The Border Collie is a breed of working and herding dog, developed in the Scottish borders for herding livestock, especially sheep, it was bred specifically for its obedience and intelligence.
Border Collies are considered to be the most intelligent of all domestic dogs, as well as being highly intelligent, they are energetic, athletic and acrobatic. They continue to be employed in their traditional work of herding livestock throughout the world, as well as competing with great success in sheepdog trials and dog sports.
In general Border Collies are medium-sized dogs with a moderate double coat, which is prone to shedding. While black and white is the most commonly seen pattern, the breed can appear in just about any colour and pattern known to appear in dogs.
Eye colours range from brown to blue, occasionally with both eyes being different colours, this is known as Heterochromia iridium. The ears of the Border Collie are also variable, some are fully erect, some fully dropped and others have semi erect ears.
The Border Collie is descended from Landrace Collies, a type found widely in the British Isles, the name for the breed comes from its probable place of origin, along the Anglo-Scottish border. Mention of the word Collie to describe the breed first appeared towards the end of the 19th Century, though the word itself is a lot older than this and as its origins in the Scottish language. It is thought that the word Collie comes from the old Celtic word for useful.
All the best Collies today can be traced back to a dog known as Old Hemp. Old Hemp was a tricolor dog born in Northumberland in September 1893 and died in May 1901. Hemp was a powerful, quiet dog to which sheep responded to easily, many shepherds used him for stud and Hemps working style became the Border Collie style. All pure blood Collies alive today can trace an ancestral line back to Old Hemp, he was believed to have sired about 200 pups during his lifetime.
Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) and Epilepsy are considered the two primary genetic diseases in the breed at this time, CEA is a congenital, inherited eye disease involving the retina, choroid and the sclera which can affect Border Collies, it is generally a mild disease and rarely as a significant effect on vision. Other eye diseases like Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) can be more dangerous, PRA slowly disintegrates the retina and can cause the Collie to lose its night vision and can even progress into complete daytime blindness.
Epilepsy in animals is a group of neurological disorders characterised by seizures, caused by abnormal bursts of electrical activity in the brain. These can start and stop very abruptly, and last any amount of time, from a few seconds to a few minutes. Canine Epilepsy is often genetic but Epilepsy in cats and other pets is rarer, probably because there is no hereditary component to Epilepsy in these animals.
A healthy Border Collie will weigh between 12 and 20kg with the male being slightly heavier than the female. The same can be said for the Border Collies height with the male being slightly taller, the standard height being between 46 and 56cm. The natural lifespan of the Border Collie is between 12 and 15 years, with an average lifespan of 12 years, this is about average for breeds of similar size.