The Labrador retriever and border collie are both intelligent, willing to work and energetic, however they channel their efforts in very different ways. If you adopt a border collie and Labrador retriever mix, it will take some time to learn whose genes reigned supreme. No matter who wins out, count on having a smart, busy dog who's responsive to his master's command -- with training.
Two things come to mind when you think of a border collie: smart and energetic. This dog was made to work, originally earning his keep in England and Scotland as a herding dog. Unlike other herding dogs who rely on nipping and barking, the border collie uses a focused stare on his targets to keep them in line. The border collie of today will herd whether it's his job or not, meaning he can be challenging to have around small children. He's devoted to his family but reserved around people he doesn't know.
With his sharp mind and high energy level, this is a dog who must have a job to do; otherwise, he'll become frustrated and act out -- a walk around the block or being left to his own devices in the backyard won't work for him. A medium-sized dog, he stands between 18 and 22 inches tall and weighs between 30 and 45 pounds. His coat may be short and smooth or rough -- medium to long in length and a bit wavy. Chronic hip dysplasia and collie eye anomaly are the two greatest health risks during his 10- to 14-year life expectancy.
The Labrador retriever is the American Kennel Club's most popular purebred dog, according to the club's registration numbers. His roots grew from Newfoundland to England, where he earned a reputation as an excellent game retriever. Like the border collie, he's a high energy dog, but he's not quite so focused on his work. Smart and easy to train, he enjoys swimming and retrieving, making him a good playmate for children.
The lab's intelligence and energy level means he needs regular, vigorous exercise to keep him from making mischief. Regular grooming of his double coat helps minimize shedding. He's a solid dog, standing 21.5 to 24.5 inches and weighing between 55 and 80 pounds. His major health risks include chronic hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, gastric torsion and muscular dystrophy. His life span tends be to between 10 and 12 years.
Putting the two dogs together results in a borador or a labracollie. Every dog is unique, a product of his genetics, so there's no way to know exactly what kind of dog you'll get, but you can make some reasonable guesses.
It's fair to expect that a border collie and lab mix will be an intelligent, active dog. Whether your dog is more inclined to take a swim or attempt to herd your cat will depend on which breed's genes are dominant in that aspect. He may run on the small size if the border collie genes dominate, or he may be larger, channeling his inner Labrador. His main medical vulnerability will be chronic hip dysplasia, though it's no guarantee he'll suffer from that condition. He'll still have other health vulnerabilities, though to what extent depends on his ancestors and luck.
Living With A Border Collie-Labrador Retriever Mix
Training and socialization is always necessary if you want a pleasant living experience with your canine pal. However, with a border collie-lab mix, training is especially important for everyone's quality of life. Consistent, positive training and ample exercise will channel his seemingly boundless energy in a positive way. If you sense your dog has the border collie's herding instincts, consider letting him try his hand at herding trials. No matter which breed is dominant, you'll likely have a good running or Frisbee partner living with you. Other activities to consider keeping your dog busy include agility, tracking and obedience.