Things My Border Collie Mix Has Taught Me

is a (the other half is probably Spaniel). When we originally adopted her, she was “about” 5 years old. It was at a yearly “dog-walk” our local Humane Shelter puts on where they try to showcase . Keiko was not the first dog we walked – in fact, we were surprised she was not adopted right off the bat. Maybe she was just waiting for the right family. Anyway, over the past six years her half has me….

1) Border Collies are fast. And, it's not just “top end” speed, it's speed in all aspects. She can accelerate like crazy, turn and zig-zag quickly, and stop on a dime. When she plays fetch with other , they never have a chance. The only time the other dogs get a chance to actually catch the ball/frisbee is when Keiko “overruns” the throw.

2) Border Collies are smart. I swear she knows what I'm thinking before I even think it. She's able to anticipate what I want. I think it's because they are just so observant of whatever goes on around them (their “steely gaze”). Border Collies, and Border mixes, are the perfect dogs if you want to look like a dog training genius.

3) Border Collies are persistent. Once we start playing (or whatever the activity is), Keiko does not want to stop. She will run herself to death if I don't intervene on her behalf. Sometimes it takes awhile to settle her down (even at 10+ years of age), although the Spaniel half makes that a bit easier. If you get a Border Collie (or mix) make sure there is a lot of well-planned activity, as well as well-planned rest (and plenty of water available during the summer).

4) Border Collies “eat to live, rather than live to eat.” Keiko could care less about food if there is anything else to do. (Although she does love peanut butter). When Keiko does take the time to eat, she eats her food in small bites rather than wolfing it down like other dogs. However, if a toy (or other distraction) makes it's appearance, food is forgotten. Entirely.

5) Border Collies do not like loud noises. I think it's because their sense of hearing is greatly enhanced to help them in their herding activities. Fireworks, loud screaming (children), power tools, lawnmowers all seem to send Keiko to a safe spot (her “den” under our bed).

Anyway, these are just a few I've learned from observing Keiko. I really can't say if all Border Collies are just like Keiko – especially purebred Borders. If you have a Border Collie, leave a comment and let me know if you've experienced the same things as I.

Here's a video I found of some Border Collies at work and at play.

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  1. Rachel, I just love these stories of Border Collie mixes. As we learn more it can only help us in our relationships with our dogs.

    A couple comments: Yes, apparently most Borders are very sensitive to noise since their senses have been so fine-tuned over generations. My dog “hides” during thunder and wind storms, and July 4th is definitely *not* her favorite holiday :). On the other hand, she is always the first of the three dogs to hear something outside and react to it.So, I always know “someone” is always guarding the property.

    As far as food goes, I have no clear answer. Keiko eats when she’s hungry (and in the right mood), and that’s about it. I haven’t noticed any correlation between increasing her activity and her appetite increasing. We just try to make sure the other dogs don’t get to her food before she can get to it.

    Thanks for adding your thoughts

    • Rachel
    • July 27, 2008

    I have had Pepper, my Border Collie-Shepard mix for almost a year. I got him from a shelter and he was abused before I got him. I can’t believe people could abuse a dog, let along a puppy! I am researching more about him because I want to know if he is afraid of things because of his breed or the abuse and I want to know what people do about it. He is very jumpy at loud noises and it is good to know that other border collies are too. He is very fast at the dog park- just like your dog! He can walk without a leash for hours. He can do any number of tricks- but sometimes refuses them, but can be coaxed into them with a treat. He has so much personality… sometimes when I am trying to get him to do a trick he knows too well… it seems like he is thinking… are you serious- that one again!? 🙂 Let me know if anyone knows any NEW TRICKS!!! I want to get him a dog backpack because the dog whisperer says its good for dogs to work- especially border collies. Anyway, the main reason I started writing is because every other dog who he plays with eats and goes crazy for their food. Pepper hates eating… my friends call him my anorexic dog. I asked the vet who told me to pour tuna juice over the food which kinda works. I can’t afford to get wet food daily but he likes that a lot. (The tuna juice is free from a store in town). It is comforting to know that some breeds aren’t as interested in eating. Do you think he would eat more if I walked him more? I walk him a lot already. I’m glad to read that he is likely to live 12-14 years! 😀

    • stephanie
    • February 6, 2008

    wow, this sounds exactly like our border mix, Susie, also adopted from a shelter. even with hip dysplasia at nearly 8 years old, she insists on nightly tennis ball marathons.

    Before we got her younger sister, a border/dalmation mix (who is ravenous when it comes to food and after wolfing down hers will stare at poor Susie as she eats her dry food one piece at a time), Susie would wait until we were in bed to finally eat her food for the day.

    I swear she stares at me and hyptnotizes me to take her on her daily walk (and won’t keep bugging me until we go, following me around and watching to see what pants and shoes i put on each time I get dressed). And all our friends are so impressed about how smart she is, bringing specific toys by name and walking without a leash around the neighborhood.

    The only complaint I have is the “issues” she has about noises! Bubble wrap, fireworks, the stapler, any clicking will send her hiding and it’s frustrating and sometimes difficult to coax her out.

    SO, all you have said is so true – thanks for your thoughts!

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