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10 Most Interesting Border Collie Facts You Never Knew

Few dog lovers have never heard about the Border Collie. In fact, they’re arguably the best herding dog in the world due to their work ethic and on-the-field skills. But there’s a lot more to the Border Collie than just herding. Most of which, you probably never knew.

Like did you know that Border Collies are the smartest dogs in the world (both as a breed and individually)? Or that a Border Collie became the inspiration for the invention of a multi-million dollar product? Interested in learning why Border Collies are the best herding dogs in the world? 

If questions like these intrigue you, then stick around! In today’s article, we’re counting down 10 little-known facts about Border Collies that you didn’t know! And that all starts right now on The Smart Canine – the only show that explores the most interesting stories and facts behind dogs.

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10. Border Collies herd by mimicking predator movements.

The Border Collie is without question, one of the most skilled herding dogs the canine kingdom has to offer. In fact, according to Cesar Milan, Border Collies are easily one of the top 10 herders. But this isn’t by luck – there are several reasons why they’re some of the best! 

For example, they have a different strategy for herding than other dogs. Have you ever wondered why Border Collies crouch low to the ground when they’re herding? This isn’t all for show.

In fact, it’s believed that this “stalking motion” is able to attract the attention of the sheep because it mimics the movement of a predator just prior to striking.

And like all animals, sheep have the instincts to survive. So you can bet they’ll take notice of the Border Collie in an instant, and consequently move away from the dog.

The thing is, not all herding dogs can do this. Border Collies have more space between the top of their shoulder blades, giving them the ability to strike this predator-like pose. 

9. A Border Collie was the inspiration for the invention of the “doggles.”

You’ve heard of “doggles” right? They’re pretty much goggles made to protect dogs’ eyes. And today, they have become a multi-million dollar success story with the popularity of their products only increasing.

But did you know that this popular invention was actually inspired by a Border Collie named Midnight? Midnight was a military dog. And on one afternoon in 1997, his owners noticed that Midnight kept failing to catch a frisbee during his usual game of catch.

This was highly uncharacteristic of Midnight, as he was excellent at this game. His owner, Roni and Ken, realized that it was the sun-light that caused their dog to squint while looking for the frisbee in the sky.

The owners went right to work and developed a prototype. Needless to say, it was an instant hit, as they sold over $100,000 worth of doggles in their first year! And the rest is history.

8. They weren’t always called the Border Collie. 

Throughout the breeds’ history, they were known by numerous names. For instance, there’s the “Working Collie” or the “Scotch Sheepdog.” They’ve also been called the “Old Fashioned Collie” and even the simple “English Collie.”

Obviously, none of these names stuck. So how did we finally settle on the permanent name of “Border Collie?” Well, the universally known name that finally stuck around can be credited to James Reid.

Despite being a lawyer, Reid had a special interest in this breed and even wrote several papers on the history of sheep-dogs. Historians believed that Reid’s work on the Border Collie was responsible for giving them an entirely new status and fame that spread around the world.

While registering the Border Collie in 1915, Reid became the first person to ever write the name that were so familiar with today. And since then, the international dog scene have referred to these dogs as such.

7. Border Collies are the smartest dog breeds in the world.

Yes, you heard that right! Border Collies take the cake for the worlds’ brightest dog breed. The current list of the top smartest dog breeds was developed by canine psychologist Stanley Coren. In his list, he measured one component of dog intelligence called “obedience and working intelligence.”

This type of dog intelligence measures how quickly a dog learns a new command and how well they retain their training. And out of the 138 breeds that qualified, Border Collies took the number one spot. So what does this actually mean?

This means that on average, Border Collies can learn a new command with just fewer than 5 repetitions! It could be just a few minutes to learn a basic trick. Plus, Border Collies will obey a known command on the first attempt with a 95% or higher success rate!

Border Collies beat out some of the brightest dogs, including the German Shepherd, Doberman Pinscher, and even the wicked smart Poodle. Not even the highly trainable Labrador Retriever could compare!

6. Nearly all Border Collies today can be traced back to just one dog.

Do you currently own a Border Collie? Then you probably have one dog to thank. Born in 1893, a Border Collie named “Old Hemp” has been given the title as the “progenitor of the Border Collie breed.”

In other words, nearly all modern Border Collies are believed to have descended from this one dog. What made Old Hemp stand out was his herding technique and style. 

While other herding dogs relied heavily on nipping and barking at the sheep, Old Hemp was a much quieter dog that relied on intimidation through his stance and movements. 

This unique style impressed plenty of breeders and shepherds at the time, which ultimately led to the breeding of Old Hemp. All in all, historians believe that Old Hemp was responsible for at least 200 puppies back in the late 19th century.

5. One Border Collie holds the world record for the weirdest task.

Border Collies are known for herding, and as a result, they’ve set plenty of agility and herding records in the past. But in 2004, one Border Collie named “Striker” set the Guinness World Record for one of the weirdest tasks in canine history.

Striker was able to row down a non-electric car window in just 11.4 seconds, giving him a unique record that hasn’t been touched since. Border Collies don’t have hands like us humans. So instead, the dog used his paws and nose to do the unwinding. 

Striker’s owner, Francis Gadassi, admits that he spent a considerable amount of time training his dog to do this before he even attempted the record. This record was so bizarre that there have been very few challengers to this world record. 

In fact, I highly doubt most Border Collie owners even know about this!

4. Border Collies are pre-wired to pick up skills quickly. 

Border Collies are arguably the best herding dogs in the world. So, they must be born with the instincts to herd, right? Well, not so fast.

Recent studies suggest brain anatomy can be quite different across all dog breeds, which explains why some dogs tend to excel at some activities while others don’t. Sure, some dogs may indeed be born with instincts to herd, but this likely isn’t the case with the Border Collie.

According to an evolutionary biologist, Erin Hecht from Harvard University, Border Collies are actually born without knowing how to herd, though they’re able to quickly pick up the skill because their brains are prewired to do so

So it’s not that they have the instinctive intelligence of herding, but rather they’re just naturally smart and highly capable dogs. It’s why Border Collies tend to excel at any jobs they do, whether it’s search & rescue, as a paramedic dog or even a guide dog.

In other words, they’re jack-of-all-trades dogs that’s actually spectacular at everything they do. Here’s a thought: instead of calling them herding dogs, we should just call them genius working dogs!

3. One Border Collie puppy became the world’s youngest trick champion.

If you thought your dog’s repertoire of tricks was impressive, just wait until you hear about the Border Collie named “Hero.” Not only is the now-5-year old dog a trick champion, but he was the youngest to ever win it at just 4 months old!

In fact, Hero performed roughly 60 different tricks in his competition! Not only did he nail all the basic tricks, but he also knew a ton of complex tricks such as the “figure eight.”

But don’t feel bad if your dog doesn’t have the same bag of tricks. Hero’s owner actually ran a dog training facility in Ontario Canada for several years. So she’s pretty much a professional dog trainer.

Throughout the years, the winning streak of titles and accolades began to stack up for both the owner and her Border Collie.

2. The world’s smartest Border Collie knows over 1,000 words.

Not only are Border Collies the smartest breed, but the smartest individual dog is actually a Border Collie. According to a study, a Border Collie named Chaser developed the vocabulary of a three year old human child! The dog knew the name of at least 1,000 words! 

The study tested her knowledge on the meanings of separate object names and commands in a series of fetch trials. What’s amazing is that sometimes Chaser would be more accurate in recalling the names of the toys than even her human handler!

And if that wasn’t impressive enough, the study suggested that Chaser also understood the basic concepts behind nouns and verbs. I guess it’s true – you can always count on a Border Collie to make other breeds feel “dumb.”

1. Border Collies use their eyes to control flocks.

Have you ever wondered why Border Collies seem to stare at you or other animals? Well, it’s not always because they’re intrigued. Rather Border Collies are known for their “eye.”

While herding, Border Collies have an intense stare that seemingly instills fear into the flock. In fact, this stare is so intense that they’re able to manage and control flocks of sheep through intimidation. This method, of course, is a predatory behavior that’s likely to have come from the ancestor wolf.

Border Collies follow three easy steps.

Step one: stare down the prey and lock onto them.

Step two: stalk the prey.

And finally, step three: the chase. 

Combine the Border Collie’s intense eye, their predatory stance and the tireless temperament, and it’s no wonder they’re the best in the game.


So which Border Collie fact was your favorite? Did we leave any facts that deserve to be on this list? Leave a comment in the section below!

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