Border Collies are a working breed with a high need for mental and physical stimulation. Arktulu Border Collies are particularly active dogs who love to participate in a great variety of dog sports. Below is information compiled about some dog sports that are available in Australia.

Sheepdog Work

There are currently two types of sheepdog work trialling in Australia; ANKC Herding Trials (Herding) and Three Sheep Trialling (Sheepdog Trials). Trialling takes a subset of the skills a fulltime sheepdog would perform and asks a handler to assist their dog to use its natural instinct to perform these skills in a controlled trial arena, with a certain set of stock within a set time.

ANKC Herding is restricted to only those breeds with a documented herding history, mostly those breeds classified in the ANKC Working Group. Registered crosses of these breeds are also able to compete. The lowest levels (tests) of Herding are designed to foster basic instinct in dogs while also allowing them to show they are safe around stock. Once dogs are at the trial level there are 3 different course types that can be competed in, each of which require different sets of skills and are suited to different breed's herding styles. Course A is "an all-around farm or property course designed to demonstrate the versatility of the herding dog", Course B "an open field trial demonstrating a dog's ability to control and move livestock in an extended area" and finally Course C "reflects a tending shepherd's day, as he/she accompanies the flock, moving to various unfenced grazing areas". Each of these courses can be completed with either sheep/goats, ducks/geese and cattle. When a trial is advertised it will specify what courses and stock are being offered. Titles are gained for each level, course and stock.

For more information see the ANKC herding rulebook or contact your local Sheepdog or Working Dog club.

Titles available (ANKC affiliated) - Herding Instinct Certificate (not a title), Herding Tested (HT), Pre-Trial Tested (PT), Herding Started (HS), Herding Intermediate (HI), Herding Excellent (HX) and Herding Champion (H CH). Note: Titles HS, HI and HX will have appended a course type value (A, B, C) and a stock type value (sheep/goats (s), ducks/geese (d), cattle (c)).

Conformation Showing

Conformation showing is for some, the pinnacle of dog competition, for others, merely a beauty contest. Whatever your view, it can be a very fun and rewarding activity for the whole family.

Dogs at a conformation show are judged by how closely they resemble their breed standard. A breed standard is a written document to describe the best possible physical and temperamental characteristics to perform the tasks for which the breed was originally bred. Breeders should always be trying to breed dogs that match the standard for their particular breed. At a show a judge awards places to dogs in the order that, in their opinion, reflects the breed standard. Therefore, the point of a dog show is to recognise and reward those exhibitors who present dogs that most closely resemble the breed standard. That's the theory, anyway!

You can read the ANKC Border Collie breed standard.

Titles available (ANKC affiliated) - Australian Champion (AUST CH - also written CH) and Australian Grand Champion (AUST GRAND CH - also written GRAND CH).


Obedience Trials are a dog sport designed to demonstrate the dog's usefulness as man's guardian and companion rather than the dog's ability to learn and perform tricks. During a trial a judge instructs the handler and dog team to make a number of set individual elements (heeling, retrieving, recall, scent work, etc). After all teams have completed their individual rounds, group stays are performed where the dog is required to maintain it's set position until the handler returns (sometimes from out of sight) and releases them after a set time (from 1 minute to 10 mintues).

Titles available (ANKC affiliated) - Community Companion Dog (CCD), Companion Dog (CD), Companion Dog Excellent (CDX), Utility Dog (UD), Utility Dog Excellent (UDX) and Obedience Champion (O CH).

For more information see the ANKC obedience rulebook.


Agility is:

A team sport where you are in charge of the strategy and your dog is responsible for the athleticism. Dog's leap over hurdles, power through tunnels, zip through a slalom of upright poles and scale ramps of different sizes. The aim is to find the balance between the control of the dog and the speed of the performance. Scoring is based on faults, similar to equestrian show jumping. A dog that completes the obstacles correctly within the set time will earn a Clear Round. Dogs earn titles when they achieve a set number of clear rounds.

Above information taken from the Agility Dog Association of Australia website.

Jumping is a faster agility sport where there are no contact obstacles (dog walk, a-frame etc). It resembles equestrain show jumping much closer than straight agility. Clear rounds are the same as for agility and there are titles available also.

Titles available (ANKC affiliated) - Novice Agility Dog (AD), Agility Dog Excellent (ADX), Masters Agility (ADM) and Agility Dog Open (ADO). Also, Jumping Dog (JD), Jumping Dog Excellent (JDX), Masters Jumping (JDM) and Jumping Dog Open (JDO). Combined agility and jumpers title, Agility Champion (AG CH).

For more information see the ANKC agility/jumping rulebook.

Titles available (non-ANKC affiliated) - See the Agility Dog Association of Australia (ADAA) website.

Canine Disc (Dog Frisbee)

Dog frisbee is a very popular sport overseas, especially in the US where there have been organised competitions for more than 25 years. Dogs compete in one of two divisions, the lower being Toss and Fetch, where the dog and handler have 90 seconds to make as many catches as possible. Catches are scored depending on the distance of the throw and whether the catch is made in the air or not. The other division is Freestyle where the dog and handler have to complete a certain number of elements within a 2 minute round, these rounds are usually done to music and resemble doggy dancing in many ways.

Titles available (non-ANKC affiliated) - Frisbee Dog Achievement (FDA), Frisbee Dog Excellence (FDE) and Frisbee Dog Mastery (FDM). Also Frisbee Dog Superior (FDS) and Frisbee Dog Expert (FDX) recognising lifetime achievements.

For more information see the Australian Canine Disc Association.

Lure Coursing

Lure Coursing:

...was originally developed for sighthounds, that is, dogs that use their eyes rather than their noses for hunting (for example Afghans, Borzois, Greyhounds). Any other dog - pure bred or not - that likes to chase may compete in Qld. Lure Coursing is now a sport which is extremely popular in England, Europe, and the USA and came to Australia in the early eighties in the form that we practice now. Events are held in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and WA.

The "Lure" (generally a couple of plastic bags) is tied to a rope that is pulled around spindles and pullys by a motorcycle especially designed for this purpose. The course pattern is irregular and somewhat similar to the way a hare might run in the open field. NO LIVE GAME IS EVER USED IN THE TRIALS OR THE TRAINING of the lure coursing dogs - the RSPCA has fully endorsed the sport. In an official Lure Field Trial, the dogs are released on the Huntsmaster's call of "Tally Ho" and they follow the lure around the course. Each dog is scored on it's enthusiasm, follow, agility, speed and endurance. Titles are competed for in this sport.

Above information taken from the Queensland Lure Coursing Association website.

Titles available (non-ANKC affiliated) - Field Champion (Field Champion).


Flyball is a relay race between two teams of four dogs. Racing side by side, one dog from each team must go over four hurdles, trigger a flyball box pedal, catch (retrieve) a ball and then return over all four hurdles to the start/finish line where the next dog eagerly awaits.

Flyball is a team sport. Each team consists of four dogs racing in each heat, plus up to two reserves. Reserves can be interchanged after each heat. There are between three and five heats to a race, and a team has to win a majority to win the race.

Flyball encompasses all things that dogs love to do - jumping, catching, retrieving, competing and striving to please their owners. Flyball is a sport in which any dog can participate, regardless of breed, shape or size. Flyball does not interfere with obedience training. In fact, the sport reinforces the disciplines taught in obedience class.

Besides being great for dogs, flyball is a lot of fun for people too! It is a great way to meet people locally and all around Australia. The team-work aspects bring people together as they strive to improve their team's performance. Flyball can be as competitive as you want to make it. The best part of all is just having fun with your dog, and seeing the look of excitement on your dog's face at the start of a day of racing, and the look of content at the end of the day.

As of the 1st of January 2006, teams racing in an AFA sanctioned competition will receive 1 point towards their flyball title for each dog racing in that heat when all four dogs complete the heat correctly without requiring any reruns. If that team wins the heat each dog running will receive another 1 point towards their Flyball title.

For title points to be awarded, an AFA Judge or representative must be present and at least four (4) teams must compete. All four teams may be from the same club provided each team registered with the AFA was given an equal opportunity to enter but chose not to.

Above descriptions taken from the Australian Flyball Association website.

Titles available (non-ANKC affiliated) - Flyball Dog (FD), Flyball Dog Excellent (FDX), Flyball Dog Champion (FDCh), Australian Flyball Champion (AFCH), Flyball Master (FM), Flyball Master Excellent (FMX), Flyball Master Champion (FMCh), Onyx plaque and Flyball Dog Grand Champion (FDGCh).

Endurance Tests

The object of an Edurance Test is that it:

...shall demonstrate the dog's ability to work after being subject to a certain degree of physical strain without showing signs of undue stress or lack of constitution.

Due to the dog's physical structure, such a test can only consist of a gaiting performance of some lengthy duration, which, it is known places an increasing load not only on its internal organs, such as the heart and lungs, but on many other aspects of the dog's physical structure and temperamental characteristics.

The effortless accomplishment of such a test shall be the evidence as to the physical fitness of the dog.

Above description taken from the ANKC Endurance Test Regulations

In practice, the Endurance test involves:

Firstly, your dog must be a minimum of two years of age and a maximum of seven years of age. Your dog will need to be registered with your state ANKC body and you will need to be a member of your state ANKC body to be eligible to compete. Dogs must be vetted by a Veterinary Surgeon within fourteen days prior to the Endurance Test. The vet check covers things such as general fitness, temperament, standing heart rate, condition of pads and muscle tone of the dog.

On your arrival at the Endurance Test location at about 7 am, you will see other people unloading bicycles and dogs. You will then proceed to the marshalling area and hand in the vet check certificate. A preliminary vet check for your dog, then a simple obedience exercise consisting of heeling forward on lead, a sit, a stand and a right about turn. As well as a recall, either on or off lead.

At about 8 am, you will be started on your way, in line order, gaiting your dog on a two metre lead. You will ride or jog across a combination of grass, dirt and bitumen or concrete surfaces. You and your canine companion will enjoy the company of the other riders, who undoubtedly will swap stories with you regarding their training leading up to this big event.

After the first leg of eight kilometres, all dogs are vetted again. You will enjoy a fifteen minute break, a chance for a drink for your dog and yourself.

By now handlers and dogs will be accustomed to what is required. After the second leg of six kilometres, the dogs will be vetted again, this time having a twenty minute break.

The third leg is again six kilometres, and this will be where the wheat will be sorted from the chaff. Oh, the dogs will probably be fighting fit, it will be the handlers complaining of sore bottoms from riding for nearly twenty kilometres.

On the last lap, as you turn into the marshalling area, all the spectators, supporters, back up crews and stewards will be cheering you on as you complete the twenty kilometre journey.

A wait of fifteen minutes, then the final vetting, with all dogs hopefully pronounced fit. The judge will then take you back into the ring and you will repeat the basic obedience test.

Above description taken from the Dogs Victoria website.

Titles available (ANKC affiliated) - Endurance Tested (ET)


Tracking is a rapidly growing dog sport in Australia, the purpose of which is:

...for the dog to follow a human scent trail and find the "missing person" at the end. Tracking is an activity that cannot really be taught to a dog by a human. All dogs that have the ability to smell can track, some are better at it than others but if push came to shove and they were left in the wild they would all be able to use their sense of smell to locate food. People have a limited understanding of how scent works, whereas dogs (with their much more sensitive scenting apparatus) understand and work it brilliantly. It is important that it is understood that the best a handler can hope for, is to hone the dog's natural scenting ability in the desired direction. The dog must use its initiative to achieve in tracking and the handler must remember in tracking the dog is never wrong, it might just need to recheck the direction of the trail until it is sure. The tracking handler's motto is "Trust your dog", if there is any doubt you MUST believe that the dog is doing the right thing: - don't forget you can't track, you don't understand the circumstances the dog is working under.

Above taken from the Golden Retriever Club of Victoria website.

Tracking under ANKC rules is tracking for competition, and to attain tracking titles. It involves training a dog to follow a ground scent trail and find any discarded articles of clothing along the track.

Dogs must wear a tracking harness, and must track at the end of a 10 metre lead (unless topography makes this difficult). All breeds of dog can learn to track. Dogs often find this an enjoyable activity.

Tracking is done mostly in winter, due to the preponderance of snakes during the summer months, and the risk to both dog and handler caused by heat.

Above taken from the Dogs NSW website.

Titles available (ANKC affiliated) - Tracking Dog (TD), Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX) and Tracking Champion (T CH).

Canine Freestyle

This activity is currently being worked in to an ANKC affialiated sport with titles in NSW ( see here). Canine Freestyle also known as Doggy Dancing or Musical Freestyle is a dog sport that is:

...a choreographed musical program performed by handlers and their dogs. The object of musical freestyle is to display the dog and handler in a creative, innovative and original dance, using music and intricate movements to showcase teamwork, artistry, costuming, athleticism and style in interpreting the theme of the music. Heelwork-to-Music incorporates traditional dog obedience and the art of dressage with the inclusion of musical interpretation, dance elements, and costuming with an emphasis on non-standard obedience movements. Both Musical Freestyle and Heelwork-To-Music routines should create a visually exciting display which is enjoyable to watch and which is equally enjoyable to dogs and handlers executing the programs. Canine freestyle is a showcase that truly demonstrates the joys and fun of bonding with your pet.

Above taken from the World Canine Freestyle Organisation website.

For some help in starting out, please see the Canine Freestyle Moves Database.

Titles available - None currently.


If you are involved in a sport not yet listed here that you think is a sport Border Collies would love, please see the "Contact" page and let me know!

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