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I'd just like to point out a mistake--merle is dominant. That's why folks breed double merles despite the ethical unsoundness of the choice--so the dog will always provide the M gene to the mating, thereby creating merle puppies (a standard merle, Mm, could statistically produce half non-merle puppies). It occurs at a very small percentage in the working population and in order to get it, you have to deliberately breed for it (that is, put the merle color criterion at the top of your list). Merles aren't likely to just pop up in a good working cross the way red (recessive) is. If you want a good discussion of the merle breeding issue, search in the Politics & Culture section for a thread titled "Merle explosion." Partway through that is an excellent discussion about breeding for merle and why it's not necessarily compatible with breeding for working ability. I don't see the point in repeating that whole discussion here. You can always resuscitate that thread and add to it.

 

J.

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I'd just like to point out a mistake--merle is dominant. That's why folks breed double merles despite the ethical unsoundness of the choice--so the dog will always provide the M gene to the mating, thereby creating merle puppies (a standard merle, Mm, could statistically produce half non-merle puppies). It occurs at a very small percentage in the working population and in order to get it, you have to deliberately breed for it (that is, put the merle color criterion at the top of your list). Merles aren't likely to just pop up in a good working cross the way red (recessive) is. If you want a good discussion of the merle breeding issue, search in the Politics & Culture section for a thread titled "Merle explosion." Partway through that is an excellent discussion about breeding for merle and why it's not necessarily compatible with breeding for working ability. I don't see the point in repeating that whole discussion here. You can always resuscitate that thread and add to it.

 

J.

 

Thanks for correcting that Julie - I have editted my previous post to avoid confusing people on this issue.

Lisa

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It occurs at a very small percentage in the working population and in order to get it, you have to deliberately breed for it (that is, put the merle color criterion at the top of your list). Merles aren't likely to just pop up in a good working cross the way red (recessive) is.

 

I'm curious - where did the merle Border Collies come from in the first place?

 

I'm not questioning the ethics of breeding merles or trying to make a point or anything. I'm just wondering if anyone knows, from a purely historical perspective, when and how the merle gene got into Border Collies in the first place?

 

Was it before or after Border Collies were recognized by the AKC? Did it exist in working Border Collies before Border Collies were used en masse for any other purpose? Does anyone know?

 

If this historical information is set out in one of the other threads, a reference a page number in that particular thread would be fine.

 

ETA: Sorry to go on a tangent. I know the topic of the post is red Border Collies, but merles came up and I've wondered about this for a long time.

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I have seen ONE merle dog that's at all decent at herding, and it was dumb luck - the owner got him as a rescue and he happened to have fantastic instinct. He's not an Open trial winner, but he can consistantly, daily works her flock of 50 sheep. BUT, that's the only example I have.

 

As a general "rule", pretty colours aren't found in herding because herding breeders never have colour as their goal. They breed dogs for health, drive, and working ability, colour being an afterthought at best. As a general rule, working border collies are generally traditional black and white/black and white tri colour - although as people have mentioned, red finds its way in there sometimes too, and I've seen some amazing red BCs herding. Any good BC owner would not choose a red simply for its colour, though.

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Also - while one needs to breed for herding ability, many of the items in your list are not things you can predictably breed for...biddability? When you pick a mate from a dog you do not own, how do you know how much biddability comes from genes, and how much comes from good training?

 

 

Because you don't just find some male whom you like, and breed your female, whom you also like, and hope for the best. You know by watching those lines closely over time, and you work with as many pups from those lines as you can. If you have a bitch you are considering breeding, as you are realistically and objectively evaluating her over time, in different situations, and with many different types of stock (in other words, not just your home flock), I would say you would be looking at males for probably at least 2 years before making a final decision. You watch that male and what he produces; in particular, you look at what is produced when he is crossed with which female. As someone noted, breeding is definitely part art as well as science, but the idea is to really pay attention over a lengthy period of time. It's really amazing to see how consistent some lines are, really, in all aspects of their work, if you keep a close eye on the crosses you are making. Biddability is indeed, IMO, certainly part of the total working package that can be predictably bred for, and I think there are certainly those out there who would include it as part of the package they are breeding for. I know I do,

 

A

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I have seen ONE merle dog that's at all decent at herding, and it was dumb luck...

Leila only had one chance at sheep and one at cattle. That both ranchers wanted her pups speaks well of her, although neither rancher wanted anything but a good ranch dog. The farmer who bred her like merle colors, and since his dogs mostly went to other local sheep farms, I suppose they were good at herding. At least, the vet said they had a good reputation. I also had a roommate 30 years ago who had a red merle Aussie who was quite good with cattle.

 

Merle by itself shouldn't mean anything in terms of quality of herding. However, with Border Collies and Aussies becoming more popular, one has to worry that a colorful dog was bred for that purpose, and not just because someone who needed good dogs also enjoyed a different color at times. Certainly the breeders I contacted who had plenty of litters lined up also had plenty of pups likely to be merles or red.

 

I'd go back to the thread on how to find a Border Collie puppy. A single red flag might not indicate a problem. Some of them (two litters or more a month!) might be disqualifying by themselves. I'm pretty sure if I contacted a good breeder and asked for a merle or red, I'd get a blistering response, or none at all!

 

BTW - I've enjoyed reading all the posts. It is interesting to learn what goes in to breeding the dogs, even if I have no intent on doing so!

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There are two misconceptions that I hear all the time.

 

1 - It's a nice dog/it has papers/its parents are champions/we love our fabulous dog and want another one like her/our dog herds the soccer ball - I'm sure she'd be fabulous on sheep/etc.

 

The reality is that only a very small percentage of the population of any given breed should be bred. The goal is to improve the breed - not just breed nice, average dogs. A good bitch can easily produce 15 to 20 pups over the course of 3 or 4 litters. That means that to maintain the breed - we really only need to be breeding the very top 5-7% or less of the breed. Even if a bitch was only bred once or twice, we would only need to breed the top 10%. Most people who own dogs as pets or active companions simply don't know enough to honestly be able to say that their dog is really the best 5% or 10% of what its breed can or should be. Since border collies should be bred based on working ability, if your dog doesn't work regularly enough for you to be sure that she is in the top 5 or 10% of her breed, you shouldn't breed her. (People with a better math mind than mine may argue the numbers slightly but I think the concept holds true.)

 

2. If you take two really nice dogs and breed them, you will get a really nice litter of puppies.

 

In reality, you could have the top bitch and top dog in the nation and they might not be the best match for each other. You need to chose a dog that complements your bitch, not just a nice dog. For people who are serious about trialling and breeding, the process of finding the best match for a bitch is a long process. The fact is, most pet people don't know enough about their dog and the breed's standard or work to truly be able to pick a dog that is the best match for their bitch. I think stockdogranch explained that process as well as anyone can.

 

 

 

BSMS99 - I'm not trying to pick on you personally, I just wanted to respond to your previous post because it illustrates a couple of issues that I hear all the time. I usually hear this in regards to AKC registered pet dogs but the concepts hold true for all breeds.

 

Lisa

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Nothing personal taken. Those are valid points. The bulk of the sheep dogs I've been around were ranch dogs. They had active lives, but from a herding perspective, not much was demanded of them. From what I've seen, it was mostly rounding up sheep or moving them in one direction. Sometimes looking for strays, but the dogs I've met were not highly trained or tasked.

 

It may tie in to another thread, about how Border Collies of today compare to those of a hundred years ago. My guess is the best of both ages would be comparable, but that there are more good dogs now. More breeding as discussed on this thread, and less of the 'I've a good dog & he has a good dog down the road' type. When travel meant by foot or hoof, the possibilities for finding just the right match must have been tough! That there are also plenty of wacko Border Collies now probably has more to do with the non-serious breeders and the people who own them. And, of course, the folks who breed for anything BUT working ability...

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I'm pretty sure if I contacted a good breeder and asked for a merle or red, I'd get a blistering response, or none at all!

 

If you were looking for a merle, this might indeed be the case, since you just won't find many in the working population as a whole (and by that I don't mean sport bred or anything else other than working bred to a very high standard). If you were looking for a red dog, maybe not so much, because as Becca pointed out there are several well-known lines that carry red (didn't Wiston Cap?), so red pups do occur in those lines. One of my favorite lines of dogs carries red, and red actually appears fairly often. That then becomes the case you mentioned earlier, where if a really nice cross is made and some pups are red, then there's no harm in choosing a red pup. If the cross was made to deliberately produce red above all else, well, that's another story.

 

J.

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When travel meant by foot or hoof, the possibilities for finding just the right match must have been tough!

There is some truth to that, but remember that in the UK, the distances aren't quite so vast (and the cocentration of good using dogs was probably greater, in general). And I think one reason that ISDS style trials took hold was because it was a way to evaluate what was out there instead of just settling for the dog right down the road.

 

J.

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It might also be good to keep in mind that purpose bred dogs follow what they're needed for. So, sheep located on different farms in local areas being similar, the "best" local dogs were probably fairly similar too. And if you're breeding for purpose, the good dog down the road might have been just right, since his owner's flock/purpose was similar to yours. We have to keep the livestock in mind too!

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Is there a website somewhere that lays out border collie colour genetics? I've spent eons studying equine colour genetics (oh lord, the appy colour genes & modifiers can make your head spin!), and it'd be interesting to see how dog genetics compare. For instance, there was a big hullabaloo about registering dilute Quarter Horses several years ago. My Nick is blue (not merle)- is that really just a black modifed by a dilute gene?

 

What about my sister's ancient border collie? She's red, but has "oil spots"- black hairs on her back & tail. Sable? Or just wierd? :rolleyes:

 

Thanks!

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Ben,

Here is the color genetics site that I really like. It's a sheltie site, but the genetics are the same. As for your Nck, yes, blue is a dilute gene acting on black.

 

I remember some very interesting horse color genetics discussions from back in the old Usenet days....

 

J.

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Yes, there's an "on/off" set of alleles that determines dilute.

 

The red dog with black spots might be either a sable type (is the nose black?) or a dog that "absorbed" a littermate that was black in utero. The color version of the five-legged cat or the two headed snake. In other words the skin there has different genetic material than the skin that produced red hair. I've seen this once - it was really weird.

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Oh yes! That's the term exactly! I can never remember. The dog I saw was red, so no doubt about HER genetics (liver pigmentation), so it was literally impossible for her to produce clear black anywhere. And yet there were two or three large (several inches diameter) deeply and solidly pigmented patches of black hair on her cheek, neck, and shoulder.

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I have read that the color is recessive and somewhat rare , but other than that they shouldn't cost more. I have a red/ yellow with eyes the same color as the coat. and i got my boy for free too I also got his sister Ariel ( owned by my mother or grandma to mr. goku) and she is all white with a salt and pepper nose, a lil brown on the ears and base of her tail.

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