Your browser does not support JavaScript! Puppy Warnings
Border Collie Rescue - On Line - Getting a Puppy as a Pet

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

Getting a Border Collie Puppy as a Pet

If you are on this page you must have got here from our Puppy Welfare page.

If you are determined to get a Border Collie Puppy as a pet, on this page you can read about the pitfalls that are waiting for you when you start dealing with the people who are waiting to take your money.

To help you understand the potential pitfalls we would like you to have a look at the following excellent and humorous article by Debbie Connolly, dog and cat behaviourist, who has over 25 years experience of working with animals in training, rescue, behaviour and boarding and stared in the first series of the BBC3 show "Dog Borstal".
Debbie also writes a regular opinion column for Dogs Today magazine amongst many other publications. 
She appeared in "Britain's Most Embarrassing Pets" in October 2009 and makes many other TV and Radio appearances.

Debbie has a website - SafePets UK - at;

How to Buy a Dog Safely - By Debbie Connolly

We've hopefully all seen "Pedigree Dogs Exposed" and the subsequent Bateson report on dog breeding, yet there is still no proper advice on dog buying.  For years there have been campaigns about puppy farming and yet there are more now than ever.  What gets missed is the fact that some people buy puppies this way deliberately as it's "no questions asked" and having been turned away by good breeders, they still get one and it ends up in rescue.

Bad breeding isn't just about puppy farms, it's about selfish people breeding pets and selling to anyone with the money.
It's about greedy people putting any two dogs together to make more dogs, pedigrees or otherwise, and not health testing the sire and dam to ensure the pups from such a union are born without hereditary defects or transferred diseases.

If you've ever heard an estate agent's version of house descriptions then you'll know that "easy to maintain garden" means "size of a washing machine". This article aims to help you translate the same type of expressions relating to buying a dog.

Do not buy from bad breeders, you are NOT rescuing a puppy, you are contributing to a miserable trade.
It's only because people buy pups from such breeders that this trade still exists.
Do not support bad breeding, where do you think all the rescue dogs come from?

Remember, there are many excellent rescues around and specialist breed rescues. A good one will vaccinate and neuter the dogs and many microchip.
Good rescues have tested the dogs and will only let you take something suitable.

I've written about this before, this version is my funny one, but the point is the same, don't fall for lies.
Here are the excuses you will hear on your search for the best puppy and the translation.

They're not Kennel Club registered, they're just pets, you're not showing it are you?

I have stolen / found this dog and I'm not 100% certain that next doors dog isn't a cross.
I bought this pedigree dog from a breeder who sensibly endorsed the paperwork to stop me registering the puppies until I did the health tests. I didn't bother.

I don't need health tests, look at the parents, don't they look fine to you?

II am Superman and have x-ray vision. This enables me to know whether my dogs have any form of illness. Don't tell anyone because I am retired.

It will cost you another £100, but I can KC register it if you want?
It really costs £15 a puppy, but I can see you are too stupid to know that. Also see first point above.

This registration is better than the KC one, that's just for show dogs / snobs.
It isn't and none of them are. My dog might be a cross, but this certificate enabled me to add £150 to the price.

I don't have the mother because.......

She got run over / belongs to my terminally ill relative / had to go stay at friends because she's upset puppies are going.
(I really hope the terminally ill one gets you as I got these from a friend / puppy farm and that story usually embarrasses people into not asking questions.)

There's only one puppy because I sold the rest, this is the last one.
I steal puppies regularly and pass them on to idiots. Yes, he is big for 8 weeks isn't he?

I have health tested, but haven't got the certificates back yet, vet said the dogs hips were fine.

My relative is delusional and thinks he is Superman or a vet.

I have KC registered them, but the KC takes ages

Just give me the money, and I will string you along for ages until you will not care any more because you will be attached to the dog. Don't I look honest guv?

I've had to put Mum out there, she doesn't like people taking the puppies/strong
Yes I know she is trying to smash the window to get to you, surely you know what hormones do? Please ignore the bandage I am wearing, that's a coincidence.

I will meet you at the services as I live up a mountain / I am having work done / I happen to be going your way.
I am amazed you are stupid enough to do this. When I roll my window down and put my hand out for the money, you give it to me! You do make it so easy for us puppy farmers, I thank you.

It's a new / rare colour so it costs more

Basically I messed up the breeding as I used the first dog I found. You haven't done your research either, so when I tell you this dog will win Crufts because it is a rare colour, you'll believe me. Yes, stripes are normal on a Labrador.

When searching for a BC pup to be your pet, be very cautious.

We suggest it best to avoid any litters advertised in papers or any pup from farm stock. Also avoid pet shop pups and those from a private mating where breeding practices are hit and miss - and sometimes accidental ........!  

Reasoning -
Most in papers or pet shops are puppy farmed - more information about this in the Puppy farming section on our website - so there is high risk of hereditary problems and poor health - could be expensive at vets. Immune system may be compromised due to stress of transportation and poor quality handling. Chances of fatal diseases developing - high. Chances of recovery from infection - low.
Likely to have or develop social problems - congenital and conditioned. Most likely to develop socially linked behavioural problems including aggression. Also probably collie cross of some sort. Pedigree information is often unavailable and if available is sometimes false.
Unfortunately, because these problems are often inherent or congenital, they predetermine the quality, course and extent of the dogs life and therefore negate the benefits and whole point of raising a pup.

Farm bred pup - obviously directly from traditional working lines and therefore likely to develop strong working and herding instincts as it grows up. Likely to have had minimal socialisation and probably lower than appropriate nutrition at crucial stage of development. Some of the problems referred to above will apply.
The expression 'Horses for Courses' comes to mind. If a pup is from a line that has been selectively bred for generations to have strong working drive and instinct, you may expect it to have problems adapting to a lifestyle where it is not allowed to follow its instincts.

Such a pup in a pet home is most likely to develop obsessive behavioural problems due to frustration brought on by the dogs inability to fulfill its developing instincts. These many potential problems may include possessiveness and aggression. Also more likely to develop hyperactive behaviour due to over stimulation in a pet environment.
Unfortunately, because these problems are often inherent or conditioned, they predetermine the quality, course and extent of the dogs life and can negate the benefits and whole point of raising a pup.
More in the Breed Advice / Working Sheepdog section of our website.

Privately bred pup - very hit and miss. It depends on the quality of the bloodlines and the skill of the breeder.
Unregistered pups from unregistered parents are always an unknown factor. Pedigrees cannot be researched and therefore no information of inherited problems can be determined. Also consider the matter of eye screening for genetically transmitted conditions like CEA (Collie Eye Anomaly) and PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy). Parents need to be screened and clear. This is very unlikely with unregistered litters. Inexperienced breeders may make bad choices in pairing, increasing hereditary problems in the pups. This is a high risk area.

Unregistered (or registered) pups from registered parents are a better choice. For the parents or pups to be registered, the parents must be registered and eye screened and cleared. The pedigree can be researched and information about temperament and working ability in previous generations Etc., can be obtained and considered.
However, there still remains the problem of the skill of the breeder. Registered breeders use registered bloodlines. Sometimes these bloodlines can develop certain less desirable characteristics due to an overzealous inbreeding program in past generations (see Pedigree dogs exposed). A pre-disposition towards timid and fearful behaviour is a common example of this.

Many of these 'less stable' offspring are sold on and then bred from by members of the public - sometimes deliberately for profit. Pedigree papers can be forged. This is also a high risk area. 
More information on our website -Roy Goutte - Importance of correct breeding and method.  

Pup from a registered breeder using registered bloodlines - is the best choice for sourcing a pup for any specific purpose or discipline.
Research into bloodlines will indicate that certain lines are more suited to certain sorts of work or discipline. At least that is the theory - one has to allow for breeders mistakes and natural throwbacks. 
There are two recognised registers of Border Collies in the UK. The Kennel Club (KC) and the International Sheepdog Society (ISDS). Both these groups keep stud books and registers of breeders.
More info in the Breed Profile section of our website.

For a lifestyle of a companion and pet you will need a well balanced pup with good social conditioning to other animals and humans, a researchable pedigree so that working drive and temperament can be determined as well as the general genetic health of the line.
If looking for good temperament, it is not the temperament of the parents that should be the deciding factor, it is the grandparents and great grandparents you really need to research. Simply seeing the parents and noting they are of good temperament is inadequate information. 

The saying 'you get what you had, not what you've got' is used frequently to sum this up. This simply means that the inherited characteristics from grandparents, great-grandparents and generations prior to them are more likely to influence the characteristics the puppy will display as it matures than the characteristics of its immediate parents.

The ISDS is the register of working Border Collies (Sheep Dogs) and therefore not a good choice as the source of a pup for companion or pet ownership purposes. If you want a sheepdog, go to an ISDS registered breeder, but not for a pet.

The Kennel Club is the register for companion dogs and therefore more appropriate for people seeking a pet. KC breeders will often claim that they  breed for a specific discipline. A dog from some lines may be more suited to be a Show Dog or better for Agility, Flyball, Obedience, Working Trials, Herding. Some breeders claim they breed for temperament best suited to the Pet/Companion market. But still be cautious as Pedigree Dogs Exposed has revealed that even some registered Kennel Club breeders may not have the dogs best interest at heart and the Kennel Club itself has not been that good at supervising and maintaining the standards of the breeders on its register.

Some bloodlines are dual registered - that is to say that the breeder has registered their dogs with both the KC and the ISDS. Pups from these lines should be avoided.

ISDS registration of a KC line is not permissible because the ISDS registers bloodlines of dogs that are competent as sheepdogs, not based on their appearance.
KC registration of an ISDS line is permitted by the KC and is exploited by ISDS registered breeders to increase the potential market of their pups by appealing to people wanting to purchase a dog as a pet.
Dual registration is also exploited by KC breeders who purchase and breed from dogs already registered with the ISDS, thus bringing impressive working dog pedigrees into their lines. Quite a lot of people are impressed by the opportunity to purchase a pup who's ancestory contains trials winners or champions - even though the accolades these ancestors have won show them and their decedents to be most unsuited to be domestic pets.

Dual registration is unnecessary for any other reason than commercial breeding for the pet market.
Dual registered bloodlines indicate to us that the breeders motivation is purely commercial - no matter what scale their breeding operation appears to be. They are simply trying to push up their prices and sell more pups.

Watch out because there is always a risk that you will be offered pups that have been rejected for a particular discipline because they fall short in one way or another. Temperament is often a factor in such rejections. Look into those breeders who are breeding for temperament and character and are open and honest about their activities. If in doubt walk away.

It pays to research. It may sound long winded and over cautious, however should be well worth the effort as you are most likely to end up with a pup that is most suited to the lifestyle you intend for it.
Hopefully, this will also guarantee that your dog does not end up in a rescue centre like so many other pups that are taken on as pets.

Some people who have contacted us with a pup to re-home have said they only bought the pup because they felt sorry for it and only intended to keep it until it was back on its feet and then re-home it through a rescue.

Although we applaud the sentiment behind this reasoning we have to point out that it is not that simple to re-home a dog these days. Rescue centres are inundated with unwanted or homeless animals. People are often horrified to find out that they will have to keep their dog for weeks or months before space comes up at a decent rescue.
The dealer who sold the pup has their money and is encouraged by the fact that they have offloaded their stock to a gullible member of the public. They go out and do it again, and again, and again. The only way to stop them is to stop buying from them.

Also - due to the sheer number of dogs being turned away by real rescue services because they are already overloaded and cannot take another dog in, we see the proliferation of opportunist businesses, posing as rescues, who make their profits by exploiting people in desperate situations. Some of these will charge you to take the dog in and will offload it to anyone willing within a few hours for more profit without spending a penny. Others may use some of the money they charge you to put your dog down - pocketing the balance as profit.

What an opportunity you offer them - they can set up a business where they get their stock given freely and may also get a cash bonus when the stock arrives. Everything they earn is pure profit. It belies the expression "there is no such thing as a free lunch" - for them there is. These people are no better than unscrupulous dealers and puppy farmers. They are all part of the problem we face in animal rescue today.

Please don't make a common, emotionally motivated mistake and expect a rescue organisation to bail you out. There is often "no room at the Inn". If you weaken and fall foul of a bad breeder, dog dealer or puppy farmer and then have to resort to passing on the pup that has become a problem to an unregistered rescue you and the dog will have been exploited twice.

Think well before you buy any puppy - any breed - you should be able to guarantee that you are able to give a dog a full and happy life - a quality life - for many years - for the expected duration of a dogs life. If you only see your own wishes and don't think of the dogs needs and make them your priority you really should be rethinking your motivation.

To go back to our Puppy Welfare page click here

 If you are interested in adopting a Border Collie from us,
please phone 0845 604 4941 during office hours.
(2 pm to 5 pm Tuesdays to Thursdays)

Please do not write to us or email us about adoption - we want to speak to you before we start the process.