dog trainer

WSD vs BC: Which is better?

WSD – What is it and why do you want one?

Working Sheepdog (WSD) is generally the name given to a non-pedigree Border Collie.  They can also be called just ‘sheepdogs’ or just ‘collies’.  Basically, if it looks a bit like a Border Collie (BC) but isn’t registered with the Kennel Club, it’s called a WSD.  With me so far?

Farm collies are usually WSDs, because they are not designed to be pets, but working dogs.  WSDs who work sheep are registered with the International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS).  This prestigious organisation registers and monitors Working Sheepdogs in the UK and Ireland.

wsdRegistration of WSD

If you have a litter of puppies with WSD parents who are ISDS registered, no problem!  You can register these on the ISDS register and they will be assigned a registration number – usually 6 digits.

Once registered as an ISDS WSD, you can register your dog as a KC Border Collie.  That’s because in order to be a ISDS registered WSD you must meet stringent breeding and health requirements.  They must have known heritage, in other words their parents must both be ISDS registered.  And they must have had all the relevant eye testing.  (Still with me?)

If your WSD is not from ISDS lines, but you would like it to be ISDS registered, you can do so, by meeting the society’s requirements.  They can transfer based on competition success.  Alternatively,  they can be put through a ‘working test’ as follows:

The dog must pass a test of skill in Outrun, Lift, Fetch and Driving and general farm duties on a packet of sheep at a test location nominated by the Society or Associate Club and assessed by two Examiners.

In other words, in order to become ISDS registered, a WSD must actually be a ‘working sheepdog’.

wsdRegistration of a BC

In order to register as Border Collie with the Kennel Club, you must have parents who are pedigree Border Collies.  Or you can have an ISDS registered WSD parent or parents, as above.

If you want to have a dog with an unregistered parent or parents (ie neither pedigree nor ISDS) put onto the Border Collie pedigree register, you have to apply for a breed transfer.  This is a long and arduous exercise, that involves:

  • an application process, with accompanying documentation
  • preliminary approval
  • two breed judges examining the dog to confirm that it meet the breed standard
  • a DNA profile to confirm the breed
  • all relevant health testing required for the breed – eye testing and hip scores as a minimum
  • judgement passed by the KC panel.

Once this has been done, a pedigree certificate will be issued, with a pedigree registration number.  The dog’s pedigree name will have three asterisks after its name – Dentbros Busy the Imp***.  Their progeny will have two asterisks – Dentbros Lilac Wine**.  And so on, until Ounce’s grandchildren will be FULL PEDIGREE BORDER COLLIES!

Busy’s sire was an unregistered but nevertheless pedigree Border Collie.  His great grandmother had not been registered and has some WSD in his pedigree, but after that his family were all from BC stock.  This process recognised and registered Busy’s heritage (although the Kennel Club won’t list her sire on her registration certificate or pedigree).

Still following all this?

wsdWhat is the point?

You may well ask.  Does it matter AT ALL if they are ISDS registered WSDs or KC registered BCs, or both? Or not?  It’s a complicated question, but the answer is quite simple.

What do you want your dog to do?

This is at the heart of almost all the posts I write on this site.  What is the point of having a pedigree dog?  Why do I need to think about a particular breed?  I have been doing the breed blog to encourage you, my readers, to think properly about what makes dogs different from each other.  As this article about breeds found in shelters says:

“A large proportion of the dogs that end up in rehoming centres are there because their original owners simply found themselves unable to manage the dog that they took on, or had not done enough research about the specific needs and issues surrounding their breed of choice.”

The list of breeds given in the article is as follows:

Mixed breeds are obviously the most commonly re-homed dogs, because there are more mongrels than any pedigree dogs.  And because Designer Dogs are an unknown quantity!

Talking about the BC, the article says:

“One half hour walk once a day is unlikely to keep a Border Collie happy and healthy, and many first-time Collie owners find that they have grossly underestimated the needs of their new pet.”

Qualities of a WSD

In my opinion, a puppy from WSD stock will be more likely to be:

  • nervous
  • snappy
  • obsessive
  • herding

A puppy from pedigree Border Collie stock is more likely to be:

  • cuddly
  • adaptable
  • relaxed
  • sociable

So again I ask you, what do you want from your dog?  The moral of this rather convoluted post is:

“Don’t buy a WSD if you want a family pet”

wsdAsk for help?

You are very welcome to CONTACT ME to ask for my advice.  Please let me know if you have found this post helpful?


Please CONTACT ME if you want to know more about me and my dogs?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.

One thought on “WSD vs BC: Which is better?”

  1. Good advice. I have a working Collie, and two companion Collies (hate the word ‘pet’)…My working collie does work sheep, as my son is a shepherd, though he’s not an ‘avid’ sheepdog, and loves his home comforts

Leave a Reply