About Border Collies

How do I determine if a Border Collie is right for me?

Border Collies have very specific exercise and mental activity needs, and therefore are not the right fit for everyone. Please read about the breed BEFORE you get one as a pet. If, after you have researched the breed and honestly assessed your own situation, you decide that a Border Collie is the right dog for you, please consider adopting a Border Collie in need of a good home.

Read our article “Is a Border Collie Right for You?

Why do people give up their Border Collies?

Some people acquire a Border Collie because they like their looks or size, and then find they cannot meet the dog’s needs. Without appropriate training, activity and exercise, these intelligent, active dogs may become destructive or bark incessantly. Because of their herding instincts, Border Collies left to run loose may chase cars or people, including children, even nipping them in their desire to control movement. Divorce, health problems, death, relocation, and financial problems can also force people to give up a dog.

What are the advantages of adopting a grown dog?

With a grown dog, especially one that has been thoroughly evaluated and spent time living with a volunteer foster family, you will have a much better idea of that dog’s needs, behavior, and temperament than you might with a puppy, even a well-bred one. Many grown rescue dogs make loving and loyal companions; some are excellent working dogs; others can be suitable candidates for sports and competition, such as Obedience, Agility, Flyball, or disc. Some are happy hiking, swimming, or learning the names of their toys. Each NEBCR dog has been thoroughly evaluated by its foster family to ensure a good match when it is adopted. We welcome you to find out more about adopting a dog from NEBCR.

Can you recommend a good breeder so I can buy a puppy?

We do not have a list of recommended breeders. Sadly, the Border Collies we see in rescue are often from less than ideal breeding situations. Many of these dogs are being bred by either well-meaning people who just don’t have enough breeding knowledge, or by people simply looking to “make a buck.” We’ve been seeing more incidents of aggression, poor structure (leading to hip/joint problems), epilepsy, deafness and other genetic and behavior problems due to poor breeding and over-breeding.

We can provide you with information on what to look for in a good, responsible breeder so that you can do your homework before choosing one.

For starters, these websites have good information:

Listing of BC breeders that have been banned by the ABCA for poor breeding practices:

In general, you want to be sure to avoid breeders who are breeding solely for looks and especially for color. There are many breeders who are breeding specifically for unusually colored and uniquely marked dogs. While these dogs are quite beautiful, we are seeing more of them in rescue because of inferior breeding practices that ignore all the things that make a dog a good companion animal, in favor of looks. This should be a HUGE red flag.

Choose a breeder who is breeding for solid temperaments and preferably, working ability. Even if you’re not looking for a “working dog” per se, a breeder looking to truly support and better Border Collies as a breed will be breeding for the innate traits that make Border Collies what they are. What’s most important is a solid, good-tempered dog that isn’t too over-the-top and is likely to be a good, active companion.

Ideally you want to see/meet both of the puppy’s parents, but at the very least you should meet the puppy’s mother. Beware of breeders who give you excuses for why you cannot do this. You also want the breeder to be raising their puppies IN THEIR HOME as opposed to in a kennel. Socialization is the single most important thing you can do for a puppy to help ensure a well-adjusted, even-tempered adult dog. This starts right at birth and continues for the first 6-9 months of the dog’s life. If the breeder isn’t doing a good job of this, you will have a LOT of catching up to do, and you run a high risk of issues that may be difficult to correct. Also be wary of breeders looking to sell puppies younger than 8 weeks old. This is not only illegal in some states, but it is detrimental to the puppy’s developmental well-being when it is removed from its mother and litter mates too soon.

There is more information in the articles above, but it is important to find a breeder who is concerned about what happens to the puppy they sell you for its ENTIRE life. They should have a reasonable buyer’s contract that states that they will take the dog back at ANY time, for any reason. They should also be more concerned about whether you will provide a good home for one of their dogs, than whether or not your check will clear.

Giving up a Border Collie

Why should I consider giving up my Border Collie to NEBCR?

As a rescue that focuses on Border Collies, our volunteers and foster homes have a great deal of experience with the issues specific to the breed (e.g. herding, nipping, obsessive behaviors, exercise levels, need for human interaction and brain exercises). You can trust that we will do everything we can to ensure your dog will be well cared for and adopted to a home that can meet your dog’s needs. 

All of our dogs live with our volunteer foster families, not in a shelter or kennel, so that we can care for and evaluate their needs, work on any health and/or behavior issues, and get to know what type of home will be the best match for them. Whatever a dog’s needs, we never rush adoptions, and dogs remain in a foster home for as long as it takes to find them the right home. In addition, our adoption screening process is thorough, including reference checks and home visits. Our main objective is to take the best possible care of all our dogs and ensure they find the best match in their next home.

How soon can you take my dog?

It may take time. We do our best to expedite all requests, but as an all-volunteer organization, many of our members have “day jobs,” families, and our own pets who also need care. We need to meet with you to evaluate the dog, get medical records, assess whether we have a suitable foster home available, and sometimes arrange for volunteers to transport the dog to its foster home.

Please understand that it is rare that we would be able to make all this happen in just a day or two.

What happens to a dog while it’s in foster care?

It will live in a home with the foster family. Any medical needs will be taken care of. It will get continued basic manners training, or consistent positive reinforcement of the training it has. Most important, its foster family will get to know it thoroughly, so that they can determine what kind of permanent home will suit it best.

Can you find my dog a home on a farm?

We can’t guarantee a particular placement for any dog. We can guarantee that we will get to know your dog and place it in the best situation possible. If your dog shows real herding potential, we will attempt to place it in a working situation, but that is not always possible, as there are fewer and fewer working farms in the Northeast. We do give preference to adopters who will be involved in dog sports or have an active lifestyle and will spend time with the dog, as Border Collies require human interaction and mental exercise as much as physical exercise

Can you take my neighbor’s Border Collie who is alone all the time and doesn’t look healthy?

We can only accept dogs into rescue from their legal owners. Please feel free to provide our contact information to someone if you think they might be willing to relinquish their dog and we will be happy to work with them. As we have no legal authority to intervene with privately owned dogs, if you are aware of a dog that you believe is being mistreated, please contact your local Animal Control Officer or other official.

I know of a dog needing rescue outside of the Northeast, can you help?

Our volunteer resources are limited. We typically have a difficult time finding enough foster homes and adopters for the dogs within our coverage area. Unfortunately, this does not leave us with enough resources to help out dogs in other parts of the country. There are many other Border Collie rescue groups around the country and you may have better luck reaching out to a group closer to where the dog is located.

Support for Adoption

If I foster, does it make it easier to adopt?

We rely on our foster homes to be committed to caring for their foster dogs for as long as it takes to find them the best home, even if they are not a match for the foster family’s home. Additionally, while some foster families have adopted dogs from us, including their own foster dogs, fostering does not give you a “front of the line pass” when it comes to adopting. You must still follow our standard adoption policies and procedures. We do not encourage fostering as a way of “trying out” dogs when you are looking to adopt.

Do you require fences?

NEBCR does not have a blanket policy when it comes to fences. As with most things, our volunteer foster homes determine what each individual dog needs based on their experience with that dog while in their care. Some dogs have a fence requirement because they’ve demonstrated that they cannot be trusted to remain safe without a fence regardless of the environment.

Others have a very high prey drive (not unusual in Border Collies) or possibly some fear issues that make them an extreme flight risk. The foster home volunteer understands that by having a fence required they are limiting the options for potential adopters, and they do not make that decision lightly.

Read our article “Why a fence?

Can I pick my own dog?

Of course! That’s why we are so detailed in writing the bios for our available dogs, to capture their personalities and needs. However, we ask that you read the bios thoroughly. It’s easy to fall in love with a picture or a story, but be realistic about your own situation and whether you can meet the dog’s needs before contacting the foster home volunteer about a possible adoption.

Please review our Placement Policy for more details. Please also understand that you are likely not the only applicant for a particular dog and it is often a difficult task to try and make the best match for that dog. That is no reflection on you as an adopter, and these are not decisions we take lightly.

Why is your application so long?

Our goal is to get a great snapshot of you and your family so that our foster homes will be able to make the best match between the adopter and the foster dog. It may take a bit of time to complete our application, but finding the best match between dogs and adopters is well worth the time. Pet ownership is a major responsibility and a lifelong commitment.

Can I just send you the application I filled out for another rescue?

We can only accept our own applications. Although many rescue groups ask for the same basic information (contacts, references, etc.), it’s our experience that each rescue group has slightly different overall requirements, and it is best that each receive and review their own. You may be able to “cut-and-paste” or otherwise transfer some of the basic information you put together on another application.

What are the typical rescued Border Collies like?

Most dogs in rescue tend to be between the ages of about 10 months and 3 years. We very rarely get puppies. We often have older dogs between the ages of 4 and 10. The Border Collie is a very slow-maturing breed, and dogs between 4-8 are still VERY active. In fact even dogs of 10 or 12 years of age are usually still willing and able to fetch, go for long walks and race around the yard. Furthermore, this is a very long-lived breed, generally averaging 12-15 years or more (so please, consider an older dog).

Can I adopt a dog as a gift for someone?

We can only adopt dogs to the person that will be living with and legally responsible for the dog. As the adopter, you must be over 18 as you will be required to sign legal documents confirming this. We require that all members of your family be on board with adopting, including being present for the home visit.

One of my children is very interested in agility, can we adopt a Border Collie for him/her?

If your child is under 18, we cannot adopt a dog to them (please see above). While we’re happy to adopt dogs to families where someone has an active interest in pursuing activities like agility, all members of the family must still be on board with adopting and living with a Border Collie regardless. Keep in mind that you do not need a Border Collie to try your hand at agility – many breeds excel at this fun, rewarding sport, with the proper time and training.

Please consider if your family as a whole will have the ability to provide the activity and training that your average Border Collie requires, even if (especially if) your child does not end up pursuing agility with him/her on a regular basis for the long term.

Can you find me a dog for a particular job – herding, goose work, therapy work, etc?

While we do sometimes get dogs that display an aptitude for things like herding, we cannot guarantee the working ability of any of our dogs. First and foremost it is our mission to find homes for our dogs where they will live happily as family companions, regardless of whether they do or do not have the ability to perform a specific task. If you must acquire a dog that will be guaranteed to have the ability to perform a particular job, we recommend you contact organizations that specifically screen/train dogs for those tasks.

I don’t live in the Northeast, can I adopt a dog from NEBCR?

It’s not our standard policy to adopt dogs outside of our coverage area. We may sometimes make exceptions for more difficult-to-adopt dogs if a perfect match is found, however this is at the discretion of the foster family. In those cases, the adopter must still follow the usual adoption procedures, which includes a home visit (either by another rescue group or virtually if the foster home is amenable). The adopter must be willing and able to travel to meet the dog in its foster home and conduct the adoption in person. We do not ship dogs.