Buying a Border Collie Puppy
The breeder should be able to provide you with a pedigree for your dog/puppy. At the very least, the dam of the litter should be on the premises and you should be able to meet the dam if you go to the breeder to pick up your puppy. If you are buying a puppy to be a companion in your house, the mother should also live as a pet in the house, not outside or in a barn. How else can the breeder assess if these dogs will be good house pets? Are they clean dogs, good with kids, strangers, other dogs? Is she afraid of thunder or loud noises? Temperament and trainability is very important and the dam is teaching what she knows to her pups. Additionally, the breeder should be able to tell you about some of the dogs beyond the first generation in the pedigree or related dogs. Beware a breeder who has many different breeds at once or who breeds many litters in a year. People who compete in some dog sport typically invest a lot of time on their dogs and are conscious of structure and health. They are a great place to begin looking for a dog.
Health concerns are just as important as temperament. The sire and dam should have hips certified clear of hip dysplasia by a board certified radiologist. In the US, most breeders use OFA to grade hips and this information will be available as part of their online database. The breeder should also be able to show you evidence of genetic testing for CEA, CL and TNS. Many dogs participate in Border Collie Health's online open database. You should also ask if any related dogs have been affected by epilepsy or OCD. These are all health issues which affect border collies world-wide and all kennels are facing these problems. There is no pedigree which is completely free of all health issues but a smart breeder uses genetic testing and selective breeding to produce puppies which are free of all of these problems. Ideally, the breeder will have health information available for several generations, not just the sire and dam. You may have to contact a breeder early and wait for a great litter to be born as many breeders have waiting lists established for their puppies. The age old saying "you get what you pay for" certainly applies when buying a dog. There are many puppies available for $300-$500 but it will most likely not have the health certifications behind it. Rescue is also a great option if you would like a border collie but don't have the money to spend on a pup or the want to train a very small puppy.
Color and markings should be considered only after temperament, health and structure.
Remember, owning a border collie is a long-term commitment both of time and finance but the rewards for those who invest time in their dogs are great. For a list of breeders, please visit BCSA's Breeder Referral.