investigation.
Elbow dysplasia may also occur in the breed. Dogs homozygous for the merle gene, sometimes referred to as "double merles", are likely to have ocular and/ or auditory defects.
The Border Collie is descended from landrace collies, a type found widely in the British Isles. The name for the breed
came from its probable place of origin along the Anglo-Scottish border Mention of the "Collie" or "Colley" type first
appeared toward the end of the 19th century, although the word "collie" is older than this and has its origin in the Scots language. It is also thought that the word 'collie' comes from the old Celtic word for useful. Many of the best Border Collies today can be traced back to a dog known as Old Hemp.
In 1915, James Reid, Secretary of the International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) in the United Kingdom first used the term "Border Collie" to distinguish those dogs registered by the ISDS from the Kennel Club's Collie (or Scotch Collie,
including the Rough Collie and Smooth Collie) which originally came from the same working stock but had developed a different, standardised appearance following introduction to the show ring in 1860 and mixture with different types breeds.
Old Hemp, a tricolor dog, was born in Northumberland in September 1893 and died in May 1901. He was bred by Adam Telfer from Roy, a black and tan dog, and Meg, a black-coated, strong-eyed dog. Hemp was a quiet, powerful dog to which sheep responded easily. Many shepherds used him for stud and Hemp's working style became the Border Collie style. All pure Border Collies alive today can trace an ancestral line back to Old Hemp.
Wiston Cap (b. 28 Sep. 1963) is the dog that the International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) badge portrays in the
characteristic Border Collie herding pose. He was a popular stud dog in the history of the breed, and his bloodline can be seen in most bloodlines of the modern day Collie. Bred by W. S. Hetherington and trained and handled by John Richardson, Cap was a biddable and good-natured dog. His bloodlines all trace back to the early registered dogs of the stud book, and to J. M. Wilson's Cap, whose name occurs sixteen times within seven generations in his pedigree. Wiston Cap sired three Supreme Champions and is grand-sire of three others, one of whom was E. W. Edwards' Bill, who won the championship twice.
Collies were listed as imports to New Zealand as early as 1858, but the type was not specified. In the late 1890s James Lilico (1861–1945) of Christchurch, New Zealand, imported a number of working dogs from the United Kingdom. These included Hindhope Jed, a black, tan and white born in Hindhope, Scotland in 1895, as well as Maudie, Moss of Ancrum, Ness and Old Bob. It is unclear whether Hindhope Jed was a descendant of Old Hemp. Born two years after him, she is mentioned in a British Hunts and Huntsmen article concerning a Mr John Elliot of Jedburgh. Mr Elliot himself is well known for his breed of Collies. His father supplied Noble to the late Queen Victoria and it was from our subject that the McLeod got Hindhope Jed, now the champion of New Zealand and Australia.
At the time of her departure to New Zealand, Hindhope Jed was already in pup to Captain, another of the then new "Border" strain. Hindhope Jed had won three trials in her native Scotland, and was considered to be the "best to cross the equator".
In 1901 the King and Mcleod stud, created by Charles Beechworth King (b. 1855, Murrumbidgee, NSW), his brother and Alec McLeod at Canonbar, near Nyngan (north-west of Sydney), brought Hindhope Jed to Australia, where she enjoyed considerable success at sheep dog trials.
Work & Dog Sports
In nearly every region of the world, the Border Collie is a breed which is shown in Conformation rings. For the people who participate in these events, the Border Collie is defined by the breed standard, which is a description of how the dog should look. In New Zealand and Australia, where the breed has been shown throughout most of the twentieth century, the Border Collie standards have produced a dog with the longer double coat (smooth coats are allowed), a soft dark eye, a body slightly longer than tall, a well-defined stop, as well as a gentle and friendly temperament. This style of Border Collie has become popular in winning show kennels around the world, as well as among prestigious judges.
It's breed standards state that in a show its tail must be slightly curved and must stop at the hock. The fur must be
lush. It should show good expression in its eyes, and must be intelligent. It is energetic with most commonly a black and white coat. It should have a very strong herding instinct.
Other enthusiasts oppose the use of Border Collies as show dogs, for fear that breeding for appearance will lead to a decline in the breed's working dog traits. Few handlers of working Border Collies participate in conformation shows, as working dogs are bred to a performance standard rather than appearance standard. Likewise, conformation-bred dogs are seldom seen on the sheepdog trial field. Dogs registered with either working or conformation based registries are seen in other performance events such as Agility, Obedience, Tracking or Flyball; however, these dogs do not necessarily conform to the breed standard of appearance as closely as the dogs shown in the breed rings as this is not a requirement in performance events, nor do they necessarily participate in herding activities.
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.
Sheep working Border Collies can take direction by voice and by 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 for many farmers. In a typical pasture environment each trained sheepdog will do the work of three humans. In vast arid areas like the 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.
Well proportioned, smooth outline showing quality, gracefulness and perfect balance, combined with sufficient substance to give impression of endurance. Any tendency to coarseness or weediness undesirable.
Tenacious, hardworking sheepdog, of great tractability.
Keen, alert, responsive and intelligent. Neither nervous nor aggressive.
HEAD & SKULL
Skull fairly broad, occiput not pronounced. Cheeks not full or rounded. Muzzle, tapering to nose, moderately short and strong. Skull and foreface approximately equal in length. Stop very distinct. Nose black, except in brown or chocolate colour when it may be brown. In blues nose should be slate colour. Nostrils well developed.
Set well apart, oval shaped, of moderate size, brown in colour except in merles where one or both, or part of one or both, may be blue. Expression mild, keen, alert and intelligent.
Medium size and texture, set well apart. Carried erect or semi erect and sensitive in use.
Teeth and jaws strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.
Of good length, strong and muscular, slightly arched and broadening to shoulders.
Front legs parallel when viewed from front, pasterns slightly sloping when viewed from the side. Bone strong but not heavy. Shoulders well laid back, elbows close to body.
Athletic in appearance, ribs well sprung, chest deep and rather broad, loins deep and muscular, but not tucked up. Body slightly longer than height at shoulder.
Broad, muscular, in profile sloping gracefully to set on of tail. Thighs long, deep and muscular with well turned stifles and strong well let down hocks. From hock to ground, hindlegs well boned and parallel when viewed from rear.
Oval, pads deep, strong and sound, toes arched and close together. Nails short and strong.
Moderately long, the bone reaching at least to hock, set low, well furnished and with an upward swirl towards the end, completing graceful contour and balance of dog. Tail may be raised in excitement, never carried over back.
GAIT / MOVEMENT
Free, smooth and tireless, with minimum lift of feet, conveying impression of ability to move with great stealth and speed.
1. Moderately long.
In both, topcoat dense and medium textured, undercoat soft and dense giving good weather resistance. In moderately long coated variety, abundant coat forms mane, breeching and brush. On face, ears, forelegs (except for feather), hindlegs from hock to ground, hair should be short and smooth.
Variety of colours permissible. White should never predominate.
Ideal height: Dogs: 53 cm (21 in)
Bitches: slightly less
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect on health & welfare of the dog
Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles full descended into the scrotum.