Advice on acquiring a Border Collie as a Pet
The right Border Collie can make a faithful, loyal pet and companion, providing the dogs owner understands its needs and addresses them correctly.
As a potential owner, the first thing you need to do is to research the breed, its needs and its requirements to see if you are able ( or if you wish ) to make any changes to your lifestyle that may be necessary for the sake of the dog.
If you intend to take a Border Collie as a family pet - be very cautious; the breed is not known for its tolerance of babies and young children.
DO NOT get a young puppy from a farm.
Farm bred puppies are obviously from working parents (and bloodlines) and not from domesticated pet stock.
On a farm puppies tend to be isolated from social interactions
and grow up poorly socialised and domestically inexperienced..
Working Border Collies are not bred to be pets and pups from these bloodlines should not be sold as such due to the
strong likelihood of working instincts developing later.
All the selective breeding that has gone into these bloodlines has been aimed at producing dogs that will be inclined to chase and work stock and at concentrating the instincts and drive that they need to do the job successfully.
At about six months of age, a Border Collie puppies working instinct will be developing and if you
have one, you run a very high risk of ending up with a working sheepdog in your sitting room.
If this should be the case there will be little or nothing you can do about it unless you are prepared to break the spirit of the dog and force it to go against natural inclinations.
Some folk do try. Most fail. Dogs so treated become traumatised.
Breaking a dogs spirit will require a lot of time and work on your part
with no guarantee of a desirable outcome.
The dog is more likely to end up frustrated and confused, developing social and behavioural problems which may be expressed aggressively towards people or animals.
You may see adverts in the press offering puppies from farms that have been bred surplus to requirements or even to supplement a dwindling income.
They usually say “will make good working dogs or pets”.
This is a certainly a contradiction in terms.
The sellers will know that you can only have the one or
the other. Each requires different and opposing qualities.
Border Collie Rescue is asked to take in a lot of young dogs of between 9 months and 18 months of age that have been purchased - as puppies - from farms. Often, their owners attempts at domestication only results in making them unsuitable for both
companion or working environments. The dogs life and
future damaged and in limbo.
DO NOT just pick a BC from a commercial rescue centre or advertised on a notice board -’free to good home’
Make sure of the dogs temperament if you take one on ‘spec’.
This is easier said than done.
always a good reason for someone to part with their dog.
If it is because the dog is a problem, desperate people can be ‘economical’ with the truth
and will try and hide any issues. They won't take the dog back
when you find out!
Private ( or non charity ) rescue centres or individuals are running a
commercial business in the re-homing of dogs.
It is their living.
As with the nature of any business, turnover and profit is the
goal. Quick turnover means greater profit.
These ‘rescues’ therefore have conflicting interests and often
do not follow proper assessment and re-homing procedures that a
more professional organisation would use to protect their
clients and the dogs they take in.
It won’t help the dog if you have to return it or re-home it because it does not fit in. You won’t enjoy the experience either.
Its also worth bearing in mind that you may not be able to return the dog to the place you got it from.
Once they have your 'donation' they may refuse to take the dog back, leaving you to make other arrangements
and cope until you do.
DO NOT buy a pup or young dog from a puppy farm or from a general animal dealer or from an un-registered private breeder.
Puppies do not belong in pet shops and many
pet shops buy from puppy farms.
Commercial puppy farms are profit making enterprises and
usually welfare standards are not as high as may be desirable.
In most cases standards fall well below average.
The breeding stock they use must also be considered.
If you by a puppy from poor bloodlines you run the risk of ending up with a dog that suffers from hereditary or congenital diseases, leading to expensive vet bills for you and a poor quality of life for the animal. Many dogs from these sources have weak immune systems and contract fatal diseases.
A puppy may come already infected and require a serious
amount of veterinary treatment which can be costly and there
is no guarantee of survival.
Another point to remember is - by buying from these sources you encourage the breeder to go out and do it again.
Never buy any dog or puppy that is delivered to you after a phone call in response to a newspaper ( or other ) advert.
Many puppy farms use anonymous agents to sell on dogs for them in this way.
You see and advert in the paper and phone a mobile number and a
puppy is delivered to your door or you meet the seller at a
service station or public car park. If things go wrong you find
that when you phone the seller for help the mobile number no
longer works and you have no way to get in touch.
Puppy dealers are aware that the pups they sell are prone to
illness and temperament problems and aware that most people
would not knowingly purchase a puppy like that so they take
great trouble to give the impression that the litters they sell
are privately bred.
These people are crafty. As public awareness grows they look for
another way to sell their pups. One that looks more wholesome.
They will set a scene in a private house with a litter of
puppies and a bitch of the same breed said to be the mother.
The householder poses as the owner of the dogs. Once the litter
has been sold the bitch will be moved to the next 'agent' to do
In this way the puppy breeders and dealers remain below the
radar of the authorities because it looks like each address used
is only producing a couple of litters a year and therefore is
not required to apply for a retailers license and inspection.
Buying from sources like this is courting disaster.
It is big business and it is organised. Pups are even imported
from puppy farms abroad in countries where the regulations are
not so tight.
The pup you buy may have been bred in Romania and traveled
hundreds of miles in poor facilities to be sold as a home bred
pup in the UK.
It may even have been smuggled in. Many come in like this from
If your pup becomes ill you may be faced with large vet bills or
euthanasia. Parvo Virus is a common killer of commercially bred
puppies and it is often fatal and not a nice way to die.
Sometimes, after expensive treatment, the pup will still die.
If it survives it may be prone to diseases or health conditions
in the future, or develop behavioural issues resulting from poor
socialisation or poor handling and treatment.
Parting with a dog that has become a problem can be traumatic for the whole family - the death of a weak and sickly puppy is even worse - its simply not worth the risk.
GET A DOG from a responsible Rescue
RSPCA - Blue Cross - NCDL - The Dogs Home Battersea, Border Collie Rescue
and many others are organisations where the staff will take the time and trouble to assess the dogs properly and advise you and help you to find the right dog that will fit in to your home and circumstances.
Only use a regulated organisation, either a registered charity
or a registered non profit charitable company.
Make sure whatever organisation you use has a constitution or
governing document that makes the organisation the owner of all
its funds and assets instead of them belonging to the people who
Beware of those 'rescues' posing as 'good causes' and calling
themselves 'Non-Profits' or 'Not for Profit'. These terms have
no legal basis in the UK unless they refer to incorporated
organisations that have governing documents set out for that
purpose. Calling yourself a non-profit does not make you one.
These rescues are commercial and their funds and assets are the
property of their owners - they are businesses that have been
set up to exploit the situation of unwanted dogs and they make
their money from taking in dogs given to them free of charge and
selling them on under a 're-homing' contract for a fixed
Frequently these businesses import dogs from abroad, including
puppies and pass them on as rescued dogs. Some are genuine
rescue dogs from rescue organisations abroad who will pay all
costs involved in vaccinating, neutering and transporting the
dogs to the UK so the business only has to collect them from the
port of entry and keep and feed them until they are re-homed. It
can be very profitable. What business could refuse free stock to
Always look for a charity or charitable company number before dealing with
them. Check them out and if they are a private business we
suggest you do not deal with them.
If you have to buy a Border Collie pup, in the good old days we
would have said get one from a responsible Kennel Club or other registered breeder.
Unfortunately times have changed and you cannot take such
sources for granted.
The Kennel Club is not a charity or a dog welfare organisation,
it is a private members club and its responsibility is to its
voting members. Most of its members are breeders so to a great
extend the members dictate how it is run with their vote.
The KC registers breeders for a fee and lists 'accredited
breeders' as a reliable source of puppies but has a poor
reputation for checking out the breeders it recommends on its
lists so - buyer
The KC also has little or no knowledge of the rescues they
recommend and many rescues they list are commercial businesses.
You only need a letter from a vet to get listed and vets seldom
refuse such a service to a client.
These days a listing or recommendation of any sort from the
kennel club is risky and not worth taking up.
If buying from a breeder of any sort, make sure you meet the Sire and Dam (don’t buy unless you do) and ensure they are tested and certified to be free of hereditary diseases
and that they have a good temperament.
Don’t pay any money over until you have copies of any promised pedigree or registration certificates.
Ask questions about the background of the dog and its parents. It is not unreasonable to be seen to be responsible.
If answers are evasive, defensive, offhand or aggressive or in
any way unsatisfactory or dubious - look elsewhere.
GET ADVICE - but get your advice from someone that is not trying to sell you a dog.
If you are advised that a Border Collie is not the right dog for you, don’t be offended, take the advice and consider a Collie cross or a different breed of dog.
If you have chosen your advisor diligently, they will be advising you correctly based on their experience and understanding of your circumstances.
In particular, if they are a charity that re-homes dogs
(or even a business that sells dogs) and their advice is not to take one of the breed of dogs they specialise in
or re-home, believe them and take note.
worth bearing in mind that the majority of problem dogs referred to
Border Collie Rescue for re-homing come from pet homes. They may
have been bred on a farm but had been taken on as a pet and it did not
work out for dog or owner.
Bear in mind that you may have had 3, 4 or more Border Collies in
your lifetime but rescue organisations like us see several hundred a
year which tends to broaden our experience.
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.