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A Common Misnomer


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Dear Doggers.

 

If you’re new to sheepdogs understand that when you tell an old timer - like this geezer – that you and your dog are “herding” you may hear a faint sigh.

 

Border Collies are “herding dogs” or even “herders”, right? “herding” is what they do, yes?

 

In a word, no.

 

In the day and nowadays in rural Britain men and a few women become “herds” – cowherds and shepherds. They are responsible for their charges’ nutrition, health, clipping, dipping and the delivery of their get to market. The shepherd’s work is a complex highly skilled vocation and they are assisted by collie dogs. Ads in “The Scottish Farmer” read” Shepherd wanted: must have two good dogs . . .” etc.

 

Perhaps someone knows when the AKC started dividing show dogs into groups: “Toy group”, “Hunting group” and, yes, “HERDING” group. I could research the date – post WW2? – but I already know more about the dog fancy than I want to.

 

The dog show folk who assigned dog breeds to a group may never worked with the dogs they were assigning (and naming) and, indeed, may never have SEEN them work – if the poor beasts still did. The first AKC Border Collie miscellaneous group standard was assigned by an executive who’d never seen a Border Collie

 

The rare working Bearded Collies are superb on large flocks, the rare working German Shepherd will guard his flock in the absence of a shepherd, at one time some Corgis were cattle drover’s dogs. They had, like the Rhodesian Ridgeback and Dalmation, a relationship with big prey animals. Dear me, what should dog fanciers call them?

 

Yep “Herding” dogs.

 

That’s where the misnomer came from, folks. Nowhere else. It is not a description of any dog activity.

 

We geezers call what our dogs do ”stock work” or “sheepwork” or “cattlework” – and no my dogs don’t “herd” – that’s what a human does, and we aren’t “herding” when we chase some helpless sheep around a round pen.

 

If you can pull a lamb and slap it into life, you may be a shepherd. It’s an honorable occupation. The dog that held that ewe until you could lay hands on her lamb's tiny protruding hooves, is a sheepdog doing sheepwork. It is neither a herd nor does it herd.

 

Confusing what humans do and feel with what dogs do and feel is, as you know, not uncommon.

 

Donald McCaig

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Thanks, Donald, for bringing this up. It is a point that has been made here before, but the term comes up more and more often recently. However, I would add one more thing:

Border Collies are “herding dogs” or even “herders”, right? “herding” is what they do, yes?

More often than not, we find that it is not Border Collies but "Borders" who are "herding." :rolleyes:

A

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More often than not, we find that it is not Border Collies but "Borders" who are "herding." :rolleyes:

 

Like many here, I suppose, I get frequent remarks about my dogs: "your borders are well behaved" (i.e they don't jump on and maul everyone), "your borders are very pretty", etc. As much as it galls us, the AKC and British KC have essentially defined the language around dogs and what we use among ourselves here is, properly speaking, jargon.

 

In general terms, "herding" simply means "working with a herd" and is vague and somewhat imprecise, but not really wrong when used by a member of the public for that purpose. It is wrong in all ways when used for chasing other dogs in the park, of course.

 

Donald is giving us a reminder to keep our language usage sharp and precise among ourselves. Until the demise of the AKC and other fancier organizations, there's probably little we can do about the general usage of such words.

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Guest echoica

wonderful article :D

 

previous to my time stalking this board i definitely would have chosen the word 'herd'. and i hear it often so it should be no surprise that so many chose to use it. especially, as pointed out, when kc standards dictate this functional grouping. i have come to appreciate the difference now...because border collies do indeed 'work'. i mean, what really do conformation border collies do other than look pretty? well, pretty is subjective because i would rather have a working border collie at my side than some of the fluffs you see at shows :rolleyes:

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Granted, I'm a tad odd. But, when I hear or read "Borders", I think of border terriers.

 

I know there are those who disagree, but I do tend to say "BC" when I don't say the whole "border collie". But never to strangers.

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I too think of Border Terriers, Nancy. I tried BC's, but people have thought bearded collies. Border collies, sheepdogs, collies (and I don't care what the Lassie people say), I think I'm sticking with those.

 

And the term herding --- once you've been exposed to working sheepdogs, it just no longer feels right.

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I am not meaning to be the devil's advocate here, but wouldn't the term "herding lesson" still be appropriate since a lot of us begginers know less than our dogs? My two definetly came out of the womb with more info on sheep than I did. I am learning how to herd and communicate with my dogs, my dogs are learning how to work sheep and decipher what the looney lady really means.

 

I understand some one who knows what they are doing would bring their dog to so and so's to work sheep, but some of us aren't quite to that point yet. We are still learning our part.

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I call it "working the dogs" because that's pretty much what it is :rolleyes:

 

I am not meaning to be the devil's advocate here, but wouldn't the term "herding lesson" still be appropriate since a lot of us begginers know less than our dogs? My two definetly came out of the womb with more info on sheep than I did. I am learning how to herd and communicate with my dogs, my dogs are learning how to work sheep and decipher what the looney lady really means.

 

I understand some one who knows what they are doing would bring their dog to so and so's to work sheep, but some of us aren't quite to that point yet. We are still learning our part.

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I am not meaning to be the devil's advocate here, but wouldn't the term "herding lesson" still be appropriate since a lot of us begginers know less than our dogs? My two definetly came out of the womb with more info on sheep than I did. I am learning how to herd and communicate with my dogs, my dogs are learning how to work sheep and decipher what the looney lady really means.

 

I understand some one who knows what they are doing would bring their dog to so and so's to work sheep, but some of us aren't quite to that point yet. We are still learning our part.

 

I think I would term it that you're learning stock work. It's a process for both you and the dogs.

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Dear Doggers,

 

Ms. Caena writes:]

I am not meaning to be the devil's advocate here, but wouldn't the term "herding lesson" still be appropriate since a lot of us begginers know less than our dogs?

 

I am pleased to see that "herding" lessons are available in Arizona. Those whose state extension services or ag school don't offer such a program may wish to enroll in http://www.pipestonesheep.com/. While nothing beats hands on experience, especially at lambing, Pipestone can be helpful.

 

Donald McCaig

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This is one of the draw backs of the internet, you cannot always be sure of someone's tone, especially on internet chat boards.

 

Mr. McCaig,

When you wrote:

I am pleased to see that "herding" lessons are available in Arizona. Those whose state extension services or ag school don't offer such a program may wish to enroll in http://www.pipestonesheep.com/. While nothing beats hands on experience, especially at lambing, Pipestone can be helpful.

 

Donald McCaig

 

Were you mocking my honest question or suggesting that more people learn about raising and owning sheep? I thought it best to ask before coming to any conclusion on the meaning of your answer to my question.

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:D:D

 

I dont think this is the right time to ask this , which is probably a foolish question , but: :rolleyes:

 

Why does the AKC only allows b/w BC to enter their breed/conformation shows ?

 

Are you sure about that? Granted, I know next to nothing about conformation, but I thought that the "breed standard" for AKC includes all the usual colors.

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Ive only seen b/w BC in the shows , never a red and white or any merles. So I just figured they only recognized b/w .

I have seen merle Collies and merle or tri Aussies , but never any other color then b/w BC.

I went to the Westminster back in 2005 and only saw b/w's.

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:D:D

 

I dont think this is the right time to ask this , which is probably a foolish question , but: :rolleyes:

 

Why does the AKC only allows b/w BC to enter their breed/conformation shows ?

 

AK breed standard reads:

"Color

The Border Collie appears in all colors or combination of colors and/or markings. Solid color, bi-color, tri-color, merle and sable dogs are to be judged equally with no one color or pattern preferred over another. White markings may be clear white or ticked to any degree. Random white patches on the body and head are permissible but should not predominate. Color and markings are always secondary to physical evaluation and gait."

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Although B&W appears to be the preferred color for conformation dogs, the breed standard accepts any color, but you have to factor in the judge's personal preference. No matter what they say, the whole thing is pretty arbitrary. There are bench champions in border collies who are other colors as well. There HAS to be. Breeding for color is a big money maker and if someone would rattle off the different colors in conformation border collies, you'd swear you were listening to a commercial for Lifesavers.

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