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Breed Profile: Border Collie

It's the breed that regularly tops the list of most intelligent dog breeds: the Border Collie. But it's so much more than a super smart dog. The Border Collie is friendly, energetic, a great family pet and an amazing companion dog. Border Collies may be smart, but they also offer the whole package, which makes them an amazing choice for anyone looking for a larger breed of dog.

History of the Border Collie

The Border Collie is a popular breed around the world these days, and is a part of many families on every continent. But they started out as a working dog, and are still one of the best sheep herding breeds in the world. In fact, fans of the breed actually fought it's inclusion in breed organizations, which meant that the Border Collie was only officially recognized by the AKC in 1995!

Border Collies have been dominating sheep dog trials in the United Kingdom since the late 1800s, and they still top the field in trials around the world. But they weren't always known as border collies. In fact, they were only officially named as such in 1915.

The breed was named for it's geographic origins - near and around the northern border of England with Scotland.

General Physical Characteristics of Border Collies

Border Collies are medium sized dogs that are athletic, agile and graceful. They usually weigh in at about 30 to 45 lbs, with females on the smaller side of the scale, and at about 18 to 23" tall, again, with females usually smaller than males.

They're known for their long, silky hair that does require daily grooming to keep in perfect condition, and for the famous black and white colouring. But Border Collies also come in chocolate or liver and white, as well as tricolour and solid colour versions. The only colour that is definitely not allowed according to the breed standard is solid white.

Merle border collies sometimes have blue eyes, but all other colours usually have eyes ranging from amber to dark brown, and oval in shape. Ears are smaller and neat, and can be either semi or fully erect.

They have a fairly straight top line and a long, feathered tail that is carried low, and the whole dog is usually slightly longer than they are tall.

Temperament and Character of the Border Collie

Some of the very intelligent dog breeds can be stubborn and sometimes difficult, but not the Border Collie.

They may be the genuises of the dog world, but they haven't let it go to their heads! They're easy going and friendly, Tend to do well with children and other pets, and make great family dogs. They can be reserved with strangers, but if well socialized, should adapt well to most situations.

Border Collies need a lot of exercise. In fact, if they don't get regular, rigorous exercise, they can become bored and destructive, and they will benefit immensely from formal training or participation in sports like dog jumping.

Lifespan of the Border Collie

Border Collies typically live between 10 and 14 years.

Common Health and Personality Issues in Border Collies

Border Collies tend to be fairly healthy, and, provided they get enough exercise and stimulation, should be well adjusted and easy to live with. Like most dog breeds though, they are prone to a few conditions. These include:

  1. Like many medium and large dog breeds, they can develop hip dysplasia, so be on the lookout for limping and other signs of hip trouble.
  2. The breed can experience eye trouble, including PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) and lens luxation.
  3. They are also known for CEA or Collie Eye Anomaly.
  4. Collies are more likely to be diagnosed with deafness.
  5. They may also be more likely than other breeds to suffer seizures.
  6. Some Border Collies may develop hyphothyroidism.
  7. There are certain neurological conditions like Cerebellar Abiotrophy.
  8. When not given enough stimulation, some Border Collies may develop compulsive behaviours.

As with any breed, it's always advisable, if you want to make a Border Collie part of your life, to choose a reputable breeder, ensure that your dog's bloodline does not include any serious hereditary conditions, and to have your dog tested for common diseases and disorders. In most cases, early identification and treatment of any conditions can have a dramatic impact on your dog's health and quality of life.

Border Collies truly are remarkable dogs, and if you don't mind doing a lot of running and a fair amount of grooming, and you understand that you and your family may be herded from time to time, they are a great choice!

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