The Border Collie is widely known for its intelligence, trainability, loyalty and strong desire to work. People who needed a willing canine partner that could take on complex tasks driven by their herding instincts have perpetuated these traits in the breed. In 1994 in his book titled, “The Intelligence of Dogs” author Stanley Coren named theBorder Collie as the most intelligent breed. This was in no way a surprise to Border Collie fans, particularly since intelligence was defined by the author as “working” intelligence (a combination of bidability, or willingness/desire to learn, and speed of learning tasks requiring fewer reinforced repetitions to master behaviors). Other breeds may have more ability for scenting tasks, more instinct to retrieve, stronger affinity for swimming, more natural show ring bravado. The Border Collies’ versatility beyond most other breeds is enriched by its physical athleticism and an active canine mind that demonstrates learning and thinking is fun for this breed.
Border Collies and other high-drive herding breeds, dominate the ranks of the working stock dog. In addition, Border Collies can be found at the top levels of nearly every dog sport (agility, flyball, flying disc, luring, tracking, musical canine freestyle, big air, etc.) More recently, Border Collies have been worked with great success at keeping golf courses and airport runways free from geese, ducks and other migrating fowl. A Border Collie can quickly master most things that a dog can be taught to do.
By now, the reader may be thinking that Border Collies just may be the perfect dog. Many Border Collie lovers would agree. There is just one job at which your average Border Collie may consistently fail and that is the role of “couch potato” or “backyard dog”. Border Collies are high energy, active dogs and they need a
job to do. If you don’t provide mental and physical activity that your dog needs, the dog may invent it’s own “games” (which can include habitual behavior like barking, digging and chewing).
This may explain why, during the process of rehoming rescued Border Collies, there is a particular interest in what the adoption applicant plans to DO with the dog. The occasional trip to the dog park or monthly weekend hike is not an adequate routine for most Border Collies.
The special relationship that is observed between a highly trained dog and its human companion is awesome to see. Unfortunately, many families that chose a Border Collie for the first time end up disappointed because they are not set up to expend the time this breed requires. If you are willing and able to spend the time training, exercising, and building a strong bond with your new dog, that special relationship becomes very possible.