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Border Collie History history

Breed standards
As is the case with many breeds of dogs that are still used for their original purposes, breed standards vary depending on whether the registry is more interested in a dog that performs its job superbly or a dog whose appearance meets an ideal standard.

There are two types of tests, or standards, to determine the breeding quality of a Border collie. The original test was the ISDS sheepdog trial, where a dog and handler collect groups of livestock and move them quietly around a course. The 'standard' comes from the fact that, the world over, there are certain standard elements to this test. Sheep must be gathered without being too much disturbed, from a distance farther than the typical small airport runway. They then must be directed through obstacles at varying distance from the handler, and then the dog must demonstrate the ability to do work close at hand by penning the sheep and sorting them out. It is these elements which have shaped the working abilities of the Border collie and defined the breed until very recently. These dogs are necessarily capable of incredible feats of athleticism, endurance, intense focus, and high levels of trainability.


Blue female Border Collie 5 weeks old
In nearly every region of the world, the Border collie is now also a breed which is shown in ring or bench shows. For the people who participate in these events, the Border collie is defined by the breed standard, which is a description of how the dog should look. In New Zealand and Australia, where the breed has been shown the longest, the Border collie standards have produced a dog with a long double coat (smooth coats are not allowed), a soft dark eye, a body slightly longer than square, a well-defined stop, and a gentle and friendly expression. This style of Border collie has become quite popular in winning show kennels around the world, as well as among prestigious judges, so it is to be expected that this type will soon predominate even in countries like the US where the native lines are very different.

It is possible for a dog to do both, but a working dog's options for competition in conformation shows might be limited depending on its ancestry and on the opinions of the various kennel clubs or breed clubs involved, and most handlers of working Border Collies are uninterested in participating in dog shows. Conformation-bred dogs are less commonly seen on the sheepdog trial field.

In the UK, there are two separate registries for Border Collies. The International Sheep Dog Society [1] encourages breeding for herding ability, whereas the Kennel Club (UK) encourages breeding for a specific appearance. The ISDS registry is by far the older of the two, and ISDS dogs are eligible for registration as pedigree Border Collies with the Kennel Club (KC) - but not vice versa. The only way for a Border Collie without an ISDS pedigree to be added to the ISDS registry is by proving its worth as a herding dog so that it can be Registered on Merit (ROM).

In the United States, the vast majority of Border Collies are registered with the American Border Collie association, which is dedicated to the preservation of the working dog. However, the breed was also recognized in 1995 by the American Kennel Club, which promotes standards based on appearance and promotes registration of dogs whose parents were registered. The recognition was under protest[2] from the majority of Border Collie-affiliated groups, such as the United States Border Collie Club, that felt that emphasis on the breed's working skills would be lost under AKC recognition.

Some people believe that the emphasis placed on appearance might ruin the breed for its traditional livestock work because breeding for appearance eliminates emphasis on intelligence and working ability. Others believe that, in today's world, where livestock work is uncommon, the beauty of the breed is the factor that should be preserved.

Border Collie fetching at a sheep dog trial.
The many people who depend on the breed for their livelihood in managing livestock know that Border collies bred strictly to work are the best representatives of the original premier livestock working breed. Breeding for "beauty contests" has long been understood to water down this ability.

However, many people who own Border Collies as pets and also compete with them in the wide variety of dog sports available to them prefer to have Border Collies who come from working lines, not show lines, because the intelligence, drive, and athleticism are preserved over a lush coat or standard size and weight. The future shape of this breed is still very much in question and is largely dependant on whether working breeders will accept being marginalized or whether they can educate people to appreciate the breed for what it really is, a premier livestock working dog. ?

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Border_Collie".
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