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Guide to Border Collies

Time to read: 7 mins

Key Stats

Life expectancy: 10- 18 years

Height: About 56 cm

Weight: 15- 20 kg 

About Border Collies

Border Collies or more affectionately known as sheepdogs are a working breed. They were bred to herd sheep in the hills of England and Scotland. Their origins date back to the eighteenth century. They are often thought of as one of the more ‘natural’ breeds with minimal recent human interference in their development. As a result of this, they are relatively free of inherited disorders compared to some other breeds. Border Collies are known for their intense stares, which they use to herd sheep.

Factors to Consider

Border Collies need to be exercised more than most breeds. They are high maintenance when it comes to exercise. They have so much energy because they were bred to be working out in the field the entire day. Before adding a Border Collie to your home, you need to make sure you are able to exercise them every day. They fit in best with households that are active and can keep up with their energy levels. In addition to needing exercise, Border Collies hate being alone. Due to this, you will need to ensure they are not left alone for extended periods of time. As a family you will need to be very active, be at home often or be able to take your Border Collie with you and you will need lots of space for them to run and play.

Sheep dog with sheep

Temperament

Border Collies are very friendly, sensitive, incredibly intelligent and great to have around kids, but they will not want to be hugged or cuddled. They are not the type of dog to sit on the couch, cuddle and relax. If you are looking for a relaxed and calm pet then a Border Collie may not be for you. Border Collies have the inherent need to herd anything. It could be sheep, children, your family, small animals, you name it. Their attempt to herd may include barking or nipping. This behaviour is particularly apparent when they are young. With good training this habit can be corrected, and the energy can be redirected into another activity.

Ease of Training

Border Collies are very intelligent which makes them a dream to train, provided they are getting their required exercise. A good way for a Border Collie to release some of their energy is to get them involved in dog sports and competitions. Some of these include agility, flying disc and obedience.

You might want to consider obedience classes. These will teach your Border Collie new tricks and good manners. It will allow them to use up some of their energy whilst keeping their mind alert. It is never too late to teach them obedience, but it is easier to do it when they are young and have not picked up too many bad habits yet.

Border Collie with disk

Price to Own a Border Collie

When purchasing a puppy, you can expect to pay around £500. However, if they come from a premium breeder or a superior lineage their price increases substantially. In this case you can expect to pay anywhere from £1,000 upwards for a puppy. Some people may opt to buy a trained Border Collie. If this is the case you will be looking to spend upwards of £5,000. This price is high, but it is justified by the amount of work and effort the trainers have gone through to make sure the Border Collie is as well behaved as possible. These are just purchase costs, there are many other costs included.

Some of these include:

Grooming

Border Collie coats are low maintenance to groom. However, they do need to be brushed regularly. Their coats shed seasonally. It is a good idea to brush them when they are shedding to reduce the amount of hair left around the house.

Health conditions

Border Collie health

1. Collie eye anomaly or defect (CEA)

This is an inherited condition that interferes with the normal development of the eye. Signs of this range from mild vision loss to total blindness.  The condition is almost always untreatable. A genetic test is used by responsible breeders to screen out carriers of the defective gene so that the condition is not passed on.

2. Glaucoma

Causes increased pressure within the eye. It’s extremely painful and can lead to blindness but it can also be screened for.

3. Hip dysplasia

Many different breeds can suffer from hip dysplasia. This is when the hip joint doesn’t fit together perfectly. Signs include walking stiffly, hip pain and difficulty getting up from a sitting position. Maintaining a healthy weight, eating a good quality diet and food supplements for joint health can help. This condition will usually lead to arthritis. Hip dysplasia can be screened for by reputable breeders who will have the parents’ hip alignment assessed and scored by vets before deciding to breed from them. This reduces the chances of it causing problems in the next generations.

4. Digestive disorders

Border Collies can inherit an inability to produce enough vitamin B12 (known as cobalamin malabsorption) which is necessary for normal digestion. Some dogs may need vitamin supplementation under a vet’s supervision to avoid complications. These can range from poor weight gain to a medical emergency.

5. Anxiety

As with all dogs, the first few weeks of a puppy’s life are vital in developing their confidence and basic life skills. Without careful socialisation, Border Collies can be particularly prone to becoming anxious and shy around strangers and strange situations.

6. Herding behaviour

Due to their strong herding instinct, they also require training to teach them not to nip at people’s heels. Fortunately, the breed is keen to learn and, if given a job to do, these dogs are easily trained and motivated (although they may still try to round up members of the family on walks!)

7. Problem behaviours

In a working situation, border collies run and concentrate on tasks for hours on end. If they don’t have enough exercise and mental stimulation as a family pet, they can become bored and this can lead to problematic behaviours like barking or destructive behaviour.

8. Epilepsy

Border Collies are one breed that can be prone to a form of epilepsy with no known cause. The disorder causes seizures (fits) that can be distressing for the dog and their owners. It’s usually first seen between the ages of 1 and 4. In many cases it can be controlled with lifelong medication and careful veterinary supervision. Dogs with epilepsy can have a good quality of life between episodes.

9. Immune mediated haemolytic anaemia (IMHA):

This is a rare but serious disease typically seen in middle aged to older dogs. Most cases have no known trigger or cause. Although any breed can develop IMHA, the Border Collie is one of the breeds believed to be more likely to develop the disease. Signs can include lethargy, fever, jaundice, discoloured urine, and collapse. Treatment can involve steroids medication, blood transfusions and intensive care, but it is often fatal.

If you have any questions about symptoms that your pet might be showing or you have a general health related question, don’t hesitate to call our Careline. Our dedicated Veterinary Nurses will be able to assist you.

Border Collies on a hill

Insurance

Although Border Collies are generally a very healthy breed you never know what might happen as they get older. Find out how we can protect your pet from accidents as well as illnesses that might befall them.

When thinking of insuring your Border Collie, it is best to do so from a young age. This is because younger animals are cheaper to insure. They are less likely to require treatment and have no claims made for them. Often conditions do not show up until later in life. Insuring your Border Collie from a young age will mean any issues that may arise will be covered through your pet insurance provider. While genetics can give you an idea of what conditions your dog may have, there could be unforeseen medical bills.

Although it is recommended you insure your Border Collie from a young age it is not required as older dogs can get insurance too. We may even be able to cater for your Border Collie should they need cover for pre-existing conditions.

See how we can help you by getting a dog insurance quote today.

Border Collie inspiration

Border Collie’s are using their trademark stare and photogenic faces to take over Instagram! Some of our favourites are:

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