Border Collie.jpg
Breed Group Group 10: Pastoral and Stock Dog Breeds
Sub-group 10-C: Medium Pastoral Dogs
Origin Country Great Britain
Weight Males: 30-45 pounds. Females: 27-42 pounds.
Height Males: 19-22 inches. Females: 18-21 inches.
Breed Type Pure
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Border Collie

Breed Group Group 10: Pastoral and Stock Dog Breeds
Sub-group 10-C: Medium Pastoral Dogs
Origin Country Great Britain
Weight Males: 30-45 pounds. Females: 27-42 pounds.
Height Males: 19-22 inches. Females: 18-21 inches.
Breed Type Pure
click here for FULL BREED STANDARD

Breed Spotlight

Origins

Unlike many modern-day breeds, the Border Collie’s origin has been rather well-documented, thanks in part to a large following and interest in the preservation and advancement of this fascinating breed. Prior to the establishment of dog breeds, the British Isles—including today’s areas of Scotland, England, and Wales—were long-known for their herding dogs. Throughout the centuries, these canines were simply known as shepherd dogs, and they were not considered distinct breeds. These dogs varied from county to county, with different areas having their own strain that they preferred. The dogs that were used in the counties and shires along the Anglo-Scottish border are believed to be the ancestors of the modern-day Border Collie.

The word Collie can be traced back to the 1650s, and it is believed to be derived from the English word coaly, which means coal-black. This term was used to describe the color of certain animals of the time, such as the colley sheep, which were sheep with black faces, or the colfox, which were foxes with black-tipped ears and tails. The shepherds’ colley dogs were often coal-black in color with white tips. The name remains one of the biggest mysteries about the breed.

In 1906, the International Sheep Dog Society was formed to preserve and advance the dogs known as Shepherd’s Dogs, or Shepherd’s Collies, with the help of breeders, trainers, and enthusiasts. Their goal was to focus on enhancing the working abilities of the dogs, including traits of the eye and trainability. It wasn’t until 1915 that the name Border Collie was applied to the dogs, and the name was used to distinguish the dogs first recognized by the ISDS from Collies of other sorts, such as that of the Smooth Collie and Rough Collie.

Because sheep have always been a staple in many cultures throughout the world, this ensured a steady demand for dogs with the skills to move and herd sheep. Thus, the Border Collie’s talents, eagerness to learn and listen, intense eye, and overall superiority in certain types of herding caught the attention of sheep farmers near and far. Today, the Border Collie is still used for herding sheep and a number of other animals such as cows, ducks, geese, and more. He also excels in many other areas and disciplines, such as obedience, tracking and article search, flyball, dock diving, and therapy work, and he remains one of the most agile breeds in existence.

Breed Characteristics

Head: The Border Collie’s expression is intensely keen, watchful, anticipatory, eager, and alert.
Eyes: Moderate in size, oval to almond in shape, and may occur in any color or combination of colors. Pupils should be perfectly round and symmetrical. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented. The eyes are never bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes.
Ears: Medium in size, triangular, set somewhat apart on the skull. The requirements for the Border Collie’s ears are rather lenient (if the dog can hear the shepherd, that should typically be sufficient). Ears may appear erect, semi-prick, rose, 1/3-1/4 erect, drop with lift at the base, or mismatched. Tips may fall forward or outward. The ears are never overly large and hound-like.
Muzzle: The muzzle is medium in size, full, powerful, and tapers to the nose, giving the skull its wedge-shaped appearance. Upper and lower jaws have good bone substance, appearing strong and well-developed, never appearing snipey or weak.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black, or self-colored according to the coat. The nostrils are well-opened.
Neck: Moderate length to allow for proud head carriage and great range of motion for stalking, crouching, running and turning. The neck is strongly muscled, with a slight arch. It tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. It is clean-cut, without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep, broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows.
Body: Solid, of good substance, and well-knit. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters. The body exhibits good athletic substance, but is neither heavy and thick, nor racy and refined. There is sufficient length to allow for effortless and exact movement.
Feet: Oval to round, compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.
Tail: The tail is set rather low on the sloped croup, thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. The carriage is in direct reflection of the dog’s confidence, interest, and excitement level. When working or concentrating, the tail may be held outward or low (never tucked). When excited, it may be raised high above the level of the topline like a flag. When neutral, it may be held downward (again, not tucked) in a neutral position. Tails are moderately long, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints when held down. Tails may be straight, gently curved, or with a shepherd’s crook at the end of the tail.
Movement: The Border Collie’s original function required a variety of maneuvers, carried out over diverse terrain, for long periods of time, including galloping, turning, stopping, direction changes, stalking, and creeping. Therefore, the Border Collie’s movement should be indicative of overall excellent coordination, balance, agility, endurance, and health. Movement in the show ring at the trot should be effortless, efficient, energetic, and tireless with no sign of encumbrance. The head is often carried approximately level with the topline, but higher or lower carriage at the dog’s discretion is correct as well. The dog should not be strung up or raced around the ring. The characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the center line of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring. Moderation conserves energy, allowing for longer use of the body in locomotion. Therefore, an exaggerated gait, overextended gait, or “flying” trot gait is NOT correct for the Border Collie.
Temperament: The Border Collie is considered by many to be the most intelligent (and perhaps most highly driven) dog breed in the world. Developed for the specific purpose of working long hours over vast terrain under the direction of his owner requires nothing less of a dog. The Border Collie was designed to work and, in fact, needs to work. Whether it be on a ranch moving flocks and herds, or as a companion running an agility course, a busy Border Collie is a happy Border Collie. Due to their considerable physical and mental exercise demands, this is not the breed for everyone. The dogs require early obedience and socialization to ensure that they understand their role in their human world. They also require life-long training and/or a physically demanding and mentally stimulating job to ensure that they do not become bored (and potentially neurotic or destructive). Well-adjusted Border Collies are generally good companion dogs, displaying loyalty and devotion toward their owners. However, not all Border Collies are all-around family dogs, since many will bond with whoever is the most interesting and interactive with them, as opposed to treating everyone equally. Mature individuals may be reserved toward or disinterested in strangers, including friendly strangers, which is not incorrect for the breed. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.
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Breed Standard

BREED GROUP 10: Pastoral and Stock Dog Breeds

Proportions: 19-22 inches; Females: 18-21 inches

Head

General Appearance: The Border Collie’s expression is intensely keen, watchful, anticipatory, eager, and alert.
Expression: The stop may range from moderate to definite.
Stop: The stop may range from moderate to definite.
Skull: The ideal muzzle-to-skull ratio is 1:1, with the topskull being just longer than the muzzle. A slightly longer or shorter muzzle is not incorrect so long as the dog is correct in all other areas.
The ideal muzzle-to-skull axis may be parallel or just slightly convergent.
Muzzle: The muzzle is medium in size, full, powerful, and tapers to the nose, giving the skull its wedge-shaped appearance. Upper and lower jaws have good bone substance, appearing strong and well-developed, never appearing snipey or weak.
Lips or Flews: Lips are clean and fit tightly over the teeth and jaws, leaving no overhang and revealing the wedge-shaped muzzle outline.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black, or self-colored according to the coat. The nostrils are well-opened.
Cheeks: Cheeks may be smooth or slightly padded.
Dentition and Bite: Forty-two strong, clean, white teeth. Bite may be level, scissor, or reverse scissor. Contact must be made between the top and bottom incisors. Missing or broken teeth as a result of routine work is not to be penalized.
Eyes: Moderate in size, oval to almond in shape, and may occur in any color or combination of colors. Pupils should be perfectly round and symmetrical. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented. The eyes are never bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes.
Ears: Medium in size, triangular, set somewhat apart on the skull. The requirements for the Border Collie’s ears are rather lenient (if the dog can hear the shepherd, that should typically be sufficient). Ears may appear erect, semi-prick, rose, 1/3-1/4 erect, drop with lift at the base, or mismatched. Tips may fall forward or outward. The ears are never overly large and hound-like.

Body and Tail

General Description: Solid, of good substance, and well-knit. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters. The body exhibits good athletic substance, but is neither heavy and thick, nor racy and refined. There is sufficient length to allow for effortless and exact movement.
Neck: Moderate length to allow for proud head carriage and great range of motion for stalking, crouching, running and turning. The neck is strongly muscled, with a slight arch. It tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. It is clean-cut, without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep, broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows.
Topline: Level from withers to croup. The back is broad, strongly muscled, and straight, yet supple. The loin is deep, taut, and may be flat and level or slightly arched, yet supportive. The topline is never swayed or roached.
Croup: Long and gently sloped.
Underline: Slight tuck up may be present, or the underline may run parallel to the topline. The underline is taut and firm, without any indication of sagging or excess weight.
Ribs: Long, well-sprung, well-laid-back, oval-shaped, never barrel-chested or slab-sided.
Tail: The tail is set rather low on the sloped croup, thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. The carriage is in direct reflection of the dog’s confidence, interest, and excitement level. When working or concentrating, the tail may be held outward or low (never tucked). When excited, it may be raised high above the level of the topline like a flag. When neutral, it may be held downward (again, not tucked) in a neutral position. Tails are moderately long, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints when held down. Tails may be straight, gently curved, or with a shepherd’s crook at the end of the tail.

Forequarters and Hindquarters

Forequarters: Forequarters are always in balance with the hindquarters. Forequarters are well-angulated with well-laid-back shoulder blades. Shoulder blades are approximately equal in length to the upper arm and forearm.
Elbows: Elbows are close to the body. The distance from the point of the elbows to the ground may be equal to or slightly greater than the distance from the withers to the brisket.
Forelegs: Frontal View: Straight, of good muscle and bone, and parallel to one another.
Side View: The forelimbs appear straight with strong pasterns.
Pasterns: Never weak or broken.
Hindquarters: Upper thigh and lower thigh are equal in length, strong, sturdy, of good bone, and well-muscled.
Rear View: When viewed from the rear, the rear pasterns are parallel to one another.
Side View: Good angulation will allow the rear toes to align with the point of the rump or within one to two paw-lengths behind the point of the rump, with the rear pasterns remaining perpendicular to the ground and parallel to one another.
Stifle Joint: Well-angulated with a good bend to well-let-down rear pasterns.
Angulations: Angulation of hindquarters is always in balance with angulation of forequarters.
Feet: Oval to round, compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.

Coat

Skin: Well-fitted, yet supple. The skin should never obstruct the outline of the dog.
Coat Type: The Border Collie comes in two coat varieties: the smooth-coat and the standard rough-coat.
Smooth-coat variety: The coat is weather-resistant, short, smooth, close to the body throughout. The texture is coarse, dense, short to medium in length, glossy, with a shorter protective undercoat. Coat may appear slightly longer on neck, forming a light ruff, and on the tail.
Long-coat variety: The coat is weather-resistant and short on the face, forehead, and front of the forelimbs and hindlimbs. The coat is medium to medium-long, close-fitting, and longer on the neck, ears, rear of the front and hindlimbs, feet, and tail, forming well-developed fringe and furnishings. Undercoats are shorter, soft, and protective. The coat may be wavy or straight. The coat should never appear abundantly thick, abundantly long, or silky.
Coat Color or Pattern: All coat colors and patterns are equally permissible. Large patches or amounts of white indicating homogenous merle genotype/phenotype are undesirable.

Movement

The Border Collie’s original function required a variety of maneuvers, carried out over diverse terrain, for long periods of time, including galloping, turning, stopping, direction changes, stalking, and creeping. Therefore, the Border Collie’s movement should be indicative of overall excellent coordination, balance, agility, endurance, and health. Movement in the show ring at the trot should be effortless, efficient, energetic, and tireless with no sign of encumbrance. The head is often carried approximately level with the topline, but higher or lower carriage at the dog’s discretion is correct as well. The dog should not be strung up or raced around the ring. The characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the center line of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring. Moderation conserves energy, allowing for longer use of the body in locomotion. Therefore, an exaggerated gait, overextended gait, or “flying” trot gait is NOT correct for the Border Collie.

Temperament

The Border Collie is considered by many to be the most intelligent (and perhaps most highly driven) dog breed in the world. Developed for the specific purpose of working long hours over vast terrain under the direction of his owner requires nothing less of a dog. The Border Collie was designed to work and, in fact, needs to work. Whether it be on a ranch moving flocks and herds, or as a companion running an agility course, a busy Border Collie is a happy Border Collie. Due to their considerable physical and mental exercise demands, this is not the breed for everyone. The dogs require early obedience and socialization to ensure that they understand their role in their human world. They also require life-long training and/or a physically demanding and mentally stimulating job to ensure that they do not become bored (and potentially neurotic or destructive). Well-adjusted Border Collies are generally good companion dogs, displaying loyalty and devotion toward their owners. However, not all Border Collies are all-around family dogs, since many will bond with whoever is the most interesting and interactive with them, as opposed to treating everyone equally. Mature individuals may be reserved toward or disinterested in strangers, including friendly strangers, which is not incorrect for the breed. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.

Faults

All dogs should be in proper healthy condition, free from disease or defect. Any departure from this description is considered a fault. Unless altered, all male dogs should have two fully descended testicles.