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 baseline conformation championship title to look for that all breeding dogs should have, since it means that 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 - the sire of our current litter has the title GCHB (bronze-level grandchampion) where very many judges have judged him to be superior to many other Border Collies in competition for structure and breed-type. A puppy mill or backyard breeder may invest in a champion stud dog who can sire many litters, but they seldom put the same effort and expense in selecting a champion brood bitch (mother) who may only have 3 or 4 litters in her lifetime. The brood bitch may have come out of champion lines, but that by itself does not mean that the brood bitch is of sufficient quality to be bred since there will be varying quality in every litter.
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.
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 are devastating for affected pups and that need to be eliminated from the Border Collie gene pool - those for Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA/CH), Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome (TNS), and Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (CL). As responsible breeders, we have carried out extensive genetic testing on our dogs and we do not include carriers for any of these genetic diseases in our breeding program.
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 recognized clearance to obtain for all breeding dogs is provided by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). Breeders submit hip X-rays to OFA which are then examined by expert orthopedic radiologists and graded. For a Border Collie, a hip rating of fair, borderline, mild or below should never 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. Consequently, AKC guidelines require that responsible breeders will not breed a dog under 2 years of age since it will not have obtained full hip clearances at the time of breeding.
- 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 were in early 2020, and it appears unlikely that there will be any more until well into 2021. Outdoor dog performance events have also been severly 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.