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Pros and Cons of Choosing a Border Collie as a Pet

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If you're considering a border collie as a pet, discover some of the advantages and drawbacks of this remarkable breed.

If you're considering a border collie as a pet, discover some of the advantages and drawbacks of this remarkable breed.

A Special Breed: The Border Collie

If you are considering bringing a border collie into your home, then there is a good chance you are aware that it is a very special dog indeed. Thanks to some very unique traits, choosing your new dog can be a very tough decision. This article will present both the pros and cons of this breed, helping you to make an informed and responsible decision.

In no other dog are the ancestral wolf-like traits more obviously displayed than in the Border Collie. The caution and careful creeping movements with which it approaches the flock are all typical of the hunting behaviour of the wolf pack. Border Collies first appeared in the UK for the purpose of hunting during the sixteenth century. Over time, these dogs have been bred specifically for this purpose. Intelligence, obedience and endurance are the major factors in the selection process.

These criteria have made Border Collies popular both as working dogs and trainable pets. Yet it is important to understand the pros and cons of these traits.

Border Collie showing off its personality.

Border Collie showing off its personality.

Incredible Traits and Disadvantages

Border Collies are well known for their intelligence and determination to please their masters. On top of these qualities come toughness and a lot of initiative. Yet, however strange it may seem, it is precisely these incredible traits that hide the breed's disadvantages.

The upbringing of a young Border Collie demands considerable knowledge and insight. More importantly, it needs a calm and consistent approach. A Border Collie who is misunderstood and unable to work off its energy can develop serious behavioural problems. They are certainly not ideal dogs for beginners.

The Ideal Owner

A Border Collie needs a clever master with a quick mind who also enjoys a lot of exercise. A walk in the woods or run beside the bike won't satisfy its need to be worked and let off its energy. As well as plenty of opportunities to exercise, it also needs mental challenges.

Jasper the Border Collie leaping in the air catching a stick.

Jasper the Border Collie leaping in the air catching a stick.

Bottled-up energy needs to be released, and not doing so can lead to destructive traits like aggression and straying. Its herding instinct can become directed at anything that moves: children, other dogs and pets such as cats. Cagebirds and rodents, even ants in procession, must be hypnotised, circled and herded. This nervous, neurotic behaviour is not just a nuisance, but can easily become dangerous if the dog gets the chance to try to herd moving vehicles or cyclists.

The restlessness of many Border Collies can cause chronic eating disorders; they simply won't allow themselves time to eat. Finding alternative, more desirable food or even forcing the dog to eat will prove ineffective.

Just like the wolf's, its body talk is extremely expressive. Many display over-sensitivity in response to their masters' moods or to raised voices with an immediate and ongoing show of subjection. They are constantly alert; they miss nothing, and they react immediately to even the tiniest non-verbal signal from their master. To an onlooker, they appear to possess almost telepathic qualities.

Mental Stimulation Is Essential

The definite cons mentioned above are meant as words of caution. It is all too easy to assume that the hard-working, intelligent nature of a Border Collie will make it the perfect pet. Hopefully now you can see that there is a definite downside to this seemingly desirable behaviour. It's important that prospective owners see beyond its primary need being one of exercise. Yes, you need to be prepared to accommodate at least two hours of exercise a day, but it is the mental stimulation that needs to be met equally to ensure a good-tempered dog.

It is very common for prospective owners to say, "We have a large garden, so it will have all the exercise it needs." This isn't necessarily a guarantee that it will have its requirements met. An owner that combines an hour of training and mentally stimulating their Border Collie with an hour of supervised exercise may have a more content dog than an owner who allows it the run of a garden on its own for several hours each day.

Is the Border Collie Right for You?

A well looked after, exercised and stimulated Border Collie can be a very rewarding addition to the right family. All other requirements aside, you must be able to give your dog the time it needs. It is certainly not a dog to just play with when it suits you. It must become an integral part of your life and receive as much consideration to its needs as you put to your own, if not more!


Suzie from Carson City on October 29, 2011:

I am the proud and loving Mom of a 3 year old, registered, male Border Collie. In fact, I wrote a Hub on my buddy, which is how I found your Hub. It was listed in the margins of my hub. Obviously, I agree with all that you said. To own a Border Collie is to know one is to love one. My guy has more energy than 10 dogs, is smarter than some human children I know (lol) and so loyal, I could stand a little LESS of it! I simply can NOT make a move that he doesn't instantly react to. I pick up my purse, he's out the door and sitting by the car, in a flash. I head for the stairs and he's at the top waiting for me in a second. He's a big beautiful, ball of energy. People tell me all the time what a "handsome" boy he is. The young man at the gas station knows to smile at him and not come too close to me. My "Taz" will L E A P from the back seat, straddle me, placing his face next to mine, blocking any view of the attendant with his focused glare as he growls ever so quietly, until I tell him, "It's OK, Taz, no one is going to hurt me."

Funny true story. I was pulled over recently due to a broken tail the young officer approached my car, Taz went into the action I just described. The Officer saw him and heard the low growl. He said, "WHOA! is that dog Viscious?" I smiled and said, "Only if you give me a ticket." He "suggested" I get my tail light fixed and wished me a "Good Night." Great informational Hub! Voted up and useful

Memories1932 on May 24, 2011:

We have a beautiful border collie. You do have to spend a lot of time with them but there is nothing better then spending time with your border collie.