Jump to content
BC Boards

Recommended Posts

Ok... I have often been told there is no such thing as a dumb question... so here I goooo! :rolleyes:


I am pretty sure I know what the term Biddable means... does it mean essentially...the dog has potential as a stock dog? is trainable/workable....etc?????

I am doing pretty good on my learning scale, but I just want to double check on this term?

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not actually just BC terminology.


Bid means wish, or hope, or to ask, with expectation of a positive answer. Think, "I bid you peace" ala The Frugal Gourmet. He's bidding. If you get peaceful, you've been biddable.


I should probably go to dictionary.com and actually paste a correct definition, but that's mine.


Horse can be biddable. My kids are not. My husband is mostly.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll take a crack at this.


For stockdogs, "biddable" is an adjective used to describe one feature of a dog.

I would say that "biddable" refers to a dog which is very willing to take direction.

This does not mean the dog is "mechanical", i.e., can't work the sheep properly

unless the handler constantly tells them what to do. It just means the dog is a good

team player, I guess.


Some dogs can be so concerned with controlling the sheep, etc. that they are not too keen

on staying in touch with the wishes of the handler. They're not so biddable.

A dog which is not biddable is to some degree simply being disobedient, I guess.

But as with most features in a stockdog one is trading things off:

you might be willing to trade "less biddable" for "more talent".

And, frankly, it is nice sometimes to have a dog which is not perfectly

obedient in the sense that they may over-rule erroneous handler decisions.


In a perfect world, all dogs are very talented and very biddable. And

all handlers are very good at only asking these dogs to do the right thing.



Link to post
Share on other sites

Celia, that was lovely. I'm not exactly sure how relevant it is to how I've heard biddable applied with regard to dogs. But lovely nonetheless. :D


Biddable is an old word that means the biddable one has the tendency to bend his or her will to the wishes, spoken or otherwise, of others. It was just as often applied to a girl, as a domestic animal. The opposite of biddable was willful or high spirited. It was considered necessary to "break" the latter, which was extra work, so a biddable animal or wife was very desireable. :rolleyes:


Nowadays the word is applied pretty much the same way. As a side note, however, in the case of the working Border Collie, you have to be careful if someone is bragging on a dog they are trying to sell you! Sometimes "biddable" just means they've broken the dog to be completely dependent on commands to work, or that the dog is really soft (ie, has to be handled with extreme care for fear the dog will be scared out of working).


The ideal quality of biddability though means the dog will go "Oh, what?" when you speak his name, and "Right away!" when you offer input while working. The ideal amount of biddability is balanced with enough work ethic and stock sense to be able to work independently - ie, know what to do and want to do it without explicit direction.


I'll use my Ted pup for example. He can be pretty damn-the-torpedoes in his approach to sheep, but if my timing is right (before he's committed to something wrong), I can get him to "give" on just a word alone (versus a big gesture or emotional display, lol). A dog with more of a my-way-or-the-highway attitude would either ignore me or quit in a pet.


Note that last point. Biddable doesn't apply to the dogs who are quitters. Sulky dogs are, in their own way, just a hard headed as the dogs who won't "give" even under the harshest treatment. The attitudes of both have their origin in a lack of desire (or ability) to work with a human partner - the difference is one wants the stock more badly than the other. Apparently this is why so many have been disappointed when they breed "hard" dogs together willy nilly, with little attention to other faults of style.


The tried-and-true method was to go on breeding for trainability for most of the time with an occaisional cross out to those hard headed but difficult to trial dogs (mostly found on hill farms). Both ends of the spectrum are necessary to continue the ideal balance in the breed, but we need more dogs that are trainable, mostly because farmers don't have time to chase a pup around with a two-by-four. :D

Link to post
Share on other sites



How 'bout this, then.... the degree of cooperation between two individuals. Better?


Y'all both did a good job on applying it to the dog question, though. I didn't even try to tackle that. :rolleyes:

Link to post
Share on other sites

I put a high value on 'biddable' when I chose a pup (Simon) from a dog I really liked, Tom Lacy's old Imp. Jill. Jill had a lot of presence on sheep, she moved them easily and was fearless, but her willingness to be asked to do for her handler, to go maybe even against instinct for him, and her "I love this man and would do anything for him" attitude sold me. She was a good trial dog, and handled farm work as well.

Like putting a stronger bit on a horse that's running with you, I find now that my ability to influence Simon when I have no idea what I'm doing myself stops him and he's lost any hope of deciding what he wants to do vs. what I want him to do. Does that make sense? His being super biddable (which he gets from his mama) gives me more power than I deserve...in other words, I have screwed him up. I'm learning, but it made me so sad for my ignorance and it's affect on this poor dog.

Now that I know 'biddable' better, maybe next time, I won't abuse it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

There is so much to learn. I'm seeing that even people who have been working their dogs for many years, still continue to learn not only by doing, working and making mistakes, but from the dogs themselves! This is part of why I feel myself getting addictited to the herding life, and all that goes with it. Right now it's not a seriously expensive addiction, could be worse I suppose, but.....after going to clinics, talking with very knowledgable people, and a lot of reading etc., I can see I am hooked for the long run! (litterally! long run! ha ha!!)

So idealistically, you want a dog who will take direction from the handler, but will also use her/his instinct and feel the sheep and go from there??? It seems like such a fine line to walk between letting the dog do what they want or need to do, and us humans directing them. But I am loving it! :rolleyes:

Link to post
Share on other sites


Becca's Ted is a littermate to Notch. :D





We're going to have to have a reunion at some point. :rolleyes:


Debbie, your post gave me a lot to think about. Thanks for sharing that.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...