Best Bully Sticks Spotlight on a Breed: Border Collie Tribute to Good Old Boy & Heroic Herding Dog Ben

Rebecca quotes:

Today we have a very special Spotlight on a breed segment written by Rebecca one of our satisfied Best Bully Sticks customers. Her dogs love our chews, Sam especially loves our Himalayan trachea dog chews!! As the proud parent of border collies & director with the US Border Collie Club she lent us her expertise on this beautiful breed. She emailed over some amazing & beautiful photos of her & her friends border collies. We would like to dedicate this Spotlight on a breed segment to Rebecca’s black and white border collie Ben a true unsung hero. Sadly he passed away last October at the age of twelve, just shortly after this picture was taken. Rebecca recounts an amazing story of how on two different occasions, Ben stopped rams from charging her. As she beautifully stated “Ben was my heart dog and I miss him every day!” Our hearts goes out to her and anyone who has ever lost & grieving your four legged best friend & companion.  As always we are honored when proud parents tweet or email wanting their dogs breed to be spotlighted.

Border Collie

History of the Border Collie in North America : The Border Collie actually was here working farms in North America, and even competing in sheepdog trials, long before the formation of any of today’s overseeing organizations were around. The first dog to be officially registered here was Spot, imported in the mid-1920s from the UK, the Border Collie’s country of origin. The North American Border Collie continues to enjoy a close relationship with the British breed – ABCA dogs can be registered overseas, and International Sheep Dog Society dogs likewise can be registered here in any organization. Many dogs continue to be imported here every year.

The dogs were worked and periodically competed against each other, and several working registries were formed. In the eighties, the American Border Collie Association – – was formed on the principles of democratic organization and with the mission of maintaining the breed as a working breed. At the same time, The US Border Collie Club – – was formed to network those who enjoyed various pursuits with their Border Collies, but who were also dedicated to supporting working breeders.

Also in the nineteen-eighties, the US Border Collie Handlers’ Association – – formed to standardize the system of trial competitions and offer the end of year stockdog trial championships which figure so importantly in the standard to which the breed has always been held. The ABCA, USBCC, and USBCHA work together today to offer the services of registry, breed club, and working competition oversight to breed owners.

In the mid-nineties, in a complicated political move, the AKC offered those who currently competed with Border Collies in various sports in the Miscellaneous class, an unpleasant choice.  They would either have to submit to the conformation system to be able to continue their participation in AKC events, or else get “kicked out.”

The vast majority of Border Collie owners felt strongly enough about breeding ONLY for working ability, that they had no problem with the latter choice. But a few still wanted to participate in AKC events, and so there was a division in the breed. At this point, a small number of Border Collies are AKC registered. To the owners of these dogs, the AKC offers the Border Collie Society of America, – – which was formed in the mid-nineties as the AKC breed’s parent club.

The AKC continues to offer open registration to dogs from any registry. The ABCA, however, is closed to dogs registered in the AKC only, so buyers are to be advised. But, although the AKC requires kennel club registration to participate in its events, all USBCHA events are open to all dogs regardless of registry, or even breed in fact.

Today, the majority of Border Collies continue to be bred with assisting the livestock farmer in mind. These days, with the rise in cost of labor, the dogs are expected to do the work that was once shared among several stockmen or wranglers. Cattle is the main concern of most farmers, and the dogs have somewhat different duties in these operations.

But just as in the past, the dogs are bred and selected for their ability to get the job done. The reason for the breed’s existence and what shapes it, is the well being of the livestock. Each dog’s quality is measured in his usefulness and ability to save steps for the stock handler. This standard produces a sound, clever, eager to please dog that can also be a top-notch partner in canine sports, public service, therapy and assistance work, and even just as active companions.

The lineup of young Border Collie dogs on the gate is to illustrate the wide variety of size, shape, color, and coat. These dogs belong to two of Rebecca's friends - they are all littermates

The lineup of young Border Collie dogs on the gate is to illustrate the wide variety of size, shape, color, and coat. These dogs belong to two of Rebecca's friends - they are all littermates

Height: (male); (female) Border Collies are considered a medium sized breed. There is no official standard as to height and weight, but the usual range is from 18 to 23 inches tall and 25 to 50 pounds. The reason Border Collies tend to stay within the same height and weight range in spite of no standard, is that the work they do (herding livestock) tends to keep them a certain size and shape.

Weight: 25 to 50 pounds.

Coat: Border Collies come in both “rough” which is a double coat with longer, weatherproof guard hairs, and “smooth,” which lacks the long guard topcoat hairs. Both coats can show great variety, from smooth and silky, to curly and touseled, fine hair, coarse hair, extremely long rough coats or barely there. Again, there is no restriction on the coat other than functional ones. Surprisingly, shepherds in very snowy areas prefer the smooth coats, as paws with long hair tend to get ice frozen between the toes..

Color: Literally any color. Black and white is most often seen, in any pattern. Completely white heads are avoided when possible as deafness can occur in ears which lack pigment.

Appearance: The AKC has an appearance standard, but less than 10% of the country’s Border Collies are bred under the auspices of the Kennel Club. Instead, in the ABCA and the working trial system, there is no standard to measure the appearance of one Border Collie against another as you find with show dogs.

Border Collies are judged against each other, by their work, not by their looks. The dog must be physically capable of covering as much as a hundred miles in a day and then getting up the next morning and doing it again. The dog must be able to outrun a 200lb ewe down the side of a mountain, get ahead of her and turn her back. The dog must be capable of gently guiding a new mother and her lambs back to the barn. The dog must be physically capable of taking a charging cow on the nose and turning her back.

Thus, since it is impossible to identify these qualities in a show ring, the majority of Border Collies breeders are commited to maintaining the working standard, by dedicating their time and energy and resources to training their dogs in their work.

Closeup of a

Temperament: Border Collies can be best described by one of our breed’s top writers, Don McCaig (his Border Collie books may be considered required reading for anyone who is looking into becoming a Border Collie owner):

“People often wonder just what trainers give the sheepdog in exchange for its boundless willingness. Food treats and praise sit on the trainer’s shelf, untouched, unused. The sheepdog is shown its possibilities, he learns what life is like for a good dog and is invited to walk in a rational world whose farthest boundaries are defined by grace.”

—- Donald McCaig, Nop’s Hope

This quote covers two essentials that characterize the temperament of the Border Collie. BOUNDLESS willingless may sound great, but this means that these dogs desperately seek to do something, anything. If not offered some kind of routine and place in the household, a Border Collie WILL find something to do and rarely will it be acceptable to its housemates!

Second, the Border Collie looks to find what is expected – this is called biddability. Again, this sounds wonderful, but it means that one must be aware that the Border Collie you live with is ALWAYS watching and learning. Be sure your dog is learning what you want it to learn!

Border Collie puppies are extremely busy. It’s said that they are, at times, an elemental destructive force of nature. It depends on how you raise them, of course. If you keep their minds busy and direct their energy in appropriate ways, you can survive your Border Collie puppy’s first year! Just a hint, high quality chew treats like those from Best Bully Sticks are a MUST HAVE.

Upclose & beautiful shot of Kat the herding sheep queen!

Upclose & beautiful shot of Kat the herding sheep queen!

Health: From the American Border Collie Association website: “The main goal of any Border Collie breeder should be to produce sound, useful, working dogs. While Border Collies also excel in many non-herding activities, they should be bred primarily to work livestock.  . . .In order to ensure a healthy gene pool for future generations of Border Collies, breeding prospects should be evaluated with reasonable concern for potential problems and realistic goals for what will be produced.”

The ABCA currently officially recognizes the following genetic diseases as concerns in the Border Collie:
CHD:  The recommendations at this time are to breed only hip tested, unaffected parents
CEA: The “affected” incidence rate in North America is currently 2.5% of the total population. There is a DNA test for genetic status with regard to this disease and puppy buyers should ask for this information.
Epilepsy: “Although it’s clear Border Collies can be affected with epilepsy, the incidence and heritability in our breed are unknown. The ABCA is supporting research aimed at finding the gene(s) that may cause epilepsy in the breed.” Ask about incidences of epilepsy in the relatives of a dog or pup you are considering buying.

Most importantly, a puppy buyer should inquire as to the work the parents do, and how often and how long they’ve been working. Selecting dogs from long-lived, long-working families helps ensure soundness in things that are difficult to spot in young or underworked dogs, such as soft tissue weakness, arthritis, unilateral or early

Rebecca's dog Ted is working sheep, he is about two and a half in this picture. As Rebecca says

Famous American Border Collie

Thankfully, most Border Collies in entertainment have played “all-American” dogs (for instance, the dog in Down and Out in Beverly Hills was a Border Collie). Within the breed, the yearly United States Border Collie Handlers’ Association National Finals provide a gallery of just a few top dogs. A “Champion” for the Border Collie breed earns the title at these annual event – and there is only one for each category, for the whole year for the whole breed. Besides these there are dogs that produced progeny with such consistent results, that they figure in numerous pedigrees in spite of not necessarily being “champions.”

In the Border Collie, it’s all about what the dog does rather than their ancestors names or the titles they have. Their registered names reflect this – no long names, just nicely worn down, chummy handles like Jim and Ty and Spot and Nan. A “famous” dog will be identified by their working partner – Pulfer’s Shep, Wilson’s Roy, Fogt’s Hope, Berhow’s Nick.

5 month old pup Sam enjoying a Best Bully Sticks Himalayan chew. Rebecca says

If you would like to recommend a dog breed for our next Best Bully Sticks spotlight on a breed please send us an email or tweet @bestbullysticks. We are always honored & excited to spotlight your dogs breed.

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