Border Collies.

The Service and Therapy Dog forum is for all service and therapy dogs regardless of whether or not their status is legally defined by federal or state law, how they are trained, or whether or not they are "certified." Posts questioning or disputing a person's need for a service or therapy dog, the validity of a person's service or therapy dog, or the dog's ability to do the work of a service or therapy dog are not permitted in this forum. Please keep discussions fun, friendly, and helpful at all times.

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Jin, CGC, SDiT, PSD, Assist

Smarter than a- fifth grader.
Barked: Wed Dec 16, '09 7:55am PST 
If you are have or are considering a border collie as an SD please read this.

Border collies (BCs) are different. It's not a comparison to other dogs, they just are. I'm not talking about better looking,being smarter, or anything like that. They are just different from other dogs. When I attend dog classes people get upset at over how easy Jin learns something and the fact he is always at the top of the class. People really do get angry and upset over that. My trainer is always telling them in class, "Don't compare your dog to a BC, they're different." For that reason they don't always make good companions, pets or even SDs. BCs need to work, it is part of there heritage. They also need to be very active, Jin covers 4-8 miles a day. If they don't work they will create their own tasks. BCs can be severely OCD worse than some OCD people, so we as BC owners have to know that in order to avoid making our dogs OCD. BCs have a trait called "Eye", they stare at things, dogs, sheep, people, dust motes, light reflections, more. It can be a serious stare, happy, intimidating, a warning (to sheep) but never aggressive. I've set a dog staring at people and it can completely unnerve them. I've even used their Eye and appearence as a chick magnet, a BC is the perfect pickup tool when trained. happy dance ROFL!! They are also incredibly smart. In fact they can be smarter than a fifth grader as they spend time training and rewarding you, the owner.

"WAIT A MINUTE, who's in charge here?" The BC of course. laugh out loud

On the other hand they can be trained to do incredible feats. Youtube is filled with them doing almost anything you can think of. Do a search for Border Collie DVD. They are incredibly beautiful. The classic look of a black and white BC along with others in more colors than you can think of, red, blue, merle, gray, white, tri and more. For that reason people want BCs. Unfortunately BCs are not for anyone. Too many of them wind up in rescue or fostered for many reasons incluiding mental health issues. However BCs can be cured of problems, trained to work even when they're as old as 6-8 yrs.

While not normally used as a Service Dog border collies are becoming more and more popular among the disabled. Jin is a BC, Mallie has one and I have several friends who also have them as SDs. All of them had to learn about BCs sspecifically so that both owner and pup can live in a harmony with each other. This is more important than achieving the same thing with another breed because of the BCs drive and intelligence.

I belong to forums that specialize in BCs, Aussies, ACDs and other herding breeds. Most of us as long time owners of BCs know they are different from other dogs. Training, raising and living with one is totally different than it is from other breeds and sometimes specialized help is needed. There are two major forums for BCs and a couple of minor ones. ABC has been online for 10 years. BC-Rescue just passed it's 1st anniversary. BGoth are filled with experts on BCs. I encourage anyone who is interested in a BC, Aussie, ACD or other herding breed to come, visit and join these major resources about Border Collies.

All about Border Collies

My fav.
Border Collie rescue.

We look forward to your visit. Tell them Desertranger sent you and let us know you came from S&T dogs on Dogster.

BC Cliches:
If it's not a border collie, it's just another dog.
You're a border collie, work it out for yourself.

Edited by author Wed Dec 16, '09 8:00am PST

Chase (CGC)

I'm A Proud- Wiggle Butt!
Barked: Wed Dec 16, '09 8:02am PST 
I get "Don't compare your dog to Chase" wink

Shouldn't this go in "Choosing the right dog" though?

Edited by author Wed Dec 16, '09 8:06am PST


Wag more, bark- less!
Barked: Wed Dec 16, '09 8:30am PST 
It could, but I think it's also important.

I like BCs, BUT I think they have some real drawbacks as SDs, ESPECIALLY as PSDs.

#1 on the list is the tendency towards OCD. I'm seeing more and more BCs that are wound WAY too tight from 'good' breeders (typically breeding specifically for agility and flyball rather than working trials, obedience, or even conformation.) BC temperament is very finely balanced, and the high drive has GOT to be tempered with a decent level of self control. (Some of that you can teach. Some of it's inborn.) (Coincidentally, a lot of these breeders have LOTS of merles, so that can be one of your warning signs, but of course there are perfectly good breeders with merles out there too.) What's disheartening is that these dogs seem to be spreading into the rescue/indifferently bred BC population FAST- when I got into flyball in 2000, it wasn't that temperament problems didn't exist in shelter BCs but it tended to be shyness or DA, not the extreme OCD. I don't want to say it's linked to the color, because I doubt it is in a genetic sense, but I do think focusing on color is a REAL mistake with this breed- there are just TOO many other factors that are problematic.

2. Health. The BC club itself is very good about health research and being proactive, but there are a lot of problems to look out for and not everyone is as proactive about testing as they ought to be. (I know WAY too many dysplastic BCs. They WILL work through pain, they WILL be asymptomatic until they get old, but that doesn't mean it's okay to use a dog with hip problems as a SD. It is NOT OKAY.)

3. Training - they are SO freaking smart it's unbelievable, but theyr'e also NOT the easiest dog in the world to train because of the level of precision they require of the handler. If your'e going to be inconsistant about what you want from the dog, you're going to frustrate a BC. If you're very inconsistant in your own body language (which BCs read like a BOOK) like I am (Depending on my own energy and pain levels), a lot of BCs will find you VERY annoying. party Repetition is usually not a problem that they will need, but you need to teach it right from the beginning- fixing it later can be frustrating for you AND the dog. This is ESPECIALLY true for novice owner trainers.

4. The energy level (and this is honestly last) if you've got a chuckit and a dog park you can manage to keep a BC exercised if you can get out. The problem is, if you've got a disability that means you CAN'T get out every day, you need to think very carefully about this breed. Adults DO calm down some, but some of the agility lines in particular are CRAZY driven and need to burn off quite a lot to stay sane, period, for their whole lives. Some of the working-bred dogs are MUCH more moderate, but they're still pretty high up there energy-wise, and as puppies, need that every day outlet.

5. All the drive and trainability in the world may not make for a stable dog. A lot of BCs are very reactive if not managed well, and if you end up with that, you are GOING to spend a lot of time and probably money fixing it. This doesn't impede their ability to learn and perform, but can be a HUGE issue in public. I suspect that the vast majority of BCs can learn any number of service dog tasks quickly, easily, and reliably- but that the number that are going to be comfortable and appropriate in public is not any higher than most other breeds.

I adore BCs. I really like working with them, I love their intelligence and problem solving- but it sort of scares me to see people leaping into the breed as SDs just for the intelligence, because there are so many other considerations as for how a breed will match up for you.

Chase (CGC)

I'm A Proud- Wiggle Butt!
Barked: Wed Dec 16, '09 8:49am PST 
Kaylee, I loved your post, very informative. I think you scared me away from BC's for life laugh out loud

Barked: Wed Dec 16, '09 8:54am PST 
I love BC They are smart and loving and need a firm handler they tend to be one man or woman dog . Has a SD they can be a handful. Has hearing Dogs they excel. Bobby who is part collie still can be still a handful at his age. With the right person that they bond with they can do wonders

Super Silver- Service Spoodle
Barked: Wed Dec 16, '09 9:01am PST 
Border Collies can make a good SD-- for a very particular sort of person. I wouldn't say generally speaking they are a good SD candidate for most PWD, though. If you want a smart dog with some of the same herding characteristics but less of the obsessiveness and a little less energy, I think that Australian Shepherds, Shelties, and Collies are all choices that would be better for your average person.
Harley, SD,- CGC, TDI

Super Service- Boy!
Barked: Wed Dec 16, '09 9:55am PST 

Because Jin was posting his opinion of Border Collies as SDs, it belongs in the SD forum. It is very common for us to discuss different breeds as SDs on this forum. A dog that may be a wonderful dog for any other purpose may not be a good SD. There are always exceptions. There are always individuals with in any breed that will excel as service dogs.

Jet set go!
Barked: Wed Dec 16, '09 10:11am PST 
Lol, makes my feel crazy for getting my second BC. I agree with the above posters though, they're not for everyone. I'm not necessarily normal though, so they go great in my lifestyle! laugh out loud

CGC, hearing- assistance- extraordinaire
Barked: Wed Dec 16, '09 10:53am PST 

I've been meaning to tell you that I have an Aussie - a red merle boy. I've been to your page and I cracked up at the "Handsome Boy!" comments. I do the same thing. I've enjoyed your pics of Chase. What I can't tell from the picks is if he is a red tri or a merle? I love the breed and thought I would never get another breed.. Especially not a Border Collie. I heard horror stories about them. The book called "A Dog Year" by Jon Katz epitomizes what I thought was a BC. My point in this paragraph - don't shy away from the breed. You come across as very active and would probably be a good match with a BC if you should choose that route.

Thank you Jin for starting this thread and Kaylee, wow, great post! ETA: Mallie is my hearing assistance girl - I think she thinks most of her tasks are games which makes her great for my.. I hate the word disability but there it is.. my disability. I agree with Ollie about having a BC as a PWD and I'm laughing at the thought of a BC as a guide dog. I'd like to see them be accepted more as a great match for the hearing impaired.

Mallie is not a pure breed BC, she has Blue Heeler in her as well but if I could say which breed of the two is she most like - definitely BC. My biggest issue with her is her stalk/stare - the "eye" if we are approaching a dog she does not know. There are times she doesn't do it and I can't pinpoint why that is. She is not aggressive but that intense stare can and has been misunderstood as aggression. This stare is inherent and not something I can break and, at times, makes me feel like a crappy SD owner when she decides with her vest on to have a stare down.

What I find interesting is that in places where there is a lot of commotion - airports, restaurants, malls, etc - seems to make Mallie more calm. If we stop and sit, she is content to watch everything and sometimes passes out into a deep sleep. I would never have expected a BC to act like that.

I'd like to add that I know each of us thinks our dog and breed of choice is special - and they are - my intention in this post is not to come across high and mighty about BC's... The last thing I want is for another post within a thread go a different route.

I'd like to hear about what makes the breed of dog peeps have as SD's and therapy dogs here and why they are great match for them if anyone would like to share.

I do believe I am babbling now.. I'll end this and go investigate the groups spoke about.

Thanks for letting me babble..

Edited by author Wed Dec 16, '09 11:04am PST


Wag more, bark- less!
Barked: Wed Dec 16, '09 10:59am PST 
(It's also worth pointing out that JOn Katz is a worthless human being an a lot of BC people consider him downright abusive for capitalizing on the death of the dog featured in "A Dog Year" - who was never taken to any sort of behaviorist or trainer, just tried to be fixed 'at home' by a very INEXPERIENCED trainer- Katz got his first BC the same year I got my first corgi.)

BCs are GREAT dogs, but they're NOT for everyone, not even all 'dog people'. And YES, they ned a job- but that job is probably less likely to be service work than any number of other things.
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