Looking for a Border Collie Puppy?
Are you looking to buy a Border Collie puppy to add to your family? There are many places you can get a puppy and the choices can be confusing. Here are some of the puppy sources that you will come across while looking for your new family member, and all are readily found here in California:
- Reputable Breeder
- Rescue Organization
- Puppy Mill
- Backyard Breeder
A reputable breeder such as ourselves will have put considerable money and effort into breeding healthy pups that will bring years of enjoyment to the families they go to, and will have taken every effort to minimize any health or temperament problems that may arise through careful selection of their breeding dogs and properly preparing the young pups for life with their new families. If the owner of such a puppy is no longer able to look after it at any point in its life, a reputable breeder will take back and rehome the puppy. All of the dogs that end up in rescues originate from puppy mills and backyard breeders, often due to health or temperament issues. Reputable breeders, unlike puppy mills and backyard breeders, do not end up making money from the sale of puppies (although you may have to pay slightly more to buy a puppy from a reputable breeder since their costs are significantly higher).
Distinguishing a reputable breeder from a puppy mill or backyard breeder can be a daunting job for the prospective puppy buyer. There are, however, a few clues that you, as a pet buyer, can use to spot the puppy mills and backyard breeders. Look for the following indicators of a reputable breeder:
Both the father (sire) and mother (dam) of the puppy will have proved themselves to be of breeding quality to expert AKC judges and acquired titles that form part of the parents' official AKC registered names. If this information is not provided by a breeder, ask for it.
The prefix initials at the start of the AKC registered name indicate that the dog has been awarded a championship title. The CH title is a conformation championship title that means at least 3 AKC judges (often many more) have evaluated the dog in competition and certified that the dog is structurally sound and representative of its breed, and is therefore suitable for breeding. There are more advanced levels of championship titles available - for example GCH (grandchampion) and higher levels such as bronze-level grandchampion (GCHB) where very many judges have judged the dog to be superior to many other Border Collies in competition for structure and breed-type. Note: during the COVID period, many AKC events were cancelled (particularly conformation dog shows) and there are many worthy younger dogs that have not had the opportunity to enter dog shows and earn the AKC CH title. Dog shows have only recently opened back up in California, and entry numbers are currently low preventing dogs from being able to finish their championships.
The suffix initials at the end of the AKC registered name indicate that the dog has earned performance titles. Such titles indicate that the breeder has spent time (often considerable) working with the dogs in various events, and the dogs have not just been used for breeding. A dog with many titles after its name is an indication that the dog is a loved member of the breeder's family.
For a full list of AKC titles, see: http://www.akc.org/events/titles
Examine the health clearances of the sire and dam. There are a number of health problems that affect Border Collies, some of them genetic and some of them structural. Genetic problems with the sire / dam will be passed on directly to the puppies they produce, and structural problems are highly likely to be passed on from one generation to the next. Here are some of the things to look for from a responsible breeder and, again, if the breeder does not provide the information, ask for it.
Genetic Clearances. A number of health problems in Border Collies are the result of genetic mutations, many of which can now be tested for through DNA testing. There are 3 common genetic mutations in particular that can now be tested for which can be devastating for affected pups - those for Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA/CH), Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome (TNS), and Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (CL). These are all recessive genetic traits controlled by single genetic mutations. As responsible breeders, we carry out extensive genetic testing on our dogs. None of our dogs carry the genes for these conditions, and they will not produce affected puppies. Occassionally a breeder may wish to use a stud that is a carrier for one of these conditions if the stud is otherwise an outstanding example of the breed and is used with a female that is clear for the genetic mutation. This is always done in conjunction with genetic testing and, fortunately, it is now possible to easily select against carriers for that condition in the pups produced (some of which will be genetic carriers, but none will be affected).
Structural Clearances. The most important structural clearance to look for in both sire and dam is for the hips, since hip dysplasia is very common in the breed. This results from an improper fitting of the hip joint causing lameness (usually manifesting itself later on in life). Bad hips in the parents usually results in bad hips in the offspring, and the required surgery to fix the condition typically costs in excess of $5000. The most commonly recognized clearance to obtain for breeding dogs is provided by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) in the USA. Breeders submit hip X-rays to OFA which are then examined by expert orthopedic radiologists and given a net grade (ideally "good" or "excellent"). For a Border Collie, a hip rating of fair, borderline, mild or below probably should not be bred. Always demand full OFA hip scores of both parents from the breeder, and be aware that OFA will not certify hip scores from a dog under 2 years of age since it is still growing. Occassionally it may be desirable to breed a stud dog at a slightly younger age, in which case look for preliminary hip scores from OFA that can be obtained at 12 months old (after the bone growth plates have closed), or penhip scores that can give a much more detailed evaluation of the hip joints at a younger age.
- Reputable breeders will encourage approved puppy buyers to visit and meet their dogs. There is no better indication of what the puppy will grow up to be like than meeting the parents! It also gives an opportunity to meet the breeders since a responsible breeder will offer lifetime follow-up support and guidance in raising the puppy. If the breeder does not encourage visiting them, there is a reason and it is probably not good (although they may give excuses to explain why you shouldn't visit). Puppy mills never allow prospective puppy buyers to visit.
COVID-19: the pandemic has thrown a wrench into many breeders' plans, including ours. Restrictions here in California have severely curtailed many activities. The last dog shows pre-COVID were in early 2020, and they are now only just opening up again in 2022. Outdoor dog performance events have also been severely affected. This does mean that younger dogs may not have had the opportunity to get titled (as described above) and are approaching an age where it is appropriate for them to be bred. Under these circumstances, the parents of a litter may not yet be titled. This is where communicating with a breeder becomes even more important. We invest significant effort into our application process, and communicate extensively with our prospective puppy buyers once they have passed the initial application process. This starts with the online questionnaire we request that you complete.
We would normally welcome puppy buyers on our waiting list to visit after this application stage, and this usually forms part of our puppy socialization process. We are currently having to make changes to accommodate social distancing requirements and are therefore not allowing visitors into our home at this time. However, we still have procedures in place to properly socialize and stimulate our puppies. We can make arrangements to meet approved puppy buyers locally in outside locations (but probably not with young puppies!), and will make arrangements with puppy buyers in order to safely deliver a puppy to its new family.