The Border Collie History

This remarkable breed excels in almost every discipline; sheepdog trailing, obedience, working trials, agility, flyball, conformation classes, heelwork to music to name just a few. Today the Border Collie is one of a minority of breeds that still performs the task for what it was initially bred to perform. Bred first and foremost for its herding/working ability the Border Collie is also a beautiful animal who is affectionate and exceptionally loyal.

The origins are not clearly recorded, however it seems likely that the ancestors of today's Border Collie originated in Ireland. Between the fifth and first centuries BC Celt farmers bred herding dogs to assist them in their work. The word "collie" is actually a derivative of the celtic dialect name for "useful". Some of these early dogs were brought into Scotland where they were used to help manage the constantly increasing size of the flocks and herds. The actual development of these working sheepdogs (Border Collie) was largely due to the Romans and their selective breeding and training of a type of dog that worked by utilising "eye control".

For centuries shepherds continued to breed and train dogs to assist them in managing livestock and in 1873 the first sheep dog trials began which naturally encouraged more consistent breeding from the more successful dogs. In 1893 a particularly successful dog known as Old Hemp was born and is now regarded as being the dog that all modern day Border Collies are descended from. When he died in 1901 another great dog "Auld Kep" was born and he also had a great influence on the breed.

In 1906 some sheepdog enthusiasts from the "Border" region of England and Scotland formed the International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS). It was the establishment of the ISDS and in particular the later forming of a Stud Book register, which finally established a registered breeding system for the Working Sheepdog (Border Collie) within the British Isles.

During this period several dogs were exported internationally in particular to New Zealand and Australia. It was in fact in New Zealand that the first breed standard description of the breed was produced and published. The first Border Collies were registered with the New Zealand Kennel Club in 1919 and subsequently exhibited in conformation shows. Although records show that Border Collies were exhibited at a breed show in Australia in 1907 the quantities shown were few and it was not until the 1950's and 60's that dedicated breeders in Australia began to proliferate and establish the breed in the conformation classes. In 1963 the Australian Kennel Control Council recognised the Border Collie as able to be shown in conformation classes at championship level shows. It is surprising to note that a breed which originated in the British Isles was not recognised by the UK's pedigree dog authority the Kennel Club (KC) until June 1976. The Border Collie had been accepted onto the Kennel Club's obedience register, however it was referred to as a Working Collie or Working Sheepdog. Obedience enthusiasts had quickly recognised the incredible working ability of the breed and therefore did a simple name registration with the KC. This allowed competition at obedience events where a proven pedigree is not a mandate however conformation showing was not accepted. It was not until the threat of competing in "Imported Breed" classes with registered dogs from abroad that the UK Kennel Club officially recognised the breed and allowed registered ISDS dogs to be additionally registered with them as Border Collies.

Today the term "Working Sheepdog is the name given to a Border Collie which is not registered with the Kennel Club and may or may not be registered with the ISDS. Only puppies from KC registered Border Collies or ISDS registered dogs can be registered with the KC as Border Collies.

Border Collies are today accepted as a pure breed dog across the world, they continue to perform as herding dogs despite the adoption of modern farming techniques and technologies. Border Collies dominate obedience, agility, heelwork to music and flyball activities in every part of the world and increasingly Border Collies are taking more and more top honours in conformation classes. Lets hope that breeders today always remember that first and foremost this dog is already the ultimate dog and not attempt to change it for their own whims and fancies.

Long live the Border Collie. I would never wish to live without you, Ross Green
Fayken Border Collies