History of Border Collies

History of Border Collies

Border Collies have a very rich and interesting history.  The breed began on the British Isles in the sixteenth century and evolved in the border country areas of Scotland and England.  The dogs were bred from different stock, including Bearded Collies, Old English Sheepdogs, Smooth and Rough-coated Collies, Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgis, Highland Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs (www.canismajor.com/dog/borderc.html).

Because so many different breeds were used to create the Border Collie breed, many physical variations exist in Border Collies today.

rihaij / Pixabay

Over the years, the Border Collie has been called several different names including Old-Fashioned Collie, English Collie, Working Collie and Farm Collie.  It was not until 1915 that the breed acquired its permanent name by the International Sheepdog Society of Great Britain (nm.essortment.com/informationonb_rfsq.htm).  The “Border” was because the dogs were developed in the border country. There are several theories regarding the “Collie” name.  According to www.canismajor.com/dog/borderc.html, “Some historians claim that ‘colley’ derives from a Gaelic word meaning something useful,  some say it comes from ‘coalie,’ a word meaning black, and a third source traces the meaning from the name of a breed of Scottish sheep.”

Although the breed is not regarded as particularly showy, BC owners would be remiss to state that their black and white bundles of energy are anything less than spectacular.  Certainly, Border Collie owners recognize the unique beauty in this working breed.  And popular media has brought the Border Collie breed into the mainstream.  In the past few years, Border Collies have made appearances on David Letterman and in mainstream movies like Babe, so their popularity has risen.  Many see these dogs performing spectacular tricks on television and think that when they bring the dog home, it will automatically do those tricks on its own.  Not so, but as babies–fluffy, chubby balls of black and white–many people do not care—they just want the puppy.

Once a Border Collie outgrows that fluff ball stage, however, it will boast an amazing, athletic look.  The appearance of Border Collies can be quite diverse, although there are a few commonalties found in almost all purebreds.  The breed has developed a handsome look, though, through many hundreds of years.  Generally speaking, Border Collies are medium-sized with an athletic build.  They are very energetic, strong, alert and work-ready.  This is evidenced by the high energy levels and the BC’s willingness to busy itself on a moment’s notice.

Throughout recent years, Border Collies have been purchased for working dogs and house pets alike.  Variations in the coloring—red, blue and tan—have also surfaced, although many still think of the traditional black and white coloring as what defines a Border Collie as a Border Collie.

By: Scott Hall

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