Origins of the Border Collie

The Border Collie originated in the border country between Scotland and England as a sheep herding breed. They were set apart by their ability to use 'eye' to control stock and work stock in many different settings. Some dogs were used to find and herd individual or very small groups of sheep on the moutain side - calling for extremely intelligent dogs who were able to work independently at great distances from their handlers. Some dogs were used to move flocks from the mountains to the market towns for sale, calling for dogs who were confident and sure on stock under pressure and in different environments. Still others specialised in working closely on stock in yards and this required a stronger, more forceful type of dog. These dogs came to Australia in the late 1800's and became immensley popular as working dogs. They have gradually diversified with the breed being recongnised as a 'show type' as early as 1907. Since this time the Border Collie has made its mark on every aspect of a dog's life in Australia, these dogs are well known still as working dogs, but also excel in dogs sports like Agility, Flyball and Obedience and are very popular as family pets.

Border Collie health

When you are looking at adopting a Border Collie (and many other dogs) two health issues are frequently discussed, the genetic health of the dog and hip & elbow scoring.

Hip & Elbow scoring

The hips and elbows of any dog can often be impacted by injury, disease or deterioration. This impacts the dog's quality of life and often, the whole family.

When adopting a pup you can enquire about the parents' hip and elbow scores which can give you some guidance as to the soundness of the pup.

Hip and elbow scoring involves xrays being taken of an adult (more than one year old) dog's hips and elbows and a specialist then examines the xrays and gives each joint a score. The score can be expressed as the number for each joint: 1:1 or as a total combined score: 2. 

The highest possible score for hips is 53:53 or total 106, and the border collie average is 6.3 total. When looking at these scores, the lower the number and the more even the number the better. For example, 4:4 is better than 1:7 even though the total score for both is 8.

Elbows are scored in Grades - Grade 0 (normal) Grade 1, Grade 2 & Grade 3. The numbers represent degrees of change from normal. When looking at these scores, the lower the number and the more even the number the better too.

 

Genetic health

There are several diseases which can affect Border Collies which we can test for and ensure that they do not affect our dogs.

TNA, Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome

This disease stops the puppy's immune system working properly, and pups often die because of infections. They very rarely survive beyond their first few months.

CEA/CH, Collie Eye Anomaly / Choroidal Hypoplasia

This is an inherited eye condition where parts of the eye do not develop properly. The condition can impact the dog's sight a little, or a lot. It does not progress so some dogs can live with the impaired vision it causes.

CL, Ceroid Lipofuscinosis

This is a very rare condition where the dog's body cannot remove waste products from the blood. This waste builds up and kills off brain cells. This leads to problems with movement, vision and behaviour. Symptoms do not appear until the dog is an adolescent and most dogs who develop the condition cannot survive. 

The Breed Standard of the Border Collie

 
General Appearance: The general appearance shall be that of a well proportioned dog, the smooth outline showing quality, gracefulness and perfect balance, combined with sufficient substance to ensure that it is capable of enduring long periods of active duty in its intended task as a working sheep dog. Any tendency to coarseness or weediness is undesirable.
Characteristics: The Border Collie is highly intelligent, with an instinctive tendency to work and is readily responsive to training. Its keen, alert and eager expression add to its intelligent appearance, whilst its loyal and faithful nature demonstrates that it is at all times kindly disposed towards stock. Any aspect of structure or temperament foreign to a working dog is uncharacteristic.
Temperament: (See under Characteristics)
Head And Skull: The skull is broad and flat between the ears, slightly narrowing to the eye, with a pronounced stop, cheeks deep but not prominent. The muzzle tapering to the nose, is strong and the same length as the skull. The lips are tight and clean and the nose is large with open nostrils. The nose colour in all dogs will be a solid colour with no pink or light pigment, and shall complement the background colour of the dog.
Eyes: The eyes are set wide apart, oval shaped of moderate size harmonising with the colour of the coat but darker colour preferred, except in the case of chocolate where a lighter colour is permissible and in the case of merles where blue is permissible. The expression is mild but keen, alert and intelligent.
Ears: The ears should be of medium size and texture, set well apart, carried semi-erect. They are sensitive in their use, and inside well furnished with hair.
Mouth: The teeth should be sound, strong and evenly spaced, the lower incisors just behind but touching the upper, that is a scissor bite.
Neck: The neck is of good length, strong and muscular, slightly arched and broadening to the shoulders, without throatiness or coarseness.
Forequarters: The shoulders are long, and well angulated to the upper arm, neither in nor out at elbow. The forelegs are well boned, straight and parallel when viewed from the front. Pasterns show flexibility with a slight slope when viewed from the side.
Body: The body is moderately long with well sprung ribs tapering to a fairly deep and moderately broad chest. The loins are broad, deep, muscular and only slightly arched, flanks deep and not cut up.
Hindquarters: The hindquarters are broad and muscular, in profile sloping gracefully to the set on of tail. The thighs are long, broad, deep and muscular with well turned stifles and strong hocks, well let down, and when viewed from the rear are straight and parallel.
Feet: Oval in shape, pads deep, strong and sound, toes moderately arched and close together. Nails short and strong.
Tail: The tail is moderately long, set on low, well furnished and with an upward swirl towards the end, completing the graceful contour and balance of the dog. The tail may be raised in excitement, but not carried over the back.
Gait/Movement: The movement is free, smooth and tireless, with a minimum lift of the feet, conveying the impression of the ability to move with great stealth. The action, viewed from the front, should be straight forward and true, without weakness at shoulders, elbows or pasterns. Viewed from behind the quarters thrust with strength and flexibility, with hocks not close nor too far apart. When trotting, the dog's feet tend to come closer together as speed increases, but when the dog comes to rest he should stand four square. Any tendency to stiltiness or to cowhocks or bowhocks is a serious fault.
Coat: Double coated, with a moderately long, dense, medium textured topcoat while the undercoat is short, soft and dense, making a weather resisting protection, with abundant coat to form mane, breeching and brush. On face, ear tips, forelegs (except for feather), hind legs from hock to ground, the hair is short and smooth.
Colour: Black and white, blue and white, chocolate and white, red and white, blue merle and the tri-colour black, tan and white. In each case the basic body colour must predominate and be the background colour of the dog.
Sizes: Height:
Dogs 48-53 cm (approx. 19-21 ins) at withers
Bitches 46-51 cm (approx. 18-20 ins) at withers
Faults: 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 upon the health and welfare of the dog.
Notes: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.