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A Border Collie is a type of herding dog developed by sheep farmers during the last hundred years or so in the border country between England and Scotland. It is known by its ability to move sheep in a controlled manner, an intelligent and independent dog with lots of stamina.

 Shepherds bred from the most efficient dogs, those that would stand up to difficult ewes and those with lots of "power" as well as those that could cover great distance. 

The working collie was bred for one purpose in those days -- for work. 
The work shaped the dog. It was bred exclusively for its herding abilities never for conformation. And because of that, there are many different variations in the breed today. Their coats may vary from smooth coat to rough coat and anywhere in between. Color as well as coat varies. Most typically, the colored dog will have a white collar, a white chest, a white blaze on the face white on the feet and a white tip on the tail. An all black dog is considered to make the sheep too nervous, and the all white dog is said to not have enough power to earn the sheep's respect. Drive and heart matter more than a particular shape, coat type, color or ear set for a good herding dog.

It is not just the breeding that has gone awry today, lots of good dogs are in the hands of people that don't need a working dog. Border Collies need lots of hard work. People see these beautiful dogs and want one because of how intelligent they are. Never mind the amount of energy required for one. Whether helping out on the farm or keeping track of hobby pets, a Border Collie is a busy dog. It is too late, and usually after the cute puppy phase when the fate of the poor Border Collie becomes evident as the owner realizes how energetic and demanding they are.

In the mid 1800's dog show and working trials became popular.

The first recorded sheepdog trials took place in 1873 at Bala, Wales. The winner was a tricolor Scottish bred dog named Tweed, owned by William Thomson. The compact built Tweed also took the beauty prize. The modern heritage began in 1894 with the birth of Old Hemp. The breed as we know it today descends from one dog, Old Hemp, bred by Adam Telfer, a Northumbrian farmer. Hemp was the combination of breeding hard, rough, powerful but difficult to control dogs with the milder natured working collies. Hemp is considered the father of the breed.

Other influential early sires were Isacc Herdman's Tommy, Thomas Armstrong's Sweep, J.M. Wilson's Craig and Wartime Cap also owned by Wilson. One of the major influences on the breed in the mid 20th Century was John Richardon's Wiston Cap. If Old Hemp was the father of the breed, Cap is the modern father of the breed. There are few Border Collies today that do not have lines that go back to him. Cap was the most popular stud dog in the breed's history, was the 1965 International Champion and lived to be 15 years old. He is portrayed on the ISDS badge in the classic Border Collie herding pose (a crouch).


A Few Tips

REMEMBER: Any time your emotions take over -- your dog training ends.

The dog is in control of the stock I'm in control of the dog.           

An important part of training that new handlers seem to either forget, or are so involved, that they don't realize is, that a flank is NOT working the stock or moving the stock. 

The biggest mistake even skilled handlers make is: Not helping their dog up close when learning new things...

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When the dog and stock aren't making any progress, (after trying different positions and flanks). Walk up and help your dog a little at first then more as needed for the dog to win. Quit while your dog is ahead don't wait till they're tired and weak and get butted by the stock.

 A worried dog can't think. Do whatever it takes to get the dog to do the work. Walk with them if you need to. This will help build confidence.

 To say a dog is weak, simply means it doesn't have the ability to think.


Tab by Jack George

The Six Commandments of Stockdog Training

As taught by Bob Vest

  1. Interest ?b> First you must have interest in the dog.
  2. Recall -- The dog must also be able to walk around sheep without working the stock.
  3. Stop or down
  4. Left and Right flanks
  5. Walk up/In
  6. Out or Back

Everything else is:

  1. Handlerís position
  2. Refinement


Bob Vest once said: "Time, patience, and belief in your dog will make your goals happen".

 And if it takes 3 months or 3 years, what difference does it make if your goal is accomplished?

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