Smart, intense and workaholic. No, that's not the description of a top professional or successful business person, but the average border collie. If you have the time and energy to commit to this very demanding breed, you'll have the most intelligent, obedient canine partner imaginable. In the right hands, these are very cool dogs.
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The Eyes Have It
Border collies are noted for their "eye," which relates to the stare they use to direct sheep, cattle or whatever they happen to herd. The dog crouches down and virtually hypnotizes livestock with the intensity of his stare.
Years before Lassie and Rin Tin Tin, the first canine star was a border collie. Jean, the Vitagraph Dog, as she was known, performed in early silent films. You might have caught border collies onscreen in hit films such as "Babe" and "Babe: Pig in the City." Other movies featuring border collies include "The Proud Rebel" and "Animal Farm."
The Queen's Favorite
You know that Queen Elizabeth II prefers corgis, but her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria was a border collie enthusiast. The queen promoted the breed during the second half of the 19th century. At that time, the breed was known as the Scotch sheep dog, since it originated along the English/Scottish borders.
Border collies are bred to herd, a job at which they excel. However, if you don't happen to have sheep or other livestock at hand, your border collie might start herding whatever or whomever is available. That can include cats or kids. While a feline can give a border collie a good scratch on the nose, kids are another story. The United States Border Collie Club warns that when border collies start herding the neighborhood kids, giving them a nip on the ankles and behind as if they're livestock, you've got trouble brewing. Teach your kids to stop playing with the dog if he starts herding them.
Guinness Record Holder
A border collie holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest non-electric car window ever opened by a dog. Striker performed the task with his paw and nose in 11.34 seconds in Canada in 2004.
A South Carolina border collie named Chaser has the largest known vocabulary of any dog, a total of 1,022 nouns. Her owner, a psychologist, reportedly worked with his dog up to five hours daily, training her to recognize objects. Her owner states that he believes most border collies could be close to the level of his dog's vocabulary if their people were willing to put the time in.
By Jane Meggitt
United States Border Collie Club: Living With Border Collies
United States Border Collie Club: Border Collie Characteristics
American Border Collie Association: Choosing Your Border Collie
Vetstreet: Border Collie
Guinness World Records: Fastest Car Window Opened By A Dog
American Kennel Club: Border Collie Did You Know
Turner Classic Movies: A Salute to Jean, the Vitagraph Dog
New York Times: Sit. Stay. Parse. Good Girl!
About the Author
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.