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Collie owners, talk to me about your dog?(61 Posts)
I’m not a first time dog owner.
Thinking about a new pup, and looking at different breeds. I’ve always loved collies.
Thinking about possibly a show line collie- would be good to hear from other owners?
What they are like with children? How affectionate are they?
Before anyone asks, I’m looking for a responsible breeder that health tests, the dog won’t be left for longer than 2-3 hrs max a week, can commit to walking at least 1-2 hours a day too.
Also- I know they love a job, but do they have an off switch too?
Lots of work, endless stimulation. Ours is well trained but it took a year and still needs 2 hours min walking a day.
Great with one child. The other she still thinks is another dog so will herd and occasionally growl.
You need space to work with them and nice places to walk or you'll go nuts! But I adore her. And she's getting there. She's 15 months and still an idiot though!
She'll go up to bed of her own accord at 9pm if she's been walked enough though!
Easily trained, beautiful nature, amazing with kids, can walk/run for miles and happy to keep going yet loves an early night.
solar isn't it funny how they love bed! Mine went up ages ago!
She's brilliant with the eldest (10). Will do anything with him and sleeps on him in the car. It's the younger one she's arsey with. Never shown her teeth or bitten but warns him verbally and moves him if he's not where she thinks he should be! She IS wonderful with other dogs too.
Are you referring to the Border collie or the Rough/Smooth collie..?
They are two very, very different dogs.
Assuming you mean border collie, I have the working line and I know a few other working line owners.
I personally do not agree with deliberately breeding working dogs into show/pet dogs.
I think in breeding for low drive you lose a lot of the charm and individuality of the breed and I think sometimes you can really muck up stability/nerve as well if you aren’t careful.
For example, I find that in show/pet lines of ‘better’ bred Border collie and German Shepherd (similar, both herding breeds) they tend to be more gregarious/friendly with strangers.
Which is nice, but it’s not really correct for either breed who are typically ‘one family’ dogs and aloof with strangers.
Both breeds are naturally somewhat high strung and in the Shepherd especially, the ‘worse’ bred show/pet lines can be very neurotic and nervous.
It’s a big problem also in Border collies.
In both lines.
Mine likes children, she is really, really tolerant and sweet and gentle.
They are not a breed I would generally recommend for young children because they are somewhat high strung and like to control.
Generally speaking they like peace, quiet and order.
Some collies get very very stressed by normal, noisy, lively child behaviour and will either try and control them (herd them) or will get upset and hide, get aggressive etc.
It is very important not to tolerate any herding behaviour towards the children, don’t be tricked into thinking a show line automatically won’t have any herding instinct.
Some are very low drive indeed, some or not.
Herding instinct generally, is present from about 8 weeks.
I don’t find them overly affectionate truthfully.
Mine loves a hug, she will come and press herself into you but I find that she far prefers to play than cuddle.
Generally, she’ll come up to me a few times a day for a brief kiss and cuddle then she’ll bounce off to find a toy.
She is supremely lazy in the house and will snuggle into you if you sit next to her while she’s resting but rarely approaches herself.
When DD was small we would regularly wake up in the morning to find that she’d snuck out of her in the bed and she would be snuggled up with the dog.
The ‘off switch’ is partly down to training and partly genetic.
You need to spend time with the prospective pup’s parents, that is the best indication of what your puppy will mature into.
Nervy, neurotic parents are highly likely to produce nervy, neurotic pups regardless of how you raise it.
She IS wonderful with other dogs too
Oh also, other dogs often don’t tend to like higher drive ones (like mine!)
I think they find the low, ‘predatory’ stance they can have and the hard eye, their tendency to crouch or lie down etc threatening.
And at maturity, quite a lot of collies aren’t particularly dog social either.
They want to play or stay with ‘their’ people.
Agree with frosted highly strung, like to control, need order, routine and to clearly know what is expected of them. Often too clever for their own good. I don't recommend them as a breed although it's the only breed I've ever/will ever have.
Yeah, mine'll roll over and submit and then run and play like a child. She's maybe not normal! But she gets on with other collies in the pub apart from one.
And actually, as sweet as she is, you're right, the affection is on her terms and she'd rather be entertained than loved unless she decides it's tickle time and then she'll punch you till you give in.
I have a border Collie and he is absolutely lovely, however there have definitely been pros and cons.
He's very nervous of other dogs, and other people. I used to have a rottweiler, and I could honestly trust him with other dogs and strangers much more than I can trust my collie. However he is brilliant with children, and cats. He does require lots and lots of excersise and mental stimulation. He loves to play Frisbee more than anything, he could play for hours. He was very easy to house train, and he dosent mind being left alone for an hour or two here and there.
He's been very easy to train, he seems to get the hang of things very quickly. By the time he was 16 weeks old he could do a multitude of tricks, including play dead, roll over, hi 5, sit and stay.
He's really affectionate towards the people in the household, he absolutely loves to cuddle in. Another thing I've noticed is other dogs don't seem to like him, he gets barked at alot, which almost never happened with my Rottie.
If course every dog is different but I would say unless you have the time to make sure they are properly excersised physically and mentally then I wouldn't get one. Look up the trainer Zac george on YouTube, he has a Border Collie and I watch him often, I really like his way of training.
Mine was a rescue. Sadly a lot of them end up bounced from pillar to post because people aren't able to meet their needs. Neurotic, needs a job to do. Not a pet. Behavioural issues in abundance if owner isn't up to the job. Sorry to sound cynical, just saddens me. Can be a wonderful household member if in the right hands.
They are working dogs and still have that need so be aware you will need to scratch that itch. Agility/lots of long walks and stimulation. If you can provide that then yes but personally don’t think they are an easy breed to have at home.
I'm not an owner but I have a job where I meet a lot of collies mostly working ones and I have to say from what I've experienced they are either the sweetest most docile dogs I've ever seen or full on biters. Again these are mostly working dogs on farms though so they are dealing with sheep etc so a bit different to a family pet.
Hello, not a collie owner, but have had some bad experiences with collies and my own dogs (consecutive dogs, different collies) where they have approached my dog and snapped at them. Once my dog was on lead walking down the street, the other a puppy off lead but minding his own business but collies ball was thrown near us (my dog is not interested in balls but collie bypassed the ball and went for my dog). I wondered if this is potentially to do with the rescuing mentioned above? Or if it is to do with the background of shepherding/protecting? They are the only dogs I am nervous about when I see them approach, and I have grown up with and trained dogs all my life.
I have a highland collie and she is amazing. She needs a lot of exercise, but is very calm and docile the rest of he time and doesn't make a fuss if she doesn't get a walk. Also likes to go to bed early! She is very tolerant of my DS who is 11 months and in general a very affectionate dog. They are intelligent so pretty easy to train.
Ive a border collie and that wouldnt be enough walking for him - he needs at the very least 3 hours good running a day and I wouldnt leave him for that long either - we have a dog walker to ensure it - They are incredibly intelligent dogs which is great as he is quick to learn, highly keen to do what hes told and loves training, but also cannot sit and do nothing. Hes very friendly and loving and good with the children but wouldnt leave him alone with them.They really just want to be working - mine loves helping with anything he sees as work like taking out the recycling, its a real shame he doesnt have a job but at the least he needs a lot of high impact fun - not just walking but training, ball throwing, games like find the ball etc.So they defo need a lot of input - mines 4 and a younger on would need more. He doesnt do on a lead and is very much a country dog. Because they are so in need of input due to high intelligence and being bred to work when they dont get enough they deteriorate in behaviour etc very quickly as will make up their own jobs - for example since lock down mine has decided his job is to police the house and will bark alot at people coming - and thats with still getting a lot of walking and games. Others will do other things to fill their time like becoming destructive or could become agressive due to the stress of not using their brain - they are natural snappers as part of the sheep herding! The herding keenness is very clear- he circles amazingly which can be cool but can be difficult! They love agility and flyball and fun games but it can be exhausting!
So my summary is gorgeous dogs but need ALOT of input otherwise will not be a good pet at all. If you only have 1-2 hours a day to walk dont get one, or get a dog walker to do one walk a day in addition to your walk.
I have 6 collies at the moment - the best dogs ever.
They need attention, so a couple of walks a day and then expect them to chill for the rest of the day is not likely.
Brain work is as important as exercise and time has to be given to this each day.
I agree they are intelligent dogs but that does not make them easy to train - they learn what they want to learn very quickly but are also clever enough to work out ways to not learn what they dont want to learn or learn it with adaptions. You need to be cleverer and at times this can be hard!
Many are worriers they need careful socialisation and that does not mean exposing them to everything but exposing them carefully and at the correct level. They tend to react first and then think about the situation later (and if you think about it that is what they are breed to do).
I have so called working breed and show breed collies I actually find the show breed can be more anxious and less likely to settle than the working breed.
They do not always know what is best for them so do need to be taught to chill and relax - some will play ball games all day until they drop which obviously only increases their Adrenalin levels.
Children and collies can work but collies may herd if given the opportunity (especially is their brain is not worked) and this can be an issue with children especially visiting children.
If you are happy to devote nearly all your time to your dog then they are the dog to go for however if you have another life they may not fit neatly in to your family
they are natural snappers as part of the sheep herding!
I hear this all the time but don’t really agree.
some collies can be nippy yes but Border collies herd primarily by ‘eye’, they tend to use nips or grabs as an escalation if prior attempts to move the herd haven’t worked.
The herding dogs that tend to be reallyterrible nippers are the droving breeds like Corgis and Heelers.
They love agility and flyball and fun games but it can be exhausting!
So my summary is gorgeous dogs but need ALOT of input otherwise will not be a good pet at all. If you only have 1-2 hours a day to walk dont get one
Border collies are very, very easy to over stimulate.
Fly ball and agility are high adrenaline, exciting sports and in no way comparable to sheep herding.
Truthfully there is no substitute for herding, it simply doesn’t exist.
Many border collies cannot do high excitement sports like flyball without getting overstimulated and stressed.
My collie will get very stressed and whine incessantly, pace, scratch, become reactive to noises etc if given anything like flyball or brain games to do
It’s just too much stimulation for her.
They need calm activities that work their brain.
Things like agility and flyball are the exact opposite of what they should be doing imo.
Also likes to go to bed early!
Yes, they love sleep!
If you don’t overstimulate them they are generally calm, placid dogs.
Mine will go all day outside if you want but she spends 99.9% of her time in the house sleeping and loves racing up the stairs at bedtime to dive into bed 😂
where they have approached my dog and snapped at them
wondered if this is potentially to do with the rescuing mentioned above? Or if it is to do with the background of shepherding/protecting?
My collie can be like this.
I think it’s partly defensiveness from bad experiences with other dogs.
I definately find that other dogs generally don’t like ‘higher drive’ border collies at all.
Dogs have gone for my collie many times when she hasn’t been interacting with them, just minding her own business.
And partly that imo, they aren’t a particularly dog social breed like say labradors.
They have been bred to work independently and bond to one person.
My collie will ignore other dogs, if anything larger than a small spaniel approaches her though she will lip curl straight away so I don’t allow her to get close to other dogs anymore unless they are quite small and she looks relaxed.
It’s very rare that she will approach another dog.
She’s better with small dogs but tbh her very ‘collie’ body language is evident.
She doesn’t tend to be scared of small dogs so tends to approach all happy tail wagging but lower stanced and hard eying them!
She’ll try and encourage them to chase her but I think the friendly signals of the smile and waggy tail coupled with the aggressive looking hard staring eyes really unsettles them, they tend to just look at her suspiciously and she gets very upset and starts whining and looking at me then back to the dog then back to me.
All of my dogs will ignore other dogs but if they come close eg the "just being friendly dog" they will send them packing if I do not act first.
They tend not to join in with other dogs so do not expect to make a new set of friends out walking on the common.
Some of my dogs love agility and the brain work really tires them out, some of them find it way too stimulating so you cannot guarantee which type of collie you get. I disagree that it is not what some of them should be doing but it is not right for all of them.
We do work sheep and also trieballing which is a great substitute for herding and they all love it. Scent work has been enjoyed by all of them.
I dont think collies need to be kept in a calm chilled state the whole time but do need to be taught how to chill and relax. I always crate train and my dogs know the minute they go into the crate it is time to chill and they are off duty (crates are not shut)
Frosted violets - I stand corrected - we do agility in our own (very big) garden rather than with other dogs etc - ours loves doing all the course weve made for him - jumps etc etc but you are right, I have no experience of it in an external setting with him - my Jack Russel used to love agility in a big way but for our collie we have only done it at home so trying to think how he would be - I think he'd still love it in a right setting - outdoors etc - but havent done it so cant be sure! And you are right he loves thinking activities the absolute most!
Thanks @frostedviolets and @PollyPolson this is a really good insight into the nature of collies and why I have had these experiences ! It sounds like they are lovely companions and like people all have different traits
I have a rescue collie and to be honest wouldn’t have another.
He’s intelligent, often too intelligent. He’s loving, good with other dogs. Not brilliant with small animals as he is a bit stalky. He can be shifty with strangers but he is a rescue so I can’t be sure that it’s breed and not what happened to him previously.
Other dogs don’t like him because he lies down and I think they can’t make him out.
I wouldn’t have another because he’s always waiting for something, even asleep he has half an eye open and I don’t think I like that collies never switch off even for a second. If I move in my chair he’s up. He also shadow chases, again he came with this behavioural issue but I think it’s something easily triggered as they are so busy.
I also have GSD and they look lazy compared to the collie!!
So in short I love him, I try and keep him stimulated as much as possible but it’s not enough and I think the average pet home isn’t the right environment for them.
He is an old man now and still as crazy as ever
A family member has a collie.
He hates all people that are not direct family- if he sees you less than once a month don't even come in his house. He won't bite, but barks alot.
He hates loud noises
He loves long long walks and running around- he likes being off his lead, but sometimes he's unpredictable.
Hes very good in the house, was easily house trained and doesn't chew anything when hes left on his own.
He was from a working family, he doesn't nor never has worked, but is scared of sheep.
Have you considered a bearded collie? Clever, fun, kind and with loads of energy, less 'intense' than border collies, in my experience anyway.
I have an 18m show like border collie.
He is super friendly, easy-going, unbelievably affectionate (needs his cuddles) and really good with the kids (pre-teens) - but as with ANY dog never leave them unsupervised.
We did huge amounts of socialising. Didn’t over-exercise (they will take as much as you throw at them) and did very basic, but good, training.
I feel we have struck gold with him, I’m besotted. He’s been an amazing companion during lockdown.
I have to say though I’m hugely disappointed that the other collie owners on this thread have not posted any photos! So here’s mine