By Jenni Watson
Lets start by transforming the breed into an area that could be likened to buying a car.
CHARLIE WYANT, who was a great 'Obedience' man, likened the GSD to the Rolls Royce and so they are, but forgive me for I will always be a great GSD lover.
The Border Collie/Working Sheepdog is beyond doubt the Ferrari of the working breeds.
The areas and disciplines in which this bred performs are numerous, but if considering introducing a BC to your family, be prepared to look at the whole picture with open eyes before acquiring one.
THE SHEEPDOG -
Anyone who has ever witnessed One Man and His Dog will appreciate the bond between the shepherd and his working collie. In this context the dog is a business partner, an investment and a member of a team that a great deal of training time, money and trust has been put into to produce the ultimate working relationship.
I have never had the privilege of working a dog on sheep, but would surmise that when considering the breeding lines available for this purpose, the shepherd is looking for a dog that has the ability to think for itself, be amenable to training, but have a strong and confident desire, once trained, to work on its own ability without requiring to come back to 'mummy' or 'daddy' every few minutes to be reassured he is a good dog.
His eyes should be all over, watching, focused on the stock, ready to take control, chase in a confident manner and think of his sheep as a pack - keeping them together unless instructed otherwise. He is second to none, apart from his master. He is a strong dog.
THE OBEDIENCE COLLIE -
We want to keep all the attributes that the shepherd has worked so hard to produce, but want to moderate the breed for our own requirements.
We require a dog who is keen, eager, willing to please, Etc., but we want a dog who requires us to control the close working situation, look to us for guidance, praise Etc. In other words a dog who is willing to work but has eyes only for us rather than his sheep and requiring us to return to for reassurance and direction.
In short we need a more sensitive version of the Sheep Dog.
THE FAMILY PET BORDER COLLIE -
This one needs a lot of thought and anyone considering a BC as a pet should weigh up the differences between the two above before deciding on what to purchase.
Basically, though the shepherd and working person ( obedience, working trialist, Etc. ) may never consider any other breed, it should be honestly admitted we may be looking for different attributes in the breed from normal pet requirements.
What one may think is ideal, the other may consider too weak or too strong.
Neither does this issue imply that to purchase a dog as a pet from a shepherd would automatically produce a dog that too hard for the purpose, indeed my daughter will be working a shepherding BC at Crufts in the obedience championships and she is a beautiful pet.
Likewise, a dog bred from obedience lines could turn out to be too strong as a pet and round up or even nip the kids Etc.
Just be very careful in taking on a BC as a pet and be aware that they come in a variety of models - as all classy numbers do.
Look extensively at the breeding and talk to people who are prepared to be honest with you rather than simply seeing a sale coming. Think about what you are looking for, how much time do you have to devote to your dog's needs.
In other words :- What sort of car do you want to drive ?