Border Collie Los Baganes
The History of the Border Collie
The Border Collie is a farming dog par excellence owing to its ability to manage flocks of sheep, running here, there and everywhere - uphill and down vale - and its obedience to the shepherd. More recently, the Border Collie has found fame as ‘The Most Intelligent Dog in the World’ - a well-deserved title when one considers its success in obedience and agility competitions. Overall, this is encapsulated in a companion that is as docile as he/ she is loyal.
The Border Collie is the result of the working union between dog and man in order to manage livestock and to work should-to-furry-shoulder. The first written reference to the Working Collie can be traced back to John Caius’ 1570 The Dogs of Britain - it reads something like the following:
‘This dog, with the voice of its owner, with the movements of his/ her wrist, whether calling it with whistles or shouting aloud, herds together the errant sheep - regardless of climate - towards the place where his/ her owner wishes them to be. Without having to run nor move his/ her feet, the owner can govern and guide his/ her livestock, in accordance with his/ her desires, both forward and back, instil them to be quiet, to withdraw or turn to take the path [...]. In addition, with this dog by his/ her side, the shepherd can take the sheep to the slaughter house, or to be cured if ill, without inflicting any harm whatsoever upon them.’
Although this book does not describe the physical appearance of the dog, the behavioural traits listed are those of a modern day Border Collie - its essence has not changed for hundreds of years, nor has its shepherding capacities.
The Border Collie’s skills have been refined and perfected over time through a process of selective breeding. The appearance of this breed has never been of that great a concern neither to breeders nor owners alike: it has hardly changed since 1790 as demonstrated by an engraving in Thomas Bewick’s A General History of Quadrupeds that depicts a Sheep Dog of uncanny resemblance to the Border Collie we now know and love.
The International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) was established in 1906: the founding idea behind this organisation was to better protect and improve the breed through work tests and a registry. In 1951, history was made when a book about the breed’s genealogical origins was compiled for the very first time with an index of of more than 14,000 dogs - ever since, it has expanded by some 6,000 specimens per annum.
The Border Collie is also recognised in the arena nowadays, but this can bring its own particular problems: it is strongly recommended that the dog is not isolated from its innate working instincts, hence those who solely rear Border Collies for purposes of beauty can find that the breed’s intrinsic characteristic falls to the wayside.