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Guide to Owning Border Collies

History

The history of Border Collies includes their use as farm, work, and herding dogs. In fact they originally were used as farm dogs for herding in the border region between England and Scotland, which is where the name Border Collies came from. All Border Collies are said to descend from a dog named Old Hemp who lived around the end of the 19th century, with another named Winston Cap who is estimated to be the ancestor of every Border Collie in the UK today.

Appearance

They are medium sized compared to most other breeds—males average 19 to 12 inches in height and 35 to 45 pounds in weight, and females averaging 18 to 21 inches in height and 30 to 40 pounds in weight. Their average lifespan is around 10 to 14 years old. Black and white mix are their most common coloring but you can occasionally see red or solid coloring as well. They have a double fur coat, which means they shed quite a lot. They usually have brown eyes but can also have blue or dichromatic (different color) eyes.

Behaviour

Because of their history as work dogs, they are very high energy and intelligent and can be difficult for inexperienced dog owners. They need a lot of exercise—multiple walks and play time every day. If they're left alone for too long they get bored from lack of stimulation and tend to chew on your furniture, dig holes in your lawn, and other destructive behaviours. They also have a herding instinct, so noisy children can trigger their herding instinct causing them to nip and bark. For this reason it is not a recommended breed for families with small children or other smaller pets. They can be very sensitive dogs who can become shy or fearful if not raised properly as a puppy, but if properly trained they can be very friendly and affectionate.

Ownership

For owners who don't have small children and who are very active, Border Collies can be excellent and loyal pets. They are good to take for long walks, hikes or runs. Because they are so intelligent and good work dogs, they are commonly used as rescue, therapy, or medical alert dogs. They also excel at dog sports such as herding sheep or agility courses, if properly trained. Their double coat means they need to be brushed regularly in order to keep it shiny and free of tangles, especially when undercoat starts shedding. Be prepared to do a lot of vacuuming. They can be escape artists if they get bored, so having a securely enclosed and large back yard or property are good for them.

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