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By Jamie Stowell
22nd June 2022

the border collie: a closer look at this intelligent breed

Reviewed by Dr. Ailsa Rutherford
Wednesday 22nd June 2022

The Border Collie is a highly intelligent herding breed known for its high energy, beautiful colouring, and workaholic attitude. Owning a Border Collie requires dedication and discipline, but it can be one of the most rewarding experiences as a pet parent.

Read on to learn more about the Border Collie breed, what to expect if you adopt one into your life, and how to best care for them.

History of the Border Collie

Border Collie breed originated as sheepdogs on the border of England and Scotland, hence the inspiration behind the name. They worked tirelessly to herd sheep on the rugged terrain, and they’ve been bred for hundreds of years for their drive, high energy, and herding speed.

Legend says that Queen Victoria saw the Border Collies at Balmoral Castle in Scotland and liked them so much that they were quickly elevated to royal status. As a result, this breed’s popularity flourished, and they even found themselves in local dog shows.

Today’s Border Collies are almost identical to the dogs from the 1800s.

Characteristics of the Border Collie

Border Collies live up to their herding breed—they have a high drive, and they will herd just about anything. They’re known for their high intelligence and desire to please, making them an ideal dog for anyone with the time, energy, and dedication to training them.

Border Collies are medium-sized dogs, typically growing between 18 and 22 inches and 15-20kg (30 to 45 pounds).

They make fantastic companions for pet parents that can keep them busy because Border Collies love to have a job to do, whether that’s helping on the farm, running agility courses, or simply helping with chores around the house.

Because of their history as a herding breed alone in the countryside, they can be wary of strangers and prefer the company of their family. Socialisation, especially early in your Border Collie’s life, is essential.

Common Health Conditions to Watch for in Border Collies

As with every breed, there are certain health conditions that Border Collies are more likely to develop. The most common health conditions to watch out for with a Border Collie are:

  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip Dysplasia is a genetic malformation of a dog’s hip socket. A dog with this condition may look normal, but its thigh bone doesn’t fit properly into its hip socket. That misalignment causes accelerated wearing away of the articular cartilage over time, leading to painful arthritis.
  • Collie Eye Anomaly: This inherited eye disorder can be detected in puppies as young as 5-8 weeks old. It impacts your Border Collie’s vision, but it’s often mild and can be screened for by a reputable breeder.
  • Osteochondrosis (OCD): Similar to hip dysplasia, this condition happens because of the abnormal cartilage development at the end of a bone, typically in the shoulder. Long term, it causes lameness and ultimately leads to degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis.
  • Epilepsy: This neurological disorder causes seizures and usually presents itself early in a Border Collie’s life.

How to Care for a Border Collie

Because Border Collies are such intelligent, active breeds, they need specific care to keep them happy and healthy throughout their life.

Here are five tips to ensure your Border Collie gets the necessary care.

1.  Provide Lots of Physical and Mental Enrichment

Border Collies are high-energy dogs that prefer to have a job to do. They’re natural workaholics, so they need more than just a walk or two every day.

Give your dog many physical exercise opportunities, like a long game of fetch in the backyard or enrolling them in your local agility training classes.

Balance the physical exercise with challenging mental enrichment. Border Collies are very intelligent, and they love to put that intelligence to the test. Puzzles, games, and trick training are all great ways to engage your dog’s brain and keep them mentally stimulated.

2.  Support Your Dog’s Hip and Joint Health

With an active lifestyle and a predisposition for hip dysplasia, Border Collies need hip and joint support throughout their life to fight arthritis and other joint discomforts.

One way to fight inflammation and reduce joint pain is through dietary supplements. One of them is hemp seed oil like BUDDYPET Marley. Hemp seed oil supplements can help lubricate and strengthen your dog’s joints and repair cartilage. The natural anti-inflammatory properties of hemp seed oil help improve your dog’s mobility, reduce inflammation, and aid arthritis management.

For senior dogs suffering from arthritis, consider BUDDYPET Milly, a delicious blend of hemp seed oil and turmeric. Milly is a potent natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant supplement that can help support joint health and improve mobility. The antioxidant action of Milly is amplified by combining polyphenols in turmeric (curcumin) with the antioxidant value of Vitamin E in hemp seed oil.

Hemp seed oil reduces inflammation through the action of fatty acids (eicosanoids), while curcumin reduces specific inflammatory chemicals (cytokines). Together, they fight inflammation in the damaged arthritic joints on different pathways.

For more information about the health benefits of hemp seed oil, please read Hemp Seed Oil Benefits.

3.  Start Training Early

Because Border Collies are high-energy, intelligent dogs, they can be challenging to manage without proper training and dedication. Starting your dog’s training as early as possible helps you to lay a foundation for good behaviours, making it easier to train them as they grow.

The great news is that your dog will likely be excited to learn because Border Collie is a natural workaholic. If you have the time and energy to dedicate to training, they will excel well beyond basic commands, and you can teach them tons of fun tricks.

4.  Feed Your Dog High-Quality Food to Support an Active Lifestyle

An active lifestyle needs a healthy diet to support it. Your dog’s nutrition can make a big difference in their overall health, from energy levels to joint health.

Feed your Border Collie a well-balanced diet of high-quality food that’s rich in Omega-3 fatty acids to support their joints and keep their coat healthy and shiny.

Because large, active breeds like Border Collies are predisposed to hip and joint issues, maintaining a healthy weight is also essential. Too much weight can put unnecessary pressure on your dog’s joints, causing discomfort and pain.

5.  Brush Your Dog Often

Border Collies can have two different coat styles: rough and smooth. Smooth coats are short, while rough coats are long and need weekly (if not daily) brushing to stay tangle-free.

Regularly brushing can also help reduce shedding, which Border Collies are prone to because of their double coats.

Should You Get a Border Collie?

Border Collies are fantastic, intelligent dogs that can make the perfect companion for anyone with the time, patience, and dedication to give them the best life possible.

With the proper training, exercise, diet, and preventative healthcare, your Border Collie can live a long, happy, healthy life.

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