Border Collies are one of a kind canine breed. They are smart, loving, loyal, and highly energetic creatures. Also, they are one of the popular dog breeds when it comes to athleticism. Border Collies are a champion in canine agility competitions. But, have you ever thought about what makes them, being them? What were Border Collies Bred for? Why they act, think, and move that’s different from the others?
This article will examine and hopefully, will try to be as in-depth as possible. Whether if you own a Collie and curious about it, or you are about to consider buying one, you have come to the right place and hopefully, you will gain some new insight.
A brief history of Border Collies
Many researchers, scholars, historians, and dog enthusiasts do not have any consensus as to where exactly the Border Collies derived. Although, in modern times, we all know that it came from the United Kingdom specifically, between the border of England and Scotland, hence the first name “border”. Back then, this canine is used for tending the flock of sheep called “cooly” which eventually became Border Collie. But the latter name, “Collie”, its etymology is still uncertain. Some say it came from the Gaelic word which means “useful”, which is closely associated with the German word, “kuli”.
The Border Collies what we know today is completely different from yesterday. It is to be believed that these collies are brought by ancient Roman soldiers over two millennia ago descended from guard dogs. Experts even suggested that it was the Vikings who brought it to the United Kingdom 1200 years ago.
What made the collies become popular, according to the rumors, is when Queen Victoria glanced upon the collie in the Highlands of Scotland at Balmoral Castle and instantly took a liking at them. This quickly gained well-received views and acquired a royal status. It didn’t take too long that Border Collies become one of the versatile canine breeds as they become involved in sports, working dogs, and as a perfect pet.
Border Collies from the 1800s until today remain unchanged and they are known for uncanny intelligence, highly trainable, and considered as a premier sheep herding canine.
Now you know what Border Collies are Bred for. Let’s see their traits and grooming needs.
The temperament of Border Collies
These dogs are astoundingly hard workers in the fields. They have the primary instinct of commanding a flock of sheep through their distinctive deadly stare. That’s why farm owners loved them very much. Due to their alertness, attention, endless endurance, and full obedience. Although these traits make them exhibit A, those qualities can make them unsuitable pets especially if the owner is lazy. Collies don’t want to be couch potatoes as they may build that as a vice in the long run.
Without the minimum requirement of mental and physical stimulation, the Border Collies can become destructive and bored. If not properly trained, they can attack moving objects such as weed-whackers, vacuum cleaners, and lawnmowers. Brooms, rakes, and shovels are stimulating to them. Especially if the movement is too erratic, they will mercilessly attack the object especially if it is a remote control toy, tennis balls, and others.
When they are bored, they have so many things to say which makes them bark so much. They will bark if they feel stressed, excited, lonely, playful, and curious. They can be persistent whenever they want too much attention. But with proper training, it can be curbed.
Although they are intelligent creatures, this trait also makes them develop complex behaviors such as compulsive behaviors. They may go berserk when little things bug them such as mosquito rings and the sight of a fly. What makes them unique is these features that is what border collies are bred for.
Collies can become shy or fearful if it isn’t properly socialized as early as their puppy stage. As a sheep herder, the Border Collies will probably chase anyone such as cats, pets, and children in the absence of sheep.
Border Collie grooming needs
What about the grooming needs of Border Collies? are they expensive to maintain or fairly low to groom? Fortunately, it is the latter one. They fall into the category of low maintenance grooming but this doesn’t mean it does not need any maintenance. Collies needed to be well-groomed, that is, if you want them to look good and keep them with TLC (tender, loving, care).
Border Collie level of shedding
This lovingly canine breed has two coats which are long, rough-haired on the outer coat and short, feathered hair on the undercoat. Their level of shedding is moderate. The short coat doesn’t fall easily and you will need a dog brush to remove the excess hairs. In a rough coat, if not brushed regularly, mats and tangles will likely develop. So, brushing for at least two to three times a week would be enough to control the shed and to remove the dead hears. Also, Border Collies are bred with this kind of coat which is helpful for certain conditions.
The seasons of spring and fall are the peak where they shed a lot this is due to preparation for the next season. Be prepared for these periods and you will need to brush your pooch on a daily basis.
Moreover, you need to invest in a dog brush or even a pin brush is fine. Most dog brushes are dual-sided, one is the artificial bristles for smoothing the coat and the other side has metal pins for detangling. These will come in handy when there’s already mat and tangles. But if the situation is beyond control, you will need to cut it with scissors or better let the pet grooming shop takes care of it.
Bath time for Border Collies
There’s a question looming around, why do dogs love water but hates to take a bath? Generally, it is because of their sensory experience. Bathing is unsettling to them because of the slippery surface of the tub, the feeling of the shower, and most of all because they are stationary and wanting to move around. All dogs are affected by this even the Border Collies. What they need is the proper introduction to bath and make them feel comfortable first before pouring water over them.
It’s also a good activity if you are going to have them play near the lake or anything that has water in order for them to get used to taking baths. Also, their number one weakness is the use of dog treats, any canine breeds relate the dog treats as their kryptonite. They can be stubborn at first but over time, they will love the water more than ever and that’s the joy of it.
Few tips to keep when bathing your Border Collie:
Brush their coat first. Because they shed moderately to a high level, they needed to brush first to remove the excess hairs. Do this if you don’t want your bathtub to get clogged. Or it will accumulate an amount of water and it will be harder for you to bathe them.
Use lukewarm to warm water. No dogs like cold water even if it’s clean. That said, you will need lukewarm or warm water depending on the season. This specific water temperature can calm them and be in a stationary position. Too much warmth will cause their skin to become irritated and itching which you don’t want to happen.
Use products specifically for dogs. There’s a reason why dog products are designed solely for dogs. Don’t use human shampoo on your dogs. It has a different Ph. Using it will distort the acid mantle which leaves your collie vulnerable to bacteria, parasites, and even dry skin.
Protect their eyes. If it is irritating to humans, it is also irritating to dogs. Dogs can’t speak and their eyes will get irritated. Always ensure to protect the dog’s eye whenever they are taking a nice bath.
Let them shake off first. Once the dogs are finished bathing, allow them to shake off a little in order to release the water, and then you can towel dry them.
Additional grooming tips for Border Collies
Trim their nails
At first, it can be scary to trim their nails as they might eventually bite or run away. Be sure to train them as early as possible. That said, with the semi-regular bathing and bi-weekly brushing, you should also be also keen to watch out for their growing nails. It can cause serious discomfort especially when they are scratching as it can damage their skin.
You must at least trim their nails once a month. When trimming them, give them at least a treat or two just to complement their uneasiness. It is much better to take them to the pet groomers if you don’t know how to do it.
Brush their teeth
First, it doesn’t need to look pearly white and good breath just like ours. Second, they needed their teeth to be brushed. Moreover, they still needed an adequate brushing of their teeth, specifically the old collies. If their teeth didn’t brush, tartar would likely buildup over time as well as periodontal disease, among others.
But make sure before brushing your dog’s teeth, you know how to do it. If you don’t, practice pulling the collie’s gum and touch their teeth lightly. If they don’t react, it’s a good sign, but if it growls, consider giving him a treat. In the worse cases, you can just let your vet do extra service. Although it is much preferred to know how to brush the teeth of your dog because it is actually part of your responsibility as an owner to take care of your dog.
Clean their ears
Another essential grooming needs that need attention is the dog’s ears. It’s not that difficult. In fact, it is relatively easy to clean their ears. All you need is to buy an ear cleaner for dogs. Apply the solution on the cotton balls or tissue (never use a q-tip) and then gently massage it near the ear canal and at the base of the ear (inside and out). By doing this, it will prevent any wax build or any residual like the “coffee grind” which is usually caused by ear mites.
Health condition and issue
Border Collies are healthy canine breeds, but this does not mean they are exempted from any health conditions. Although, not all of them will suffer from these kinds of conditions.
Epilepsy – This health condition is normally inherited. And these dog breeds are afflicted. If the collie has acquired an epilepsy condition, they will experience seizures. This symptom begins as early as six months to three years. If your pooch is experiencing this, prevent him from getting injured from himself and take a note of the length. If it becomes abnormal, kindly rush him to your vet.
Cancer – Cancer is commonly attributed to dogs who are old age. By the time your collie reaches past his golden years, it’s likely that cancer cells will buildup. Luckily, cancer in dogs is curable nowadays by undergoing treatment such as surgical removal or chemotherapy. It’s best to keep your dog on scheduled check-ups especially when they hit their older life stage. Remember, early detection is very crucial.
Hip Dysplasia – Another inherited disease that causes their hip joints to dislocate and eventually lead to arthritis. The possible early signs of detection are when you notice your dog’s lameness in the hind legs or they are having a hard time lying down or get up. If this is the case, you may want to take him an X-ray to detect the root cause and possibly to prevent it from getting worse.
Should you own a Border Collie?
A resounding yes! If you are highly active, have a large yard, and having regularly exercised, why not consider having a Border Collie. With this level of energy, you can pace up with the Border Collies. They are very active, outgoing, loves mental and physical stimulation to release their herding instinct. Their lifespan ranges from 12-15 years. They are generally healthy than the average dog breeds. They are very playful and loyal to their master. After all, the Border Collies are bred for greatness.
Border Collies are one-of-a-kind dog breeds. They needed special care and attention the fact that they came from a working dog class primarily a sheepherder. They will need a lot of strenuous activities and they are game for any kind of outdoor activities because of their instinctive build. After all, that’s what were Border Collies bred for. Give them your best especially when taking care of them and invest in their dog needs just to make them healthy and complete the experience of a master and humbled servant relationship.
Now that you know what were border collies bred for, you may also wonder about how much exercise they need.