Border Collies: The Most Intelligent Breed of Dog

Border Collies, commonly known as ‘Collies’ or Scottish Sheepdogs, are the most intelligent breed of dog on this planet. They are suited to active couples and families due to their high energy and need for mental stimulation.

If you’re thinking about welcoming a Border Collie into your life, it’s wise to spend some time researching reputable breeders before you make a lifetime commitment. Rehoming centres such as The Dogs Trust are always a great place to start looking for your new best friend.

Border collies - pet insurance, dog insurance, Border Collie Insurance

The Border Collie is an incredibly active breed, requiring a huge amount of exercise and mental stimulation. They are renowned for their intelligence and can be trained to a very high standard indeed.

Traditionally, the Border Collie was used as a farm dog, herding sheep and cattle for hours on end. To be good at this job, they learned to be dedicated to their work, alert and responsive. They thrive when given a job to do but can quickly get bored if under-stimulated.

When their exercise needs are met, these are a fabulous family dog that can be playful and mischievous with the children. They make great watchdogs, immediately alerting their owner as soon as someone new arrives to the home.

Is a Collie the right dog for you?

It’s without doubt that Border Collies require plenty of mental stimulation and exercise on a daily basis. Collies are herding dogs and have worked with shepherds for centuries, rounding up sheep, originally in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. Of course, families with children may notice their Collie attempting to herd their children, so this is something to keep an eye on!

This breed is better suited to active families who spend a lot of time outdoors. Border Collies are very active and alert, always ready to respond to commands, making them a pleasure to train as either a working dog or family pet. They also prove a hit at agility shows, whether at a professional level or simply for fun, with a wonderful track record of awards at many notable dog shows. Give a Border Collie something to do and they couldn’t be happier!

Their intelligence can often see Collies paying a visit to the vets sooner than you’d like. They are quick to learn how to open cupboards and doors, which can lead to snacking on food that dogs should definitely not ingest.

They can also get bored easily and do not like to be left alone for prolonged periods of time as they are prone to separation anxiety. They’ll find ways to entertain themselves through chasing, herding and destructive behaviour. One key sign of boredom is a pacing, restless Collie. Keep your Collie busy and they’ll be just fine.

Appearance of the Border Collie

The Border Collie’s appearance is a double coat – a dense topcoat with a softer undercoat to help protect them against the elements. In regards to grooming, they’ll need specific attention every 4-8 weeks with more regular brushing during their shedding seasons through Spring and Autumn. Their average weight is around 12-20kg.

Health conditions in Collies

While they are a medium-sized dog, this breed can live for well over 12 years and many owners are surprised at how long their Border Collie lives for. While many are healthy and hardy, there are a number of medical issues that can affect this dog.

Health issues in Border Collies

  • Collie Eye Anomaly. This inherited disease of the eyes is characterized by improper development and dogs can be mildly to severely affected. Some dogs will have shrunken eyeballs (micropthalmia) while others will have eyeballs that are recessed into their skull (enophthalmia).  Though most affected collies will have partial vision, some may be left completely blind. These dogs require special care and will never be able to walk off the lead near traffic.
  • Epilepsy. Most epileptic Collies develop symptoms before the age of five. When an older dog has fits, it is much less likely they have epilepsy. Frustratingly, there is no definitive test for epilepsy. Rather, we need to rule out all other causes of the fits the dog has been having. Blood tests, neurological assessments and imaging are all required. If a dog is confirmed as epileptic, they will usually need ongoing seizure medicine and check-ups. The cost of epilepsy will add up to thousands of pounds over a dog’s lifetime.
  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia. These orthopaedic diseases lead to chronic and debilitating joint pain which will affect a Collie’s mobility as they age. As we know there is a strong genetic component, it is vital that breeding parents are screened for these conditions before being used to may not show up on x-rays and a CT scan would be required.
  • Multi Drug Resistance. A mutation at the MDR1 gene means that many Border Collies are affected differently by certain medications when compared to other dogs. Vets are aware of this and are always cautious when prescribing Border Collies with medication. Parasite preventatives, anti-cancer drugs and Loperamide are all drugs which are not always well tolerated by the Border Collie. Up to three in four pedigree Border Collies can be affected.

Dog insurance for your Border Collie

It’s always a good idea to have a Border Collie insurance policy in place to help with unexpected vet fees.

If you’re introducing a Border Collie puppy to your home, why now take a look at our four weeks’ free WalkawayCover* created especially for new pups aged 8 weeks to one year?

*Puppy must be between 8 weeks and 1 year old and is subject to a CVS health check. WalkawayCover covers illness and accidents instantly. Not all breeds of dog are eligible.

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