Border Collies are famous sheep herding dogs that are known for their great skill in the job they were bred for as well as for their intelligence, that many claim, is unmatched in the dog world. Even though they excel as working dogs they also make great pets as their intelligence makes them easy to train and their innate devotion to their owners will make them do anything to protect their owners.
Border Collies are medium sized dogs with compact and well-proportioned bodies that are extremely agile and full of energy and stamina. Males are usually 19 to 22 inches tall, while females are somewhat shorter at 18 to 21 inches. The length of their body from withers to the root of the tail is slightly greater than their height. Their bodies are very strong and graceful.
They usually have an intelligent and alert expression. Their head is well proportioned with regard to their body. They usually have brown eyes, but shades of blue are not uncommon. Border Collies can often have eyes of different colors or even a combination of colors within an eye. Eyes are of medium size and set quite far part. Their rims should be fully pigmented, but that is not always the case. Their ears are wide apart and are usually carried semi or fully erect. They have strong teeth that lock in a scissors bite and a long, well feathered tail that is usually carried low.
They are bred as working dogs so it is no surprise that they have a dense double coat that is great at protecting them from harsh weather conditions. The undercoat is short and soft while the longer overcoat is somewhat coarser and usually straight or wavy. They come in a variety of colors – single colored, with two or three colors, merle or sable.
Even though they are highly intelligent it can be hard to train them properly. They pick up new commands extremely well, but they are really observant, if the trainer issues the same command but in a different tone of voice, or if the command is followed by a different gesture than it was the first time, the dog might think that it is an altogether different command. That is why with inexperienced trainers Collies intelligence can be more of an obstacle to the training than an advantage.
Even though they are friendly and generally great with people they can be dangerous when children are concerned. This is not because they are aggressive or violent, the threat they pose comes from their strong herding instinct. They are used to gathering sheep that are trying to run away. At first they’ll just warn the sheep, but if it proves to be stubborn they will eventually bite it in order to make it comply. When they see a child running their instincts take over and they start regarding the child as a sheep that needs to be controlled. If the child doesn’t stop the dog might deduce that he needs to use force in order to get the child to behave the way that the dog thinks it should. This is why it is very important to warn your child of this if you intend to keep a Border Collie.