Border collies - would love to hear your experiences.

(74 Posts)
Beachcomber Thu 03-Apr-14 09:18:14

Hi dog owners.

We have friends with a gorgeous tricolour border collie bitch who they plan on having pups - they have offered us one as they know we have been thinking about getting a dog for ages (they want the homes sorted before they go ahead with a litter). I would love to hear about your experiences of collies before we commit.

I had a collie/lab X when I lived at home (she was my responsibility to walk and feed) - she was lovely, sweet, clever, a bit nervy and needed lots of exercise and stuff to keep her brain busy. She was extremely loyal, easy to train and soft as butter. So I guess she was a real cross of the two breeds.

DH grew up with GSD and Beauceron so used to quite tricky dogs.

We live in the country and have plenty of open spaces around us, have a largeish garden and I work from home. We feel confident that we could give a border collie a good home with plenty of exercise (we walk and cycle) and understand that they need lots of mental exercise and if possible some sort of 'job'. We have two DC (10 and 8).

Would love to hear your experiences of this lovely breed and any advice on things that we haven't thought of/might not expect. Thank you!

Beachcomber Thu 03-Apr-14 15:30:05

For me - having lived with collies I find other dogs lovely but somehow lacking in personality.


I know my old dog was a cross but she was such a person (I don't mean we babied her, just that she was so in tune with me and had so much personality). This is why I really want a collie.

NCISaddict Thu 03-Apr-14 15:33:35

My eight month old border collie.Fabulous dog, very friendly, although respectful with other dogs but quite wary of strange people until they throw a ball for him and then they're friends for life! He has two hour long walks a day, off lead and sometimes a lead walk in the evening. We have lots of interactive toys for him plus we hide food in boxes etc to keep him busy but he's normally very relaxed at home.

LST Thu 03-Apr-14 15:39:42

My collie will be 2 in July. He's starting flyball once a week next weekend which is exciting.

He loves a ball and he is also amazing with my ds who is 2.5 and our 10month old baby.

He is so well behaved and are really easy to train. Tbh he basically trained himself he was so willing to learn. The only issue we have with him is lead walking he pulls our arm out. He knows he shouldn't but he just wants to be off and running about chasing his ball!

LST Thu 03-Apr-14 15:42:32

(made him sound out of control! He really isn't he just likes to be off in the fields) smile

He has a good 1hour off lead run/ball throw in the morning and night time

Yep, they all live in the same house. I think the agility stuff probably keeps a lid on things, as she clearly trains to a good level (two of hers have been at Crufts, so I assume that's good, I have only just started!)

In fairness, we have a springer and a cocker, the stuff NCISaddict describes above is pretty much the same as I do with my two, so it's not just collies who need a lot of mental and physical exercise.

I have just remembered that one of the dogs at Ddog1 training was a smooth coated collie, who have highly intelligent, but also became ball obsessed, and needed some sessions with the trainer to help with this.

I also walk with a lady sometimes who has a collie, her collie herds you are you walk, which amuses me but drives her batty smile

Beachcomber Thu 03-Apr-14 16:21:06

NCISaddict - your dog is really handsome, lovely markings. Border collies are so beautiful. Your exercise regime sounds good - I keep hearing an hour in the morning and the same in the evening with as much off lead as possible.

LST your dog sounds fab too. Great that he is good with young kids.

needastrongone our neighbors have a ball obsessed dog - I think they are going to have to do something about it as it is all the poor dog wants to do.

Am loving hearing about all your collies.

Booboostoo Thu 03-Apr-14 16:43:37

Oh no I only found the trainer not the GSD! I have a young Tibetan Terrier as well so she's been going to training.

throckenholt Thu 03-Apr-14 16:51:48

If you want to hear collie stories - my little one is obsessed with orange peel (loves balls but prefers orange peel !) - the smaller the better. You have to throw it or flick it with your foot for her. And then she hides it - either in a bucket that she can't reach the bottom of or under something she can't get it out from, or pushed in to a drawer through the handle whole. Then she looks at it intently, and after a while starts to whine quietly, getting louder until you get it out for her.

She will also put the ball down at the edge of the pond, look at you, and then deliberately push it on out of her reach then look at you again.

Any toy she is playing with (can bit a tin y bit of twig, leaf, or paper, or proper dog toy) - she won't put down if you are looking at her - and then when you look away it magically appears near you. If you ignore you it gets nearer, usually just behind your foot. You can feel her staring intently at it so you know where it is (even though you never actually see her move to put it there).

As I said down thread - IME they make up the rules for all games, and morph them endlessly for their own amusement.

Ultra cute piccies of her on my profile - don't look if you don't want to be tempted by cute collie pup grin

nuttymutty1 Thu 03-Apr-14 17:08:46

Mad to live with 8 collies - I do and I'm not mad <well only a bit> smile

I work with all breeds of dogs and love them all but the BC is an extremely special dog. Do be warned that once you have one you will never want another breed again despite all the work that they entail.

Training with food is great and most BC will however, training with a toy is so much more rewarding for them and that means you can ask them to do so much more

look at Nana

I find it really funny to get my dogs to limp every time I take them to the vets - the vet politely laughs with at me. If there ever is anything wrong with their legs he will never believe me smile

BC's are happy, love life and are willing to work all the time just for you and just because you want them to - this is great but can also be knackering!

kitchendrama Thu 03-Apr-14 17:26:21

My tri-colour cross (tiny bit lab, tiny bit springer) is coming up for 11 this month. Without doubt the most intelligent dog I have ever owned.
Initially brought up in a city on a fellow dog walker's advice I made him utterly ball obsessed (get a Launch a Ball... best £10 you'll ever spend) which prevented him from approaching random dogs but also made him love anyone who took the time to throw his ball.
We got him at 5 months and he'd been given a really hard time by his first family who had 3 SN children who'd been quite rough with him. He was/is terrified of small children and was very bouncy knocking over our toddlers. We sorted that out within two days with some positive training, huge fuss when he was quiet and standing still and he soon got it. He is still edgy when small children approach to stroke him but will stand patiently until I rescue him.
He has about an hour a day out with a couple of other dogs and a ball, and whichever large bough (never a mere stick for him) he can find, he also has a large garden to chase birds and squirrels in. He is incredibly quiet in the house and was rarely destructive as a puppy.
We have recently acquire a springer/collie cross who is a delight and easy to train. I would always always want to see both parents wherever possible. Probably the only thing I would have done differently would have been to crate train, as he will always sleep by me because as a puppy he accessed the garden via our bedroom so got used to being close to me. Whenever I've been pregnant he simply will not leave my side, even sitting beside the bath or shower!
Such lovely lovely dogs....

Owllady Thu 03-Apr-14 19:25:58

Nuttymutty, you have eight collies?! Respect! grin

Greyhorses Thu 03-Apr-14 19:26:02

I have a collie x gsd and I have to say he is my dog of a lifetime however I have to say he is so much harder work than any of the dogs I have owned previously.
He is a rescue but due to a lack of socialisation as a puppy he has developed severe OCD and shadow chasing behaviour. He also has nervous aggression to strangers. He obsesses over any toy/ball/stick etc to the point of which he won't react to anything I say...if this is taken away he will shadow chase for hours. He has put holes in my floor and made his mouth bleed through doing this and it shows how deterimed the breed is! It's not a common behaviour by any stretch but it goes to show what can happen if these dogs aren't trained correctly.

He requires lots of mental stimulation and at least one good run a day (as in panting and lying down type run!) otherwise he is worse in his behaviour!

He is however a fantastic dog. He is great with the family, will walk for hours, loves cuddles and is just a good all rounder. He is super intelligent and learns commands and tricks by the second try. I find myself talking away to him as he understands so much- he has even learnt which road I'm driving on leads to which place. He is constantly glued to my side and I have to take him to work as he hates being alone- I think this is something to consider too as seperation anxiety is common too I think?!

As a sweeping generalisation I think collies can be nervous, one person dogs, are too clever for their own good and need a lot of work but it is well worth it in the end and I would consider another if I was ever to look for a dog again!!

This is my beautiful rescue border collie. She has had her yearly jabs today and the vet remarked on how fast they are- they can snap at vets very quickly, so she is always muzzled at the vet. She is also clever enough to get the muzzle off, however.....

We love her, she is hugely loyal and loves to be with her family.

Beachcomber Fri 04-Apr-14 09:57:18

Thanks again for replies everyone!

Booboostoo - Tibetan Terriers look gorgeous, I googled, don't think I've seen one in real life. So many of the dogs round here are Beauceron, Griffon and hunting type dogs

throckenholt - am loving orange peel hiding, I can just imagine the intent stare. I looked at your pictures, she is beautiful. I know I'm biased towards this breed but I do think the pups are just perfect looking. grin at border collie setting rules for the game.

nuttymutty1 - just wow at 8 collies. I bet they are all gorgeous. Is Nana one of yours? She is amazing.

kitchendrama - your dogs sound lovely. Well done on the positive training with regards to children. It seems such an amazing method that is respectful of the dog and its personal history. My old rescue dog had been hit with her lead and was terrified of leads. We trained her to walk perfectly to heel and have perfect recall and then gradually reintroduced the lead. Took a while though - she didn't need it in terms of control but its always about safety.

Greyhorses - your chap sounds really special, poor thing with the anxiety. You sound like a really understanding and caring owner. Taking on a rescue dog with issues like that must be hard work. I take my hat off to you.

QueenofLouisiana - she is really beautiful and looks so secure all curled up like that.

Owllady Fri 04-Apr-14 10:40:18

Oh nana is fab. I am going to show my boys when they get home so they can set themselves a trick challenge over the Easter holidays

Booboostoo Fri 04-Apr-14 10:44:10

Tibetan Terriers suck. Very stressy, destructive, difficult dogs, don't even think about them! Mine is the most difficult dog I have ever had and frankly I have spent the last 17 years training and having fun with my other dogs but I can't get to grips with her.(neither can two dog behaviourists or a vet specialising in problem dogs)!

Have 9 month old bc female. One good walk in the morning and the fidgets are gone all day- evening shorter walk.
Lovely dog, friends with everyone and all dogs, but very bouncy. Not particularly nervy, ok with cat, very intelligent and loves learning new things (jumping through hoop this week!).
Very cuddly easy dog on the whole. Worst of the chewing is over and was no worse than spaniel (and much better than lab who munched his way through friend' s kitchen wall).
Getting calmer every day. Am trying to think of some disadvantages but apart from the enormous amount of mud she wallows in, I can't.

Beachcomber Tue 08-Apr-14 11:02:59

Hi again everyone. A (rather long!) update - our local rescue has just had a border collie cross come in!! Would you believe it!

She has been with them for 3 weeks so they have now just put her up for adoption (legal delay plus a bit of time for them to see how she behaves). I regularly look on their site and saw her picture a few days ago. DH went to see her on Friday and have an initial chat with the rescue about how things work with them and I went to see her yesterday. We both wanted to see her before we get the children involved and now have an appointment for this afternoon to see how she is with our two DC.

She is lovely - on the small side for a collie X and a bit of a mixture, I think collie crossed with smaller mongrel type, definitely a bit of a mutt! They think she is between 2 and 3 years old, so has reached her adult size and temperament. Poor wee lamb was a stray picked up on the street by the dog pound. She is a bit underweight and her coat is quite dull and greasy sad . But she seems healthy and has been checked over by the rescue vet and they have spayed her. I felt so sorry for her - her stitches seem fine but it seems such a trauma for a poor dog to be abandoned, picked up by the pound, moved to a rescue and then spayed, all in the course of a few weeks. Plus of course the poor thing had a lampshade on so that she would leave her stitches.

We took her for a gentle walk (lampshade off which she was very pleased about!) and she was very sweet. She was quite shy with me in the beginning, but by the end was rolling on her back so that I could tickle her tummy. She pulled a bit on the lead but not too badly and was pretty calm all things considered. There were other dogs around and she didn't show signs of aggression with them, she was cautious and a bit shy with them but wagged her tail and wanted to be friends. We also just sat quietly for a bit and she was very good and really just looked at me with that dog look that says 'please love me'. There is definitely a sadness to her - she reminds me of my old rescue dog when we first got her.

The rescue man seemed to think that we get on well and thinks we would be a good home for her. She needs lots of gentle care and security and then he feels pretty sure she will be a happy fun family dog who will be very devoted and love playing - just what we want.

So! Fingers crossed that it goes well with the children today, she seems very gentle so I just hope she is the same with the children and we can adopt her!

Rescue place would let us reserve her and we can come and visit her and walk her until her stitches are out and then she can come home.

I so hope it works with the DC today, as she really is lovely and I just want to rescue her from what obviously hasn't been an easy start in life. I can't help feeling the timing is a sign - we had just about given up on the idea of a rescue as so many of the dogs they have are too big for us or ex hunting dogs which we didn't feel we could take on (we live in a part of the French countryside where lots of people have hunting dogs and they aren't really pets. They abandon them when they get a bit old or if they aren't good hunters sad )

Spoke to the family who are planning on having border collie pups over the weekend to let them know what was going on - they have quite a few people already interested in a litter if they do go ahead and just said to let them know what we decide.

Will let you know how things go. I so hope rescue dog and the DC get on....

Beachcomber Tue 08-Apr-14 11:04:55

Picture of her - wish me luck for this afternoon!

Bettythree Tue 08-Apr-14 12:48:12

She looks beautiful! Look forward to hearing how she gets on with your children.
We have an 18 month rescue collie x who is just the best dog ever. Have always had dogs but this is the only one who has just fitted in perfectly. He is great fun, always ready to play with a ball, Frisbee, leaf etc etc......
He is easy to train although I'm not always convinced if I'm training him or he's training me!!
Good luck x

Livvylongpants Tue 08-Apr-14 12:49:24

We got a collie before as had kids, she takes a lot of walking and work which is hard now with 2 under 21/2 but give. The age of your kids it should be fine

Owllady Tue 08-Apr-14 12:54:09

Oh she's just lovely smile

Beachcomber Tue 08-Apr-14 12:57:53

Thank you!

I'm fretting that someone else will have swept in and adopted her between me seeing her yesterday and going back today. Can't settle to do anything and am clock watching until it is time to get DC from school and head to rescue.

Until you have officially reserved the dog it is possible for someone else to adopt/reserve. Aaah am all nerves - am no doubt just being silly but in France they let you adopt/reserve really quickly and don't insist on a home visit so in theory it would be possible for someone to snap her up. Roll on end of school day....

Booboostoo Tue 08-Apr-14 16:49:01

She looks lovely, hope it all works out!

Beachcomber Tue 08-Apr-14 19:45:00

We have reserved her!

She was absolutely fine with the DC - behaved the same with them as she did with me, a bit shy but happy to be stroked and played a bit of ball with us. Rescue man perfectly happy with how she was and so was I. She was gentle and obviously neither afraid of children nor aggressive with them nor overly excited by them. Phew!!

The DC loved her and think she is beautiful.

We have put down a deposit on her and need to wait until her stitches come out and then we can bring her home. We are going to try and visit her a few times between then and now so that she has a chance to get to know us a bit.

Going shopping for collar, lead, bed, etc tomorrow.

Thank you all so much for your posts and friendliness on this thread - I will no doubt be starting others about food, etc...

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