Boy or Girl?


I'm trying to decide which sex of Border Collie I should get. I've heard good and bad things about both sexes. Which sex is the best one to have?


Well, as someone who has to deal with a lot of Border Collies, I'll give you my take on things. Other rescuers might have different opinions, though I think we agree on the trends. (And remember, these are just trends - not absolutes. Your mileage may vary.)

I'm afraid Border Collies follow the gender stereotypes we often assign to humans (and in fact much more so than humans do, that's for sure.). Female Border Collies tend to be moody - affectionate one minute then annoyed the next. They go from hot to cold and back again all in the course of a day or a week and living with a female Border Collie is living with mystery - you never know what you're gonna get. Many obedience, competition, or herding trialists find this trait annoying as they can be "on" one day and perform fantastically and then "check out" the next time out, not wanting to have anything to do with the whole ordeal. Females tend to be head cases and it is a challenge to try to figure them out. They are flighty, love to play mind games, and are extremely complicated when it comes to the way their minds work. I have never figured out the thought process of human females, nor have I for female Border Collies. Both tasks are probably futile endeavors for me.

Male Border Collies are much more straight-laced and predictable. It ain't hard to figure out what's on a male Border Collie's mind and how to deal with it. Once you figure them out and learn how to deal with them, they are actually quite simple. Their thought processes are straightforward and even-keeled. What you get one day is unlikely to change the next. They may not achieve the same moments of "excellence" or "fits of brilliance" as the females but their levels of performance are routinely very good. If they were gymnasts, they would score consistent 9.7s across the board, every day. Females go from 10.0s to 8.4s, all in the course of one sequence.

Males tend to be more pushy and dominant, females tend to be softer. Males tend to like to cuddle more, females can go from lap dogs to hermits in a matter of a short time. Males tend to be more physical with their actions - if they want your attention, for example, they come up and nudge you. Females find some other way to get you to pay attention, like doing cartwheels off the furniture or stealing trash from out of the can. Males use their body to get what they want - females use their minds. Most of the problem dogs in rescue are females. We have a lot of dominance problems with males but they are often far worse in intensity in the females. People with females tend to either have an angel or a nightmare (sometimes in the same dog!). People with males have middle-of-the-road "typical" problems. If I get a call about a Border Collie that is growling at the kids or tearing up the yard, it's most often a male. If I get a call about a Border Collie that is breaking out of a locked fenced-in enclosure, ripping out the starter wires on the truck and then climbing on to the roof of the barn and refusing to come down (an actual case!), dollars to donuts it's gonna inevitably be a female. Complicated minds produce far more complicated problems.

If you can't guess by now which is my favorite sex - it should be obvious. Females of course :-) I currently own 4 Border Collies - all female, and I wouldn't have it any other way. What guy doesn't enjoy a good challenge, even if he's hopeless overmatched. :-\

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Page last updated June 4, 1997. All material Copyright 2001 Border Collie Rescue, Inc. and Dr. Nicholas B. Carter
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