I don't have any livestock and I don't plan on doing any herding but I want a smart dog for a companion. Is a Border Collie the right dog for me?
According to Dr. Stanley Coren in his landmark study THE INTELLIGENCE OF DOGS Border Collies have the intelligence level and linguistic (language) skills of a 12 year old human, the next most intelligent breed of dog is the Standard Poodle with the intelligence level of a 4 year old human. Additionally, Border Collies are known for their high energy level so for the average pet owner a Border Collie is a bad idea. If, however, you lead an active lifestyle and are willing to incorporate a dog into that lifestyle a Border Collie might work out fine.
Even if you don't have livestock, your Border Collie will need a "job" to keep mentally and physically fit. Just as you wouldn't consider leaving your 12 year old human child alone unsupervised and without proper instruction neither will you want to do that with your Border Collie. A Border Collie who is well bred, properly raised and adequately stimulated both mental and physical can be a joy to own, but without activity they can make your life hell - literally ripping through walls if they get bored. You have to be totally honest with yourself about the amount of time you have to invest in a dog. The average life span for a Border Collie is between 12 and 16 years you will be having plenty of time to. You may consider getting a young or older dog rather than a puppy, as dogs raised in the true herding sheepdog lifestyle are usually calmer. Take the time to research the breed and talk to people who own BCs and ask for their opinion. You are also invited to contact us and arrange for a farm visit so that you can judge for yourself if a Border Collie would be an appropriate addition to your family.
Is a male or female a better choice?
We usually tell people, as a rule of thumb, to take the usual male/female stereotypes and turn them around for Border Collies. Male Border Collies go through a 'teenage boy phase,' which if handled properly with love and training will yield a truly wonderful companion. The females are stronger personalities, being 'cranked just a little bit tighter' all their lives, a bit more reticent with strangers and a bit more excitable than the males. Now, having said that, it should also be noted that each dog is an individual and that stereotypes are just that, sometimes true and sometimes meant to be broken. The most important thing is to make sure you like the individual dog you choose, regardless of sex.
I have livestock - how do I pick a pup that will be tough enough/not too tough on my stock?
The first consideration in picking a pup is whether it comes from true working lines. Do the parents work the kind of livestock you have? Not every sheep dog is a decent cowdog and vice versa. You should also give consideration to the way in which you will be using the dog. There is no sense in having a dog with a perfect pear shaped outrun if all you do is drive your cattle into and out of the milking parlor. If you buy from an experienced breeder/trainer, they should be able to help you pick out a pup with a suitable personality, and be able to tell you possible problems you may encounter when you start training your pup.