The Border Collie is a highly intelligent working dog, whose job has been and still is, as a working sheepdog in the hills and mountains. He seems to have endless stamina, is loyal and faithful and able to think for himself when necessary. These qualities have also made him and excellent mountain rescue dog. He needs to live in a house with a large garden, ideally with proximity to the open countryside. He needs to be trained and given challenges to make him happy. He sheds his coat which needs careful and regular grooming. The Border Collie needs an owner who is willing to give him the time and challenges he needs, and has the energy to match his dog.
Inbreeding Coefficient - COI
(Should be as low as possible)
The UK Kennel Club breed average COI is 4.0% - see 'A Beginners Guide to COI'
Effective Population Size - EPS113.54
EPS is a measure of how many individuals are contributing genetically to a breed population. It is a measure of the size of the gene pool in a breed. Lower than 100 is considered critical by conservationists and below 50 brings a breed close to extinction. For more information see the Kennel Club article.
Health and Welfare Problems due to Conformation
(Body shape and physical characteristics)
- Hip dysplasia: (malformation of the hip joints causing pain and disability): breed mean score 11.9 (parents should be lower)
- Elbow dysplasia
- Eye Disease: Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) (litter screening); Retinal Pigment Epithelial Dystrophy (RPED) (annual testing) (gradual loss of vision); Primary Lens Luxation (PLL) (annual testing); Hereditary Cataract (HC) (early developing) (annual testing); Goniodysgenesis / Primary glaucoma (G) (annual testing)
Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are now available for Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia:
DNA Tests Available
- Neuronal Ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL) (degeneration of the nervous system)
- Collie eye anomaly (CEA)
- MDR1 (multi drug resistance)
- IGS (Imerslund-Grasbeck syndrome/Cobalamin Malabsorption) (vitamin B12 is unable to be absorbed into the body – leads to loss of appetite, lethargy and malaise – long term treatment required)
- TNS Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome (immune deficiency causing recurrent bacterial infections)
- Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
- Canine Cyclic Neutropenia (CCN) (stem cell disorder – very serious disease with multiple symptoms and death at an early age)
- Sensory neuropathy (SN) (severe neurological disease affecting young Border Collies)
- Invermectin sensitivity
- Merle gene
Unofficial (Breed Club) Schemes
BAER test for deafness (congenital sensorial deafness).
Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents. If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.
Other Diseases Reported
(For which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)
- Idiopathic Epilepsy
- Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) (failure of ductus arteriosus to close after birth, causing prolonged heart failure)
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Congenital portosystemic shunt (an abnormality of the blood circulatory system, resulting in blood from the heart by-passing the heart and entering the general circulation system)
- Osteochondrosis (shoulder and stifle) (painful abnormality of bone and cartilege)
- Border Collie Collapse (similar to Exercise Induced Collapse) episodes of disorientation and staggering, triggered by vigorous exercise, excitement or high environmental temperatures
- Cancer: testicular neoplasia; nasal carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma (malignant skin tumour)
- Ciliary dyskinesia (abnormal cilia causing diseases of the respiratory tract)
- Hyperammonaemic encephalopathy secondary to selective cobalamin deficiency
- Haemophilia A (blood clotting disorder)
- Cutaneous lupus erythematosus (lesions on face and nose with loss of pigment and hair) (autoimmune disease)
Ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Consider carefully whether to purchase a puppy if some of these or other diseases are in the family line.
Ask about the breeder’s policy in cases of serious genetic diseases occurring to your puppy in later life. Good breeders will request to be informed of such events in order to improve future breeding decisions. Some breeders will also agree to contribute towards medical costs or refund purchase price.
You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the RSPCA / BVA AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP): www.puppycontract.org.uk
You are also advised to buy from a breeder who follows the Dog Breeding Reform Group’s (DBRG) Standard for Dog Breeding: