Border Collie - happy herding sheep


Border Collie - happy herding sheep

The modern Border Collie is recognised to be an extremely intelligent, athletic, and energetic breed of dog. They originated in Northumberland on the borders of England and Scotland, having been developed over centuries for herding sheep, a role in which they are now well-known.

There is some debate over the origins of this breed of shaggy-haired, usually black-and-white, dogs. They probably go back to the Romans two thousand years ago, who brought their drover dogs with them, and the Vikings who invaded the northern part of England some 1200 years ago and brought their Spitz-type dogs with them. Regardless of its origins, the Border Collie is now recognised as the ultimate herding dog, with a natural instinct to round up other animals using its 'eye' - a way of controlling livestock by staring at them in a silent and intense manner. This approach is unique to this dog breed.

Queen Victoria helped to popularise the Border Collie beyond the farming community. She came across the dogs on her Balmoral Estate and soon had a succession as pets. Collies were also taken around the world during the colonial era to help with sheep farming. In the 1970s, Shep from BBC's Blue Peter children's programme raised the profile of the breed, even spawning a comic song due to his excitable antics.

Considered to be one of the most intelligent dog breeds, Border Collies require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. In the absence of this they will become bored and potentially destructive. They can also be obsessive. This is manifest in their reputation for attacking moving objects, including lawnmowers, strimmers and vacuum cleaners.

‘Collie’ is thought to originate in the Celtic language as a term meaning ‘useful’. Alternatively, some have noted that colley sheep in the Scottish Highlands are noted for their black markings, and that ‘colley’ is an old Anglo-Saxon word for the colour black.

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