The Full Story
About Herding Dogs
Herding dogs are known for their intelligence, high amount of energy, and strong herding instinct. We rescue several different herding breeds including the Border Collie, Australian Shepherd, Corgi, Rough Collie, and mixes of these. Herding dogs are more intelligent and have more energy than most other breeds. If you don't have experience with herding dogs, please read our description here before adopting.
Border Collies were developed in the hilly sheep pastures on the border between Scotland and England. The dogs that herd sheep in that territory have to work great distances over broken, mountainous land. The best dogs have the great speed and endurance needed to cover the distance. They move the sheep, not with barks or bites, but with an intense stare and posture that communicates without force. They have high levels of intelligence to allow them to work independently of the shepherd. At the same time, they have a great desire to please their master, and the greatest reward for them is in performing the task desired of them.
This combination of abilities and personality traits is the hallmark of the breed, more so than any particular color or coat or ear type.
Unique behaviors can stem from the Border Collie’s herding instincts. Even the most well-stimulated border collie, if its herding instinct is strong, can develop obsessions with fish, ceiling fans, flashing lights, passing cars, or running children. Little children and small pets can be endangered by the herding instinct, when their quick movements awaken a Border Collie’s strong prey drive!
A person considering a Border Collie or other herding dog as a family pet should use extreme caution, and possibly look into another breed. If only a herding dog will do, it would be wise to select a mixed breed or an adult herder that has been evaluated for herding instinct and exposed to children and small animals.
Living With a Herding Dog
People who do decide to include a Border Collie in their lives, find that they are tireless and talented companions in nearly any active sport or work. Bred to work as independently as possible, they have an incredible ability to learn hundreds of commands and anticipate what is expected of them. Of course, they demand absolute consistency in training and an unbreakable routine. Any change in routine can have memorable repercussions!
Border Collies have an insatiable thirst for human companionship and structured activity. They are workaholics, most preferring a game of fetch to a treat or a pat on the head. Many people find it difficult and unnerving to spend so much time in the company of a dog that does not care for cuddles, but refuses to go amuse itself. Others enjoy the slimy ball dropped in their laps, the blazing stare that demands, “Throw it! Just once more won’t hurt!”
If not given a job to do, Border Collies will find one. Whether it’s chasing cars, chewing the carpet, or remodeling the woodwork, the activity they choose for themselves is unlikely to be an acceptable one. Someone has commented that a bored Border Collie is one of the elemental destructive forces of nature, ranking right up there with tornadoes and volcanoes!
Border Collies are not your average house pet!
Although it is unnecessary to own sheep to keep most border collies from getting bored, activity is essential. Running, hiking, or biking with a border collie means having a tireless and enthusiastic companion.
However, physical exercise is not enough. Border Collies brains need to be stimulated with training activity as well. Border Collies excel in dog sports such as formal obedience, agility, flyball, tracking, or competitive Frisbee. Participation in some structured activity is advisable for this highly driven breed.
Life with a Border Collie is busy. Most Border Collie owners do not come home from work and relax. Instead, they know it’s time to work again – with their dog! A run or bike ride may be followed by ball or Frisbee, and then a training session, followed by more ball or Frisbee. After dinner, more ball playing while watching TV or working on the computer, and maybe another training session, ends the evening. Before the alarm goes off the next morning, the lucky owner will be awakened by a ball or Frisbee dropped on the bed!