Irish Sheepdogs – Why I Love Border Collies

I love dogs, and of all the dogs in the world I really, really love border collies.  I think I spent too much time with sheepdogs on my grannies’ farms when I was a young girl in Ireland.  That’s when my love affair began.

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I searched high and low through files of creative commons photos on and on to help illustrate why I love these dogs so much. A picture is definitely worth a thousand words.

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Look at that smile!


Those perky ears!

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Look at that focus!


Border collies are just born to work.

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I remember watching the BBC television program “One Man And His Dog” as a child.  May not sound like great children’s entertainment, but I was riveted to the screen, watching the sheer skill of these magnificent sheep herders, responding to the shrill, sharp whistles of their owners.

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Rounding sheep into a flock, or separating just a few from the wooly group, is second nature to these glorious animals, bred specifically for this purpose.

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I love this photo taken in Scotland.  If you examine the shot closely you will see four dogs working in unison to round up the herd.  Click on the image credit and hover over the photograph.  The exact location of each border collie has been highlighted by the photographer.

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And of course, you can never forget their agility.  Border collies can be trained to leap and bound like no other dogs on earth.  Their sheer athleticism is simply spectacular.

When my husband and I first got married we rescued a border collie/chow mix puppy from the shelter in Daytona Beach, Florida.  Molly grew old with us, loved us, protected us, and really entertained us with her beer-loving, lizard-chasing personality.


My triplets were just 3-months old when Molly developed bloat, a serious condition where a dog’s stomach twists.  She only had a 20% survival chance if she underwent surgery, and would have required tube feeding for quite some time.  Definitely not an option with newborn triplets.  And so Molly left us after 14 wonderful years.  At that point, I put the thought of dog ownership out of my mind.

But kids love dogs.  My four little ones have begged and pleaded with their border collie-loving mom for a puppy.  I resisted for two long years, never caving in to their earnest pleas.

Then a friend informed my little troop there is only one sure way to get a dog, and that is to just keep asking.  And they did!  Every night they prayed for a dog – calling on the Good Lord’s help, since mom was just not responding.

Once all four flew the nest and headed off to school this year, I reveled in all my free time.  But empty nest syndrome must have struck.  How do you keep mom busy, stop her feeling lonely while the kiddos are busy at school?

The one and only solution in the whole wide world is:

A border collie puppy!



Two weeks ago my husband and I relented, giving in to those endless doggy demands, when we added a seventh member to our clan.  My kids fell in love with this eight-week old puppy the moment they laid eyes on her.

We called her Oreo, since her face looks just like the cookie.

And let me assure you, there is no greater distraction from the lure of computer games, than a fun-loving, energetic border collie puppy.  She is already herding my four little ones out the door to play each afternoon.

“I Didn’t Do It”

Last night, as I tucked my eldest boy into bed he whispered to me:

“Mom, Oreo is the best thing that ever happened to me.”


That’s when I knew that giving in to all those endless pleas for a dog, was one of the best decisions ever.

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom


P.S. A big thanks to all the photographers who shared photos of their wonderful border collies under a creative commons license.


  1. He’s adorable. We got our dog 7 years ago and I can’t imagine not having him. :)

    • Thanks Lisa – she is full of energy and loves playing with the kids. This morning she ripped out the cabbage plants I set yesterday, running in crazy circles and biting the leaves as she passed. We have a few months of intense training needed. She is such a part of our family after just a few short weeks. I can only imagine how important your dog is to your family after 7 years. Have a great weekend.


  2. So happy for you all! My inlaws in England had a border collie named Billy. And he was the most INTELLIGENT dog that I have ever known. And that face! So expressive!

    Wonderful post, as always!

    • Kay – Border collies are very popular in England – the breed originated in the northern parts of England and Scotland where sheep herding was so important. They really are intelligent dogs, but have very high energy levels. I hope my four kids will keep Oreo busy.

      Have a lovely weekend!


  3. For all that I am a confirmed cat person, I do love border collies. Your new little girl is simply adorable! Congratulations!

  4. Oh my boys would love it if we would let them get a dog!! We had to leave ours when we moved here. But with my four homeschooled kids, I’ve got all the ‘pets’ I can handle! Instead we got chickens because I figured I could handle their care if they paid me in eggs. :) Seeing these cute pictures though makes me want to reconsider…a little. Maybe someday my kids will get lucky. :)

    • Aimee – Oreo is not so cute when she is chewing my shoes and the corners of the couch. I sprayed everything with bitter apple, but she actually likes the taste and just licked it off. I think we should have called her Chewbacca. Oh the joys of training a puppy!! Hope your kids do get lucky someday. Chickens are probably an easier option, with great payment in eggs.


      • Mairead- That is too funny that she actually likes your spray (and annoying, I’m sure)! I’m sure one day my kids will get lucky…I’m just hoping I can hold out long enough to wait until we move onto a bit more land. Good luck with your training!

  5. The border collie is fun and great with kids! But I have to admit I am a sucker for almost any dog. I have two mixed breed friends from our local Humane Society and they’re the best for me right now!

    • Chris – I just love dogs too. We got our last dog at the Humane Society, but when we checked the dogs available this time, they were all pretty old. Since my kids are so young, I didn’t want to get a dog that might pass away after a few years. I often think mixed breed dogs are more balanced than some pure bred dogs. Your two pooches are lucky to have found you, and I am sure you feel blessed to have them.

  6. Hi Mairead, We were bowled over when santa wrote my daughter a letter saying she could get a dog provided mom and dad helped pick it out, in the spring we got a cairn terrier for her and he’s very much just another one of the family. Goodluck and good training,

    • Brian – Santa was so very good to your little girl – what a lovely letter to get on Christmas morning. I just love dogs and cairn terriers are fantastic. Thanks for the good luck wishes for training – I need it all. Making progress slowly, but consistency is hard with four little ones.

  7. Hi Mairead, if you could checkout my site today I would appreciate it. thank you, Brian.

  8. BorderGal says:

    She’s beautiful! Pitching for a pup myself at the moment, and parents say perhaps next year. I think i will show them this article, how can you not love their intenity and their smile?! Oreo’s perfect, very jealous!!! :)

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Border Gal. Oreo is perfect. She loves to play fetch and learns very quickly. Border collie puppies are very intense and full of energy. I recommend you think carefully about getting one if you are not home during the day to keep your puppy occupied and learning. I had to really stay on top of my little puppy. She wanted to herd my kids and nip their heels, but with time and patience they have learned to stop running when she starts herding and she now comes to me when I call her. It is a labor of love training a border collie puppy. Hope you convince your parents you are ready for one. All the best,

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