This boisterous, exuberant dog is just as happy being a pet as running around the fields herding up its flock. There’s much more to this breed than just being an iconic sheepdog.
What are some interesting facts about Border Collie? Where do they come from, and what are they good at doing? Let’s take a look at everything about this intelligent sheepdog:
Did you know that the Border Collie was bred first in Scotland? Border Collies thrived on the border region of Scotland and England, herding sheep and cattle – and loving it! Collie is a Scottish adjective meaning the dog is useful or good at herding. Since this dog worked mainly in the border region between England and Scotland, it became known as the Border Collie.
This herding breed loves nothing more than rounding up sheep or cows all day long. Yes, the Border Collie was originally bred to herd sheep – and they’re good at it, too. Border Collies have unrivalled intelligence and work ethic, but they also have the strength and stamina to keep going all day long.
The Border Collie has the unique trait of using “the eye” to round up their sheep. This skill is where they stare down the flock in a bid to intimidate them into complying. Ever since the earliest recorded sheepdog trial, in 1873 at Bala, Wales, the Border Collie breed has taken home all the top prizes!
They feature in Scottish poetry
Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet, once owned a Border Collie named Luath. He adored Luath to the extent that one of his most famous poems, The Twa Dogs, was inspired by them. Loyal Luath even features in multiple statues of Robert Burns!
The Border Collie truly has unrivalled intelligence. Border Collies have come top of the list in many a breed intelligence study. Indeed, the breed can learn an astonishing number of commands and is happiest when they have something to entertain their mind every day.
If you’ve ever seen a Border Collie round up sheep into a tight pen with only their handler’s whistles and gestures as instruction, you’ll know they are undoubtedly one of the smartest breeds.
In 2008, a Border Collie mix named Sweet Pea set a new record by balancing a can on her head and walking 100 meters in just 2 minutes and 55 seconds! On top of this, in Quebéc City, a Border Collie named Striker set the canine record for rolling down a manual car window.
Also, a Border Collie named Jumpy currently holds the Guinness World Record for canine skateboarding, skating 100 meters in under 20 seconds. And finally, a Border Collie called Chaser is thought of as the world’s most intelligent pooch. Chaser recognises the names of over 1000 objects!
Robert Burns isn’t the only famous person to love Border Collies. Tiger Woods, Ethan Hawke, James Franco, Bon Jovi, James Dean, and Anna Paquín are just a few famous people known to have owned Border Collies.
This intelligent dog excels in many fields, whether acting, search and rescue, or guiding. Border Collies have been cast in the films Animal Farm, Snow Dog, Babe, and the popular 90s TV series Mad About You. On top of this, a Border Collie named Blitz recently saved the life of a 51-year-old English woman.
This person had been missing for days when the volunteer search and rescue handler, Jess Ellsmore, brought her Border Collie named Blitz to search the area. Though she was obscured under thick foliage that would have taken humans ages to find her, Blitz discovered the woman almost immediately!
Like many queens, Queen Victoria loved dogs. She bred many breeds, including the Bichon Frise and Jack Russell Terrier. By the early 1860s, Queen Victoria became a true Border Collie enthusiast. This was when the Border Collie wasn’t yet an established breed.
Border Collies seem like a quintessential part of the Scottish landscape that you’d be forgiven for thinking the dog was native to there, maybe being bred from wolves or something else. But no, the Roman Empire brought the dog that would become the Border Collie over to the British Isles!
The Romans brought their sheep and shepherds over to the British Isles and started a wool industry. However, it turned out that the Roman dogs couldn’t deal with the cold weather, thus forcing the Romans to begin breeding the dog that would eventually become the Border Collie.
You’d think their intelligence would mean they’d be easy to train, right? But no – a bored Border Collie is a hazardous one. Border Collies have such a deeply ingrained need to herd sheep that some owners rent sheep for their Border Collie to look after! Other owners just give their Border Collie their own “flock” of soccer balls or yoga balls to herd.
If you don’t give them something to round up, they’ll find their own – leaves, trash, even kids or cars in the neighborhood!
What’s a Border Collie to do when they don’t have cattle or sheep to herd? You could do what one Border Collie owner did and invent your own game for them to play – Treibball! Invented in 2003 by the German dog owner, Jan Nibjoer, to play the young sport Treibball, your Border Collie rounds eight large exercise balls into a soccer goal.
The aim of Treibball is to get all of the balls into the goal within a set time – 15 minutes or so. You, the handler, can whistle or use spoken or hand signals, but you can’t admonish your pooch. The sport is growing – there may be Treibball competitions near you. Why not check it o