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Most children work on the principle that if a dog looks cute, or cuddly or does great tricks, then they want one! The rise in films with dogs as the stars has been meteoric, so children are more exposed to the visual effects of particular breeds. From many years ago, children all wanted a ‘lassie dog’, and as the years went on, border collies shot to fame in films such as ‘Babe’, which was a border collie fest, from the adult dogs right through to scores of pretty and cute puppies. Fortunately, not many children went crazy over ‘Beethoven’ – the sheer size of him was pretty frightening.
There is no doubt that collies are intelligent dogs, that potentially make great pets for children, although there are a few small pitfalls that hopefully can be overcome. The collie breed comes in many sizes and with differentiating colourations and overall aesthetic appearance, even within the breed itself.
Make no bones about it – collies were not originally intended as ‘home dogs’, the majority of the breeds were designed for animal husbandry, such as cattle or sheep herding. However, it became apparent that these dogs, with their level of intelligence, loyalty and undying love would make the perfect pets in the domestic world. Here are some of the various collie breeds and their suitability with children.
Without a doubt, the border deserves its place as top of the list. However, there are certain provisos when choosing him or her as a family dog. These dogs have great personalities, a huge amount of energy and a protective instinct. The more entertainment that occurs in a family home, the better they react.
When choosing a border collie, it is important to pick from the right breeder. Choosing a pup from a hereditary line of borders that are working dogs, could be a mistake. With their natural herding instincts, and around a group of small children, they are known to take a nip, particularly on the back of the ankles. It is better to pick a pup from a more domesticated line, as their instincts to herd and nip as they do with sheep, are less pronounced. No harm is meant, they are simply doing the job they were bred to do. Don’t be deterred – borders make wonderful pets and whilst the nipping can be a problem, their protective instinct to children is far greater.
Less attractive than a border collie, but the Australian Cattle Dog is more tenacious when it comes to the herding instinct and certainly more likely to demonstrate their ‘nipping technique’. Owners report that if this is the dog of your choice, then a female of the breed is far better to have around the home. Alpha males can be more aggressive and tend to have ‘one master’ principles. However, every dog is an individual, so the choice is yours if your heart is set on it. As their boredom threshold is high, it would not be wise to leave this dog alone for too long, plus a 30 minute walk will never be enough – they need a great deal of exercise, but more importantly, as a childrens’ playmate, rough and tumble is not in their nature. Just be careful, as overall, they are wonderful dogs.
The rough collie is epitomized in the old film ‘Lassie Come Home’, and in latter years the serialisation of ‘Lassie’.about a boy and his collie, who appeared to potentially rescue him at every turn! . Whilst they were originally pastoral dogs, this breed is far quicker to settle into a domestic life, once puppyhood and training are completed, and will certainly form a strong bond. This breed very much rivals the border collie in its natural love and protection of children, and is less likely to nip or show aggressive tendencies. A much more sympathetic nature, and a much quieter dog overall. Their gorgeous coats are showstoppers, but they do need a lot of looking after.
Trust around children? About as good as it gets with any breed of dog and most likely to enjoy nuzzling up on the floor with children.
Not so frequently known, the McNab collie is often compared with border collies in termperament and intelligence. These dogs however, do have a tendency to ‘howl’ and bark more, which can be offputting for small children, and parents. They are affectionate, loving and dependable dogs, probably more so than the border, but lack some of the border collies’ personality. They are good playmates and do not require as much exercise as his counterpart. Overall safety factor is very good, but remember that dogs can vary within any breed.
There is no similarity in appearance with the rest of the collies in this article. Basically, they are shaggy with a monstrously difficult coat to care for! Children find the Bearded Collie very attractive due to their looks, and generally they make good childhood companions, even though their history was one of herding. Less likely to nip, but it is still a possibility. Early training is essential as is supervision with children in the early stages. An overall very affectionate dog that always wants to please the family, but somewhat of a ‘dirtbuster’ around the house! They need a little less exercise than other collies, and quite happy to snooze down with the children when the time is right.
Whilst overall, collies are a wonderful choice for a family with children, there is a possible word of warning about babies. Most collies that have bonded with their families will sometimes resent a new addition to the family that appears to take a great deal of attention away from them. They can be a jealous breed, wanting the same attention that they always had before the arrival of a baby. Collies are definitely best suited to families with slightly older children from around the age of 5 upwards.
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