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New to the forum, though I’ve been silently reading it for a little while, and also watching training videos. I have some questions, as I want to find a border collie pup, but first….



Last November, I had to have my 14 year old border collie put down. Blue was a great dog, and a loyal companion in every way. In 2000, I moved into a home with most of an acre, and the neighbors’ two border collies had just had puppies. I lucked out and got the one with a blue eye … for free! With various expenses, I frequently joked that he was a really expensive free dog – with time, I realized he was the most rewarding dog I’d ever seen, free or not. Being very unimaginative, I named him Blue, for the eye.


I didn’t know much about border collies, and I realize now that I didn’t know much about raising and training dogs generally, but I did socialize him very early in various situations, and he was also quickly house trained (potted plants in friends’ homes did confuse him a couple times, lol). He learned in an evening to play dead when I’d finger-shoot him (finger action plus I’d make an accompanying gun shot sound), and one of his favorite things to do was to run full-speed back and forth across the front yard when the mail truck would come (invisible fence surrounded the yard, front and rear; it was only the mail truck and UPS that he would chase like this). These two activities combined amazingly one day, when he was at full speed run out front, and I “shot” him from the front door. He couldn’t have seen me do it because his eyes were focused on the mail truck, but he heard the shot, and in mid full-speed-run he let his legs begin collapsing and he began tumbling, finally coming to rest on his back, “dead.” I wish I had video.


Then around age 7, Blue began losing his hearing, and it was completely gone in a year or so. We still had hand gestures and body language. I moved out west, to Long Beach CA, when he was 10, and (this may be frowned upon) I could walk him in heavily populated parks and across crosswalks at busy streets, without his leash attached - at crosswalks, a crisp finger-point straight down meant stay by my leg. He was ever loyal.


He turned 14 last August. On Oct 30, he woke up on the floor next to my bed, and immediately was totally out of control, careening down the hallway banging against the left wall. I caught him and held him. He never walked again. Vertigo / vestibular disease, and went into a panic when I needed to move him. But he would still wag his tail when I returned from being out. The vet and I hoped it would pass, but a visit to a veterinary neurologist confirmed incurable problems, almost certainly a brain tumor. So on Nov 5 I had to say goodbye to my buddy.


Having moved back east from California a couple years ago, I’ve been in an apartment here, much longer than anticipated. It’s a good thing Blue was less active at age 13-14.
But I’m now in contract to buy a place 15 minutes out of town, an acre and a half, surrounded by corn fields. I want another border collie.


~1.5 acres, invisible fence will allow play on the whole property.
- I work from home, so plenty of time to spend with the dog.

- A friend is going to rent two rooms from me, his dog is mixed breed mutt, friendly, slightly larger than a BC.

- I negotiated to keep the extensive play set the sellers have in the back yard (swing set, slides and more significantly, ramps and bridges) – thinking to use it for agility play.

- You can tell my BC won’t be a working dog. My brother and sister-in-law a few hours away do have sheep, and I might try to do some training and then try him out, though I know that wouldn't be enough to make him accomplished at all. Basically, he’ll be a companion dog.

1) I do not want to support poor breeding of BC’s (AKC style). You all have enlightened & convinced me about that. I also don’t want the issues that come from puppy mills, or to support them. So how do I go about finding good litters of pups??


2) I think Blue was less demandingly active than the average BC, and while I want to spend time with the dog, I think finding another that’s similarly a bit less demanding would be ideal (though that’s not an absolute). Is it possible at all to predict what mature activity level a puppy will grow into?


3) If there was one thing that was a bother with Blue, it was the long hair everywhere. He had a long rough coat. Ideally, if a medium rough coat means less hair in the house, on my clothes, etc, then I’d prefer that. Is it even possible to predict what kind of coat a puppy will have at maturity? (Long, medium, smooth)


4) And I’m curious: Blue’s coat was super soft (silky) to the touch, unlike other breeds. Everyone commented on it. Is that universal among BCs, or no?


Thanks much!

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I'm sorry to hear about losing Blue. There is never enough time with our wonderful companions. It sounded like he lived a long and happy life.


Others who are more experienced in the BC world will be able to point you to what makes a great working breeder. I'm a member of a coupe of facebook groups that allow posting of litters. You have to do your due diligence in order to vet the breeder and the litter but they seem to be good starting points.









Like I said, these are just starting points. The best way to come across a good litter is to go to local sheepdog trials and meet and talk with people.


As far as exercise goes, Border Collies do need more exercise than your average dog but more than that they just want to partner with you. I have a 7 month old puppy right now and if tried to just physical exhaust him every day it was be next to impossible. We do things together, go for strolls, he goes on errands with me, we go hiking, he just wants to be involved and he's fine with that. Mental stimulation is usually more important than simply physical exercise. We haven't done anything today and he is sleeping under my recliner at the moment. There are days he drives me insane because he's still a puppy, but some training or doing something novel (like going for a walk in a new place or driving to a new place) tires him out so much more than simply taking him to the park and playing fetch or letting him just run.


I have one of each coat type a Rough and a smooth. Coat type varies dramatically from dog to dog but my rough coat is silky smooth and the smooth coat has a stiffer type fur. He's not a slick smooth, though, he has a fairly thick undercoat. However my smoothie sheds A TON more than my long-haired girl. I thought the shorter hair would shed less but man was I wrong. You may just want to invest in a nice vacuum cleaner. Both of my dogs have "self cleaning" type coats. If they get messy I can usually just crate them and let them dry and the first just falls right out. Especially the smoothie. He comes out of his crate looking like he's never seen dirt in his life.

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1) I do not want to support poor breeding of BCs (AKC style). You all have enlightened & convinced me about that. I also dont want the issues that come from puppy mills, or to support them. So how do I go about finding good litters of pups??


Good rule of thumb if the parents don't work or are just recreational herders they should not have puppies. If you read the info on finding a puppy on this forum it will help point out red flags to look for.


Also start looking at trials or if you use newspaper ads to find your puppy make sure the parents are true working dogs, so no mail order puppies or Barbie collies.


2) I think Blue was less demandingly active than the average BC, and while I want to spend time with the dog, I think finding another thats similarly a bit less demanding would be ideal (though thats not an absolute). Is it possible at all to predict what mature activity level a puppy will grow into?


The chances of predicting a puppies adult activity level is a complete crapshoot. You can get the most laid back dog of the group and get a terror as an adult. My Lily hated exercise as a puppy it was more of a drag than a walk at first, but around 6 months something changed and she started begging to exercise every chance she got! She still has to be told to go lay down or she would run all day long. Training an off switch is good, but your dog may still be an exercise fiend.


If you want a guaranteed laid back dog you may consider an adult rescue who's known to be laid back. That is as much a guarantee as you can get with a dog.


3) If there was one thing that was a bother with Blue, it was the long hair everywhere. He had a long rough coat. Ideally, if a medium rough coat means less hair in the house, on my clothes, etc, then Id prefer that. Is it even possible to predict what kind of coat a puppy will have at maturity? (Long, medium, smooth)


Again you can try to predict often with sucess what coat type they will have, by looking at the parents and their current coat, but there is always a chance it will be completely unpredictable. For a 100% gaurentee you would need to look at adult rescues.


I think shedding is about the same for all collies it just a matter of how long the hairs all over you will be. You can manage it with brushing and grooming, but they all shed.


4) And Im curious: Blues coat was super soft (silky) to the touch, unlike other breeds. Everyone commented on it. Is that universal among BCs, or no?


I would say that soft coats have more to do with lines of collies and grooming then the breed itself. My golden border has much softer fur than my pure working pup.

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Where in California are you located? We have several people here from that end of the country who might be able to recommend a breeder or might have a pup available.


Or, as has been mentioned, how about considering a rescue?


Be forewarned that invisible fences can be very undependable. They do not provide a secure barrier. They do not keep other animals out of your area. A highly excited or motivated dog can blow through the perimeter and then not be willing to come back into the yard. Some dogs can be very intelligent about knowing when they are wearing the collar or not, or if the batteries are not functioning, and will ignore the perimeter when the collar is not functional or not on.


Dog hair? I thought that was a condiment, a fashion statement, and a decorative touch! That said, it is not so much the length of coat but rather the abundance (or lack) of undercoat that makes for a lot of shedding (or not). My longest-coated dog has virtually no undercoat, and so he sheds way less than my shortest-coated dog, who has more undercoat and who is a medium rough-coat. Some short coats have very thickly undercoated pelages, and can shed a lot. Others have less undercoat and shorter guard hairs and so shed less. My advice is to love the dog and use the vacuum!


Most well-bred working dogs have a very good "off switch" as long as you work with them to learn how to use it. Knowing what the parents are like is the best indicator of what a pup *should* turn out like.


Maybe some of our California (and neighboring states) members will chime in and help you find some contacts. Best wishes!

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Ok, looks like a consensus that there's no way to predict the depth of hair drifts, lol. The house I'm in contract for has hardwood floors everywhere except two rooms that the dog won't be in often, so that helps a lot. That and a broom.

Eventual energy level, parents might be only indicator, and questionable at that. Ok.

Thanks Michelle for the facebook references on finding litters of puppies!!! Understood, investigation is still necessary.

California: I moved from there two years ago, back east, to Ohio.

Invisible fences: Yeah, I'm aware some people/dogs don't find consistent success with them. If there was one thing I really learned from the start about training, it was training for an invisible fence. And it worked perfectly with my border collie Blue. Additionally, at the place I'm in contract to buy, the only thing visible outside the perimeter will be corn. Unless he R-E-A-L-L-Y likes corn, there shouldn't be nearly as much enticement from outside as I've already faced in previous places with my Blue. :)

Thanks for all the input, and any more is more than welcome!


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Ah, yes cornfields. Where the deer, coons, turkeys, coyotes etc, etc play. Perhaps it still won't be an issue but, as someone who lives in a similar situation, I'd still opt for a regular fence if at all possible. Stuff like gunshots in hunting season can also startle a dog and cause it to bolt. Just something to consider

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Yep, there will be some wildlife. But again, nothing like the constant squirrels and cats and dogs and children etc etc where I've lived before.

Coyotes are the main reason a physical fence would be nice .... although stopping a coyote would require really tall and (edit: "or") complicated fencing. At least coyotes are less active during the day, and the dogs will be inside at night.

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Sounds like you already have good advice, and while I live "next door" in Nevada, I can't think of any available litters at the moment. However, I'll give a shout here if I hear of anyone. :)

About all I can add is that having had both rough coated and smooth coated dogs, (all three of my current BCs are smooth while the Aussie is of course fuzzy,) you're still gonna be cleaning up dog hair. :P The plus side to the smooth coat is that dirt and crud falls off easier, and they don't matt up or collect burrs. But they all shed and they all get hair on everything.

I will also add to the wariness of invisible fence. California farm country is chock full of wildlife, including skunks, raccoons, possums, cottontails, jackrabbits, wood rats and ground squirrels, and possibly even wild turkeys, depending the location. Plus coyotes. Besides your dog going out, these critters may come in. So, just be mindful when you get your dog that living amongst a corn field is living amongst a fairly busy ecosystem. And this being a drought year, that gorgeous greenery of yours may draw even more critters in looking for water.

Congrats on the new place! The aerial view looks lovely! And your neighbors are perfect. :D

~ Gloria

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Re: dog hair and the control or lessening thereof. I gave up when we had 3.


Some years back a member of this board, (can't remember who), said that she didn't have dust bunnies, she had dust rhinoceri. Still makes me grin.


One thing I don't think anyone mentioned about the electric fence - sometimes dogs will bolt out, running after critters or scared by a loud noise. When they calm down, they won't go back through the fence to get back in the yard.


Good luck!


Ruth and SuperGibbs

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Dog hair? I thought that was a condiment, a fashion statement, and a decorative touch!


Yep. That's been my experience as well. :lol:


Regarding coat type, you can tell if a pup's going to be a smooth or rough coat by the time it's ready to leave the litter, but I don't know that within that you'll be able to tell much until it's an adolescent at least. I've been lucky never to have had a truly long haired border collie; my rough coats have been medium rough coats with varying amounts of undercoat. My one smoothie was of the type that had lots of undercoat and shed it out prodigiously twice yearly with noticeable shedding throughout the year.


Many raw feeders say their dogs shed less than kibble fed dogs. I haven't really found that to be true until recently when I started adding coconut oil to their diets. Even salmon or fish oil didn't slow it down, but coconut oil seems to be helping.

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I'll add my voice to those not very fond of electric fences. In your case, the primary concerns are that your dog could bolt if provided sufficient reason (gunshots, chasing birds, thunder), or that there's nothing to stop other dogs (stray dogs? coyotes?) from getting into your yard. (And as others have pointed out, dogs that bolt out don't want to return).


You needn't fence the whole acre and a half. My husband and I are moving to a 15-acre farm in another week. We're going to fence off about a quarter of an acre for the dogs - enough so that they can run around, not so much so that they could get into trouble (harder to supervise them with more room). We'll keep some of the land as a "dog free" zone (for vegetable gardens, flower gardens, and the orchard), and the pastures (~ 12 acres) will be for sheep (though not all at first - fencing costing what it does).


As far as where to get a dog from - if you're open to rescue, it's a good way of knowing what your dog's temperament will be, and you've got a much better chance of avoiding health issues. You can also have greater certainty that the dog will have the drive to be your agility partner. And you won't be supporting bad breeders.


If you want to support breeders of working dogs, you *will* find that there are some such who will sell to non-working (e.g., agility) homes. Go to sheepdog trials, ask around. (Volunteer!). You may find that a lot of people have acquired puppies from several states away. (I tend to see a lot of pups born in Idaho at local sheepdog clinics here in Maryland...). Look for local stockdog association websites if you don't want to ship a pup.


ETA: smooth coats are dominant over rough coats, so if one parent has a smooth coat, at least half of the pups are likely to be smoothies. You can usually tell by ~ 6 weeks if they'll be smooth or rough, though that won't tell you what sort of coat the smoothies will have (my two smoothies have somewhat different coats), or what the texture of the rough-coated dogs will be.


Best of luck!!!

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A "Barbie" collie is a dog bred for looks - not for working ability. Usually from AKC show lines. Gorgeous to look at, but there's a certain something, a spark, missing from their eyes... Phrase stems from all the pejoratives associated with "Barbie doll", as in the talking version that spouts "Math is HARD!!!"

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Ah, gotcha. Yeah the whole conformation to what a BC is "supposed" to look like seems crazy to me. That and, as I've learned here, damages the breed.

I love all the different looks BCs have. My Blue was typical B&W, and they're beautiful like that. Maybe this is silly and totally unnecessary, but I kinda want my next one to have a different look ... I'm almost afraid that if the next one looks the same as Blue, I'll subconsciously want him to have the same personality as Blue.


And there's no way the personality will be the same.


If I could just choose what my next would be, it would be a split face B&W, or a merle (either color). Tri color would be cool too, and probably easier to find. But sheer numbers probably indicate my next will be another typical B&W, haha.

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Regarding energy level / attitude, we are a pet home and all three of our border collies have been reasonably laid back at home. When it is time to play, or go for a walk they were ready to go. In the house we encourage melo behavior, we don't have kids and our house is a pretty quiet place. What we have noticed is that is does not take long for our foster dogs and occasional visitor to follow the resident dogs lead. A friend's dog stayed with us recently and at home she is much more busy than with us. All of this is a long winded way of saying that border collies do make great house pets, you just have to encourage the quiet, and not the crazy in the house, obviously there are exceptions to this.

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There *are* a few merle Border collies who are great working dogs. They're the exception to the rule that most merle Border collies are not working-bred.


My three working-bred Border collies come to my office with me. They sack out most of the time, but the instant I click that laptop closed - boom, they're up!

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  • 1 month later...

Just an update. After weeks of uncertainty about the home loan, I closed on the house this past Friday. Still in the process of moving in.
But I'm looking for a pup in earnest now!!! Any leads anywhere in/near the Midwest will be appreciated! (I'm in Ohio)

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I'm also looking for a dog and pondering coat types and energy levels!


My old dog was a medium-coat dog - beautiful, soft and alluring to the touch. Everyone commented on it. In the last years of his life, I called him "Bunny" as often as his real name, because he felt so wonderful to touch. He shed twice a year - Novemberish and Juneish - and during those 4-6 weeks I swept a lot. But the rest of the year, there was little hair.


Now, my neighbor has a hound mix who visited me a week ago. I loved on her for a while. After she left, I swept the dining room, and found a softball-sized pile of golden undercoat - decidedly not left over from my old dog (whose gray undercoat is still cropping up here and there after 3 months!). I've noticed that on several dogs at the flea market, too - pit bull mixes. When I kneel down and pet them hard, they shed constantly - those little bristly hairs. The owners tell me it's year-round.


I'm thinking I"d rather have two hard sheds a year than a constant stream of little bristles!


There are a few east coast rescues hosting BC mix pups right now - one of them has a beautiful litter of 3/4 BC babies waiting for homes. If you go to Petfinder and search for BC puppies around your area, you might be surprised how many nice dogs pop up. One thing I've learned in my search is to mark rescues' Facebook pages - lots of good dogs get snapped up via Facebook before they're even posted on Petfinder.


Here's Mid-Atlantic BC Rescue's link (they have the 3/4 pups):


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