Jump to content
BC Boards

Recommended Posts

Hi everybody,


About three months ago, I rescued a four month-old male border collie named Marco. I've had a difficult time finding answers on the internet about border collie growth, personality, health and the breeds phsyical charcteristicics, so I thought I'd pose some questions here to hopefully find some clarity! Attached i'll have some photos so you can see my dog (at 7 months)!


Ok, Question #1.

I've always been interested in the border collie stare, crouch, and stalk. I've seen a few BCs that have such a low crouch, they almost move like cats! My pup has started to have a slight crouch. Mostly his front paws and head go down. Does this trait get stronger as they get older? The BCs that I've seen were around One year, two years old. They really had a strong stare, crouch, and stalk. I'm wondering if my dog will develop his insticts as he gets older and have a more distict crouch/stare/stalk?



Does anyone think my dogs coat will continue to grow? Does he seem like a short coated or long coated BC? There have been some people who ask me if my dog his a mix between a BC and something else. He is tall and skinny (I think too skinny, I'm trying to slowly fatten him up).

In a few days he will be 7 months old. He stands at 54cm at the withers but only weighs 15.5 kg. He is fine boned. Will he grow much more in weight? He has small paws. Is there a point when their bones thinken up a bit? I saw two bcs the past weekend and they both had big paws. They weren't stockly. They were just thinker. They looked strong. When can I expect my boy to stop growing? Has anyone had a Border Collie that looks like mine at 7 months, How do they look now, as full grown?


#3. What is a good excerise routine for a puppy? I walk him a few times a day. Each walk is about 20-40 mins. Sometimes we play fetch but only for 15 to 20 mins and only a few days a week and its really low key. I let him rest a bit in between throws. Mostly, we play in the house and do training exercises. Does that seem like too much? Should I cut out fetch?


#4. Finally, my BC LOVES to run. He runs huge laps around all the other dogs at the dog park. Most dogs don't even bother chasing him because he runs so much and fast. Is that normal for a BC? He is a rescue. So I am not sure if he is 100% BC. They said at the rescue he was. And he sure does look like one to me. He is smart, has a moderately BC eye and crouch. The other day he saw some sheep and boy did they catch is attention :).


Sorry for the long post. I'm new to this and Border Collies. I want to know as much as I can!












Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to the Boards, Matt.


#1 - Degree of crouch (aka style in working border collies) varies greatly in the breed. Some dogs are very stylish when working, meaning they have a deep crouch, others are more upright dogs, showing little or no crouch at all. And of course still others cover the range of everything in between. Some dogs will crouch when they're working, but not at any other time. So the only real answer I can offer is I don't know if he'll develop more style as he matures. :P


#2 - At 7 months Marco's likely to grow some more. Most border collies achieve much of their growth by around 10 months of age, but again it can vary. After 10 months growth slows down dramatically but there may still be some slow growth for a few months after that. IME, males often tend to fill out very suddenly at about 3 years of age; it can seem like you wake up one morning and the dog's just broader and more mature looking then he was yesterday, though there's usually little weight gain and often no difference in height.


Marco's a rough coat, not a smooth (or short) coat, though it looks like he'll be a relatively short rough coat. Again, he'll probably gain some coat as he matures, though not necessarily in length but in fullness.


Because historically border collies have not been bred for a standardized appearance or size they can vary a lot in size, looks, bone structure, etc. This greater variation in the breed is totally normal, and it makes it pretty hard to predict what an adult will look like until, well, he's an adult.


Sorry I'm not able to post pics, but for comparison there's a pic of my then 7 month old pup in this thread (msg #17): http://www.bordercollie.org/boards/index.php?showtopic=39446&page=1&&do=findComment&comment=512233 He's a very smooth smooth coat (some are fluffier, though still short), what some people refer to as slick, and as you can see is fine boned. At 9 1/2 months old now, he's even finer boned.


#3 - As long as your exercise routine seems adequate for the dog (i.e he's not being destructive or restless out of boredom and/or pent up energy) then it looks good to me. Really it depends mostly on the dog. Some are more laid back than others and almost all are ready to go as long as you want them to the minute you ask. The real challenge for many people is knowing how not to teach their dog to demand a lot more activity than they really need. ;)


#4 - Yeah, that's pretty normal. And he certainly looks like he could be a purebred to me.


Marco's cute. Kudos to you for adopting a rescue.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a super cute pup!


What Roxanne said (GentleLake).


About exercise - I would not be doing a lot of fetching or similar exercise yet at this age. You don't want a lot of repetitive, impact activity. He's fine setting his own pace (running around) but throwing the ball or frisbee is really a bit much for this age. You can roll either on the ground, which avoids the potential for leaps and twists that throwing tends to offer. These are not good for growing youngsters. By the time he is at least 12 months old (or, better yet, 15 to 18 months) the growth plates in his bones will have finished their job and he'll have his adult bone structure, and then it will be much safer to do things like fetch, frisbee, trots/bike rides/etc. on pavement, and so on.


The single best way to exercise him is to exercise his *mind*. Teach him manners. Teach him tricks. Teach him to use his nose (dogs love nosework). Socialize him. And, yes, exercise his body but in a moderate, reasonable fashion. He's really still a youngster and damage at a young age can cause big problems on down the road. Walks are excellent but, as Roxanne points out, don't condition him to expect more activity than you will be happy living with.


Rescue? Great, and kudos to you!


PS - He could readily be purebred. Putting his head down and stalking is part of the Border Collie personality, and so is dropping the tail down when he is engaged in what he considers "work". That's when he's serious. All bets are off when it's playtime!


Very best wishes!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I didn't notice if anyone else mentioned this but from the pictures he looks a healthy weight. The typical rule of thumb is you should be able to feel the ribs easily, but not be able to see them, and to have a pronounced tuck. It's very important not to put extra weight on a young dog if it isn't needed because it can cause pressure on the growing bones, joints, and plates. Also from what I understand having even a few extra pounds on a young dog can lead to early arthritis. When in doubt ask your vet what his ideal weight and feeding routine should be.


Marco is gorgeous by the way :) how lucky he is to have someone that cares so much!!


I don't know if this is the same with all breeds but my non BC long haired dog grew a TON more hair between 6/7 months and 1 year. In fact at 7 months he had very short hair, now his tail hair is a foot long and he has feathers and long hair on his whole body...


My bc is very fine boned and small with tiny paws and is a full grown adult... He only does the stalk/stare when he is playing and its pronounced but not belly crawl pronounced. It sounds like it varies a lot!


Good luck with your boy :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to the boards, Matt! :) What a beautiful pup you have! He looks 100% border collie to me.

To answer your questions:

1. The famous border collie crouch or stare differs in degree or intensity from dog to dog. In a play setting, all it really means is that he's really into whatever he's doing. The crouch or stare by themselves are not an indicator of how they will work. Some BCs are as you say, very low and "stylish," others work in a more upright or "loose-eyed" fashion. It varies from dog to dog.

As a side note, you don't want to encourage him staring at or "eyeing" other dogs. In dog language, an intense stare is rude and even confrontational, and non-border collie dogs can misread that behavior as a threat or challenge. That won't be good when he grows up and his puppy card expires. Plus you don't want to encourage any obsessive behaviors in a border collie! They really don't need the help. :rolleyes:

2. Don't try to fatten him up. He looks perfect. Unless he's got ribs or hipbones poking out, he looks totally normal for a 7 month old active border collie pup. Too many town people think all dogs are supposed to look round and chubby!
I'd say he's definitely a rough coat and it will fill in as he gets older. Some rough coats don't get their full coats until they are 3 or 4 years old. I actually like your guy's coat - long enough to look pretty but not so long or dense as to pick up every burr or sticker.

He is a bit fine boned but that is definitely not a fault. Border collies come in all body types, from bulky to whippet-like. I have a 2 year old smooth female who looks like a greyhound! :P He's also at an age where he's all legs and elbows!. I doubt his paws will get any bigger, but he still has lots of growing to do and he will fill out as he matures. He'll have most of his size and frame by age 10 or 11 months, but he will still fill out slowly and may not reach his full adult musculature until about 3 years. But he's probably going to be a lean and athletic dog, so just enjoy nature's running machine!

3. As others have said, I'd nix the fetch game. It's more important to exercise his mind than his body. Let him do his own running around, but be super, super careful with the repetitive stuff. It's not the duration of play that is risky so much as those hard dashes and sudden stops could damage his still-growing joints. Walks are good, especially if they are out in nature where his brain gets a good workout smelling and investigating things.

4. With that physique, of course he loves to run! Why have a natural-born jet engine and not use it? :P Here, meet my Nell. She lives to run and go fast. (Photo taken last winter so she was about 18 months old.)

Give your boy a pet for me!

~ Gloria

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a cutie pie!! Looks all border collie to me.


I don't think he's skinny - he's at that awkward (looking) adolescent stage. I think he's perfect weight for his height.

I'll second the "don't do too much fetching" at this age. His growth plates won't be closed for another 5-6 months (or more). Another fun game, in addition to things mentioned above, is a "hide and seek" game with a toy. He gets to run around, but on his own terms/speed, and there's a big reward when he finds it! Start easy, and increase the difficulty when he understand.


And mostly - enjoy "pup-hood!" It doesn't last nearly long enough!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you every one!

So it seems that I should cut out the Fetch and work more on mental exercise.

Now I'm scared. I hope i didn't hurt him too much by exercising.

I never encourage his stare/crouch instinct and I can see how if he does this too other dogs it can be problematic.

I'm just a fan of a stylish BC. I guess border collie's are one of those breeds where its hard to say anything about them until they reach adult hood. They are a real surprise! That's what I love about them.

The other day, I watch a documentary called Border Collie Rescue- A Useful Dog on YouTube. It is a great documentary. Has anyone seen it? Does anyone know of any other BC documentaries?

Another question I have is, are there places that exists that teaches dogs to heard not necessarily for a working purpose but for a exercise? And is that a good idea or does it create a crazy dog?

Thanks again everybody.

I really enjoy looking at the photographs of your dogs.

Is it me, or are Border Collies the most handsome breed out there?!

Maybe I got the BC bug...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Handsome dog!


Re: Herding for exercise. I would not recommend doing it solely for exercise - there are the sheep to consider after all. Not really fair to look at them as a means of exercise for your dog. But there's nothing wrong in training your dog on stock so you can both learn to handle the stock effectively - and it's super cool to experience with a dog with decent instinct and talent. Perhaps it seems like semantics, but I think it's about going into it with both a respect for the animals and for the art/tradition/necessity of stock dog training.

More than a few people have started with a rescue dog on their journey to having 5 BCs and competing in trials or owning a farm!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Maralynn,

I think it would be great for building a stronger relationship. It doesn't have to be sheep necessarily. I'm thinking that it would be great to train on stock because he is smart. He would have a mental and physical exercise at the same time, and still be working with me.

But I guess for the sheeps sake it isn't the best idea.

What are other good ways to work on stock training?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, if it's something you're interested in and he has talent, then absolutely find a trainer, take lessons and see where it leads! My point was more just do it with respect for the sheep :)


But if there isn't a trainer available in your area, there's not really another activity that takes that specific collection of instincts and utilizes them the same. If you want a dog driven activity, nosework might be something good to look into. I do search and rescue with my two and, while it isn't quite the same as stockwork in the "using all their instinct" category, for me it's a close second.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Matt, you have received great replies. I have only a couple of comments. You said that you are a fan of stylish BCs, and in my opinion that is exactly what you have there. He is stunning. I also agree that his weight is fine for his age. He will naturally fill out a bit as he gets older, but border collies should be lean.


Welcome to the BC Boards. I hope that you will stick around because this is the very best place that you will find anywhere for all information pertaining to border collies .

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Hey Maralynn,

I think it would be great for building a stronger relationship. It doesn't have to be sheep necessarily. I'm thinking that it would be great to train on stock because he is smart. He would have a mental and physical exercise at the same time, and still be working with me.

But I guess for the sheeps sake it isn't the best idea.

What are other good ways to work on stock training?



The thing to know about working border collies is this: taking them to sheep is like taking an adrenaline junkie to skydiving lessons. Once they have a taste of it, that genie ain't going back into the bottle. ;)


But the most important aspect is this: working livestock is not a game. It's not a means of exercising a dog or "giving him something to do." To work livestock is to tap into an instinct as primal as hunting is to wolves or running is to Thoroughbreds. And it's to walk in the footsteps of the shepherds who created these dogs as workmates and partners two or three hundred years ago.


If you really want to learn to work your dog on sheep, if you want to discover the joy of a partnership unequaled in dog/human bonds, go for it. Find a trainer, be humble, work hard and listen well. Be diligent and persistent and patient. It will not come easy, you will often feel clumsy and confused and you may even worry that you're messing up your dog. But it's totally worth it. Learn your dog, learn the sheep, learn the work. To work a talented dog on sheep is magic like nothing else.


However, it's not a whimsical pastime or a once-or-twice-a-month outing for your dog to go have some fun. The sheep - and your dog - deserve ever so much more respect than that.


If you DO decide to try your pup on sheep - say, when he's 10 months old or so - come back here, tell us where you live and we'll do our best to point you towards a reputable trainer. :) Just be wary of all-breed "herding" trainers who claim they can work with any sort of dog. Too often they really don't know border collies well enough and their methods can be too punitive for most BCs.


~ Gloria

Link to comment
Share on other sites

**Does anyone have photos of their dogs when they were around 7-8 months and photo of there dogs now, as grown adults? I would love to see the before and after. I love the puppy stage but can't wait until my pup is all grown up**


Sorry about all the spelling mistakes in the first post. It was before I had my morning coffee...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does any one of photos of there dogs when they were around 7-8 months and now, as well grown adults?

I would love to see the before and after! I love the puppy stage but I can't wait until my pup is all grown up!



Sure! Here's a couple from my crew. This is Nick at probably 5 months - I lost some photos in a computer failure some years ago so I seem to be missing any between then and a year.



Here is Nick taken this spring at 8 years old. Yes, he does have a very dorky look on his face. He was waiting for his turn at a sheepdog trial. ;)




~ Gloria

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh gosh, you're making me look back at his ugly puppy pictures. Ugh....


Here he was at 6/7/8 months:






And here he is today (ish):





In the winter he has more coat, and those pictures were before his mane was in full bloom. I swear, they get pretty! My mom's dog is 10 months old now, and we're finally able to wipe our brows and know that he WON'T be as awkward (read: ugly) as he was from 6-8 months.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I swear, they get pretty! My mom's dog is 10 months old now, and we're finally able to wipe our brows and know that he WON'T be as awkward (read: ugly) as he was from 6-8 months.


You know, Molly was getting better by about 8 months, but BC sometimes go through some of the WEIRDEST stages. It's like their heads have their own growth curve and it never matches the rest of them. Molly was ATROCIOUS from 3 months to about 6 months. Just unGODLY ugly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...