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One more thought from a “newbie.”

I’ve been keeping track of this thread because I am new – read inexperienced – with this breed and I made one post earlier. (on page 4 of the thread) Since then I’ve learned some things about BCs and BC people. I did read the “read this first” statement and found it completely sensible. (I actually do take exception to one statement – I don’t think it’s OK to breed any domestic animal strictly for appearance. It always leads to problems.)

The language in this thread still seems pretty rank sometimes, but I am a bit closer to understanding why it is so provoking to some BC folk to see what’s going on in the AKC and the dogs registered by them, especially those being bred for the breed ring.

Interestingly, the Border Collie that I have always had in my mind as “typical” for the breed has much more in common with the dogs I see pictures of in these boards. (That picture, by the way is usually a wide-angle shot, and almost always has livestock in it.)

In the last few days I looked at some dogs being called Border Collies – Clan Abby dogs and others – to try and see if I could discover something about how and where my own dog, a rescue, originated. She has a number of missing premolars – presumably from birth. Anyway, I was quite surprised at how different those dogs looked from that internal picture that I’ve been carrying around. I was very interested in my own reaction too. It wasn’t the heavy coat or the boxy shape of so many of them that I found dismaying, although the exaggerated stop, broad head and heavy bone were rather off-putting. No, it was the apparent lack of animation – the complacent expression that jarred with me. Where was the fire and intensity that I associate with this breed? Ok, so maybe these dogs shouldn’t be called Border Collies.

I re-read my earlier post, mentioned above, and felt a little, er, sheepish. Ok, so I didn’t get it. Now I do – a little better. And although I still have a little trouble with the term “Barbie Collie,” I have come up with a new name for the AKC’s version (perversion?) of the Border Collie. How about the “American Ribbon Retriever?”

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Glad to see that you are reading and pondering what you've read. And, I apologize for not replying yet to your PM but I was very busy and just haven't gotten around to it. I hope to rectify that in the next day or two.

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No, it was the apparent lack of animation – the complacent expression that jarred with me. Where was the fire and intensity that I associate with this breed?

 

Over the years I've had BCs one thing I've noticed was the intense look you get from a BCs face especially when they want something. Look at them closely when you talk to them watch the face and the eyes as the head is cocked to one side.

 

When I look at Abby, my rough collie, the look on her face is that of a dog. I can tell when she's happy, sad, hungry or whatever but there is no holding a conversation with her for she is just a dog. Enter Jin, wide eyed, inquisitive, intelligent, a thinker among dogs. You know what he wants, a ball, walk, food whatever but you know. It's that intensitiy that makes a BC. that's what we breed them for not looks or color. I love my black and white BC but it wouoldn't have mattered even f he was a muddy colored tri. He.s still a BC and that's what it's about. Thought not looks.

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I really reluctantly this discussion but I have to point out that my Robin has " exaggerated stop, a broad head [sort of ] and heavy bone" and he is from very strong herding lines -- his paternal grandfather was in fact a national herding champion (and had a strong stop) and his maternal grandmother was a Scottish import. Robin is a handsome red dog with a beautiful rough medium length coat. His eyes are greenish gold. His litter mate Brodie, is a piebald with a medium silky coat, lighter boned and whippet thin but he does have a rather abrupt stop as well. They both have bigger muzzles than some might like to see on a Border Collie. These dogs were bred for their potential herding ability, which is a good thing because their color and conformation are all over the map.

 

I had a rescue dog out of the pet lines - he was oversized - almost as big as the Lassie Collies , big boned, broad head, and wouldn't have known a sheep if it bit him (we tried him out). He'd been with elderly owners who walked him and gave him beautiful manners but weren't very active with him. The only thing he chased with any zeal was, sadly, cars. He had the nature of a gentle giant and was smart as a whip when it came to language. His markings and rough coat were a beautiful representation of the "tuxedo" pattern most commonly associated with Border Collies. But when I turned him loose in the back field and he discovered he could run, what a beautiful sight he was! He's buried on the edge of that field and his spirit runs freely over the green grass.

 

Our other rescue, Ladybug is more in line with the appearance of a working dog - smaller, faster, an obvious tuck, and with the prey drive of a grizzly bear. I suspect she was trained for flyball. She would indeed perform on sheep if we asked, but lacking papers and a documented history, and appropriate herding training, she's nothing more than a very pretty lady who loves to chase down a ball and hunt mice in the field. If one adopts a rescue, make sure its spayed/neutered (Ladybug wasn't, though her paperwork said she was - the scar was in fact from a C-section) and wait for it to settle down and then it will show you what it likes best to do.

 

It seems to me that the biggest problem is that folks pick up pups from herding lines that weren't selected for livestock work, then don't have them neutered but rather breed them to perhaps an inferior performer or one whose soundness has not been tested - or worse, breed them for unusual markings and colors and then market them to the pet or show world, whose owners can't figure out why these dogs are going wild and dump them.

 

 

I believe in retaining the Border Collie as a true working dog with a solid, healthy conformation that can vary, so its best to look at the registration papers before judging the dog by appearance. Separate registries are the best solution because the herding function is the purpose of the Border Collie's existence. But why not simply refer to the AKC lines as AKC Border Collies and be done with "barbie" "ribbon" etc? This "barbie" name upsets me because it sounds like it belongs in the category of racial slurs applied to humans.

 

Here's Ladybug in the lead, followed by Robin, then Brodie...check out the ear position!

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IShe would indeed perform on sheep if we asked, but lacking papers and a documented history, and appropriate herding training, she's nothing more than a very pretty lady who loves to chase down a ball and hunt mice in the field.

 

I just wanted to clarify that "lacking papers" does not preclude any dog from participating in USBCHA type trials. Nor does lack of a documented history. Training, however, is necessary.

 

J.

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Ok, first I want to say that I wasn't trying to say that big-boned or coaty dogs were a bad thing, just that they are not what comes to mind to me when I think "Border Collie." Breeding for head properties has made a wreck of the Rough Collie, and I wouldn't want to see it become a priority in the BC. Same for coat characteristics. Clearly, overall soundness and herding ability must be priorities.

Nor would I ever condemn an individual dog for not having my favorite look or behavioral characteristics. What I meant to say was that like many dogs bred for the breed ring, I see that "nobody home" look in the eyes of many (not all) of the BCs I've looked at from AKC conformation lines.

I don't know much about how the conformation BC got started. Perhaps there was a line of working stock dogs with heavy coats, specific head characteristics and the classic tuxedo coloring that were selected to "found" a conformation line. If so it's an easy step to select for those physical characteristics without any attempt to retain herding ability and working temperament. Thus down the road to the "Barbie."

After following the "Barbie Boards" thread, I was intrigued, and yes, a little put off by the venom in some of the posts. But after reading, looking and thinking, I began to see what was at stake for these people and to understand their passion and anger about the subject. I signed up with the BC Boards to learn about BCs. And boy! Talk about a crash-course!

It's great. I'm well rewarded for the time spent here.

Oh, and as for the "American Ribbon Retriever" comment - it was an attempt at levity... Just a joke.

As for my own BC. She will probably never see a sheep. I am disabled and her work is to help me do what I need to do. She's happy, and will never be bred - I got her spayed. But she's the "bestest dog that ever was" to me. And that's as it should be, don'cha think?

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I don't know much about how the conformation BC got started. Perhaps there was a line of working stock dogs with heavy coats, specific head characteristics and the classic tuxedo coloring that were selected to "found" a conformation line. If so it's an easy step to select for those physical characteristics without any attempt to retain herding ability and working temperament. Thus down the road to the "Barbie."

 

Interesting thoughts. If all Border Collies came from working stock it makes you wonder when "they" adopted (not let in the books but decided this was the right type) the big bone OZ type dog. Was there a nice working happened to have that look dog that stuck out to someone and they decided that was what a border collies should look like from now on? Or did it develope like the tame fox, bred for something other than work, did they all turn into that "type" dog and the rest is history???

 

Very strange to think about it that way.

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Interesting thoughts. If all Border Collies came from working stock it makes you wonder when "they" adopted (not let in the books but decided this was the right type) the big bone OZ type dog. Was there a nice working happened to have that look dog that stuck out to someone and they decided that was what a border collies should look like from now on? Or did it develope like the tame fox, bred for something other than work, did they all turn into that "type" dog and the rest is history???

 

Very strange to think about it that way.

 

Strange indeed - but it happens... Look at the (AKC) Chinese Crested, and some of the other toys. The case of the Shetland Sheepdog is interesting too. Many people think of them as miniature collies, but their early origins were quite different. They were more of a spitz-type dog used for a variety of purposes including herding. The came the BC and Rough Collie infusions. The first AKC Sheltie's dam was a rough Collie bitch. If you look at the evolution of the breed, their heads look more and more like an AKC-type Rough Collie. Shelties are famed for doing well in obedience and agility, and I like them in general. But it seems to me that the majority of Sheltie breeders are focused on the look of the dog - of making tiny Lassies (with extra color choices!)

And it doesn't stop with dogs. The entire breed of Scottish Fold cats was based on the members of one litter. Talk about a narrow gene pool! Then there's the American Show Horse - a "breed" developed by crossing Arabians with Saddlebreds. People sometimes disagree with me, but it seems to me that this animal was created to look a certain way, and do well in shows - end of story. Why is there a registry for Palomino horses? As colors go it is beautiful, yes, but somewhat of a rarity. Wise horsemen will tell you why - skin sensitive to sun and pressure sores, weak, shelly hooves, and some say light-sensitive eyes. Not ideal for an animal that works all day! (My apologies to those of you with sound, working Palominos!)

The more I think about these issues the less trouble I have with the term "Barbie Collies." Barbie, Barbie, Barbie! There I said it. And I don't feel bad...

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I think it was simply a matter of the Australian type dogs were already being shown in conformation and so that look was already fixed in the conformation breeders' (and perhaps more importantly, judges') minds when the border collie was recognized here. Since it's human nature to want to win, it makes sense that as soon as AKC recognized the breed folks would import dogs with AU/NZ lines since that was already the established look. And of course it just snowballed from there.

 

FWIW, the AU/NZ dogs were originally developed from imported working bloodlines. As with many breeds, it took a while before the bench show dog began to look signficantly different from the working-bred dog. As I noted above, the Americans just decided to take the shortcut and import the genetics to get the look that the folks down under took a while to create.

 

J.

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I just wanted to clarify that "lacking papers" does not preclude any dog from participating in USBCHA type trials. Nor does lack of a documented history. Training, however, is necessary.

 

J.

 

Excellent point... in our case, Ladybug was already four years old when we got her and she had a history of abuse that makes her quite shy, particularly of women. We picked up Scotty (the other rescue at a sheep farm, and she cued right in on the sheep, even at six years old, but she was hiding behind my husband when she did it. She might have accepted the training, but it would have been a difficult road for her and the trainer.

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Ok, first I want to say that I wasn't trying to say that big-boned or coaty dogs were a bad thing, just that they are not what comes to mind to me when I think "Border Collie." Breeding for head properties has made a wreck of the Rough Collie, and I wouldn't want to see it become a priority in the BC. Same for coat characteristics. Clearly, overall soundness and herding ability must be priorities.

Nor would I ever condemn an individual dog for not having my favorite look or behavioral characteristics. What I meant to say was that like many dogs bred for the breed ring, I see that "nobody home" look in the eyes of many (not all) of the BCs I've looked at from AKC conformation lines.

I don't know much about how the conformation BC got started. Perhaps there was a line of working stock dogs with heavy coats, specific head characteristics and the classic tuxedo coloring that were selected to "found" a conformation line. If so it's an easy step to select for those physical characteristics without any attempt to retain herding ability and working temperament. Thus down the road to the "Barbie."

After following the "Barbie Boards" thread, I was intrigued, and yes, a little put off by the venom in some of the posts. But after reading, looking and thinking, I began to see what was at stake for these people and to understand their passion and anger about the subject. I signed up with the BC Boards to learn about BCs. And boy! Talk about a crash-course!

It's great. I'm well rewarded for the time spent here.

Oh, and as for the "American Ribbon Retriever" comment - it was an attempt at levity... Just a joke.

As for my own BC. She will probably never see a sheep. I am disabled and her work is to help me do what I need to do. She's happy, and will never be bred - I got her spayed. But she's the "bestest dog that ever was" to me. And that's as it should be, don'cha think?

 

 

I'm sorry if you thought I was taking offense...just pointing out the wide variety of appearances even in the herding lines. We haven't even discussed ears...three dogs...three different sets of ears!

 

Robin will be a helpmate as well -- he is very calm in all of the situations to which I've exposed him so far....his first trip in an elevator was be more than acceptable and he'll be heavy enough to handle a backpack or help someone get up if they fall. Brodie is another matter -- he's all herding dog and a bit reactive on the side and his first reaction to everything is, should I round it up or run from it? I had him in PetSmart the other day and his first sight was one of those little pocketbook dogs barking his head off while the owner tried to stuff him in a pumpkin costume. Totally freaked Brodie out for a few minutes....not that I blame him! He's so good with people though. There's a little boy (6 - 8years old) in our obedience class that has a German Shepherd pup which already he can't handle. The pup is nice but the little boy isn't strong enough physically or able to be firm with her as he's very shy and retiring. He liked Brodie an awful lot and without a word from the little boy (he doesn't speak either) Brodie cuddled right up to him. It was nice to see a little boy and a comforting dog together.

 

Liz

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I think a large part of the reason that Barbie Collies look the way they do is because all show dogs tend to converge on a generic show dog type -- squareish, lots of bone, lots of coat (for coated breeds), conformation and carriage that emphasizes a head-up, chest-out sort of habitus. I think it was Heather Nadelman who originally pointed this out, and I think the observation is spot on.

 

In AKC dogs, this is exacerbated by the fact that the revised Border Collie standard essentially says "anything goes," which means that judges, lacking an actual standard to judge dogs by, can just put up whatever strikes their fancy. Far from broadening the acceptable phenotype in the breed ring, I think the current standard will probably narrow it since fashion is a very strong homogenizing influence.

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This is a subject that will never have an end.

 

Is there anything that precludes a Barbie Collie from working stock or doing any other kind of work?

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Is there anything that precludes a Barbie Collie from working stock

Uh, yeah...genetics (lack of breeding for working ability),

A

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Put it this way: several of you have mentioned that what you love about your border collies is the spark, the intelligence, the sense that "someone's in there." It seems to be a trait border collies of all breeding share to some degree, and that's great. It's a huge part of why we love them. Now imagine you somehow depended on that spark and intelligence for some or all of your livelihood (or even consider that what you like about your border collie is a major reason you are successfully competing in agility or flyball or whatever, and the reason you don't want to do these things with another breed). All is good because you and your border collie are a team, and you can work together to achieve your livelihood (or other goals), and you can continue to choose these intelligent border collies in the future to be your partners.

 

Now imagine that due to a major commercial organization's activity, many, many breeders are breeding out a little more of this spark with every generation. They don't mean to, but when they breed with the goal of carrying on other traits, this spark begins to erode. Lots of dogs still have some (though not all) of that spark, but you're starting to see less and less of it in the dogs you see. Many border collies are becoming just, well, vacant. They're nice dogs, but not the same thing at all. They don't seem anything like your border collie! Your dog still has "it," but you don't know if the next dogs you get will have it, and no other breed has it either so it's not like you can just get it somewhere else. In your eyes, that spark defines a border collie, and without it, they seem like "just another dog." You wonder, if this trend continues, whether in 20 years, 40 years, 60 years, any dogs with the spark your dogs have will even be around anymore.

 

For people who value working genetics, that is what is happening to the border collie. Just substitute "working ability" for "spark."

 

 

ETA: maybe I should have put this in the other thread. They've both sort of run together for me :rolleyes:

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Put it this way: several of you have mentioned that what you love about your border collies is the spark, the intelligence, the sense that "someone's in there." It seems to be a trait border collies of all breeding share to some degree, and that's great. It's a huge part of why we love them. Now imagine you somehow depended on that spark and intelligence for some or all of your livelihood (or even consider that what you like about your border collie is a major reason you are successfully competing in agility or flyball or whatever, and the reason you don't want to do these things with another breed). All is good because you and your border collie are a team, and you can work together to achieve your livelihood (or other goals), and you can continue to choose these intelligent border collies in the future to be your partners.

 

Now imagine that due to a major commercial organization's activity, many, many breeders are breeding out a little more of this spark with every generation. They don't mean to, but when they breed with the goal of carrying on other traits, this spark begins to erode. Lots of dogs still have some (though not all) of that spark, but you're starting to see less and less of it in the dogs you see. Many border collies are becoming just, well, vacant. They're nice dogs, but not the same thing at all. They don't seem anything like your border collie! Your dog still has "it," but you don't know if the next dogs you get will have it, and no other breed has it either so it's not like you can just get it somewhere else. In your eyes, that spark defines a border collie, and without it, they seem like "just another dog." You wonder, if this trend continues, whether in 20 years, 40 years, 60 years, any dogs with the spark your dogs have will even be around anymore.

 

For people who value working genetics, that is what is happening to the border collie. Just substitute "working ability" for "spark."

 

ETA: maybe I should have put this in the other thread. They've both sort of run together for me :rolleyes:

 

 

Reading that left me very depressed. It's why I never chose an Aussie, pretty dog, smart but no spark. I have now suddenly become aware that there are BCs without that spark and I feel sorry for them for they will never know the joy of a true partnership. OMG!!

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Well said, Laura. I got my one and only sheltie back in '82. In 2004 when DH & I decided we were ready to get a dog, I considered getting another sheltie since Niki was my 1st heart dog. Needless to say, the shelties of today are nothing like my Niki was. It broke my heart and I don't want anything like that to happen to the Border Collie breed.

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You don't really need to go far to find the heavy boned, wide head and hairy BC that the conformation folks like. There is plenty of breeding stock in southern Alberta where my best dog Pete is from to build yourself a show dog. Pete was bred from outstanding working lines by I assure you a breeder who is completely dedicated to working border collies. Poor Pete has no idea he is a fashion hit in the ring, he just wants his sheep and cows. On second thought perhaps I could hide his identity and get him a ribbon for looking so great. Perhaps if he wore sunglasses.

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I agree with Julie. Pete doesn't look conformation bred. I believe JJ is though. He's big boned, has the block headedness, has a snout that's IMO too short for his build, has that double undercoat and doesn't have a lick of herding instinct. There for a while I even wondered if he might have some Aussie in him.

 

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Well said, Laura. I got my one and only sheltie back in '82. In 2004 when DH & I decided we were ready to get a dog, I considered getting another sheltie since Niki was my 1st heart dog. Needless to say, the shelties of today are nothing like my Niki was. It broke my heart and I don't want anything like that to happen to the Border Collie breed.

 

Actually that's the same reason I am looking to switch to border collies. I've had quite a few and loved them all, very neat dogs. My last though was my only well bred dog- if you're looking at show pedigrees he was the best bred dog I've ever owned. He was the most incompetent animal in any sense. He was nothing like my previous shelties who were definitely from byb's by anyone's standards.

 

Any sheltie I have from now on will only be rescued. I hate what the show breeders are doing to that breed.

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This is Bandit, he is the closest to show breeding I have had, probably more sport, I've found many in his lines being used as AKC sport dogs. He arrived here after his owner could not care for him anymore, he was ABCA registered and his breeder wanted nothing to do with him.

 

He was limited to about a 100 yard outrun, though I suppose he could have gained more distance if I had put more time into him, but it did not come easy. He could easily earn titles in small field and arena formats if handled right, he had stock drive. Could he run open, doubt it, maybe in an arena, but not out in fields.

 

BTW, structurely, he was a nightmare. I was always amazed how many people would comment on how "Pretty" he was, I only saw a train wreck from a breeding standpoint, which maybe the only thing that saved him from having his ears glued down by his breeder...

 

 

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Actually that's the same reason I am looking to switch to border collies.

That's why we switched to Border Collies too and we still ended up with a Barbie Collie. :rolleyes:

 

FWIW, no one has ever referred to JJ as a Barbie Collie on this board or to my face but if they did, it wouldn't bother me. He is what he is through no fault of his own. And no one will ever be able to change my love for him. He's not from working lines but he still taught me a lot; good and bad. Because of him I looked for a BC discussion forum and found this board. And because of this board, I've been educated.

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Any sheltie I have from now on will only be rescued. I hate what the show breeders are doing to that breed.

 

What do you feel breeders are doing to the breed? It's been 11 years since I bought a Sheltie, so just wondering. I love the breed so much I have a hard time imagining being without one of them.

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