The Border Collie is a medium-sized, well-proportioned dog. The coat can either be smooth or of medium length and the most common colour is black and white, although other colours with white are also seen – e.g. brown, blue merle, red and tricolour. Adult males are around 53cm; females slightly less. The weight range for the breed is around 14-20kg.
The Border Collie dog breed dates back to the 1700s although it was not given its present name until 1915. Border Collies worked with shepherds in the border area between Scotland and England for hundreds of years, being bred purely for their working ability. Some Border breeders fear emphasis on looks and beauty could lead to the breed's ruination and, therefore, still concentrate primarily on their working qualities. There are often differences between show and working strains.
Border Collies are always ready to work, attentive, lively and alert. They will form a very close bond with their owner and family but, unless given plenty of time and exercise, they are not ideal pets for a family with very young children, as it is in their nature to herd anything that moves - your children included! If not kept physically and mentally stimulated they will become bored, developing behavioural problems or getting into mischief, as their brains are always active.
The Border Collie is a very hardy breed, generally with few health problems. However, as with many breeds, they can suffer from hereditary eye disorders, and hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important. Epilepsy is also relatively common in the breed.
With their need to be busy and their great desire to please, the Border Collie thrives on training, which is a great way of exercising their mind and body. They are like a gift from heaven for those wanting to compete in obedience/agility/flyball/freestyle/herding trials. Failure to exercise them can result in the Border developing behavioural problems or making them difficult to live with. For an adult, two hours-plus of daily exercise is needed, along with mental stimulation.
Your dog's diet needs to have the right balance of all the main nutrient groups including a constant supply of fresh water. It's also important to conduct regular body condition scores to ensure you keep your dog in ideal shape and remember to feed him at least twice daily and in accordance with the feeding guidelines of his particular food.
In both the medium-length and smooth variety, the top coat is dense and the undercoat thick and soft. With the longer-haired coat, there is a noticeable mane around the neck and shoulders. The coat is easy to maintain, providing it is brushed a couple of times a week for the medium-length and once a week for the smooth variety, and any tangles dealt with on a regular basis.