Border collies are one of the most popular dogs out there. Known for their intelligence, agility, and hardworking attitude, they are sought after by breeders, shepherds, and owners alike.
It’s easy to fall in love with these dogs, and I’m sure you just want to know everything about them.
Border collies are an absolute favorite of mine (I have one!). They are a very lovable breed of dogs that are always willing to please.
Strong, energetic, and happy, the Border collie is a dog breed best suited for a strong, energetic, and happy home.
This comprehensive guide covers almost every detail you could want to know about Border collies.
- What do they eat?
- What is their personality?
- How much exercise do they need?
- How much does a Border Collie puppy cost?
- What sorts of specific varieties exist, and more!
Keep reading for more information about these canines.
Border Collie overview & characteristics
Descendants of the Old Hemp bred to herd the sheep; Border collie goes back to the farms of British Isle in the 19th Century.
The name ‘Border’ is derived from its birthplace the Anglo-Scottish Border and the word ‘collie’ is a Gaelic word meaning useful. Even to this day, Border collies require an open, lively home like a farm.
Border Collies are a versatile breed. They are essentially a herding dog, bred for intelligence, stamina and energy.
They work at a fast pace, covering ever greater distances to herd and move livestock. They are extremely intelligent and have to be trained correctly to avoid behavioral issues.
Here is a look into the various characteristics of the border collie.
1. Border Collie appearance
Border Collie’s appearance fits their personality. It’s a strong medium-sized dog with a lean frame like an Australian Shepherd. Has a long tail that is wagging along all the time. It comes in two types of coats: rough and smooth. For both types, their coat is double-coated and comes in different colors. But black, white, and grey are the most common triad.
1.1 Border Collie body dimensions
Body dimensions of an average Border collie vary from 22 – 27 inches height; 18 – 22 inches wither height and 28 – 34 inches body length. On average, their body weight varies between 27 – 45 lb and has a life span of 10 – 17 years.
1.2 Border Collie eyes
One of Border Collie’s more famous features is their eyes. They are oval and come in two different colors with varying shades. Brown is the most common color, from lightest to darkest shades. Blue is rare in comparison. Heterochromia causes Collies to have two different eye colors.
They have an intense gaze and are always alert and focused. Their intense gaze is more than looks. Their strong vision helps them when working in the field. The intense stare keeps the herd under control.
1.3 Border Collie ear
Dancing up and down Border collie’s ears come in many shapes and sizes. Some have completely erect ears, some completely dropped; some half-dropped, and some have airplane ears that fly sideways. The shape of your Collie’s ears depends on the following factors:
The most effective factor is genetics. Most likely Collie’s ears would be the same as its parent family.
Some veterinarians say that lots of chewing and well-developed jaw muscles lead to erect ears, though these effects are temporary. It’s because the jaw and neck muscles are linked to ears and simulation caused by chewing makes the ears bounce around.
At the early stages of growth if a Collie receives too much fondling it can negatively affect the ears. At this stage ears are way too fragile and touching them too much can affect their growth.
1.4 Border Collie coat
In terms of coat, Border Collies come in two main varieties and some in between. The main ones are Smooth Coat and Rough coat. They either have a medium or a long rough coat like fur or a short and smooth coat. Every coat is a double coat with a shaggy outer coat and soft undercoat.
It’s medium or long in length with fur on the chest, belly, and legs. They can have a dense wool-like undercoat with long guard hair. If these Collies are not groomed regularly their hair will flatten around their ears, armpits, and tail. Rough coat Border collies vary in medium to long length, thickness, and texture.
Smooth-coated Border collie has short, rough hair with little to no feathering. Some of these dogs may or may not have a thick undercoat and can have short-straight or long-wavy guard hair. And though they have as short hair compared to a rough-coat Collie, they shed just as much. But they do not require as much grooming.
Most farm and stud owners prefer a smooth coat Collie due to the fact that they are not used in canine sports, and are mainly tied to herding.
It is not rare to find a Border Collie who is a mix of both coat types. They might look like a rough coat due to rough furring around ears, head, and tail. Their body gives the impression of a smooth Border collie due to short hair and a hairless body.
Some look like a rough coat but have evenly thick fur overall. An infamous type is curly-coated and bearded most found in the shade of gray
2. Border Collie personality
Collies have a very friendly, active, and hoarder personality. They absolutely love herding. Not just a group but literally anything. Kids in the yard, ducklings roaming around the pond, groceries you might have dropped.
Border collies form a tight bond with their family and follow them everywhere. They love chasing bikes and cars and excel at performance activities like sheepherding, agility, obedience, Frisbee, and flyball, etc. A compelling feature of this dog is the use of his eyes, a hypnotic glance that keeps the flock in order. They are also good at search and rescue.
As a herding dog Border Collies get along with other animals. Cats are an exception since Collie likes herding and cats hate being herd. Though tolerant and smart one can understand the Border’s behavior and deal with it. If you desire to get a Border collie with a cat, consider getting an adult Collie.
Borders are not apartment dogs because their active genetics require them to keep moving. If you can tend to their activity needs, then it might not be the pet for you.
Usually, unsupervised, and untrained dogs can develop obnoxious levels of barking, digging, and counter surfing. With Border collies, multiply the factor by 10, especially, from the age of 4 months to 16 months.
Border collie’s strong-minded, independent, and herding nature can have negative effects, if not properly socialized then Collie can become shy and fearful. Frequent exposure to different people and places helps sensitive Collies to develop confidence.
3. Border Collie behavior & temperament
Border Collie Behavior
Characteristically alert, energetic, hardworking, and smart Collies are quick learners and like to stay busy. So much so that sometimes it is hard to keep them challenged and busy. Leisure leads them to adopt annoying habits like barking, digging, and chasing cars.
The Border Collies are very easy to train and extremely obedient. Even at the age of 56 days, a Collie can take in everything you teach it. So don’t wait for it to grow up.
Remember, an early trained one is a strong-willed one.
Behavior with no purpose is defined as compulsive behavior and Collies tend to have some. Like chasing the lights and shadows, constantly twirling in circles, or bouncing up and down. This is the behavior of stressed-out Border Collie.
Border Collies are famous for being sensitive and attentive towards their owner’s every action or signal from a hand single to an eyebrow raise. When you are getting a Border collie consult a dog breeder to help you find a dog better suited to your personality and lifestyle.
Border Collie temperament
A Border collie is a smart, energetic dog with a strong desire to herd. It is happiest on a farm and stud with a lot of room to run around all day. It is the smartest dog which means it requires frequent mental and physical activities all day. Without proper workouts, this dog is likely to become a source of discomfort.
The Border Collie is an eager breed, quick to learn, and the most trainable dog. They are independent and strong-minded creatures. They require a patient and dedicated owner. Border Collies are shy and laid back with strangers. It is essential to properly socialize them in a herd or any other pet breed.
With smart and active dogs like Border collies, you need to develop a relationship as soon as you get them. In the words of Brian Kilcommons, founder of The Great Pets Resort a training capability:
‘’Dogs learn. We get to decide when they learn. And if we are not teaching them, they will develop their own game.’’
If ignored and without proper and regular activities Border collie can easily lose its drive and fall into stress mode. If you are a person with a busy life or small place not enough to tend a Border Collie’s needs, you are not doing any favor to this breed by adopting them.
4. Border Collie types & varieties
Border Collies can vary in traits and appearance depending on their parent dogs. They have the following types:
4.1 Black and white Border Collie
This is the signature look of your Border Collie. It’s the colors that come to mind when you think about Border in general. Regardless, these are the most popular kind of Border Collies.
Black is the dominant gene which is why black, and white are standard colors. Other genes are bred with this dog to get other kinds.
4.2 Brown and white Border Collie
One of the common combinations is usually called brown and white Border Collie. It has a pattern of black and white color with light to dark shades of brown. White is usually present around the neck and on the chest. To breed a brown Border Collie, both the parents need to have chocolate genes.
4.3 Blue merle Border Collie
Merle effect is due to the dominant blue merle gene. Blue merle has a white/grayish base color coat with black/blue patches.
This gene affects the color of the nose and eyes as well. For example, they have pink noses and bright blue eyes. It’s common for merles two have different colored eyes.
To produce this coat, the breeder only needs one, since it’s a dominant gene. Border collies have two copies of the merle gene which can have health complications like deafness, mild blindness, and overall weakness.
4.4 Red Border Collie
United Kingdom people refer to it as Aussie red. Red Collies are extremely rare. In the US it is recognizable but in other countries, there is still confusion. It is a recessive gene. Two Red Collies are to be bred to get a litter of red puppies. Its other variation is a red merle and red and white Border.
5. Border Collie health issues
It’s important to remember that Collies are a healthy breed. However, like any living creature, they can also be affected by health problems. While your pet may not get all of these and may only get one or two, it’s still good to know what they are in case you notice a change in your Pet’s behavior or way of life.
Make sure to seek the best Breeder to get health clearance for the mongrel and its parents. The clearance is proof that the Border is tested and cleared for certain genetic abnormalities.
For Border Collies you can get health certification from different organizations and foundations. Major abnormalities are listed below:
5.1 Hip dysplasia
This is a genetic anomaly that happens, it is caused by a displacement of the hip joint. Border Collies with Hip Dysplasia can appear perfectly normal, but over time the bone may start to wear away. Some dogs show pain in one or both rear legs. It can lead to Arthritis an X-ray is one the most effective ways for diagnosis.
When you are getting a Border Collie, always ask your breeder for proof of the dog’s parents being free of hip dysplasia.
5.2 Progressive retinal atrophy
Progressive retinal atrophy is the deterioration of your dog’s retinas in their younger years. The early stages cause night blindness. If the diseases keep on progressing it can cause the loss of vision completely. Affected dogs do adapt to limited or no vision if their surroundings do not change.
Eye anomalies in Border Collies can be detected at the pup stage from age 5 to 8 weeks. Luckily there is a genetic test to determine if the dog is carrying the gene. Also, look for a breeder with Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) clearance.
Epilepsy is often a genetic disease but not always. Epilepsy is a nervous disorder that causes seizures from mild to severe. It makes the Border Collies limbs go rigid and lose consciousness. This can also cause behavioral changes like running hysterically as if being chased, staggering, or hiding.
Seizures are scary to watch so it is important to take your Border to the veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Allergies are caused mainly by food, medications, and environmental changes. This condition can be treated by avoiding or restricting the causing factors.
- Food Allergies: caused by certain food and treated by eliminating that food from the diet.
- Contact Allergies: caused by a reaction to topical substances like flea powder, shampoo, etc.
- Inhalant Allergies: the causative agent is airborne allergens like pollen, dust, etc.
Mostly occurring in the elbow and shoulder joint, it is an orthopedic condition caused by improper growth of bone in the joints. Symptoms include painful stiffening of joints that can make bending the elbow a hard movement for the dog. It can be detected at an early age of 4 to 9 months. High protein food or growth formulas can make this condition worse.
6. Health care of Border Collies
Dog Breeders must take all relevant tests and evaluations of their dogs and get then assigned a CHIC number from the Orthopedic Foundation of Animals (OFA). All the test results are posted on the CHIC database for anyone to access and check if there is anything wrong with the dog they are getting.
A good breeder will always be able to answer questions regarding her / his dog’s genes and health. Careful breeders check their dogs of any possible genetic disease and always breed the best Border Collies they have.
Sometimes a breeder’s fee can be out of your budget but that shouldn’t stop you from learning about your Border’s ancestry. Embark Breed + Health DNA Kit allows you to learn all about your Border’s breed, ancestry, health, and more just by a simple cheek with a swab.
Aside from the above Collie requires regular mental and physical activities to stay healthy and active. Give them affection, physical activities, and they will love and obey you unconditionally. If it is ever needed, you can always check our blog for home remedies and treatments for your pet.
The average lifespan of Border Collies
On average a Border collie is expected to have a lifespan of 12 to 18 years. They typically live from 10 – 17 years, sometimes more.
Most health issues with Border Collies are genetic. That’s why it’s best to check the dog’s parental history. Reputed dog Breeders keep thorough documentation on their dogs’ health and parentage. That would most likely answer your question concerning your Borders lifespan.
Precautions to keep Border Collies healthy and active for a long time
- Try to keep a regular check-up with your veterinarian
- Make sure your Border Collie is getting its daily dose of exercise.
- Watch what your pet is eating add protein and omega fatty acid food to their diet.
- Avoid indoor and outdoor use of chemicals detergents for cleaning around your Border.
7. Price of Border collies
Although the price of a Border collie depends on various factors like its parentage, size of litter, breeding reputation, etc. On average Border Collies cost around $600, these come as pets with documents and no-show quality. While a premium superior line Border Collie with breeding rights and papers costs around $1300 – $4500.
Due to the time, work, and devotion put by the breeders to train a dog, making sure that it is up to any task, a trained Collie can cost around $7500.
To get a Collie from another country comes with additional shipping charges. These charges can include airline booking, essential documents, and a chaperon to ensure the safety of the dog. This whole process could cost around $300 but can vary depending on the breeder’s location.
Border collie adoption
Adopting a dog on the other hand is cheaper. It costs around $300 which even covers the care and training before adopting the Border. Come Bye Border Collie Rescue in Midwest and Border Collie in Need in San Pedro, CA are two homes sheltering Border collies in need of a home.
After the cost of getting a Border collie, comes the expenses of raising it. These Expenditures include:
- Medical Expense
- Toys and Accessories
8. Border Collie exercise requirements
A walk and an activity are the best part of your four-legged furry fellow day. For your companion, it is superior to walk around the outside world and breathe exciting whiffs and eyesight. Border Collies are energetic dogs, bred for herding sheep so natural to assume that their genes hold the need for vigorous regular exercising.
So, if you are planning to get one of these you better be active, yourself to keep your Border Collie happy and healthy. As your pet, the border collie is a strong puller so you can use Fairwin Leash for exercising, walking, and running purposes.
Your Border Collie will thrive on activities because their working bodies get their brain working as well. You can use that to your advantage. Swap your lazy routine with some sporty activity. It will keep both of you and your Border Collie happy and healthy. Activities like:
- Fly ball
- Disc Dog
- Sheepdog trial
How much exercise do Border Collies need?
Pica is a medical condition related to eating inedible objects such as mud, grasses, feces, insects, and wood. It happens due to deficiency of nutrients, minerals especially Phosphorus and Vitamins, in your companion diet.
But well-balanced commercial diets are full of nutrition, so why do Collies eat non-food objects? The correct answer is this is of boredom in young dogs and puppies. So, help them play together and for regular walks of at least 15-30 minutes each day.
Depending on multiple factors like age, health, and general fitness, an adult Border Collie may need a lot of exercise whereas a pup in comparison would require less. Most healthy adult Border Collies require a minimum of 1 hour 30 minutes workout in a day.
But as they become mature and old, they will start to slow down towards little and less intense activities. Older ones might just go for a stroll in the park.
For puppies, you need to keep a close eye. A little too much exercise can cause damage to their growing joints and bones. On the other hand, very little workout can affect their proper growth. You need to find the right balance. For that contact your veterinarian and use some fitness applications for Border Collies.
Never leave your furry Border Collie alone for more than a few hours because they are likely to develop separation anxiety, especially, when you leave them alone without any source of moderate exercise and mental stimulation. In any case leave them with enrichment toys, lots of playtime, and cuddles before you leave.
9. Border collie training needs
Border Collies are the smartest and most easily trainable dog out there. They get excited to work and always have a high energy level.
Border Collies love to be on a team-up with you, so teaming up with it only helps the dog become more obedient towards you. Training the ‘come’ command is a piece of cake for the Borders, start by teaching your Border the ‘come’ command to keep him safe from potential danger.
Use the Border Collie’s favorite toys and treats to teach him certain traits you want it to have. ‘’Fun’’ is the main keyword, teach your Collie that doing any task like ‘come’ is fun.
Following practices should be adopted to keep your Border interested and invested:
- Use treats as rewards
- Vary rewards from time to time
- Prepare different types of activities
- Make everything fun
- Show him encouragement and affirmation
- Avoid Negatives responses
- Socialize your Border
Hire a trainer for your companion, if you can! It will not only help your Border Collie, but it will also help you better understand your dog. Adrienne Farricelli is a certified CPDT-KA trainer. Her Brain Training methods help owners unlock their dog’s hidden intelligence. Her methods help eliminate your dog’s bad behavior and make an obedient pet out of it.
You can always self-train your Border collie by studying and researching its training needs. There is always the internet. If you are looking for a more professional solution, check out Barbara Sykes’ Training Border collie and Vergil S. Holland’s Herding dog: Progressive Training is two absolute gems you should give a read to learn more about your Border Collie’s behavior and the respective solution.
10. Border Collies nutritional needs
Border Collies are an extremely energetic breed, and they require an extremely nutrient diet. Calorie needs vary from dog to dog concerning their overall activities. When it comes to maintaining your Border Collies diet, factors to consider are:
- Activity level
- Outdoor Activities
- Individual biology
You can try different types of commercial diets to see what suits your Border Collie the best. Go for the commercial diet that provides meat as the primary ingredient because it helps improve your dog’s stamina, energy level, and coat.
Nutrients needed for your Border depend on its activity level. If your dog is to compete it may require a different type of food than usual. Although food with 25% protein and 2800 kcal energy can give your Border a nutritional boost, never just simply increase or decrease your dog food intake without consulting a veterinarian.
The weight of your Border is a great scale to determine its overall health. An overweight Border may need a calorie-restricted and high protein diet whereas an underweight one might need a high energy diet. The shiny coat is another factor that helps you determine your Collie’s health because a full coat indicates quality nutrition.
Most commercial foods are full of filler ingredients; that is why a healthy homemade diet is the best option to make your border collie grow happy and healthy. Nothing can compete with healthy, homemade meals.
So, it is always best to provide your Border Collie with a homemade meal made with fresh ingredients, made in clean utensils. However, cooking every day can be time-consuming and stressful for some owners. Ollie, is the best homemade, palatable and delicious food enriched with 7 feed ingredients and nutrients packed. They will send you the best food.
Some breeders and owners go for a raw food diet for their pets. But do not feed your dog without consulting your veterinarian.
If you choose to optimize for this diet, it is important to consult a pet nutritionist or a vet to understand and provide the right ratio of protein and fat, according to the needs of your best buddy.
Raw Paws is a great source for all kinds of meats and other dog food and treats. Each item comes with a suggested serving to your Collie’s weight and needs.
11. Border Collie grooming needs
Like any other dog Border also requires basic care, like bathing, ear cropping, trimming the nails, brushing teeth, combing hairs, etc.
11.1 Nail trimming
Trim the nails when overgrown, Border often wears and tears them down, but it is good to keep a weekly check. You can always take your Border Collie to a groomer but it can be easily done at home as well using Dremel PawControl.
11.2 Teeth brushing
To keep Border Collies healthy, you need to brush their teeth regularly. They are prone to dental problems and it is extremely important to make them visit the vet every six months. Frequently brush the teeth for overall good health and fresh breath. Use Arms and Hammer’s kit that includes all the essentials you require for your Collie’s oral hygiene.
11.3 Shedding and brushing
Your buddy Collie comes in two types of coats, both double-coated. Smooth coat with a bit of furring around the legs and rough coat with medium or long flat or wavy hair. Either way, it is best to brush them twice a week to get rid of broken hairs.
Border Collies shed fur and hairs around twice a year. However, during fall and spring, they completely blow their coats for the new coming season. During shedding season, brush your Border on a daily basis. Furminator is the best purchase for this season.
When it is time for a bath, keep the following things in mind
- Brush them ahead because they tend to shed.
- Always use dog-formulated products. Never use human products on your Border Collie.
- Protect their eyes when applying and rinsing any product.
- Use warm to tape water, because too hot water can cause allergies like itching etc.
11.5 Grooming FAQ
Do border collies shed a lot?
To answer it simply, yes, they do, especially during fall and spring to prepare them for the new season.
How to stop shedding?
You cannot stop it. But you can control it. Brush your Collie twice or thrice a week, more preferably with a slicker brush.
What kind of tools are used for grooming?
Basic tools you require to home-groom your Border are:
- Furminator brush for shedding
- Toothbrush and paste
- Nail Grinder for timing
- Dog-formulated shampoos and conditioners
Known Facts about Border Collies
- The birthplace of the Border Collie is scotland
- World’s Smartest dogs
- They can run up to 30 miles per hour hence fastest running dogs
- Queen Victoria and Robert Burns are some of the most famous people to own a Border collie.
- Border Collies are very good at acting. They have been featured in movies like ‘’Animal Farm’’, ‘’Snow Dogs’’, and TV series ‘’Mad About you’’.
Pros and Cons about Border Collies
Like any pet, Border Collie has their pros and cons in terms of its personality, needs, and lifestyle.
- They have an active and loving personality.
- Borders are a hardy breed.
- They can easily learn anything.
- Love to play games.
- Recognized by the American Kennel Club.
- Comes in two kinds of coats and a variety of colors
- Some Collies are naturally nippy.
- They are highly territorial.
- They can out-think you.
- You need to give them extra socializing time.
- Constant lack of activity or restlessness can cause behavioral disorders.
5 factors to keep in mind when choosing a Border Collie
- You need to be an active, outgoing person in order to tend to the Border Collie’s energetic nature.
- They require a large space to run, however in the case of a small home or apartment so long as their daily exercise needs are met .
- Their mental health is in constant need of stimulation to channel their active energy.
- Border collies love herding so be prepared to deal with that.
- Contact a renowned Breeder and check the Border you are getting suits your personality and your lifestyle.
Frequently asked questions about Border Collies
What are Border Collies bred for?
Border Collies are highly intelligent and agile dogs that are bred specifically to herd sheep. They are known for using “the eye” –a technique used by dogs to stare intensely at the flock to threaten them.
Which type of owner does a Border Collie need?
Border Collies require an active owner or household like itself. One who can take it on long runs and keep it busy with challenges and activities. If you cannot provide a Border collie what it needs to thrive, it can fall into a depression.
Are Border Collies hypoallergenic?
No, they have a thick double-coat that sheds a fair amount of fur which leads to allergens being released into the air. Precautions can be taken but its natural shedding will not stop.
Are Border Collies aggressive?
Border Collies have a medium temperament, where they are a bit bossy and highly energetic, but not aggressive. They are playful, loyal, and loving towards their families. However, they will become very agitated if not given their daily amount of exercise.
Are Border Collies good family dogs?
Border Collies are very active and affectionate dogs, and they are great pets for very active owners, who will make sure the dog gets enough exercise every day. They are also attentive to strangers and can be good watchdogs.
Are Border Collies good with kids?
While good with families, Border collies are not meant for every family. They love those they trust, but they can start running after children to corral them, which can be frightening for the child. They also bark a lot, which can be disrupting for a baby. They’re mostly fine with older kids who will not run after the dog.
Can Border Collies live in apartments?
A Border collie is a very vigorous and energetic pet. Your pet technically can live in apartments, so long as it’s spacious and their daily exercise requirements are met. Too small of an apartment with not enough activity is not good for them.
Do Border Collies bark a lot?
Yes, Border Collies are a high barking breed that gets easily stimulated, which is why they bark so much at cars, skateboarders, people running, etc.
Do Border Collies like to cuddle?
Yes, they are very affectionate and sometimes hardly ever leave their owner’s side and love to snuggle up.
Do Border Collies get along with cats?
Depending on how strong the dog’s herding instincts are, they may or may not get along with cats. If they’re raised in a household with cats and have a bit of mellow temperament, they can get along but not if they’re very outgoing and bark at everything that moves. Before having multiple species in a house with a Border collie, make sure their temperaments are compatible.
When do Border Collies calm down?
Collies calm down during the second half of their life, at age 6-7 years. At an early age, they’re very hyperactive, which mellows down by the time they’re older.
When do the ears of a Border collie stand up?
Not all Collies dogs have firm ears that stand up. The ones that do will start to have pricked ears by four to six weeks and fully stand up by five to six months. Others, however, will retain their soft and floppy ears for their whole lives.
Why are Border Collies so smart?
They are naturally intelligent, gazing, and instinctive due to their herding nature. They are an agile and goal-oriented breed, which makes them very smart.
What is bad about Border Collies?
Border Collies are herders by nature, which is why they are very hyperactive and energetic. If not given the right amount of mental and physical exercise, they become obsessive and will drive you up the wall with their destructive behaviors, all in order to let out their pent-up energy. They also bark a lot, which is not ideal for families with small children.
As mentioned above, the Border Collie is a highly intelligent and energetic dog breed. They have a very strong work ethic and are known for their ability to work independently without a need for a lot of direction.
Border Collies are very good at learning new tricks and commands and are known for getting bored quickly if they are not kept occupied with new tasks to learn.
I hope that this article has been helpful to you in understanding Border collies a bit better! I cannot possibly cover every last detail about Border collies, but I hope to have covered the most important topics for you.
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