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Labrador X Border Collie
Member Name: moog27
Advantages: attractive, intelligent, good temperment, agile, good swimmer, nice size
Disadvantages: moults heavily, very hairy, likes muddy dirty puddles !
A year ago we looked into getting a new dog to join our family as we missed having a dog around. We looked into adoption but it wasn't viable as there would not be someone home all day everyday so we looked in the Friday ad each week at what dogs and puppies were available. Intially we wanted to get a dog around two years old that would already be housetrained but ended up getting side tracked by puppies.
We had already discussed that we would ideally like a dog that was part Labrador or Retriever as they make good family pets, particularly with children around. However we didn't want a pedigree on the basis that they are more susceptible to various diseases and also one of the negative qualities of a Labrador is that they can be quite greedy and over eat obsessively and we didn't want to have to struggle with its weight.
One week we saw an advert for a litter of puppies that were Labrador X Border Collie. We enquired about them and it turned out that the litter had been the result of an accident between a working dog on a farm getting a bit too jiggy with a working dog from a neighboring farm. They wanted the puppies to go to good homes but needed them out of the way as soon as possible so were selling them for £200 each which is low for this kind of crossbreed.
We went to look at them and feel in love immediately. They were bright, lively, friendly and very attractive. There was only one girl left in the litter and as we had wanted a female dog we took her. She sat on my lap in the car home and was very well behaved, cuddling up and falling asleep most of the time.
When we got her home she was quiet and tired and slept a lot for the first few days.
We researched the two breeds that she was made up from. Obviously as with humans, each individual dog will have its own individual characteristics but there are those which can be generalised to each breed.
The key features of the Labrador are as follows:
- Size: 56-57 cm (Male), 54-56 cm (female) in length
- Weight: 25-35 kg.
- Color: Black, chocolate, golden or red
- Hair: short and woolly.
- Life Span: 10-15 years
- Intelligence ranking: 7th
- cheerful, loyal, lively nature
- Short coat which needs minimal care
- steady-tempered and dependable
- Gets on well with other animals
- Very eager to please so are incredibly responsive to training
- Ranks number 7 in dog intelligence ratings
- Affectionate and like to be near you
- Make good working dogs due to their retrieving tendancies and eagerness to please.
- Patient with children
- loves water and have good swimming skills.
- Require vigerous exercise
- Require a lot of mental stimulation
- Can be very bouncy - jumping up if not trained and excercised properly
- Have a tendancy to carry objects around in their mouths and chew a lot
- Shed fur
- Can have a large range of serious health problems in pedigrees.
- Can be hyperactive
- Large dog means it can be difficult to walk and handled if not trained properly.
- Do not make good guard dogs!
- Can be quite greedy so care has to be taken with feeding to prevent them being overweight.
- Separation anxiety if left alone for more than a few hours.
The key features of the Border Collie are:
Size: 53-55 cm (Male), 51-53 cm (female) in length
Weight: 14-20 kg.
Color: Solid, bicolor, tricolor, merle, sable
Hair: short and woolly.
Life Span: 9-15 years
Intelligence ranking: 1st
- Medium sized dog (not too big, not too small!)
- Attractive easy care coat
- Incredibly athletic
- Respond brilliantly to training due to high intelligence
- Make good working dogs (are often used on farms)
- Enjoy game playing such as fetch for hours on end
- Is ranked as the most intelligent breed of dog
- Eager to complete tasks
- Cheap to feed and not a fussy eater
- Very agile
- Needs intense exercise and constant mental stimulation
- Can become hyperactive and destructive if does not get stimulation needed.
- Herding characteristics can be transferred to anything that moves (children, cyclists, runners etc)
- Sheds fur
- Can have a large range of serious health problems in pedigrees
- Can be suspicious of strangers if not well socialised
- Can be quite vocal
- Compulsive chasing and stalking
- Separation anxiety if left alone for more than a few hours.
- Can be manipulative and use their intelligence to their advantage to 'train' you!
- very excitable
- Need to be trained properly
Being a mix of these two breeds we were taking a gamble as whilst we were hoping that our puppy would be a mix of the best qualities of each breed, there is also a good chance that she could have been a mix of each breeds negative qualities and in that case we could have ended up with the dog from hell! Luckily it didn't turn out that way and we are delighted with her.
One of our big concerns was regarding her temperament as she was intended to be a family pet. Luckily she has turned out to be very affectionate and friendly, always wanting to be curled up next to you with her head resting on your lap. We socialised her well when she was a puppy so she is very happy around people and with the exception of a little too much jumping when she gets very excited she really does know how to behave well around people. The jumping issue is one which was learnt when she was a puppy - because she was so small, cute and fluffy she would climb up so that people could stroke her and everyone encouraged it because it was cute - unfortunately she now gets upset when people don't like her jumping up now that she is four times the size!!
She is energetic and loves to be playing and exercising but can also be a little bit lazy which is nice as it means she is not too demanding. She entertains herself very well when there is no one around as she loves playing with her toys and whilst she would prefer to play with someone, she can amuse herself quite happily. She is very good at playing fetch as the retrieving instincts of the Labrador are strong. She absolutely adores water and is a very strong swimmer. This is generally a good thing as it's a good form of exercise that doesn't put pressure on the joints and uses up her energy nice and quickly if you don't have time for a long walk. However her love for water is not just limited to the nice clean water that we don't mind her going in - in fact the muddier, murkier and smellier the better!!! If she sees a big muddy puddle she will run to it and lay down in it which isn't pleasant! Although at least she is happy to get in the shower to be washed down if she stinks!
Her intelligence is very high. With the border collie being deemed the most intelligent breed of dog and the Labrador being the 7th most intelligent, she had good chances of being bright but she still shocks us now. In theory dogs can recognise and understand about 200 words or commands. We spent a lot of time training Bonnie when she was a young puppy and have always communicated with her almost as if she is a human.
As a result she responds to the basic commands of; Sit, stay, lay down, give paw, wait, jump, don't jump, roll over, leave, etc. But she also can process complex sentences and series of instructions which we are really impressed with. For example she would understand and respond to the command: "Go and find your ball/toy, get it and then give it to Emma/take it outside" She completes the whole command and it can even be added to so after giving the instructions she might struggle to find the ball and we can say "its upstairs" and she will use that information to carry out the instruction.
She is good at following instructions such as; go and find... or give this too... or go and give (name) a kiss. She also understands discrete differences between sentences so she knows the difference between "go and find daddy" and "go and find daddy's shoes".
When I take her to my mums she always says to Bonnie "leave the chickens alone" before she goes into the garden and she understands and responds to this. Bonnie also communicates her needs well through vocal and body language. She will make a specific "woof" sound when she wants something. If it is something she is near (such as wanting to go out the back door she will gesture her head towards it and stamp her foot. If it is not clear what she wants she will respond to questioning. For example; if she were asking for something I would ask questions such as "do you want to go out?" or "do you want a drink?" or "do you want dinner?" she will make a shaking gesture with her head if it is not what she wants and to respond yes she makes a woof noise which sounds remarkably like "yes" and nods her head and stamps her foot. This process of questioning her also works for getting her to make decisions. Such as: "do you want to go home, yes or no?".
This last week she has begun to try and vocalise words. She makes a howling noise which strongly resembles "Emma" when she wants my attention and I am ignoring her and she also is getting better with making sounds to indicate "yes", "no", "out" etc. No one believes me until they see her do it and then they are amazed!
Bonnie has a good awareness of peoples feelings, behaviours and emotions. For example if someone cries she gets very anxious and will bark and be over affectionate. If you smile at her or show that you are cheerful she wags her tail.
Her intelligence makes her very pleasurable to interact with, play with and talk to because she understands. She is not very demanding other than wanting to play which makes her easy going and not too much hard work. From when she was young, we got her used to being left on her own. Even just being left in the kitchen at night which has been beneficial as whilst she has access to the whole house almost all of the time, if for any reason we do need to shut her in a part of the house it doesn't upset her. She is also very good when we are out in the day as she is not at all destructive and does not get at all upset. In fact, half the time when given the choice, she would rather stay at home comfy on the sofa than come out!
Training Bonnie has been enjoyable as both of the breeds that make her are breeds which are generally keen to learn, eager to please and respond well to training. She loves praise but is particularly fond of treats.
We had initial problems with house training her which was through our own fault. Once Bonnie was old enough to go out into the garden we encouraged her to do her business out there using praise and rewards. She did get the hang of this and would happily go outdoors. I think we went wrong here as we kept the puppy mats indoors so as far as she was concerned she had the option to go indoors or outdoors. Whilst her outdoor toileting was going brilliantly, indoors became another matter. She soon was going where ever she pleased and showed no sign of being bothered to get the treats for going on the mats. Telling her off proved no good as by the time we stepped in a puddle of wee and found it she would have forgotten she was even responsible.
This pattern of her going outdoors if she was out there but then happily doing wees and poos all over the kitchen carpet carried on for about four months and we made desperate attempts to encourage her to go outside or even just to go on the mats. In hind sight it makes sense that with so many options open to her it was far too confusing and we should have just focused on getting any excretion outdoors!
Suddenly, one evening over a few bottles of wine, we realised what the problem was and felt incredibly stupid!! Amongst all our efforts of praising her when she goes outside, trying to discourage her from going inside, moaning when we had to clear it all out the carpet and generally despairing about it we realised that we had never actually taught her how to ask to go out in the garden! It sounds so simple looking back but with the whole commotion of it we hadn't got that far!!! We had already taught her the command 'say woof' too which she would bark but never thought of linking it to the opening of the backdoor so she could go out!!
Sure enough, after about three goes of saying 'bonnie, say woof'. And the opening the door when she barked so she could go out she soon got the hang of it and within a couple of hours was fully housetrained!! From that moment forwards we have not had a single wee or poo indoors and when she wants to go out she comes and finds one of us, stamps her foot and says woof!!! She even plays on it now is she sees a tasty looking squirrel outside!! She also will say woof, go out, squat down briefly and actually PRETEND to do a wee just so she gets a treat!!! Clearly it was out stupidity which was the real barrier to her housetraining and if only we had realised this sooner we would have a hell of a lot less hassle, mess and stench!!!!
In terms of her physical features, Bonnie is quite a big, heavy dog weighing in at 22kg and has a mix of physical features from both breeds. Her fur is black with white marks on her paws and one on her chest which are the only real signs of the border collie. Her fur is slightly longer than a Labradors fur and she moults much more than a Labrador does which is the only real negative thing we have to say about her as we need to hover literally every day. Her eyes have the soft puppydog look of the Labrador but when she is focused have the intensity of a border collie on a mission! Her eating habits are generally good as she is not as greedy as we expected she might be meaning that her weight is fairly easy to control. Since being spayed she has been a little more greedy but the vet said this is often the case. She is not a fussy eater and will eat everything and anything. Including very unpleasant things such as fox poo!
She mouth and gums are soft in the same way as a Labradors which is the reason they are used as retrievers as they can carry things in their mouths without damaging them. She is also very good with my rabbits and will happily play with them only needing to be occassionaly reminded to calm down! She does like to stalk them occasionally and to herd them which is the border collie instinct but doesn't tend to want to eat them which is good! She did once catch a sparrow mid-flight as it flew past her but she looked so shocked as she did it that she just stood there looking confused until told to put it down to which the sparrow shook the slobber off its feathers and flew off!
Slobber is a little bit of an issue when we are eating. She is good at not begging for food but unless told to go away she will rest her head on your leg and when she moves you will find your leg is soaking wet with drool!
Bonnie plays well with other dogs although can sometimes be a little bit too dominant and needs putting in her place. She is good off the lead and responds well to recall.
Bonnie is quite inquisitive which keeps her mind occupied. She loves to press buttons with her nose, gently move objects and open and shut doors! She also loves playing with baby toys by pressing her nose or paws on the buttons etc and watching the result!! When she goes to stay at my grandparents, there is an ornament on a shelf which she always without fail, gently moves to the other end of the shelf using her nose! The button pressing can be a little annoying as my 8 year old brother found when he was playing on his Nintendo Wii and has just got really far when Bonnie walked up to the console and switched it off!!
My grandparents have a male Border Collie cross Labrador who is very similar in his temperament and all other characteristics. He is from an entirely different litter to Bonnie so it shows that these desirable characteristics of this particular cross-breed can be common.
So to conclude I will summarise the positives and the negatives of the Labrador X Border Collie Cross-breed from my experience.
- Good temperament
- Energetic, loves to play and loves to swim
- Very responsive to training
- Loves to please
- Good with children and small animals
- Does not suffer from bad separation anxiety.
- Communicates well
- Sociable (with dogs and humans)
- Physically attractive
- Not expensive to feed
- Cross breed minimises the risk of illnesses and diseases which are breed-specific.
- Cross breed results in combination of positive characteristics from two breeds.
- Extreme moulting
- Requires a lot of stimulation, space and exercise
can be heavy to walk on the lead
- Cross breed can result in combination of negative characteristics from two breeds.
Bonnie was cheap at £200 as crossbreeds of two good breeds can be very desirable pets to have. We are very pleased with Bonnie, she will be two in July and is already very much part of the family. By getting a crossbreed we have managed to get the desirable characteristics of two very intelligent dogs and we couldn't be happier. I know I am biased but I would definately give her 5 stars!
Summary: mans best friend
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