Border Collies make excellent pets and even better herding dogs. They excel at dog sporting events because of their unique and amazing combination of agility, strength, intelligence and obedience. They are considered one of the smartest if not the smartest dog breed. A lot of people have heard these things about them and thought that a Border Collie would make an ideal pet for them. Sadly, they are quite often wrong.
The fact that people decide on getting a Border Collie without first getting to know exactly what this breed requires in its owner is the reason for the very high abandonment rates of Border Collies. People who rushed into finding one soon discover that they bit off more than they can chew. It is true that these dogs make great pets and that all the qualities that people are used to assigning them are indeed present, but they also require a lot of attention, a large yard is almost a must and their herding instinct can sometimes cause quite a bit of trouble if misdirected.
Border Collie is a working dog. This breed is used to spending days in open fields, running for hours on end and gathering sheep. That kind of work requires incredible amounts of energy, and Collie is in no short supply. Now, imagine what happens to a dog that is bred for that kind of life when he is placed in small apartment and only occasionally taken out for walk. If you don’t give him enough exercise and enough activities to occupy his more than alert mind and body, Collie will start going crazy with boredom and pent up energy. He will try to release it in any way he finds possible, which usually means destroying anything that he can get a hold of. Don’t allow this to happen, make sure that you are keeping him almost constantly occupied.
Another problem with Collies is that they might be dangerous around children. Now, it’s not that they are by nature violent or that they have something against children, it is just that they were bred to herd and that instinct overrides everything else. If a Collie sees a child running around he will perceive it as an animal that is trying to break away from the flock. He will rush to contain the child, which will, naturally, frighten the child and make it try to run away. Collies generally herd sheep without physical contact, instead they use their intense gaze (this is called ‘the eye’) to get them in line. Only if that fails will Collie proceed to nudge and, eventually, bite the sheep. This can happen with a child if the chase goes on for too long. If you do have a small child you mustn’t let it run in Collie’s vicinity. If the child is still or just normally walking this won’t trigger the reaction in Collie. This is also not something that you can train your dog to stop doing. This behavior is instinct, and as such overrides any training that you could throw at him.
If you are ready to make this kind of commitment and you meet the necessary conditions, by all means buy, or even better, rescue a Border Collie. You will be getting a great new friend.