The Collie breed was developed in the Scottish highlands and lowlands as a herding dog for flocks of sheep. Many years and much care was taken to breed in the appropriate herding instincts to make the collie a superior shepherding dog. If you own a collie as a family pet today, you'll note that many of these shepherding instincts show in your collie's behavior. Following are some things to note about how collies behave that are directly related to the use of the breed as a shepherding dog.
They get along well with other animals
- Collies are known for being very tolerant of other animals. This is because as shepherding dogs they had to be able to get along with other shepherding dogs, and, of course, the sheep they were herding.
They herd their families
- If your family has had occasion to be out with your collie off leash, you've no doubt noticed that he may spend a lot of time going about in circles around the outside of your group. This is his attempt at keeping the family together in a group - and he will likely stay to the outside if you allow it. If you have children, you may find that he keeps constant track of their whereabouts.
Their sense of hearing is remarkable
- Collies have one of the most highly developed senses of hearing of any dog breed. As shepherding dogs, they must always be alert to any danger approaching their flock, and, as a result, they can hear people or animals from a very far distance. They also are able to hear approaching storms from very far away.
They may nip at you
- Collies use nipping as a way to keep their sheep within the confines of the herd. This is in contrast to the Border collie, which simply herds by sight. This herding behavior can sometimes be seen in young collies, who may nip at your heels a bit to get you to go where he wants you. It is typically not painful, but may be frightening to small children. So, for a family pet, it's best to train this behavior out of your collie at a young age. Most will outgrow the behavior on their own at some point.
They have an extraordinary sense of direction
- Collies were charged with keeping their flocks in the right place. As a result, they have a very keen sense of direction and hardly ever become lost. If they should happen to wander from home, they can most always find their way back.
Collies are barkers
- In herding, collies often use their voices to keep the flock in line, to ward off dangerous animals or to alert humans to approaching danger or an errant sheep. As a result, you may find that your family pet barks a bit more than you'd like. With patience and consistency, however, collies can be trained to quiet down on command.