Before fences were used to set boundaries and contain livestock, sheep were free to roam the countryside. Unfortunately, in France farmers who allowed their flocks to roam outside their invisible boundaries were forced to pay high tariffs. Shepherds discovered that the Briard had the temperament and intelligence to work with sheep to keep them contained, but herding wasn’t the original job for this wise dog breed.
The history of the breed begins in France sometime during the Middle Ages. Depictions of large Briard-like dogs are on 8th century tapestries created during the reign of Charlemagne (742-814), and found in writings from the 12th century. Charlemagne gifted friends with Briards, and Napoleon is reported to have owned two of them. Thomas Jefferson fell in love with the breed while serving as Minister to France from 1784-1789, and had dogs imported to his Monticello plantation to tend his flock of Merino sheep. Marquis De Lafayette was a huge supporter of America during the Revolutionary War and brought Briards with him when he joined George Washington’s staff in 1777. Jefferson and Lafayette are both credited with introducing America to this excellent herding dog.
A Border Collie is a great dog to share your home with, as long as you can keep up with them. Because they are so smart, it’s easy for them to dream up things that get them into trouble. They also need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. The Border Collie was born to herd, but if you don’t have any livestock, what can you do? One option to consider is renting sheep. In fact, sheep rentals are on the rise as owners with bored Border Collies search for ways to entertain their dogs and give them some much needed exercise.
Dealing with any bored dog, regardless of his breed, can leave your home in a shambles and a perfectly good couch ripped to shreds. It’s not the fault of the dog who releases pent up energy while he’s home alone. Border Collies aren’t made to just sit around twittering their paws waiting for us to come home. They need plenty of stimulating action that allows them the opportunity to stretch their legs and minds. I’ve learned from experience just how smart a Border Collie is, and that they need lots of exercise. On the plus side, it forces me to get some much needed exercise as well.
Border Collies originally came from the border area of Scotland and England, and are thought to be descendants of dogs used by Vikings to herd reindeer. It’s said that a Border Collie has a hypnotizing stare and is able to control sheep and other animals with their intense eyes. With no sheep to herd, they turn to cats, kids, adults and other dogs as the next best thing. They don’t care what they herd, they just want and need something to control. After all, that’s what they’re good at and it’s the reason for the breed.
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