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Herding with a mix?-UPDATE

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So, I think I've got a BC mix. He came from a rescue, so who really knows. I've had some people say 1)he could be all bc (no way) 2)he appears to be at least 50% bc 3)he has no bc at all in him.


Then you know what they say...put him on sheep, then you'll be able to tell, since it's not all about what they look like, it's about the working instinct. But, I've also heard that mixes really don't show much herding instinct or ability.


Would it be worth it to see if he shows any interest or instinct in herding? And I don't mean just as a way to prove one way or another that he's got some bc in him, I mean just to check it out and see if he'd enjoy it.


But, on the other hand, if there's no chance he'll show any interest, I'm leary of going out there and having him try to eat the sheep! :rolleyes:


I'm just kickin' around this stuff in my head...when I'm supposed to be working!

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If you get the chance, go for it. I've had plenty of mixes out at my place. What most mixes do is simply show supreme lack of interest, or great interest in the getting the heck out of there! Haven't had a single one do any significant damage - while so-called purebred "herding breeds" have been the worst at being a little too, uh, enthusiastic that first time out.


Try to work with someone who knows what they are doing and has a lot of experience introducing new dogs to sheep. Such a person can bring out the best in your dog and give him the best possible experience. Also don't work him the first time in an environment where you will be disappointed about losing a lot of money or where you will be overly worried about what others think (ie, a clinic or trial).


You won't work your dog yourself the first time, with 99% of trainers. The environment is tightly controlled, with gentle sheep and a small area. Your instructor should be experienced at stepping in long before any situation gets even close to dangerous.


Go for it! Of course, the worst danger is that you'll contract the herding bug yourself, whether Jack likes it or not :rolleyes:

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Keep in mind that a number of modern herding "breeds" were created using crosses of other breeds (i.e., "mixes"). A few examples include ACD's, Australian Shepherds, and Kelpies. The following is a quote from the "Herding On The Web" website:

Mixed breeds have also served as helpful herders, and, as is the case with most other breeds, crosses played their part in the development of many herding breeds. Frequently-seen crosses on farms and ranches in America today involve various blends of Border Collie, Australian Shepherd and Australian Cattle Dog. The German Shepherd X Rough Collie was popular as a farm dog for many years in the Midwest.
Thus, there is always the potential that a mixed-breed dog with herding breed lineage could perform very well in herding; then again, maybe not...
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Jack....! I love him [heart].


I don't know a thing about stockdog instructors in Florida. (I do know that Burmese pythons are breeding in the wild there, however. :rolleyes: I would never let my dogs out of my sight Yeahright2.gif ) Seriously, there must be a good instructor near you, and I think it would be great to take Jack to stock. Does he have a decent recall? A lie-down? Even if he doesn't turn out to have the chops for big courses, if he has the right combination of prey drive and biddability, you could easily call him a border collie or a McNab and run him in AHBA and ASCA arena trials. I'm sure it would help if the trainer has worked with "non-traditional" breeds. I noticed with the local Ridgebacks that once they clicked and were circling the sheep and looking keen [only three of them managed to do this], the tiniest, most gentle touch of a crook at the dog's shoulder would make them quit for good and head for the gate.

But, on the other hand, if there's no chance he'll show any interest, I'm leary of going out there and having him try to eat the sheep! :D
([whispers] My pit bulls are both afraid of sheep ohwell.gif ) As long as Jack doesn't have to be surgically removed :D with a decent instructor you should be OK.


Good luck, and keep us posted!

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Becca offered up her sheep as sacrifice for me to try my mix Bree out on sheep for our first time ever. I was secretly concerned that she'd become a sheep eating maniac (Bree, not Becca). But all she did really was chase them around a bit, and bark very loudly, and rather shrilly I might add. She was too afraid to try to bite them. :rolleyes: That, they say, was the beginning of the end for me.


I think if you can find a trainer in your area, that would be WAY cool! Yah, you might be bit by the herding bug. But look at it this way - if that happens, and Jack doesn't find it to his liking, aaaaaaand you happen to decide to get another Border Collie, you now know a lot about where to go to start looking for your next dog!! :D

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FWIW, I've taken my BC mix (BC/whippet) to stock, and he's actually not bad, all things considered. He has plenty of eye (well, he IS a sight-hound cross), has a natural gather, and will crouch and stare and slink along behind the stock in classical BC manner. This is amusing in view of the fact that in appearance he owes only his Irish markings to the BC half; in shape and coat he is ALL whippet, and not exactly what you're expecting to see in the stock pens. He moves in a totally sight-hound fashion, as well - until he sees stock. The transformation is fairly striking: suddenly he's head-low and creeping around the sheep in Mata Hari style. He did make the novice mistake of cutting in too tighly and splitting his stock, but he also - to my astonishment - paused to consider the dilemma and then went and gathered the stray ewe and returned it to the group. (Oddly, when thinking this over, the head came up like a gazelle on alert, total sighthound posture. You could see him make the decision - head comes down again, more slinking about.) The bad news is that he has about 1/10 the drive of either of the BC's in the house, and is inclined to stop for important events such as leaning against my leg &/or sitting on my foot. However, now that I've found a new coach (and as soon as I'm off call on the appropriate night again!) :mad: we're going out again to see if his drive has increased with maturity.


If you can find a trainer who will not be contemptuous of the thought of trying a could-be-mix on stock, it might be worth a shot. You can always decide not to go again if it you or Jack don't like it. (I didn't try my mix at my last coach because of the look of ill-concealed disgust on her face at the mention of it.) The new trainer is very easy-going and has no agenda about breeds (be it any particular purebred, or a mix). I do have to warn you, however, that it can be VERY addicting, so proceed with caution! :rolleyes:

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Got for it!


Keep in mind that LOTS of other dogs can "do" herding - they just don't show eye like border collies. I have seen Rotties, Belgians, corgies, komondork, pulik, and lots of other dogs herd sheep - they just don't have eye. So really, almost any dog "can" do it - but border collies tend to be the few that actually look like they are doing it! :rolleyes:


Have fun, get addicted, tell us all about it. :D

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Thanks for the advice, everyone! It's much appreciated.


I think we'll give it a try! Most of the border collie people I know all use the same trainer, Angie something or other, and she's about an hour or so from me. What I'll do is tag along with one of my friends to to check it out, and talk to Angie then. My dog training club has gone to her for "herding days", where they give each dog a little lesson, and I know mixes have participated in that, so she shouldn't have a problem with Jack being a mix.


Luisa-he does have a decent recall and a good lie-down, but thanks for the heads up. We'll work on those even more before we give it a whirl.


I'll keep you guys posted. Thanks again!

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  • 4 months later...

Hey, guys! I know I'm resurrecting a long dead thread, but I wanted to give an update.


Jack met sheep for the first time yesterday. It was part of our training club's "herding day", so a good place to start, just to see if he had any interest at all.


Angie, the trainer, had DH walk him around the pen on leash to see how he reacted to the sheep. He was fine, so the leash was removed and DH stepped to the side. Jack was very interested in the sheep, and started circling. He didn't run willy-nilly or bark at all, he seemed to "get it" right away. It all happened so fast, so I need to watch the video to be sure, but I think she was able to get him to change directions, too. I wouldn't say his balance was great (I hope that's the right term), but I think he did decently for his first time seeing sheep.


He wasn't pushy or aggressive with the sheep. He didn't grip, but I saw one "air snap" at a sheep's face. He was confident and comfortable, and listened very well to Angie and DH.


There are pictures in the photo section, if you want to have a look. He won't win any style points, but he gets an "A" for effort.


I wasn't even in the pen and I had a blast! Whether or not DH wants to continue, I'm already looking to see if we can fit a lesson in next month. :rolleyes: Thanks to all of you who encouraged us to try it.

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