Updated February 2019
Working Border collies and heading dogs that are everything you need and nothing that you don't!
My own dogs compete mainly in agility and jumpers.
They have also competed in sheepdog trials, canine freestyle, flygility, obedience, rally-o, and been taught scent detection work.
I like the true working type dogs that are leggy and athletic, keen to work and easy to train, but also nice to look at. Dogs that are fast, smart and go all day, no matter what type of work they're doing.
My stud dogs are from English/Scottish working and trials lines and have some very notable trialing dogs behind them. They all work stock and currently compete as performance dogs or are retired/ under age.
These dogs are certainly not for the faint of heart - they will need a job to do, or they will drive you insane. They thrive on training and work.
A day out with the Cliffhanger dogs
The Border collie breed
The Border Collie is never seen at dog shows and unlike dog shows he is not to be judged by any physical characteristics. He need not conform to a particular colour, shape or size, length of muzzle or height of shoulder. His coat may be fine long and glossy, harsh and curly, or very short and sleek; all that matters is his brain, temperament, reactions to work and the consistency of his performance behind sheep. If he has a cast, a wide gather, a strong eye to single out a required sheep; if he moves freely, never barks, never bites; if he is prepared to take orders, is affectionate towards those he knows, regards his master as a sort of god and the sheep pastures as the equivalent of heaven, then and only then can he be called a first class specimen of his breed. No man-dictated fashions have governed the Border Collies bodily proportions; his outline has been modelled by the bleak mountain run with its gullies, screes, stone walls, wind, rain snow and miles of heather, fern and rock. Centuries of running on wide hills have evolved a small lightly built animal with a light well co-ordinated frame and a stamina for work mentally and physical beyond anything else on four legs. Despite the apparent insistence on breeding for working qualities alone, most Border Collies are in fact of a handsome appearance. The homozygous tendencies are very strong and although greys and tans occasionally crop up, about ninety percent of these dogs are a smartly proportioned black and white. If the dog is well-marked in black and white in the right places and is generally pleasant to look at, it is of course so much the better, but a collie which a layman might find striking handsome would look ugly and ridiculous to the shepherd if his head and tail were held high. The dog’s "intelligence quotient" is shown more clearly in the carriage of his tail than by any other physical sign, and it is perhaps a pity that we cannot test a child's IQ so simple and with such a degree of accuracy. In any case the plain mismarked miscoloured sheepdog whose breeding is right can give a stylish performance which is fascinating and beautiful and will easily surpass the performance of the most splendid looking dog with less good breeding. *Written by Roy Saunders, from the book "Sheepdog Glory" 48 years ago*
Sheep Dogs (Peg Knight)
High! In the early morning sun
Following the heels of the shepherd's hack,
Climbing the ever winding hill...are the eager working pack
Each one keen to have his run....eyes are bright and full of fun
The day draws on.....the gullies are steep,
The sheep are sluggish and want to sleep.
This is when the toil begins, tongues are lolling, feet are sore
The master whistles, the huntaways roar
One on the left wing....along the face,
While the swift footed header is still full of grace.
Skipping lightly across the scree
Angling in, beneath the tall tree.
Across the sharp rock, and far out of sight,
Turning the flock, the direction is right.
Did ever a heart beat so strong in a breast?
Run after run, not thinking of rest.
Striving to please, each dog gives its best.
In such a frail body, inner strength he does keep,
Dedication, and work, in minding the sheep;
Or fighting a bull, when making his stand.
He'll not lack courage, and still take command.
He'll give his life's blood, though no word he can speak.
A sheepdog's worth must be noted today
For what will tomorrow-land bring?
Yesterday's men are unable to say,
Today there's a few who still know
The whispering win of tomorrow
A tribute will surely bestow.
The working Border collie is not for everyone - they are strong willed, extremely energetic, and should be gutsy enough to stand up to the most stubborn stock! However they are very smart, willing to please and always ready to get the job done. Just bear in mind they need enough exercise, discipline and training!
Shift in the early stages of being broken in
A working dog (Unknown)
I’ve seen the Rocky Mountains
And the Gulf of Mexico
The California Surfers
And palm trees by the row
I’ve read the works of Shakespeare
And seen Picasso’s paint
The sounds of concert pianists
And heard the bagpipes quaint
And all of these have thrilled me
But not one could compare
With watching herding dogs a-working
A single or a pair
There’s magic in each movement
That Mozart never had
And beauty in each turn
That makes my heart feel glad
There’s science in each answer
Of every whistled tone
That Newton never thought of
Nor ever was he shown
There’s feeling in the handling
That only poet know
Or men that work with stockdogs
And feel the teamwork grow
Wherever life may take you
In sunshine or in fog
You’ll never quite forget it
When once you’ve worked a dog