Some people say the Border Collie is the smartest dog breed. His ability to impose his will on sheep makes him the best sheepherding dog in the world — but watch out, because he’ll try to impose his will on you, too.
Did You Know the Border Collie is Considered Among the Smartest of all Breeds?
Border Collies are known as herding dogs, but a BC currently holds the Guinness World Record for Fastest Car Window Opened by a Dog. Striker, a Border Collie from Hungary, opened the non-electric window in 11.34 seconds. Impressive!
Arguably considered the world’s best herding dog, the Border Collie is a smart, intense workaholic who lives for order and values employment above all else. His focus is legendary — and so is the havoc he can wreak when he’s bored. Popular for his good looks and medium size, the Border Collie’s drive to work and strong desire to keep his people together at all times can come as an unpleasant surprise to families who may know him only from his charming starring roles in movies such as “Babe” and “Hotel for Dogs.”
A good Border Collie can be the companion of a lifetime, but only if he is paired with a clever owner who can keep him busy with dog sports — agility, flyball, flying disc games, herding trials, obedience, tracking — or who will teach him to do chores around the house or farm. If you want the talented Border Collie you’ve seen starring on the silver screen, be aware that it takes a lot of time and effort to keep him occupied to his satisfaction.
If you’re ready to provide loving leadership to your dog, train him consistently and fairly, and give him plenty of exercise and an outlet for his considerable intelligence, then yes, the Border Collie can be right for you.
Don’t underestimate that intelligence, either. This is among the smartest of all dog breeds, and one whose owners need to pay attention lest they find themselves outsmarted. Expecting a Border Collie to spend his days in the backyard and his evenings keeping you company while you watch your favorite TV shows is a sure way to create a barking, bored, destructive dog instead of the calm, well-behaved, loyal companion you thought you were bringing into your home.
The Border Collie’s herding traits — an intense stare, crouching, creeping movement, and gathering behavior — will be turned on children, other pets, and vehicles if the dog isn’t provided with guidance, training and an outlet for his instinct to round up and bring in people or objects in motion. Never let this go uncorrected, and then redirect the behavior by giving your Border Collie demanding and interesting tasks or games that will provide him with exercise and mental stimulation.
Like most herding breeds, which have an inborn protective streak, the BC can be wary of strangers. Early and frequent socialization is essential to prevent him from becoming shy or aggressive in the presence of people he doesn’t know. He is also highly sensitive to sound and may develop noise phobias, especially to thunderstorms, if he is not accustomed to loud or unexpected noises. On the plus side, he’s an excellent watchdog and will always alert you to anything or anyone out of the ordinary.
Because of these characteristics, it’s essential to purchase a Border Collie from a breeder whose stock is temperamentally sound and who understands the importance of early exposure to many different people, noises and situations that come with life in a family home. Run far away from breeders who raise their pups in a barn or a pen out in the backyard. A Border Collie that is to be a family companion needs plenty of socialization.
Although he loves the great outdoors, the BC is by no means a yard dog. He is bred to work in partnership with people. If your Border Collie is a family pet, he needs to live indoors. Otherwise, he’ll be lonely, bored and destructive – and less, rather than more, likely to warn you of trouble.
Alert watchdogs, Border Collies can be barkers, so help yours develop appropriate barking behavior when young so it doesn’t become a nuisance later on.
You should also know that there are two types of Border Collies: those bred strictly for their herding talents and those bred for the show ring and AKC performance events. During most of the 20th century, BC breeders chose dogs based on their working ability, and the dogs varied widely in appearance. But in 1995, the AKC recognized the Border Collie — much to the fury of many of its adherents — and since then the breed has split into show and working lines.
The show dogs tend to be small and blocky with heavy coats, while the herding dogs are more diverse in size, coat type and overall appearance. Breeders who select for herding ability would rather have their dogs recognized for the way they work than the way they look.
All of that is to say that it’s important to know the dog’s background before purchasing a puppy. If you plan to actually work stock with your Border Collie, you will want a puppy from working lines. A Border Collie from show lines may still have a strong herding instinct, but even dogs that do well in AKC herding trials are not generally considered good enough to do real work on farms. They will, however, be super competitors in agility, obedience and other dog sports.
The black-and-white Border Collie is most familiar, but the breed comes in all colors and combinations of colors and markings. They can be solid, bi-color, tri-color, merle and sable. They frequently have white markings that are clear or ticked or random white patches on the body and head. Avoid Border Collies that are primarily white. The gene for deafness is linked to white coloration.
Other Quick Facts About Border Collies
Border Collies are frighteningly smart, active workaholics who must have a job that can be as simple as chasing a tennis ball or as demanding as training for something like herding, agility obedience, or freestyle. What the job is doesn’t matter so much as that the Border has a job.
The Border is an excellent watchdog and will alert you to the arrival of the letter carrier, a burglar, or a squirrel. Some can become nuisance barkers.
Borders are very people-oriented and are wonderful family dogs.
Some Borders are not good with other dogs or cats, and some are great.
Border Collies are the best working breed in the world for sheepherding. They also excel at performance activities such as agility, obedience, flyball, and freestyle, among others.