The Border Collie

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Of all the dog breeds the border collie must be the one most closely associated with agility.  They are of course ideally suited to the sport as they are exactly the right shape and they're very trainable.  They're also very fast and make excellent jumpers.  (Someone, somewhere is now looking at their border collie and thinking hmmm...this isn't the dog I know and love.)  However, I'm talking very generally as  there are always exceptions. 

The border collie's ideal height is around 21ins (53cm).  Some may be quite a bit smaller and some are larger, but mostly they compete in the large classes.  The weight is between 30lb and 49lb (14-22kg) for show dogs.  Agility dogs tend to weigh less.   If your border collie is not a registered pedigree then the Kennel will describe the dog as a Working Sheepdog or WSD. 

Their coats do need regular brushing, especially round the tail and the trousers.  Border collies also need plenty of exercise and their energy needs to be channelled into something useful. They are dogs of great stamina and intelligence and they will get bored without anything to do.  Most people say that they are no good as pets as they need to work, but occasionally you may find a lazy border collie that wants nothing more than to be a pet.  If you are thinking of getting a border collie for the first time please make sure that you understand the breed's requirements.  They are very exceptional dogs and taking on a dog of this breed needs careful thought.
 

Border collies are excellent at agility... and obedience.....
and being too adorable to resist.  

.......and of course we couldn't resist.

(Thanks to Dawn Turner for the obedience photo and for the gorgeous 11 week old puppy above.) The other photos are of Sasha.

 

There are some great border collie products on the market.  I love them and I've included some of them on this page.  We also have a lot of comments from Border Collie people and I'll be adding to these from time to time.  At the bottom of the page you'll find a couple of links to border collie websites and some video clips including one of me and Sasha having a go at a silent handler jumping class . More dog products can be found in the Agility Bits Doggie Shop
 


Comments on the border collie

Pat Comments: One thing I feel I must add in the comments section, and I don't know if other people have found this.  The border collie seems to use facial expressions more than other breed of dog.  I know of at least one dog that ended up in border collie rescue because it "grinned" every time the family arrived home.  No-one could convince the family that the dog was simply greeting them.   
Most people said their border collies were easy or fairly easy to train and would recommend them for agility.  Everyone so far has said that they would choose this type of dog again.
Other comments are given below. 
 

Sammi Kirkby 13 years old
The border collie is probably the elite breed for agility. Their intelligence, speed, stamina, crazy jumping ability, and their 'never say die' approach to life makes them exceptional dogs. HOWEVER they need a lot of exercise and stimulation, otherwise they will go a bit loopy. My boy Storm told me why they are not for the novice owner. They take a lot of time and dedication, and are very time consuming, but they are an incredible dog to have at your side. To help keep my collie stay happy, we compete in CaniX, agility, jumping, flyball, breed stake showing, and obedience. My dog is the best thing that ever happened to me. I cannot thank him enough. xxx

Tracy:
My dog Nel is 20 months, we got her at 13 months. She loves to try different things, and loves to please, she is so good. she is my shadow, love her to bits

Chrissie:
I have 2 dogs - both have their own traits - one being nervous of agility equipment and the other being too bold - but we all have such fun doing agility and obedience.

Chris:
As others have already said, I would only recommend a Border Collie to someone who is prepared to live with the breed 24/7, not just on the agility circuit, as they are not an 'easy' dog for everyone to live with (depending on owner expectations of course). I have grown up with and always owned Border Collies, and I think they are the best dogs in the world, but they do need the 'right' type of home to thrive in, and dedicated owners. Far too many Border Collies end up in Rescue simply because their owners couldn't match their level of intelligence when choosing a breed, or living with that choice afterwards.

Pat:
Now that I've been training Sasha for agility for a while I feel more qualified to comment on this type of collie as an agility dog.  I would say that if you're looking for a first agility dog then a very lively, hyperactive working sheepdog/border collie of this type may not be suitable.  If you haven't done any agility before you will be on a steep learning curve. You could be put off if your dog is so hyperactive that you feel you're not making progress.  If you already have this sort of dog then go for agility by all means but try and find a good trainer and also somewhere where you can train without the excitement of the agility class.

Leann:
I have a border collie and I think border collies are amazing!!!!!!!

Jane:
I have a 9 month old border collie and he is the biggest couch potato ever, but is also so much fun out on his walks which he has 2 good ones a day. Our other BC was 16 years old when he passed away last year and he was just the same, a pleasure to have and soooo much part of the family. I am looking forward to starting agility with my little un (that's if he can be bothered!!!!)

Lisa:
Me and my fiance have a nine month old border collie, he is a pain sometimes but only when he is bored. He loves all people, children and other dogs, he is so loving and does loads of tricks including balancing his treats on his head before eating them, we love this breed of dog so much that tonight we are getting a 4 year old border collie from a couple who don't have as much time for him any more. They are lovely if the right owner has them.

Jane:
Training children, adults or animals consistency and praise works more often than not.

Heather:
I adopted a 5 year old retired herding dog about three years ago... and was terrified to pick her up because I only heard "They are so much work... needy... bark... bite... too high energy... bad with kids..." I have never experienced any of these things except an excited bark once a day and needy (will nudge till you tell to go)... She wants to be in my lap or in the same room constantly and loves my eight month old. She has never nipped or made a noise while he sits and pulls her hair... she just sits til she gets tired of it and walks away. She is extremely intelligent and the best dog I could have asked for!!! Maybe she was just a fluke in the mix!?
Pat comments:  She's not a fluke.  Sasha loves to be with us and although she's only two she will settle down.  She likes to sit on our laps and snuggle up to us.  Jamie isn't really a lap dog.  He's got such a thick coat that he gets too warm so he likes to find himself a cooler spot. I wonder if your collie would like to take up obedience or agility.  They do enjoy these activities and it gives them an outlet for their energy and intelligence.

Fly:
Constant barking and nipping at other dogs when the other dogs are moving around the course.

Sarah:
May be easy to train but they learn bad habits even quicker and can be hard to contain their excitement. Wouldn't recommend as a first time dog owner.

Jenn:
I have found that they are a well behaved breed and the most intelligent. A bit sulky and pouty at times and great at the pity me eyes. I married a man who had a 5 year old Border Collie already and she has taken to me right off. We just recently added a 6 week old to our family and I really look forward to teaching her all the things I missed with our older girl. My husband has taken this Rottie lover and moved her into Border Collie Heaven!

Viv:
Best dogs in the world - I've had several over the years, currently Mad Molly who runs rings round me in the agility ring. We also have 9 month old Blue who is deaf - quite a challenge to train but what a fantastic dog he is. The first time he went to obedience class he was so good the trainer didn't notice he was deaf!

Deb and David:
Really good fun for both Charlie (dog) and us

Border Collie handler:
She's great at agility and loves it, my main problem is keeping up with her and keeping her under control - given a chance she's off round the ring jumping over everything in sight!

Uzi:
 I have two border collies. A male and a female. Our male is large and our female is your ideal border collie, 21ins. They are very smart and HIGH energy!

Ceri:
 I have just got a Border Collie and he is great he is 15 weeks old, house trained virtually from day 1 (he had one accident !) very intelligent and great company.  I grew up with a Border Collie and my parents have a three year old now and I would never have any other breed.  That said they are hard work and do need constant stimulation but it is well worth it and very rewarding.

Sophie (Welsh border collie)
Although Fly my Border Collie is very intelligent and picks new things up quickly he is still quite difficult to train for the inexperienced handler as he is full of energy and it takes a firm controlled calm handler to rein him in. Although he is a star at agility Flyball and heelwork to music and has picked up all new sports quickly.

Debbie:
Border collie very intelligent but hard work.  Learn bad habits as quick as good ones.  Can be nervous.

Border Collie handler:
My dog only needs telling once, after that he will learn very quickly. a very good dog.

Holly (Border collie puppy): 
 My border collie Mac is so easy to train although he can get excited, not uncontrollably though, this is probably because he's a puppy. Border collies are obviously very intelligent so he picks things up quickly. I think every dog can do agility, although border collies are the obvious and first choice. 

S.Burroughs:
A border collie makes an excellent pet but bundles of energy that needs an outlet and their mind needs just as much stimulation.

Deanne:
Agility is sooo good,  I love it and the dogs.  I work for other people who do too.

Colin:
Very loyal and affectionate pet.  Ideal pet if you're active. First Dog I've had and I'm 46. He's been a new lease of life for me and wife. Love taking him walking on beach and over hills. However would be unfair on dog if owner not prepared to give him 1 good run per day. He's certainly improved our fitness levels.

Hayley:
I
think Border Collies are the best dogs in the world.  I have two of them, one is a puppy and one is 2, and they are the best breed ever.

Ricksy:
Once you've had a Border collie, there aint no goin' back. We've got Two, we've had four altogether, and although they do need constant attention, it's well worth it, and it keeps us fit as well. Love 'em.
Troy and Holly, Our Border Collies.

Debbie Walker
T
he dog is very easy to train, it's the handler who is the problem!

Helen:
 I read about the collie 'grinning' and mine does exactly the same! To an unknowing person it can look as through he is about to bite, bless him. I wouldn't have this breed unless I was totally dedicated to the time they need for work stimulation. He is allowed  to use his brain and energy at everything we do. I am going to construct my own agility jumps to keep him happy (and me!) I shudder when I see the breed taken in as a pet, and left for hours at home, alone, to go literally mad from boredom. Kids wouldn't be expected to go through what the poor dogs have to...isolated and stifled. It's so exhilarating to see the breed doing what they do best.....work and play hard. Don't they smile when they are happy :)

Tracy:
Intense, ball obsessed, intelligent and fast! Loves to work and needs constant stimulation, physical and mental. But that beautiful intelligent face, and eyes will make you melt.

Survey respondent:
Would only recommend Border Collies to people who like the breed for themselves, not because they do well at agility.

Holly says:
Most people think border collies are the most obvious choice for competing at agility as they are intelligent and fast but I also have another dog, Phoebe, who is a crossbreed of a yorkshire terrier and an airdale terrier. She is brilliant at agility, I'd say she is as good as Mac, my border collie so it really doesn't matter what kind of dog you have as long as its big enough and is suitable. After all, all size of dog can compete so just go out there and enjoy it!

Steph (border collie/blue merle)
She is a bit lazy.

Websites

Border Collies Needing Homes - I dare you to look at this site!

Border Collie Club of Great Britain - The aim of the club is to promote and encourage the responsible breeding, working and showing of Border Collies.

Collie Corner - This website is a celebration of Border Collies & Working Sheepdogs.


Video Clips

How to keep a border collie entertained
Border collie watching cat videos on You Tube

Here's Sasha having a go at a "silent handler" jumping class.  She's used to Mum being very vocal and was a bit puzzled but she coped well.

Border collies on Youtube
The link above will take you to a selection of clips all about border collies and their activities. 

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