Looking into the history of the Border Collie-first steps in understanding the working sheepdog.
- where the Border Collie originates from
- how it has shaped the modern day Border Collie
- why it continues to conquer the hearts of so many people the world over.
History of the Border Collie.
The Border Collie originated in the Scottish Border Country around 350 years ago and is descendant from the Persian Sheepdog.
It was when livestock farming and wool trading in the border regions started to develop that the need for working sheepdogs was felt. Local farmers began developing agile and powerful dogs to work their livestock.
They needed a hardy dog, a dog that could withstand the harsh climate as well as a dog that had endurance. A dog with stamina, a dog that could tackle the rugged terrain, a terrain made up of cliffs, hills and large open spaces. A dog with the intelligence, with the right temperament making them not only keen herders but also possess power over sheep.
These Collies worked for hundreds of years with the shepherds, being bred solely for their working ability.
James Hogg (1772 -1835), poet and shepherds' son born in Selkirkshire (Scottish Border country), wrote
"without the sheepdog the mountainous land of England and Scotland would not be worth sixpence. it would require more hands to manage a flock of sheep and drive them to market than the profits of the whole were capable of maintaining."
Border Collie ancestors, anchors to the modern breed.
wrote in her book"Key dogs from the Border Collie Family", Volume II (1985)
"... a century ago many of the working collies were hard, powerful... dogs, difficult to control and rough with ... stock; but their keen .. instinct, ... concentration and get power over sheep or cattle were such useful assets it seemed worth trying to find a milder natured type of working collie to cross with [them]."
In 1894, Adam Telfer, a Northumbrian farmer, succeeded in toning down the highly strung collie. Sheila Grew goes on to say that Telfer "succeeded... in finding the right blend of the two types of dogs".
The modern day Border Collie is descended from his dog: Old Hemp.
Old Hemp: B
In both descriptions of these legends there is the mention of "eye".
Basically. The Border Collie controls the sheep with 'eye". This refers to the
amount of concentration the dog directs at the sheep. The sheep are held by the strength of the dog's eye. A dog where this characteristic is well developed is called "strong eyed".
"Gather", "Clapping" and "Intelligence" are some of the other crucial working features that Border Collies are born with.
Here is a page with a list giving a good insight into understanding herding terminology. An online glossary of herding terminology.
That special Border Collie appeal.
- Border Collie breed information by Kelly Whiteman
- The information about the 2 ancestors is taken from the all Border Collies.comCollienet
- UK no1 site on Collie information (breeders, rescue organisations, breed clubs, Show information and results (...)
- Border Collie online museum
- Border Collie Club of Great Britain
- Award wining and very informative (and also where you can see great photos of the ancestors) Border Collie website based in the Netherlands "Nice of you to come buy".
- Information page by April M Quist can be found here
- Information on dog site 5 star dog
- Hill Shepherd Kennels
- A site for anyone with questions about the breed and thinking of getting one: Border Collie basics