Jump to content
BC Boards

oops, wrong thread

Recommended Posts

Posted this in the wrong thread… (sorry)


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?”


Quote from “ejano” in response to the above:

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.


My response:

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?


Link to comment
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...