How the Border Collie Does That

We’ve all seen it. The eye a Border Collie gives sheep when he or she is working them. The breed is famous for that “eye,” but there is one other thing (two, actually, when you count their wicked smarts) for which the Border is known, and that is the low-crouch-to-the-ground position.

This “stalking” motion really gets the attention of sheep because it mimics predatory movement, but not every herding breed can do this for a simple reason: If a Border Collie is built correctly, there is more space between the tops of his shoulder blades than in other breeds.

Border Collie, structure, crouch

We are grateful to Sonja Donaldson for granting us permission to share this marvelous photo of CH Cordillera Count the Aces NA NAJ HXAsd HXB. “Ace” was bred by Sonja and is co-owned with Neil Heinrich. Photo by Karen Moureaux

Let’s review. A dog’s scapula, or shoulder blade, doesn’t articulate with any bones at its top, but is attached by four muscles to the spinal column at a number of places. At the most forward and lowest part of the scapula is a shallow socket, and this area is called the “point of the shoulder.” The highest point of the shoulder blade is the withers, and the space between them in a correctly built dog is usually about the width of a human finger. In a Border Collie, however, that space is more like two finger widths, and it is this that allows a Border Collie to crouch and lower his head while he moves.

It is a marvel to behold in action. See for yourself:

Image: Border Collie at the top owned by Orkukennel. Shared with the kind consent of Linaimages, Animal Photography/Iceland

4 thoughts on “How the Border Collie Does That”

  1. I think *mimic* is not the best term because the behavior IS predatory. The sequence is truncated in that after chase and grab the border collie does not follow through to kill. Border collue puos display a stalk behavior by three weeks of age.

  2. Not all Border collies work with a low crouch. The ones with a lot of eye do, but the looser eyed ones work more upright although they all work with their heads down level with their backs when on close contact with their stock.
    Susane, long time Border collie handler and breeder of working only BCs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Optionally add an image (JPEG only)