The Border Collie is a medium-sized bundle of energy, looking rather like a lightly built Australian Shepherd without a bob-tail. The athletic body is slightly longer than the height at the withers in a ratio of approximately 10:9. The skull is fairly flat and moderately wide with a distinct stop. The muzzle is about the same length as the skull, with the top plane parallel to that of the skull when seen from the side. The nose color should match the main color of the body. The ears can be erect or semi-erect or one of each. In semi-erect ears, approximately 1/4 to 3/4 of the ear folds over to the front or side. The ears are mobile and expressive. The predominant ear color should match the primary body color. The oval eyes are generally a shade of brown. Blue eyes (one, both or partial) are acceptable in merle dogs, and acceptable, but not preferred, in dogs other than merle. The eye rims should be completely pigmented. The teeth should meet in a scissors bite. The low-set tail reaches at least to the hock and is sometimes raised when the dog is excited, but is never carried over the back. There are two coat varieties, the rough and smooth.
The rough variety has a medium length coat on the body, with feathering on the chest, backs of the forelegs and haunches, and undersides, and short, smooth hair on the ears, face, feet, and fronts of the legs. The smooth variety has short hair on the entire body, with a small amount of feathering on the chest, ruff, and backs of the forelegs and haunches. The texture of the smooth variety’s coat can be coarser than that of the rough variety. The Border Collie comes in any color or mix of colors: black and white; tricolor; red and white; black and gray; and all black, merle, and sable. White markings and/or ticking are permissible, but white should never be the main color. Because many Border Collies are bred for working ability and intelligence rather than for physical beauty, conformation can vary widely.
The Border Collie originated in Northumberland on the Scottish-English border. The breed is descended from old British droving breeds with some spaniel added in. An outstanding herder of cattle and sheep, the Border Collie controls the stock by crouching down and mesmerizing the animals with his intense stare. One of the most intelligent breeds, the Border Collie can work successfully out of sight of his master without commands. This versatile breed also serves well as a narcotics and bomb detection dog, and is a frequent high performer in obedience, agility and Frisbee® trials.