Dogs range dramatically in size, from a couple of pounds to well over a hundred pounds. If you live in an apartment or a small home, consider the space your dog will take up. Not just the dog itself, but food and water bowls, a bed, toys, etc. Also consider the ratio of your weight and the dog’s weight. If your dog were to fall ill or become injured and had to be carried to the car for a veterinary appointment, would you be capable of lifting it? If you have your eye on a specific large breed, but are worried about the size, consider a mix. As an example, if you have a small apartment you may want to choose a Sheltie or a mix rather than a Collie, whereas if you have a larger home, you likely have plenty of space for a full-sized Collie.
Energy Level and Exercise
Some breeds need a lot of exercise throughout the day, while others just need a short daily walk and some time in the backyard. A high-energy dog could potentially become destructive if not given the time to wear itself out throughout the day. If you are an active family, consider a more active breed or a younger dog. An older dog or a low-energy breed may be disappointing to a family that spends a lot of time outdoors or to children who want a playmate. By the same token, a low energy family that wants a dog to “cuddle” may not want to adopt a puppy that is constantly in motion, or a high-energy herding dog that is at its best when it’s “working.” A young Border Collie or Sheltie for example, will likely not be happy with a sedentary life. In this case, look for an older or lower energy dog.
Some breeds are more vocal than others. Collies and Shelties can be vocal dogs (though this is not always the case). If you live in close proximity to less than understanding neighbors or share walls such as in a condo or apartment, take this into account. On the other hand, if you live alone or are not in close proximity to others, you may want a vocal dog to alert you to strangers or unexpected visitors. Work with the rescue to find a dog that is most suited to your needs.
For the most part, affection isn’t a breed-specific trait … some individual dogs are just naturally more affectionate than others. Some rescue dogs may be particularly skittish or weary of human contact when first adopted. It can be a great joy to bring these dogs out of their shells and see their personalities shine! Again, if you have a preference between a “trusty ol’ sidekick” that’ll curl up at your feet versus a “loving lapdog” that wants constant snuggles, work with the rescue to find the dog that’s best for you.
It’s very important to socialize your dog with other animals during training it as you do not want the dog to go after other pets when you are walking it or have it at a dog park. Some breeds are may be fine with other dogs, but are more likely to “hunt” or chase after small animals like squirrels. These breeds are also more likely to go after your beloved house cats. Collies and Shelties are generally good with small animals once socialized (there are always exceptions); while some other breeds such as Huskies and Malamutes tend to be more aggressive toward them. This is important to note if you are considering a mix.
Collies and Shelties are both very family-friendly dogs. Nevertheless, consider the age of the dog and the ages of any children in the home or who regularly visit before choosing your dog. Both breeds are protective of children, though not aggressively. They have herding tendencies as part of their protectiveness, so know that it may be natural for your dog to try to “round them up” or bark at young children to get them where they want them. Also think about the size of both the dog and any children. A high-energy, young Collie may not be the best pick if you have a young toddler just learning to walk, while an older Collie can be a gentle, guiding friend to your child.
While not necessarily breed related, it is important to evaluate associated pet ownership expenses such as food; bowls, leashes, bedding, and crates; vaccines, licensing; annual vet visits and how to handle any emergency treatment.
Collies and Shelties tend to have thick, multi-coat fur which can become painfully matted if not properly cared for. They require weekly brushing, as well as the occasional trimming and bathing. You may want to set regular grooming appointments and take this time and cost into consideration.
Do your Homework
When selecting your new dog, don’t hesitate to ask questions of the rescue, look up information on the internet, or visit your library for detailed breed information. Check out the information on this site for help with food selection, to find a groomer or a vet, or to find a place for your dog to play.