The History of Border Collies: From Old Hemp to Dual Registries (ABCA and CBCA)

The Border Collie, known for its intelligence, agility, and unmatched herding instincts, boasts a fascinating history that stretches back through the ages. At the heart of this history is Old Hemp, a legendary border collie whose influence has left an indelible mark on the breed. Additionally, the Border Collie breed is overseen by two prominent registries, the American Border Collie Association (ABCA) and the Canadian Border Collie Association (CBCA), each playing a crucial role in preserving and promoting the breed’s standards.


Old Hemp: The Progenitor of Border Collies

The story of the Border Collie begins with a remarkable dog named Old Hemp, born in 1893 in Northumberland, England. Bred by Adam Telfer, Old Hemp quickly gained a reputation for his exceptional herding skills and intelligence. His ability to control livestock with unmatched precision set the standard for the Border Collie breed. Old Hemp’s legacy extends through his offspring, as he sired many dogs (some say as many as 200) that inherited his remarkable talents.  Old Hemp’s progeny were highly sought after, leading to the widespread recognition and popularity of the Border Collie. Farmers and shepherds across the United Kingdom and beyond began to appreciate the breed’s unparalleled herding abilities, adaptability, and willingness to work.

The Emergence of Breed Standards:

As the demand for Border Collies increased, it became essential to establish breed standards to maintain the unique qualities that made these dogs exceptional. The International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) played a pivotal role in formalizing these standards, ensuring that Border Collies retained their distinctive traits while adapting to the evolving needs of herding and farming communities.

In the United States, the American Border Collie Association (ABCA) emerged as a key organization dedicated to preserving the breed’s heritage and promoting responsible breeding practices. Established in 1983, the ABCA has played a vital role in maintaining the lineage of Border Collies and organizing herding trials to showcase their abilities.

Parallel to the ABCA, the Canadian Border Collie Association (CBCA) was founded to oversee the breeding and registration of Border Collies in Canada. With a commitment to maintaining the breed’s integrity and promoting responsible ownership, the CBCA has become an essential organization for Canadian Border Collie enthusiasts.

The history of the Border Collie is a testament to the breed’s exceptional qualities and adaptability. From the legacy of Old Hemp to the efforts of the ABCA and CBCA, the Border Collie remains a symbol of intelligence, loyalty, and unparalleled herding prowess. As we continue to appreciate and celebrate these remarkable dogs, it is crucial to support organizations that work tirelessly to preserve the breed’s heritage and ensure a bright future for Border Collies around the world.

Is the Border Collie the right fit for you?

In the past 7-8 years, I’ve been part of various Facebook groups, particularly our ‘Westcoast-Border Collies page,’ thanks to Carmen’s affection for the breed and her heart dog, Maya.

Through direct experiences, I’ve seen how Border Collies can integrate into city life responsibly and with love. Contrary to common beliefs, they are adaptable, needing mental engagement more than a daily five-mile run. Assuming such exercise needs can do a disservice to both the dog and the owner.

Some Border Collies work on farms, showcasing herding and sniffing skills, while others live in city homes or engage in sports and agility. Mental stimulation is crucial. After activities like trick training and games, they seem more content and tranquil.

Despite enjoying hikes and having a ball obsession, they can be trained to have an “off switch.” With consistency, they can relax on the couch, enjoy cuddles and even a good Netflix night.

Contrary to the myth that they’re unsuitable for first-time owners, we carefully screen potential parents. We’ve welcomed first-time dog owners who researched the breed thoroughly.

While the Border Collie may not suit everyone, our focus is on individual dogs, not owners’ experience. Our ‘must return to us’ policy ensures responsible placements, preventing our dogs from ending up in shelters. This policy reflects our commitment to placing each Border Collie, prioritizing their well-being in every home they enter.