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My Border Collie

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So firstly Hi, and secondly I would like some opinions on my collie Boycie. We gained him through a family member, who lived in a small flat and had a new baby and therefore was unable to care for him; we took him on temporarily untill we could find him a more suitable home. However we all fell in love with him and he has remained with us for over a year now. We were told that he was pure bred border collie and he had papers when family member had got him as a puppy; but we didn't care in the slightest and didn't not think twice about it.

When he arrived he was underweight as he had been left alone without being fed and suffered abuse; and so looked quite collie like. As he grew older, he has gained weight and height and currently stands at about 58/60cm. We had him neutered and he has gained weight since and is now on a diet, he eats less than our lurcher and does 5x the exercise she does.

He is quite barrel shaped around the stomach area, although it is not soft fat it is hard like muscle. The vet said that he would be considered overweight for a collie but for his height that he is probably only slightly higher than average. She suggested that if he had another breed in him, eg Rottweilier, then that could explain his shape and size/weight.

Also, he is quite dominant and he is not "agressive" (as will bite you) but will snarl and snap at you when you take his food away and will bark at cars/bikes when he is the house. He does have a problem with other dogs, but generally a sharp No will stop him, although at dog training he can often back himself against a wall and start barking (which starts all the other dogs barking). Recenlty an 11 month old collie joined our class, he is about 10cm smaller than Boy and is probably half his width.

Boycie is 3 year old, I have included some photos of him below and would appreacite it if you could give your opinions on whether you think he is a pure bred collie (our family do not) as you guys will know more about what collies look like and it might help us understand how much we should be feeding him etc.


I have no idea how large/small/repetative these photos will be and so appologise in advance.
















Personality wise, he is like a shadow and will follow you around. He loves to follow you around doing tasks around the house and garden; he loves to catch balls and do scentwork. He is easily trained and likes agility, but cannot jump over things; although he loves to jump onto things. Generally, he is friendly with other animals, overly curious at times, and loves to herd our chickens. He loves to bark at the hose and bite the water, loves swimming, but hates baths. He loves to lick people and has learnt whinning of our lurcher.


These two pictures are the most recent, you can see his thick winter coat and large body.






Thanks a lot in advance!

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Welcome! This is a wonderful place to post, read, learn, and get advice about Border Collies in particular but many people here have Border Collie crosses, and other dogs as well.


Boycie is a very handsome dog and very fortunate that fate put him into your caring household. As for whether he is purebred or not, I could not say. Border Collies (those not bred for show) tend to be very variable in appearance and I could not say he isn't purebred and neither could I say he is. His head/muzzle doesn't make me think Rottweiler at all but he could be a mixed breed. Doesn't matter, the important thing is that he is himself and that you love him.


I think the most serious issue facing you now is the aggression - and, yes, it is aggression whether it is based in fear (which is the case for many dogs) or not. Snarling and snapping at people is simply not acceptable, and you need to deal with that now. There will be folks who can give you much better advice than I can but I would start by setting ground rules.


You said that he was underweight, gone without feeding, and abused when you got him. That is very likely a large part of the reason he is resource guarding when it comes to his food. It's a survival response, it's based in fear, but now he needs to get over that.


First, is that the food dish and the food belongs to you, not Boycie. He has to "do something" to get fed, as in sit, lie down, stay, go in his crate, etc. You might try feeding him out of your hand (if that is safe - you'll have to evaluate that first) a bit at a time. Or put just a few bits into his dish at a time. He needs to learn that the food (and dish) belong to you, come from you, and he has to behave in order to get his meal - just like he would in a pack of dogs where he is not the leader. Right now, he is treating you as if he owns the dish and the food, and he is in charge.


As for taking his food away, make sure to only feed him what he will consume in a few minutes. With him being on a diet, I'm sure that's not an issue, because you feed him controlled portions. If you give him chewie treats like bones or rawhides and such, start by offering the treat (after he's done what you've told him to do, like sitting and staying) and gently (no grabbing or snatching) removing it, telling him he's a good boy as long as he reacts appropriately, and then giving him the treat to enjoy.


Alternately, you can give him something he likes, take it back, and then give him something he likes even better as a "reward" for his good behavior when you removed the first chewie. This, of course, is with treats like bones and rawhides or Kong-type (hard rubber with treats in side) toys that are not crunch-quick-and-swallow treats.


In addition, if it is safe, giving him small, soft, tasty treats out of your hand, and also teaching him that other people and strangers can be a source of goodies, will help teach him to have a soft mouth (he only gets the treat if he is polite or you close your fist over the treat and "the kitchen is closed" until he can be polite) and a good attitude towards people.


Many dogs will react like Boycie to passersby, cars, bikes, and so on when in the house or car or yard. You should be prepared to distract him with other activities or things that will be appealing to him and occupy him, so that the lure of barking is not paramount. This will take time and persistence on your part, and it's a very typical dog problem.


Also, if you can, make sure that he isn't afraid of these things - socialize him with strangers, bike riders, cars, and so on as much as you can. A lot of unwanted behaviors can be rooted in fear ("Mom! There's a stranger out there! Beware!") and can be dealt with by removing or reducing the fear.


Again, in dog class (and kudos to you for taking him to class), he is reacting to something that concerns him when he backs to the wall and barks. When you very first suspect that behavior is about to happen, get his attention on you (which will get it off whatever's setting him off, like a staring dog or sudden movement), and occupy him with looking at your face, doing exercises (sit, down, stand, dog tricks, heeling), and again replacing his reaction with constructive, mentally-occupying activities.


You will probably get much more and much better advice from others here who are more capable of dealing with aggression issues (and, again, it is aggression but it's probably rooted in fear and anxiety, not nastiness). You can also try using the "search" function at the top of the page to locate previous topics that deal with these sorts of issues.


If you can not deal with these aggression issues, you might want to consider consulting with an animal behaviorist (your vet might be able to recommend one) for a professional opinion. Just make sure to find one that is credible because there are some who are no more qualified than you or I to give advice.


Very best wishes!

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He's a beautiful dog. Our Scotty was also an "outlier" , -- Purebred, but I never could get him less than 60 pounds and he was big boned with a beautiful rough coat. Very impressive looking dog to the general public. He came out of pet lines and wouldn't have known a sheep if it bit him.


As a comparisoin, Robin is an average sized BC at six months, is maybe 35-40 pounds. I put Scotty's backpack on him the other day and his girth was exactly half that of Scotty's.


Scotty was snappish too...at first. He just learned some bad habits from his previous life. With a little work, things smoothed out...and yes, obedience class does help a great deal. It lets him know that you are in charge. Never let Boycie forget that and be fair with him and you'll have a happy life together. :rolleyes:



Question about the diet -- if he looks okay for his size, and taking his coat into consideration, and is not overweight but just "big" I'd not try to slim him down this point. Like us, dogs get grouchy when on a diet, so feed him the average amount for his height and weight. He won't gain any more if he's getting that much exercise. Even if he were overweight, I might be tempted to let it be until some of the temperament issues are under control, just so that he doesn't have the added stress of "dieting".



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I think he looks like a Border Collie. Just overweight. Welcome to the board. I hope you'll stick around and do some reading, you'll probably find lots of good advice for some of the issues you mentioned. Sue R gave some excellent pointers, too.

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I'll let the others deal with behavior sone they seem to have it well in hand.


A couple of ways to tell how much BC he has is to test him for "eye" the BC stare. Another is to feel between his shoulder blades. the BCs fron shoulder joints stick up over his spine a fraction. It's easy to feel and other dogs don't have it.

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Another is to feel between his shoulder blades. the BCs fron shoulder joints stick up over his spine a fraction. It's easy to feel and other dogs don't have it.


Sorry to bring this up, but I'm not sure that this is a accurate statement, I was out doing my evening chores and thought about this comment, I checked some of my ACD's all of them have the top of their shoulder blades just a fraction above the spine. Then I did some googling and did find a statement as follows on a page about working dogs, all breeds and showed a german shephard with the trait: "The withers is the area atop the shoulder from where the neck ends to where the “true back” begins. In most dogs, the last cervical vertebrae and the first thoracic vertebrae are down between the shoulder blades, so you might not be able to feel them." Now as to how accurate that source is, I don't know, but I'm not finding any sources that specifically say that the trait is a border collie one. When I was looking at skeletons of dogs they place the top of the shoulder blade just below the vertebrae but I suspect that there is a range of variability depending on how lax the muscling is in the dog since the shoulder blade has nothing holding it into place such as a joint, it just floats, I think...atleast it would if the shoulder blade is attached the same way as our sheep and such, with no collar bone.


Anyway, here is a link to the one source, take it for what it it worth: www.siriusdog.com/anatomy-working-canine-dog-shoulder.htm

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