WANT A PUPPY!"
First of all, please clear all the preconceptions about what you want out of your head. A lot of people start with the notion that they must have a puppy. With Border Collies, that isn't necessarily the best place to start, unless you know what you're doing and you have the time to spend with your new arrival. Here's a few thoughts for you:
A Border Collie is a 'working dog'. Bred to work sheep, they will develop a 'working instinct' of some kind.
I STILL WANT A PUPPY!"
Although Border Collie pups look lovely and cute, and for the first 5-6months of their lives are fun bundles of loveliness, something happens to them between 6-12 months. As they develop, their hormones start racing around, and this can lead to them developing a stronger working instinct than they have possessed before. This is the most common reason Border Collies are given up by their families and come into rescue. If you're looking for a pet Border Collie, and have a young family, then it is certainly worth considering homing a Rescued Border Collie that is a little older. At 12 mths + the Collie has often developed their instinct and you know how they will behave with your children / cat / visitors.
I WANT A PUPPY SO I KNOW THEY'LL BE OKAY WITH THE CAT / KIDS / TORTOISE."
And this can be the biggest problem of all. When those hormones start racing around, the Collie just wants to herd something. It doesn't matter if the cat / kids / tortoise has been their best friend up to now - if they get a strong instinct they will start to herd something. The kids are great to herd, and often the collie will nip at their ankles or arms, and bear their teeth to try and get the kids to do what they want.
"BUT MY FRIEND HAD ONE FROM A PUPPY AND HAS BEEN FINE WITH THE CAT / KIDS / TORTOISE! YOU'RE JUST TRYING TO SCARE ME!"
We're not trying to scare you - just trying to be honest. If your dog doesn't develop a strong working instinct, then perhaps they won't herd the cat / kids / tortoise. Unfortunately there isn't any easy way to tell which collie puppy will develop the instinct and which ones won't.
DON'T CARE WHAT YOU SAY - I STILL WANT A PUPPY - YOU SIMPLY CAN'T TRAIN
The most unhelpful Old Wives' Tale must be "you can't teach an old dog new tricks". You can. Older Border Collies are excellent for training. Firstly, they are more interested in people than racing off after a ball, and Collies have a capacity to learn all throughout their lives.
"BUT IF I HAVE AN OLDER DOG, IT WON'T BE WITH ME FOR LONG."
How rude! Border Collies often live to 15+, and we've heard of Collies still going strong at 18+. Even a 7-10 year old has plenty of life and energy left in them. Too many people pass these Collies by, when they make superb companions - and are much easier to live with than a manic youngster. It's a sad fact of life that even if you have a puppy, they can still die young through an accident or illness. None of us can guarantee how long we have with our pets.
WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN CHOOSING A COLLIE?"
It's important to get the right collie into the
right home. If you've got small children, you want a dog with
little or no working instinct. Then you should choose whether
you'd like a dog or a bitch. Border Collie bitches are often more
protective than their male counterparts, and can become a 'Mother
Hen'. We often say that "Border Collie
girls want to be your mum, Border Collie boys want to be your mate".
Although that can change depending on the character of the collie, it's
a useful rule of thumb. Remember that you're going to be sharing a
good 10-15 years with your new friend, so it's important to get it right
for both of you.
The advice given in this site is no way to be taken as a replacement for professional advice either by a Veterinarian or a Behaviourist. Situations of individual animals vary greatly, and what causes problems in one Collie can be different for another. If you would like one-to-one advice, then please get in touch by using the 'contact us' link. This site ©2004 Border Collie SOS.