Common Questions, Believes and Myths about Border Collies

May 24, 2021
Border collie myths

I took on the habit of going around breed groups. I do it to try and help preventing new owners to get the wrong advices and also because it helps me understanding what it is that new owners or inexperienced owners really need so that I can help them better achieving their goals.

I saw that some usually questions are asked and answered over and over again so I thought to bring them all together and write a little Q&A.

This questions are meanly from Border Collie owners groups but they can relate to other breeds of course!

1) When are my puppy ears going to go up?

Well, not every border collie will have pricked years! It depends on genetic! Even from two pricked years you could still have a puppy with bended or floppy years so really you never know until they are old enough and the ears are settled. Usually they go up and down while they are changing teeth and then they settle. Some puppies if they are meant to have pricked years they will have them at 3 months and usually those have very light and small ears.

2) How many time do you groom or wash your Border Collie and do you shave a long hair one?

The answer is NO SHAVING! Border Collies have a double coat: a top coat to protect from the sun and the rain and an undercoat to keep them warm in winter. They don’t need shaving, they need protecting against too hot temperatures as any dog but their coat is a working dog coat and has been bred for generation to be functional.
They need grooming when they are changing their coat, loosing the winter one that is thicker and preparing for the summer lighter coat. Females will start loosing the coat after their season so they will need more grooming and once spayed they will develop a thicker coat that will tend to mat sometimes. The quality of the coat will change after neutering or spaying. If well fed and kept Border Collies usually don’t smell much as a breed.

3) Can I play tug with my puppy? He is growling when playing, is it aggressive or will be become aggressive?

Yes you can and you have to play tug with your puppy! Tugging is a great way to spend quality time with your puppy. It’s bonding time! Your pup will “growl” if the playing get a bit exciting for them, it’s just the way the communicate excitement. Some dogs will never growl when playing. Sometimes growling when playing is also a sing of a insecurity, so try not to put too much pressure on your pup bending down or tugging too hard. They could also hurt when teething so make sure you are not too strong between 4 and 6 months. If tugging is done properly it can be a great tool to reinforce behaviours and to teach a cue like “leave” or to channel prey drive.

4) Is it wrong to let dogs on furniture like our bed or sofa?

There is no right or wrong for this question, there is only what you decide is your rule. Dogs won’t suffer from not sleeping on furnitures but they do enjoy to snuggle up with you for a cuddle. You can deliver that cuddle by sitting on the floor with them no problem. As long as you can ask them to get back on the floor when you need them to and they know what you mean by it so you don’t have to start an argument. A dog that doesn’t want to get off the sofa or bed and starts growling is not a dominant dog; he is not trying to establish dominance on you! He is just trying to guard a resource he finds valuable and doesn’t want to share. When that’s the case you have a problem; you have a dog that doesn’t trust you and doesn’t want to share things with you so you need to find a positive trainer to help you with that.

5) My puppy is not going out yet at 12 weeks as we need to wait to finish the vaccines, what can I do to entertain and is it going to get better once we go out?

I’m not a vet so I’m not talking from a vet point of view. I’m a dog trainer and a dog owner and I act from knowledge of my profession and common sense.

It’s true, there are many nasty diseases out there and we don’t know how much immunity our puppy has unless we titre test.This means checking how much our pup is already protected against the viruses that can potentially cause harm. Our puppies have the mum immunity until they are a bit older so chances are that as soon as you take your pup home they will have immunity for a couple of months. The booster you give them will “boost” that immunity to make it last longer. When your vet say don’t take you puppy out they don’t mean keep your pup indoor. You can have them in the garden but you can also get organised and take your pup out in a puppy carrier bag or for little walks on pavement to see the world. The risk of not doing that is that your pup will be undersocialised as not used to noises, movement and other living being until after the socialisation window is closed. Have a good read about it in this link.

6) Can my puppy have other food that is not his own food?

Yes they can! Make sure they it’s not toxic food but apart from those they more your dog diet is varied the more his immune system will work better as his good bacteria in the intestine will be nicely fed.

The best food you can add to your dog diet once tried first in small quantities to get them used to and providing they have no intolerance are fresh whole food, nothing too refined:

Eggs, sardines (fresh or canned), cooked vegetables, fruits without the core and the seeds, vegetable or animal fats, wholemeal grain, yogurt, any meat including offals (liver to be fed in small quantities), raw bones (under supervision). You can add these to their food or use these ingredients to make some tasty treats to use for training.

7) Are behaviours like chasing, stalking, barking at things on the lead likely to go away and my puppy is going to grow out of it with time?

NO! Absolutely not… they are not puppy behaviours, they are abnormal behaviours caused by bad habit, fear, stress and DNA predisposition.

Ignoring a behaviour is not going to make it fade in general, but we are talking about fear, frustration or other strong emotions the answer is definitively no. The only way to cope with those behaviour is a good training plan. You need a positive trainer that understand dog’s behaviour very well and knows exactly what is causing it and how to help you. If you are dealing with stalking, chasing and nipping things that move you need a trainer that is expert in herding breed and those behaviours need a deep knowledge of the breed attitude and DNA tools.

I hope this blog answered some for your questions! If you have more get in touch and I can make another one!

Martina Miradoli Border Coolie Expert Dog trainer

Hello, my name is Martina Miradoli and I specialise in training Border Collies.

I’ve owned Border Collies for many years and have trained them, along with other herding breeds in every sport and activity available.

This has allowed me to gain invaluable experience and an understanding of these unique dogs and the behavioural challenges that we may have to face as owners. 

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