Border Collies are the workaholics of the canine
world. For hundreds of years, they have been bred to work livestock—safely, quietly, effectively and tirelessly. They
have been adapted to use in many climates around the world, herding an amazingly wide range of livestock, and other animals.
These dogs don’t fit into any mold.The shepherds who have bred them over countless generations, bred them to do a job,
not just look a certain way to the owner or observer. Even the style of the way a particular dog works has come about through
selective breeding to produce a dog that can do the job in the best possible way.
The actual breed of dogs, known
as Border Collies come from Scotland, along the border between Scotland and England. Thus, the name Border collie. Registered
Border Collies were first imported into the United States in the 1920s. In many parts of the world they are actually known
as Working Sheepdogs.
A Short (very short) History of the Border Collie
During the time of
the Roman empire, the Romans brought numerous herding dogs to the British Isles. Many of these dogs had come from Northern
Africa, but only a few could withstand Britain's cold, wet weather. However, those that did survive, were bred with the
local dogs, which were descendants of the Celtic dogs from north of Ireland.
Those original Roman herding dogs were
larger than we see now—they were actually a combination of herding and guarding dog. They and shepherds came to the
British Isles with the sheep that were meant to feed the Roman armies. As the Roman empire lost strength and hold on the British
Isles, the Vikings of Scandinavian north increased their raiding, eventually overcoming and invading the areas we now know
as Ireland and Scotland, bringing their own herding dogs.
These new sheep herding dogs were smaller, lighter and quicker
dogs. Far more suited to the rocky Scottish highlands, they were crossed with the Roman breeds, eventually giving rise to
a dog called collie, which seems to be derived from the ancient celtic word colley, thought to mean useful and/or faithful.
It is also similar to a word that meant black, in one Celtic dialect. The word colley eventually was used for a dog working
Various types of this dog were used around the British Isles, and gave rise to several other herding breeds
we know today, such as the Rough Collie, Shetland Sheepdog, and Bearded Collie. By 1576, a Dr. Johannes Caius gave a description
of a working shepherd’s dog that surely describes our modern day Border Collie, in his book “English Dogges.”
The type we now know as Border Collies were first dubbed so by James Reid (secretary of the International Sheepdog Society),
in 1915 in registration forms to indicate the dog’s origins from around the border between Scotland and England. By
this time, the breed had been proving itself to be the best herding dogs both on the farm and in trials. Indeed, the first
recorded Sheepdog trial was held in Bala, Wales, in October of 1873, and was won by William Thomson and his dog Tweed.
For information on how Border Collies work on hazing Canada Geese, be sure to visit our page, "Why Use Border Collies?"