As their name suggests, the Border Collie originates in the county of Northumberland on the Scottish Borders. They were bred to be herding dogs and more especially, to work with shepherds and flocks of sheep. Their name was first used during the 1900s when James Reid, the Secretary of the International Sheep Dog Society registered these dogs as Border Collies so they could be differentiated from other collie breeds already registered on his list.
These hardworking dogs have always been highly regarded for not only their intelligence, but also for their innate ability to herd flocks. The breed was first mentioned and recorded in dog trials held in North Wales in 1873, but it took another 30 or so years until a Border Collie registry was established, namely the International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS).
A dog called Old Hemp won top prize at the North Wales show thanks to his intelligence and the way he worked sheep. He went on to win many top competitions around the country and to sire many of the best Border Collies around at the time. As previously mentioned, all modern Border Collies are descendants of Old Hemp.
Border Collies were first recognised by the Kennel Club as being a pedigree breed in 1977 when the first breed standard was established. This was then amended a year later in 1978 and has remained in place pretty much as it was first written right up until today. There are in fact two independent registries for Border Collies with the International Sheep Dog Society being the one that promotes the working Border Collie and the Kennel Club which promotes good breeding practices to standardise a dog’s appearance.
Today, Border Collies can be found working in many other countries of the world and they are also a popular choice as companion dogs and family pets thanks to their lovely, honest and energetic natures. The Border Collie is renowned for their willingness to work alongside people which is another reason why the breed is considered being one of the most popular working dogs on the planet.
The breed breaks the norm when it comes to the saying “Jack of all trades, but master of none” because the Border Collie is so versatile and so successful in many disciplines. This includes working as PAT dogs, in rescue and as sniffer dogs all of which are tasks that the Border Collie excels at.
Interesting facts about the breed
- Are Border Collies a vulnerable breed? No, they are one of the most popular dogs throughout the world and are ranked 12th in the UK
- Border Collies are one of the most intelligent breeds on the planet
- All Border Collies today can trace their ancestry back to a highly intelligent dog called Old Hemp
- Border Collies are one of the most versatile dogs in the world
- They are considered the best herding dogs in the world
- Border Collies make excellent PAT dogs
- Robert Burns owned a Border Collie called Luath and he wrote a poem about him on his death
- The American Kennel Club only recognised the breed in 1995