Border collies are high-maintenance canines. Not in the grooming department -- they don't care about appearances. They're high maintenance because they possess a work ethic like no other dog. If your border collie doesn't have a meaningful outlet for all that energy, not-so-hilarious hijinks ensue.
The Border Collie Society describes the breed as an "energy machine." This is an extremely, almost scary-smart dog. If you aren't an active person who can spend a lot of time with his pet, don't even think about getting a border collie. Proper care for a border collie doesn't stop with meeting basic needs. He can give you more than almost any dog on the planet, but he also demands more from you. While he's fanatically loyal to his person, he's wary of strangers. He'll give them the border collie stare, which can creep out non-border collie aficionados.
Your border collies requires not only a lot of daily physical exercise, but mental stimulation along with it. This is not the dog for the apartment dweller, unless you also happen to run marathons. Your dog can run along with you while you practice. Otherwise, you need a fenced-in backyard at the minimum to let the energy machine run off steam.
When you first bring your dog home, socialize him as much as possible and take him with you at every opportunity. While training a border collie is a snap, the challenge is keeping him interested. He's a gifted and talented pupil who'll quickly get bored at the training level of the average dog. Since he's so bright and obedient, and his herding instinct so intense, find activities that are fun for the both of you. If there are sheep-herding clubs in your area, give your dog's natural inclination a try. You've already noticed that he herds everything in sight. If felines share your household, you know your dog can truly herd cats. If you have kids or children often visit, he'll herd them, too. That's the kind of behavior you have to nip in the bud. If sheep aren't in the picture, try agility, rally, flyball or other active canine sports to keep your pal motivated.
His long collie coat needs regular brushing, but he's a working dog. The American Kennel Club even penalizes overly-groomed border collies in the show ring.
Border collies are generally healthy, but may suffer from eye problems or hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joint. Epilepsy and allergies resulting in skin issues are also found in the breed. Purchase your puppy from a reputable breeder, who should offer a health guarantee.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.