The Border Collie originated in the border country between Scotland
and England where the shepherds' breeding selection was based on
biddable stock sense and the ability to work long days on rugged
As a result of this selective breeding, the Border Collie developed
the unique working style of gathering and fetching the stock with
wide sweeping outruns. The stock is then controlled with an intense
gaze known as "eye", coupled with a stalking style of
This selective breeding over hundreds of years developed the Border
Collie's intensity, energy and trainability which are features so
important that they are equal to physical size and appearance. The
Border Collie has extraordinary instinct and an uncanny ability
to reason. One of its greatest assets is the ability to work out
of sight of its master without commands. Breeding based on this
working ability has made this breed the world's premier sheep herding
dog, a job the Border Collie is still used for worldwide.
The Border Collie is a well balanced, medium-sized dog of athletic
appearance, displaying style and agility in equal measure with soundness
and strength. Its hard, muscular body conveys the impression of
effortless movement and endless endurance.
The Border Collie is extremely intelligent, with its keen, alert
expression being a very important characteristic of the breed. Any
aspect of structure or temperament that would impede the dog's ability
to function as a herding dog should be severely faulted. The Border
Collie is, and should remain, a natural and unspoiled true working
sheep dog whose conformation is described herein. Honorable scars
and broken teeth incurred in the line of duty are acceptable.
Size, Proportion, Substance
The height at the withers varies from 19" to 22" for males,
18" to 21" for females. The body, from prosternum to point
of buttocks, is slightly longer than the height at the withers with
the length to height ratio being approximately 10:9. Bone must be
strong, medium being correct but lighter bone is preferred over
heavy. Overall balance between height, length, weight and bone is
crucial and is more important than any absolute measurement. Dogs
must be presented in hard working condition. Excess body weight
is not to be mistaken for muscle or substance. Any single feature
of size appearing out of proportion should be considered a fault.
Expression is intelligent, alert, eager, and full of interest. Eyes
are set well apart, of moderate size, oval in shape. The color encompasses
the full range of brown eyes, dogs having body colors other than
black may have noticeably lighter eye color. Blue eyes (with one,
both or part of one or both eyes being blue) in dogs other than
merle, are acceptable but not preferred. Eye rims should be fully
pigmented, lack thereof considered a fault according to degree.
Ears are of medium size, set well apart, one or both carried erect
and/or semi-erect (varying from 1/4 to 3/4 of the ear erect).When
semi-erect, the tips may fall forward or outward to the side.
Ears are sensitive and mobile. Skull is relatively flat and moderate
in width. The skull and muzzle are approximately equal in length.
In profile the top of the skull is parallel with the top of the
muzzle. Stop moderate, but distinct. The muzzle is strong, tapering
slightly to the nose. The underjaw is strong and well developed.
A domed, blocky or very narrow skull is faulty according to degree,
as is cheekiness and a snipey muzzle.
Nose color matches the primary body color. Nostrils are well developed.
Lack of nose pigmentation is a fault according to degree. Bite:
Teeth and jaws are strong, meeting in a scissors bite. Complete
dentition is required. Missing molars or pre-molars are serious
faults as is an undershot or overshot bite.
Neck, Topline, Body
Neck is of proportional length to the body, strong and muscular,
slightly arched and blending smoothly into the shoulders. Topline:
Back is level from behind the withers to the slightly arched, muscular
loins, falling to a gently sloping croup. Body is athletic in appearance
with a deep, moderately broad chest reaching no further than the
point of the elbow.
The rib cage is moderately long with well sprung ribs. Loins moderately
deep and short, muscular, slightly arched and with a slight but
distinct tuck up. The tail is set on low and is moderately long
with the bone reaching at least to the hock. The ideal tail carriage
is low when the dog is concentrating on a given task and may have
a slight upward swirl at the end like a shepherd's crook. In excitement,
it may be raised proudly and waved like a banner, showing a confident
personality. A tail curled over the back is a fault.
Forelegs should be parallel when viewed from front, pasterns slightly
sloping when viewed from side. Because sufficient length of leg
is crucial for the type of work the breed is required to do, the
distance from the wither to the elbow is slightly less than from
the elbow to the ground and legs that are too short in proportion
to the rest of the body are a serious fault.
The shoulder blades are long, well laid back and well-angulated
to the upper arm. Shoulder blades and upper arms are equal in length.
There is sufficient width between the tops of the shoulder blades
to allow for the characteristic crouch when approaching and moving
stock. The elbows are neither in nor out. Feet are compact, oval
in shape; pads deep and strong, toes moderately arched and close
together with strong nails of moderate length. Dewclaws may be removed.
Broad and muscular, in profile sloping gracefully to the low set
tail. The thighs are long, broad, deep and muscular. Stifles are
well turned with strong hocks that may be either parallel or very
slightly turned in. Dewclaws should be removed. Feet, although slightly
smaller, are the same as front.
Two varieties are permissible, both having close-fitting, dense,
weather resistant double coats with the top coat either straight
or wavy and coarser in texture than the undercoat which is soft,
short and dense. The rough variety is medium in length without being
excessive. Forelegs, haunches, chest and underside are feathered
and the coat on face, ears, feet, fronts of legs is short and smooth.
The smooth variety is short over entire body, is usually coarser
in texture than the rough variety and may have slight feathering
on forelegs, haunches, chest and ruff. Neither coat type is preferred
over the other. Seasonal shedding is normal and should not be penalized.
The Border Collie's purpose as an actively working herding dog shall
be clearly evident in its presentation. Excess hair on the feet,
hock and pastern areas may be neatened for the show ring. Whiskers
are untrimmed. Dogs that are overly groomed (trimmed and/or sculpted)
should be penalized according to the extent.
The Border Collie appears in all colors or combination of colors
and/or markings. Solid color, bi-color, tri-color, merle and sable
dogs are to be judged equally with no one color or pattern preferred
over another. White markings may be clear white or ticked to any
degree. Random white patches on the body and head are permissible
but should not predominate. Color and markings are always secondary
to physical evaluation and gait.
The Border Collie is an agile dog, able to suddenly change speed
and direction while maintaining balance and grace. Endurance is
its trademark. The Border Collie's most used working gaits are the
gallop and a moving crouch (stealth) which convert to a balanced
and free trot, with minimum lift of the feet. The head is carried
level with or slightly below the withers. When shown, Border Collies
should move on a loose lead and at moderate speed, never raced around
the ring with the head held high. When viewed from the side the
trot is not long striding, yet covers the ground with minimum effort,
exhibiting facility of movement rather than a hard driving action.
Exaggerated reach and drive at the trot are not useful to the Border
Collie. The topline is firm. Viewed from the front, action is forward
and true without wasted motion. Viewed from the rear, hindquarters
drive with thrust and flexibility with hocks turning neither in
nor out, moving close together but never touching. The legs, both
front and rear, tend to converge toward the center line as speed
increases. Any deficiency that detracts from efficient movement
is a fault.
The Border Collie is energetic, intelligent, keen, alert, and responsive.
An intense worker of great tractability, it is affectionate towards
friends but may be sensibly reserved towards strangers. When approached,
the Border Collie should stand its ground. It should be alert and
interested, never showing fear, dullness or resentment. Any tendencies
toward viciousness, nervousness or shyness are very serious faults.