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Breeding a good litter of pups is not as simple as finding a good stud dog for a good bitch, knowledge of the background of those potential parents is essential. At least a seven generation pedigree should be studied and knowledge of the dogs in that pedigree needs to be obtained. In a good breeding line there will always be a repetition of lines but they need to be compatible and far enough apart to not produce inbreeding. Border Collies are bred back to a handful of stud dogs and selective bitches in the nineteenth century and the introduction of the Stud Book by the International Sheep Dog Society ensures that all registered breed lines can be traced back to the first registered dogs. To keep a breed secure takes knowledge, careful selection and responsible, rather than prolific, breeding and to breed solely for looks, colour or size can put the breed in jeopardy. The Freedom of Spirit Trust does not encourage commercial breeding as the Trust’s aims and objectives are to help secure the future of the breed as a working companion and not as a commercial venture.

Registration explained

The International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) will only register puppies that are from registered parents and the title at the side of the name on the registration card reads ‘This is to certify that the Working Sheepdog (or Border Collie..)’. In simple terms the dogs were bred to work sheep therefore they are Working Sheepdogs with a breed title of Border Collie. The only rare exception the ISDS may make regarding registration is Registered on Merit (ROM), if a dog was not registered at birth but parentage can be proved (to ensure a good blood line) then the dog can be registered on the merit of being a good working dog but it will have to pass a working test to gain such a registration.

In 1976 the Kennel Club (KC) recognised the breed and gave it a breed standard. It also introduced a different classification to the ISDS titles. A dog with proven pedigree can be registered with the KC as a Border Collie but if the parentage is unknown or cannot be proven (e.g. unregistered parents) it is registered as a Working Sheepdog. This sometimes causes confusion for anyone with a dog registered with the KC as a Working Sheepdog (WS), as it will be seen as a possible cross-breed whereas the ISDS recognizes their registered dogs as both Border Collie and Working Sheepdog.

Purchasing a dog or puppy with a registration certificate and a pedigree sheet doesn’t necessarily mean that it has been bred compatibly, which is why an understanding of the background of the ancestors is important to both the breeder and the owner. Unfortunately because more and more people are breeding Border Collies there are more puppies available than there have ever been and many of them end up in rescue centres. It is sad for any dog to be in a rescue kennel but for a young dog to start its life in rescue reflects sadly on how our modern society often misunderstands dogs and their role in our lives.

Giving – this is what Border Collies do, this is when they are at their best, this is what a hundred years of dedicated breeding has given us so please before you breed or even consider breeding look carefully to the future. When you hear people say there are not going to be enough sheep in the future to keep all the dogs working don’t be tempted to believe the working brain should be watered down. Collies are doing Search and Rescue, searching for drugs, they are detecting major illnesses in humans, they are doing so much good and the number of sheep in the country is not the problem, but the number of sheepdogs that are being bred to ignore them is. We must all play our parts as custodians to make sure this wonderful breed remains what the last century has made it and what the rest of the world is only just discovering, a friend, a soulmate, a workmate, a partner, a sheepdog.

To have a Border Collie is to be a custodian for one of the noblest breeds of dog, enjoy every minute of living with your Border Collie