The border collie breed originated in Northumberland along the borders of Scotland and England, descending from working dogs that the Vikings used to herd their reindeer. The American Kennel Club first recognized the border collie as a distinct breed in 1995 but most border collie breeds can trace their lineage back to one sire, "Old Hemp" who lived in 1894. There is evidence that at that time hunters sported birds with nets rather than guns that the role of "pointer" breeds was different. Instead of flushing out the prey, the dogs would circle around and "herd" the birds towards the hunters. It is very likely that ancestors of border collies were used in this role as well and that may have been where modern day border collies inherited part of their excellent special and herding skills.
Border collies are medium sized dog with a body slightly longer than it is tall. There are two types of coat, a short sleek coat (smooth coat) or a longer, coarse coat. Coloring includes black and white, tricolor, red and white, black and gray, yellow, yellow and white, sable, and all black. Those with longer coats should also possess a slight mane and a tail brush. The coat is dense and does well in colder, wetter weather as one would assume from their origins. Border collies are bred primarily for their ability to work and as such confirmation differs between different specimens of the breed; these are working dogs first and foremost, not show dogs.
Border collies are very intelligent and are considered one of the most trainable dogs there are, needing only praise and attention for reward. They are very active and it is best to give them a job to occupy their mind. Their high intelligence lends them to professional jobs like herding, aiding the disabled and police work but in the absence of those opportunities, they also excel at sports like fly ball, agility and Frisbee. Border collies can be sensitive as pups and should be socialized often to prevent them from becoming shy and sound sensitive, attributes to their detriment if they are to be a family pet. They also require a firm hand so there is no question of who is in command. Given the chance, a border collie will challenge the dominance of their handler and if not given the proper amounts of exercise, both mental and physical, they can resort to destructive activities to keep themselves amused. Spend the time, however, and these dogs are excellent family pets.
Border collies do have some known health problems including hip dysplasia, epilepsy, PRA (Collie Eye Anomaly) and deafness. Being a medium sized dog they have a life expectancy of 12-15 years. If kept for the purposes of breeding, one can expect an average of six puppies per litter though there may be as many as eight. An interesting fact about border collies is their famous border collie "eye" which the dog will use to patiently stare down livestock when herding.
Border collies are active in both mind and body, requiring extra work but those that are willing to keep them occupied with work and activity will find an excellent and intelligent dog that will be extremely loyal.
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