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«Extended Breed Standard of THE BORDER COLLIE Produced by The Border Collie Club of Victoria Inc in collaboration with the Australian National Kennel ...»

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Extended Breed Standard of


Produced by

The Border Collie Club of Victoria Inc

in collaboration with the

Australian National Kennel Council

Standard 1994 Australian National Kennel Council

FCI No: 297

Breed Standard Extension Adopted 2000

Copyright Australian National Kennel Council 2005 Country of development ~ Australia Extended Breed Standard of


Extended Standards are compiled purely for the purpose of training Australian judges and students of the breed.

In order to comply with copyright requirements of authors, artists and photographers of material used, the contents must not be copied for commercial use or any other purpose. Under no circumstances may the Standard or Extended Standard be placed on the Internet without written permission of the ANKC.


• Art work by Iain Hinde, Victoria

• Skeletal drawings & graphics by Mary Quinn, Victoria

• Special thanks to all Border Collie Clubs and Breeders throughout Australasia for sharing their knowledge.

• Farming Press Books for permission to reprint material from Blue Riband In The Heather by E. B. Carpenter

• Compiled by Mary Quinn, Victoria Extended Breed Standard of the Border Collie - Page 2


It must be remembered that before anything else the Border Collie is a sheepdog.

He is renowned as the world’s greatest sheepdog and would have to be the most widely used working dog around today. The name itself gives some indication as to the dogs’ origins and so the reasons for its basic structure.

The Border Collie was originally developed in and for the conditions existing on the vast tracts of land on the Welsh and Scottish borders with England. Here the terrain varies from mountains to sweeping moorlands, the winter weather conditions being very bleak with snow, wind and sleet. Land such as this was suitable for very little except sheep and with the introduction of sheep grew the need for a suitable herding dog.

It is believed the Border Collie comes from a very mixed ancestry of larger and less sensitive dogs such as the Bob-tailed sheepdog and the Bearded Collie. The Border Collie, as we know him today, probably emerged over two hundred years ago from this more rugged but intelligent stock. Selective breeding helped develop a dog that could cope with the harsh conditions and the work required. Size and agility to cope with the mountainous terrain, stamina and economy of movement to cope with the moorlands, coat and ear type for the weather conditions.

Sheep can be anywhere from nervous/frightened to aggressive. The ‘stealth’ referred to in the Standard is the Border Collies’ ability to ‘work’ his flock in a manner that does not disturb or distress them - a light footed, quiet movement, not drawing attention to itself until required.

The first sheepdog trial was held in 1876. With the introduction of International Sheepdog Trials in 1906 the outstanding ability of the Border Collie became apparent to the whole world and he subsequently became very much sought after in other countries, e.g. New Zealand and Australia. In conjunction with these very early sheepdog trials there was often held a competition to find the ‘best looking’ dog entered a forerunner to our modern dog show.

The Border Collie is still very close to his working origins. In Australia in the early 50’s several states had drawn up their own standards for the breed but it was not until 1963 that the ANKC adopted a national standard for the Border Collie. Successful breeding to type was often difficult during these early years, one factor being that until the early 60’s Border Collies from working stock, or with unknown pedigrees, could be registered for breeding and the showring. In UK, where the breed originated, it did not enter the showring until 1976 when it received Kennel Club recognition, and in USA the Border Collie was not given full recognition as a show dog in the Herding Group until 1995.

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This is a poem written to honour “Kep 13”, also known as Auld Kep, a working border collie that won the title of International Supreme Champion for sheepdogs in 1908 & 1909.

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Standard - The general appearance shall be that of a well proportioned dog, the smooth outline showing quality, gracefulness and perfect balance, combined with sufficient substance to ensure that it is capable of enduring long periods of active duty in its intended task as a working sheep dog. Any tendency to coarseness or weediness is undesirable.

Think about the words ‘smooth outline’, ‘gracefulness’, ‘quality’, ‘perfect balance’. If you find these attributes, you are well on the way to finding a good specimen of the breed.

The Border Collie obtains its grace, which should be apparent both when standing naturally and on the move, from the flowing line extending from the head, through the neck and shoulders, along the back, over the croup to the tip of the tail. To complete the picture of ‘perfect balance’ the size of head must be in proportion with the body.

Coarseness and weediness do not necessarily relate to height. Fine dogs will have some or all of the following; fine bone, narrow heads, narrowness across the body and hindquarters, lacking depth of chest and too cut up in the flanks. Coarse dogs will have some or all of the following; heavy bone, blocky unrefined heads, thick & heavy set body, excessive depth of chest and overall, a larger or clumsier physique than is desirable.

In profile, the Border Collie should be slightly longer, measured from point of shoulder to rear of upper thigh, than in height from ground to withers, the ratio being approximately as 10 is to 9. This length of body must come from the length of ribcage, not the loins. (See grid drawing below)

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Standard - The Border Collie is highly intelligent, with an instinctive tendency to work and is readily responsive to training. Its keen, alert and eager expression add to its intelligent appearance.........

A feature of the Border Collie is its free flowing movement where the head may be slightly lowered or in line with the body. Another feature is its expression - expression comes primarily from the harmony of the correct eye shape, placement and colour and is complemented by the correct ear placement. The Border Collie is a biddable, steady and intelligent working dog, friendly but with attention primarily to its owner/ handler.

CHARACTERISTICS (Temperament) Standard:.................., whilst its loyal and faithful nature demonstrates that it is at all times kindly disposed towards stock. Any aspect of structure or temperament foreign to a working dog is uncharacteristic.

A Border Collie’s temperament is stable, biddable and willing to please, steady with no sign of timidness or aggression. Any sign of aggression is uncharacteristic of this breed and should not be tolerated. It should be severely penalised.

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Standard - The skull is broad and flat between the ears, slightly narrowing to the eye, with a pronounced stop, cheeks deep but not prominent. The muzzle tapering to the nose, is strong and the same length as the skull. The lips are tight and clean and the nose is large with open nostrils. The nose colour in all dogs will be a solid colour, with no pink or light pigment, and shall complement the background colour of the dog.

The head should be broad and flat between the ears with a well defined stop and the occiput (upper, back point of the skull) not too pronounced. If there is a pronounced occiput it will either affect the proper ratio of the head or it will mean the skull, minus the occiput, is too short.

The muzzle should be well rounded with a flat bridge, not narrow, with a moderately strong chin and underjaw, making a snipy or weak muzzle undesirable. There must be a moderate amount of chiselling to the foreface below and to the side of the eye.

When viewed from the side the skull should be flat, the planes of the foreface and skull parallel and of equal length. When viewed from above, the skull tapers into the muzzle.

So as not to affect the overall balance of the dog, the head must be in proportion to the rest of the body.

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Extended Breed Standard of the Border Collie - Page 11 EYES Standard - The eyes are set wide apart, oval shaped of moderate size, harmonising with the colour of the coat but darker colour preferred, except in the case of chocolate where a lighter colour is permissible and in the case of merles where blue is permissible. The expression is mild but keen, alert and intelligent.

Although the standard no longer requires the eye colour to be brown, to allow for the different coat colours, it is still appropriate for brown to be specifically mentioned for the eye colour of the Border Collie. In blacks, tri-colour and red Border Collies, the eye colour is essentially brown, darker brown preferred. Black or yellow eyes are undesirable because they detract from the characteristic mild expression of the Border Collie The chocolate Border Collie may have a lighter brown eye and the blue may have a hazel eye.

Blue merles may have brown eyes or (one or both, or part of one or both) blue or blue flecked.

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Standard - The ears should be of medium size and texture, set well apart, carried semi-erect. They are sensitive in their use, and inside well furnished with hair.

There is a wide variation of ear carriage within the term semi-erect. The ears are sensitive in their use and should therefore not be expected to be held semi-erect for any length of time. The higher set and partly tipped Collie (Rough/Smooth) ear is uncharacteristic of this breed. Remember the skull should be flat and broad between the ears. The ears may be partly to half erect, keeping in mind the difference from the Collie (Rough/Smooth) which requires one third tipped. Do look for the correct width of skull to go with the ears. Because of the varying heights in Border Collies’ ears, the dogs with the higher ears may look more alert, but alertness is shown with a combination of the eyes, the ear placement and ear carriage.

Ear placement can visually effect the shape of the head. With too high set an ear the correct shape of the Border Collie head is lost, the same as when the ear is set too low.

The term semi erect ears in relation to the Border Collie can also describe an ear that can be partially lifted, and does not necessarily mean lifted towards the front but rather turning to the side. This type of ear is an accepted part of the breed, is in fact a form of semi-erect carriage and does not spoil the natural appearance of the breed. It was termed a ‘Rose’ ear when included in the first Border Collie standard (adopted 18th July, 1950), is historically part of the breed and should not be penalised.

On the other hand prick ears are considered to give too harsh an appearance and drop ears do detract from the intelligent expression required.

The tips of the ears are slightly rounded.

Ear carriage is not a high priority in this breed - there are no ear carriage faults listed in the standard. Ear carriage should only be penalised to the extent that it detracts from the breed type expression and the balanced proportions of the head.

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Standard - The shoulders are long, and well angulated to the upper arm, neither in nor out at elbow. The forelegs are well boned, straight and parallel when viewed from the front. Pasterns show flexibility with a slight slope whenviewed from the side.

The shoulder blade and the upper arm should be approx. of equal length with the shoulder blade cutting the topline at 45 degrees.

The distance from the withers to the elbow is equal to the distance from the elbow to ground - i.e. the lower leg from ground to the elbow is 50% of the distance from ground to withers. A vertical line should be able to be drawn from the withers to the rear of the elbow.

Well boned does not mean heavy boned.

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Standard - The body is moderately long with well sprung ribs tapering to a fairly deep and moderately broad chest. The loins are broad, deep, muscular and only slightly arched, flanks deep and not cut up.

In profile the Border Collie should be slightly longer, measured from the point of shoulder to the rear of the upper thigh than in height from ground to withers. The ratio being approx. 10:9. (See Pg.7). The top line is level with only a slight rise over the loin, which is broad, deep and muscular, flowing gracefully through the croup to the low set tail (See main diagram). The length of loin in a mature adult (male) should be approx. a hand width (4"/100mm) The length in the body should be in the ribcage, not the loin, whilst depth of chest should ideally reach to the elbow. (See Pg.5) ‘Well sprung ribs’ should never be interpreted as barrel ribbed.

The amount of coat falling from the flanks and loin can affect the appearance of the cut up.

A dippy, sloping or roach back is undesirable.

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‘Hocks well let down’ - Asking for ‘well let down hocks’ is another way of asking for a long tibia/fibula and a short rear pastern.

Good hocks, well angulated, secure the maximum reach forward and thrust back as the dog propels itself in movement. Undefined, straight hocks (lacking in angulation) are not capable of reaching sufficiently far forward or back to propel the dog with the same force (drive) as those that are correctly structured. If the bones are not the correct length or the angles insufficient, there will be a loss of leverage and so a loss of power/drive in the hind action.

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Standard - The tail is moderately long, set on low, well furnished and with an upward swirl towards the end, completing the graceful contour and balance of the dog. The tail may be raised in excitement, but not carried over the back.

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