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Border Collies

(48 Posts)
GinAndOnIt Thu 19-Jan-17 08:22:12

I posted a thread back in November asking for help with what breed our second dog should be, and lots of people said BCs. I'm really drawn to them, and DP is warming to them too, but we really want to know everything before we set our minds to it.

So, DP is a farmer (arable, no livestock) and I stay home. We don't have children. We have GinDog who is a lab/patt cross aged 4yrs, and an old rescue cat.

GinDog is a pretty flexible dog and can either run for a whole day, or stay home with me and have a long walk and then bits of garden play/interaction inside and lots of cuddling. He's very good at switching off and lazing about, but getting up and ready to go whenever you need him to. He is very good at 'protecting' me/our land/house with barking, but has the terrible terrier trait of disappearing on a walk/if a gate is left open. I'm trying to fix this. He is, however, excellent at recognising the different engine noises of farm vehicles, and is very good around them (i.e. runs along one side of it, never behind/in front etc)

For our second dog we are looking for a similar sort of thing really. We would most likely both take a dog so there would always be one at home and one on the farm. I would like to have the option to be able to keep both home for walks though. I would like a more intelligent dog (sorry GinDog!) that I would like to train a bit firmer into more of a helper at home. (They don't have to help, but I'd like a dog who would enjoy the challenge of learning new commands/tricks etc. GD just looks at me like I'm a fool if I try, and DP is normally in the background sniggering!)

Two things I'm worried about with a BC:
1) will it ever switch off and let me give it a cuddle/stroke? Or will it be wired constantly waiting for the next command?
2) will it be okay around children? I'm an ex nanny, and occasionally have children to visit, plus family members with children. Someone mentioned BCs are prone to nipping with lively children around.

If you have one, or have had one, can you tell us the good, the bad and the ugly of owning a BC?

Although it's not popular, we would be looking at getting one from a pup. I really want to work hard on training from day dot, and not have to battle with old bad habits. We need to be able to trust it to behave well on the farm. DP has also had two bad experiences with rescue dogs, and is really wary of doing it again.

NotMeNoNo Thu 19-Jan-17 08:29:51

We have a BC. Cane from a farm but DP spent a lot of time with puppies and picked the least aggressive of the males. I can categorically say he has no problems with cuddles or being gentle with children. The early socialising bit is key I think as we know other BC who are fine with say traffic but nervous of children. I am no expert though and TBH he is more obedient in love with DP than me.

NotMeNoNo Thu 19-Jan-17 08:29:53

We have a BC. Cane from a farm but DP spent a lot of time with puppies and picked the least aggressive of the males. I can categorically say he has no problems with cuddles or being gentle with children. The early socialising bit is key I think as we know other BC who are fine with say traffic but nervous of children. I am no expert though and TBH he is more obedient in love with DP than me.

NotMeNoNo Thu 19-Jan-17 08:36:24

sorry, the app keeps multi posting. "oops something went wrong".

CoffeeDiamonds Thu 19-Jan-17 09:10:11

I have 2 BCs. They need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation but they settle beautifully and snuggle up for cuddles.

Mine play hard, run hard, sleep hard!
Very affectionate, great with our 4 kids.

PippaFawcett Thu 19-Jan-17 09:15:50

We had a BC when I was a child/teen. It was my favourite dog by a mile. We lived very rurally and she was out all day with my DMum. She was the cleverest dog I have ever seen and I still miss her today. She was fine with children until they irritated her - we had a cousin who pulled her fur - but she didn't nip just growled and then stayed away from him. But perhaps we should have not put her in that situation in the first place, our golden retriever had the same treatment and he just used to suffer it. Any BC will need exercise practically all day every day. I hate seeing them copped up. Ours was very happy to settle in the evening near us and we got so much joy from her company.

PippaFawcett Thu 19-Jan-17 09:16:50

Cooped up

Wordsaremything Thu 19-Jan-17 09:26:22

Bc s are fabulous dogs- intelligent, sensitive, loyal. They need mental stimulation as much as physical activity. It's a myth that they need huge , huge amounts of exercise. They need proper exercise certainly - and will take as much as you can give them with room to spare- so I certainly wouldn't recommend anyone with a sedentary lifestyle to consider one.

My recently departed girl was half terrier, half collie and she was the most amazing dog. I also have a farm bred pure BC.

They are easy to train as they are bright, but will prob go through an especially naughty teen phase. Some of them try to herd vehicles so you may need to watch out for that. My boy came from good working stock but he has never been too drive-y. He is compliant, affectionate, and well behaved.

And BC puppies are gorgeous. I say go for it. Make sure you go for working not show lines though.

whojamaflip Thu 19-Jan-17 09:33:22

I've had the honour of having 3 bcs in my life and they have all been completely different characters!

First was a rescue pup I got when she was 8 mths old - from working stock and had no end of issues - was dog aggressive, scared of livestock and had no recall whatsoever - managed her problems but she rarely was off the lead and could not have her around children - thankfully I was single with no dc and I lost her aged 10 to cancer 😞

Second was my dhs working dog - very hard nosed but a fantastic worker, couldn't tolerate children but was fine with my dc as long as they left her alone - was prone to nipping especially if anyone bent down to stroke her so we kept her away from public places - could be extremely loving but only on her terms - would run all day and was constantly in work mode. Lost her last year when she was badly injured on the farm aged 12.

Currently have a 12 mth bitch who is absolutely soppy as hell! Loves the kids and puts up with cuddles for hours! If anything she's too soft to work the animals and we are thinking of getting another bc to work and she can turn into a pet - she's happy to walk for miles but is equally happy sleeping in front of the aga!

Border collies are fantastic intelligent dogs and I can't imagine life without one but it can be very hit and miss with their character - they can be stubborn but also they are fantastically loyal and easily trained.

GinAndOnIt Thu 19-Jan-17 12:04:16

Great information from everybody, thank you! It seems fairly positive too on the whole.

I think, worse case scenario, if we did end up with one who nipped that we really tried everything to stop, we could work it out by building him an outdoor/kennel space where he could go to escape should we have child visitors.

starsorwater Thu 19-Jan-17 14:07:16

We have a bc aged 4. She is the kindest dog I have ever known. Hates being alone but I work from home. Needs at least 3 hours off lead running about a day, split into 2 walks in winter. Great at hide and seek searching for chew or something all over the house, really occupies her brain.As does a huge newspaper pass the parcel to unwrap, or a problem to solve. Lots of tricks, loading socks in washing machine etc also keep her busy. In between she is utterly content flat out on a rug. Was much harder work first two years. Worth her weight in gold, wouldn't leave any dog alone with a child, but if I had to pick one it would be her.

TrionicLettuce Thu 19-Jan-17 15:14:36

I'd maybe look into sports/obedience lines as well as working if you're not keen on the show type. There are some breeders that show who also work or compete in various sports with their dogs though so personally I wouldn't necessarily write off how breeders completely.

You do need to be careful when it comes to health tests in BCs as there are rather a lot they should have and it can be difficult to find breeders who do them all.

Both parents should have been hip scored, elbow scored and have a current BVA eye test and a current BVA gonioscopy.

They should also have been DNA tested for Imerslund-Gräsbeck syndrome, collie eye anomaly, the MDR1 gene defect, neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, Raine syndrome and trapped neutrophil syndrome.

The breed club also recommends BAER hearing tests for litters.

Epilepsy is something of an issue in the breed as well but currently there's no way to test for it. Breeders should be thoroughly researching the lines they're using for any indication that epilepsy is present in them.

Depending on the colour of the parents (and their relatives) I'd also like to see a DNA test done for the merle coat colour.

Whitney168 Thu 19-Jan-17 16:32:59

I think I probably said this on your old thread, but why don't you look at the Smooth Collie instead? I think it would suit you well and wouldn't be quite so full on.

If you are determined for a BC, as with many breeds there will be huge differences in drive between working bred dogs and show lines, so you could look at that?

castleontheground Thu 19-Jan-17 22:00:00

What about an English Shepherd? They were the traditional farm collie before the intense border bit got bred into them.

GinAndOnIt Fri 20-Jan-17 07:35:58

castle I've seen those dogs around and never known the breed! Can you tell me what they're like? Are they intelligent like a border?

GinAndOnIt Fri 20-Jan-17 08:14:07

castle I think you may have found our dream breed...

I've just been trawling through websites reading up on these dogs, and have actually emailed someone about a 2018 litter. I would like to hear some first hand experience of them though - I always worry these websites only give you a rose tinted view!

Blackfellpony Fri 20-Jan-17 08:20:25

We have a bc and he is a lovely dog. He is gentle, calm and dependable. Really easy to train. He is desperate to please all the time and is always trying to anticipate my next move.

However, his brain is always on the go. A flash of light in the room and he jumps up and is off chasing it. He has annoying habits of racing to the door if I shuffle on the sofa and he can run and run and run and never get bored. He does like a cuddle for a moment then he runs off to get a toy and shoves it at me instead. I'm sure he does sleep but I'm not sure when grin

castleontheground Fri 20-Jan-17 09:40:51

I don't own an English Shepherd unfortunately but you should be able to find loads on the internet easily. Litters don't come up very often. Have met a couple though and they're gorgeous.

lilybetsy Fri 20-Jan-17 15:58:44

I have two BC; a 3 year old bitch and a 4 month old dog puppy. They are both wonderful and settle very well in the evenings. They are loyal, friendly bright, and easy to train. The older dog is the kindest most loyal you could imagine. The puppy is too little for that yet!
I have three boys at home and the dogs adore the kids too. The do need exercise but not THAT much , and as someone said up thread, mental exercise wears them out more ...
They have brought us all untold joy and I could not recommend the breed more. I bought form show/ bred for pet lines although there are many 'champions' in both blood lines.. I do think they are perhaps a bit less bouncy that dogs bred on a farm ... and of course they have had all the genetic testing etc

I say go for t!

dotdotdotmustdash Fri 20-Jan-17 17:47:59

I have a rescue BC who is almost 7. We've had him for over 5 years, but he had a few home before he came to us. He is the most polite, responsive and obedient dog ever and has no issues other than not enjoying small children playing roughly around him. He's affectionate and a real people-pleaser who always like to have his people around, but is perfectly well-behaved if he's left at home. He understands an enormous vocabulary of words and can reply yes or no if you ask him if he wants or needs something. Easiest dog ever.

starsorwater Fri 20-Jan-17 22:09:02

dotdot how does he reply yes and no?

Ours can do 'show me' and take you to what she has asked for, but I'd love a yes and no.

dotdotdotmustdash Fri 20-Jan-17 22:18:43

Do you want a walk? wags tail furiously, mouth open and happy body
Do you want a biscuit? as above and runs to the shelf
Do you want to go to bed? Straight upstairs, stops halfway to wait for me
Do you want to go out for a pee? either goes, or lies down in the kitchen
Do you want a bath? drops head, body sinks and ears go back and looks like a tortured soul

And many others...

Basically, he recognises the sounds and does happy body language or slinks down low and drops his head, always keeping eye contact. He looks like we abuse him but we never have, we haven't even had to raise our voices at him in 5 years. He's just learned how to communicate with us using clear body language. We have some great conversations. Our other dog, a little collie-cross girl isn't anywhere near as smart, but she is lovely and affectionate.

BreakfastLunchPasta Fri 20-Jan-17 22:58:16

Our border collie is very affectionate and loves rubs and snuggles. When she's feeling very loving she kisses my hand with a lick 🙂
She also loves fetching her ball. She can get a bit annoying with the ball thing, for instance can't saintly dropping it on our visitors laps in the hope they won't realise she's not allowed play fetch inside the house - we have to put balls up out of reach when not in use.
She has excellent recall and understands lots of words, she even recognises when I spell p-a-r-k grin
She is fantastic with kids (she's close in age to our youngest, so grew up with an annoying toddler) but not great with other dogs, unless she knows them really well. If other dogs come running up to her she gets scared and responds aggressively, but she doesn't approach other dogs.
She's a very territorial, barks like mad at cats passing along our back wall, although we have one, and she barks like mad when the doorbell rings etc.

Twooter Fri 20-Jan-17 23:06:35

There always seem to be 2 different types of BC - the gorgeous soppy type and the sharp snappy type. I know of at least three people who have had to rehome due to aggression - mainly due to the fact they were all unsuitable owners for the breed. It worries me to hear them recommended on here in case it gives other people the idea that they'd be a good pet - the lovely ones are, but the nasty ones are not so much fun to live with.

massi71 Fri 20-Jan-17 23:12:25

We have a 15 week old BC. He's wonderful but very hard work. He knows the names of 8 different toys so far and can play fetch all day long. I read somewhere that with a BC they always need a job to do and with that in mind I'm trialling giving him his meals in kongs so its not as easy for him. It keeps him occupied and settled as food is not a driving force for him. Also he has to earn a ball being thrown by sitting nicely. Hes my first dog but DH has had BCs before thankfully.

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