General Border Collie Information

*Border Collie Health                                                                                                                                                                        *Is a Border Collie Right for YOU?



Border Collies are generally considered a healthy breed.  Each breed does have its predisposition to certain conditions that you need to be aware of.  As a breeder of working dogs I, and most others working dog breeders, strive to produce pups that are sound mentally and physically and have herding ability greater to or equal their parents.  Genetics is always a roll of the dice and you are not guaranteed good results. 

There are some diseases that can be tested for and others that can not.  Some problems can be weeded out of lines by testing and good choices other problems are not as simple and thought to be caused by a combination of things.

 Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) CEA is a congenital disorder where the parts of the eye do not develop normally. The severity of the disease ranges from no visual impairment to blindness. It is not a progressive disease and affected dogs usually have only mildly impaired vision. There is now a DNA test for CEA so depending on the status of the parents you can be assured the pups will not be affected.

Deafness Border Collies are known to have deafness in some lines.  A BAER test can determine if the hearing is normal or not.

 Elbow dysplasia Elbow dysplasia is degenerative elbow disease affecting the joint and often leading to osteoarthritis.

 Epilepsy Epilepsy is a disease characterized by seizures. Border Collies can be affected with epilepsy, the incidence and heritability is unknown. There can be many causes and often the cause can not be determined.

 Hip Dysplasia (HD) HD is by far the most prevalent known genetic disease that affects Border Collies. It is a laxity in the hip joint that leads to arthritis and is painful, in some dogs to the extent of being debilitating.

  Osteochondritis Desicans (OCD) OCD is a disease of the cartilage usually occurring in pups 4 to 9 month old. The shoulder joint is the most commonly affected site but it can be seen in stifles, elbows, hocks or other joints. OCD is thought to be caused by a problem in the growth rate of the joint cartilage relative to the underlying subchondral bone.  The causes of OCD are unknown, it is generally thought that rapid growth, over nutrition, trauma all influence the joint but genetics are bound to be involved.  At this time there is not a specific test to determine which dogs may be at risk or have affected pups.  The cartilage in mildly affected joints is able to rebuild and on xray it appears identical to normal cartilage.  Mildly affected dogs may become sound with rest but once there is loose cartilage in the joint it is painful and muscle atrophy generally occurs.  In this case surgery is recommended and is very successful at bringing dogs back to full function..

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and Central Retinal Atrophy (CPRA) are both known eye problems

PRA generally shows up in dogs around 2 yrs of age.  It can be noticed as night blindness and slowly progress over years to total blindness

** This is not a comprehensive list and you should always consult your veterinarian with medical concerns



Every dog has been “made” for a purpose in mind.  Different breeds and individual crosses bred through generations with an end goal in mind, evaluating the pups and making choices who stays in the breeding gene pool and who does not.  When you consider adding a dog to your family you need to keep this in mind.  It is much more important than picking a cute pup.  I personally have not seen to many pups of any breed that didn’t pull your heart strings a bit and get you thinking about bringing them home. 

 A dog is a Lifelong Commitment so the breed you choose needs to fit into your family and lifestyle.

Border Collies have been developed to be working dogs, herding dogs to assist in the management of livestock.  Each herding breed has their “style” in which they work.  Border Collies are Heading dogs; naturally going to the head of livestock and using what is called EYE to control and move the stock.  All breeds can quickly loose their ability unless it is specifically bred for.  Those pups that come from generations of herding, actually working dogs before them, are born with the information in their heads.  It is quite amazing to see a pup discover livestock and watch this instinct come forward at a very early age.  I have known some pups to want to work at 3 months old.  I am speaking of working not playing and chasing.  Some start thinking about livestock even sooner than that.  These young pups are not physically capable of much work at this age but you can see the instinct and want to in some.  There is no question when working livestock a Border Collie will be a great addition for you.

It is the movement of stock that kicks in this inherent ability and knowledge of herding making it to come to the surface.  Given the right breeding, encouragement and training the pup will be on its way to making a working dog.  No one can say how good the dog will be, how long it will take, if the dog is suited for sheep or cattle… there are far to many contributing factors in the next couple years while the dog is developing.  The best way to have an Idea about a pup is to know the generations before it.  The way the pup actually works more times than not will be close to the way the parents work.  Therefore if the pup is going to work make sure you see the parents work and enjoy their style of working.

The Border Collie is a highly intelligent active dog, again bred that way so it suited to do a job.  Not all Border Collies are suited for herding, some go into sports homes and excel there, some go into active pet homes.  Border Collies, because of their intelligence and high energy level, need a job of some kind.  That can be accompanying their family when hiking, biking, camping or as a running partner, or agility, dock diving ect.  They need both mental and physical exercise daily and do not fit into a sedentary life style.  A bored Border Collie will create things to do and may become destructive or exhibit compulsive behaviors. Compulsive behaviors can be bug chasing, fly catching, running after shadows, chasing birds, running circles in their kennels, spinning in circles - None of these are good, they are telling you the dog is going a bit bonkers and needs more interaction and something constructive to occupy him.  Border Collies are excited by movement and can become car chasers, cat chasers and attempt to herd children and people unless these activities are stopped quickly and the energy redirected.  Because of their overall intelligence and need to be active they are usually not a good choice for a first time dog owner, if you are not on top of your game a Border Collie will subtlety take control and train you.  They are a more sensitive breed and can be raised so they understand people are in charge but if you do not demonstrate that for them most intelligent breeds will figure a way to use you to their advantage. They often exhibit noise sensitivity also which can be difficult to handle for a first time dog owner.  Border Collies will keep you on your toes.  They can be a wonderful companion and working partner but will require work and time to develop into the best they can be.  If you have the time to devote to the dog, raising and training, then check them out.  If you are wanting/needing a dog to just hang out and be good on their own they are not the dog for you.

  I will not be without one, ok several, on the farm.