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Fine boned, small BCs vs. the "typical"


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I've seen quite a few of the small, extremely fine boned border collies and a lot of the sturdier, medium boned border collies that are the size I'm used to seeing. Is there a genetic or other reason one type is preferred over the other? A friend of mine has a half-sibling to my big boned, musclebound 45 lbs boy (his entire litter are big strapping pups) and her 2 yr old is a tiny 25 lb fine-boned thing that is seriously barely bigger than my cat! Obviously, the mother of my friend's pup was a wee thing and produced all tiny, fine boned puppies. Why is there such a variation in the breed standard? How can such a fine-boned dog stand up to hard work and kicks? Note, I don't necessarily mean just smaller size- I'm talking super small, very fine bones here. How can pups sharing one parent be so different in size, build, temperment, etc.? Is it simply due to the other litter (i.e. the fine boned pups) being fairly inbred? Has any breeder seen this type of thing before? Why is one selected for over another?

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I'm not sure how small and how fine boned a dog you are describing....and I'm not sure what you mean about inbreeding.

 

However, in a broad generalization, you might find that lighter smaller border collies have better stamina and longer working lives (hold up better). They can be faster and quicker to turn/pivot. There are some small light dogs that just go and go and go.

 

A large framed dog has more bulk to lug around, more weight on joints and bones and more momentum in taking a fast turn or pivot. In some dogs, stamina could become an issue. You might not notice this unless you were working your dogs hard or expected your dogs to put in long days working.

 

There are many exceptions to my generalization.

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What makes you think they are inbred? I don't understand the question - isn't the whole driving philosophy behind the working border collie the idea of breeding for ability / complimentary abilities, and not size, shape or colour?

 

My Dexter is a Very TALLLLL dog. He is also very long. He's not huge over all - he is slender, and fine boned (but has a really big head) and thin chested, and only weighs about 45 lbs, so he's not a monster (just a giraffe). His siblings are all very tall and long. His mother is very petite, so who knew all the pups would turn out so big? He can go all day.

 

But so can Piper, who is itty bitty and tops out at like 29lbs on a fat day. I don't know if she's "inbred" (but I know Dex isn't) but I know lots of other dogs who are in her size range and are not. Why the assumption it has something to do with inbreeding, and isn't just all about the way it turned out?

 

RDM

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If a border collie is truly the size of a cat, I'd wonder if something is wrong with the animal. A "miniature" BC would be an aberration, yes.

 

But if you just mean smaller, lighter-boned BCs ... you know there is no physical "breed standard," as such, among working border collies. I'm not a breeder, but I think size is incidental when breeders are looking for working qualities. They're looking less at physical "type" and more at what working qualities would compliment their breeding pairs. (Outrun, driving ability, amount of eye, power, etc.)

 

See, my two dogs are brother and sister, different litters but same way bred. Nick, the elder, is a sturdy, muscley boy of about 50 pounds, while little sister Gael is a petite, slender, whippet-like girl of about 30 pounds. Neither dog looks exactly like either parent, it was just the luck of the genetic draw how they turned out, in size.

 

However ... it's seemed to me that Gael may actually have more endurance than her big brother. He's powerful and fast and uses himself like a steam locomotive. Gael meanwhile goes flitting about like a lawn dart, and she simply never gets tired. It seems to me there may sometimes be something said for a light, nimble dog who uses himself economically, over a powerful, heavy one who uses himself harder.

 

As for weathering kicks ... I don't use my dogs on cows, so getting kicked is not an issue, but I don't think size would save a dog if they truly got nailed by a cranky range cow.

 

At any rate, unless a dog is actually "miniature" in size, I have yet to see lesser physical stature as being any detriment to their ability to work. Some of the toughest BCs I've seen have been wee, wiry dogs who simply had no give-up or quit in them. :)

 

For my part, I reckon livestock aren't looking at the size of the dog in the fight. They're looking at the size of the fight in the dog. ;)

 

~ Gloria

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Re: being kicked. Seems to me a smaller dog would more easily duck under a kick. Isn't that the reason given for all those shorter breeds that were originally designed to work cattle?

 

I think there's male/female dimorphism, and if you get a female on the small end of the female range and compare it to a male on the large end of the male range they might seem hugely different. But realistically I would think there are advantages and disadvantages that go along with either size extreme. When I look at my pack, I see a lot of differences in shape/size, and yet all generally fall within a 10-lb weight range, with females on the lower side and males on the upper side (with one exception--a male who weighs closer to what the females weigh).

 

I have two littermates. The male approaches 45-50 lbs and is all muscle. The female is maybe 30 lbs if she's lucky, and also all muscle. Nothing wrong with either dog, and they have both worked cattle and sheep. The male has been kicked more often than the female, but that's most likely due to the fact that the male likes to get up close and personal when maybe he shouldn't rather than relative size.

 

I have seen a couple of teensy border collies, all of whom had normal size littermates, which says to me that the individual was simply something of an anamoly. Of course with the American public's apparent obsession with all things miniaturized, it wouldn't surprise me if some folks weren't deliberately breeding for small size.

 

J.

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Also if your 25 lb dog is only "barely bigger" than your cat you own one scary kitten....

 

Actually my cat is pretty small for the typical stray where I was raised although when people see her they think she's a giant so perhaps I'm used to big cats? She is scary though, try being on the recieving end of one of her dog hunting expeditions. . .

 

Someone mentioned American's loving to minaturize things which is definitely true, I sure hope no one breeds a line of 10 lb border collie though. Might be cute but probably a handful! On stamina I can say that although Loki's half sister runs all day in spurts my big boy has more endurance. He actually works longer than most adults I've seen and doesn't seem to tire, something thats been commented on a few times. Its probably because he has a lot of thick muscle while his half-sibs have little amounts of ropy muscle?

On inbreeding, I know his half-sibs are inbred because I know their pedigree and was amazed at such a close cross. Of course, I've had bad experiences with inbred dogs before, have taken way too many genetics classes, and therefore a bit wary of them when it comes to purchasing one. I wouldn't get one unless it was free and/or I really, really liked the parents. But although I know that inbreeding might fix certain traits it still amazes me at the vast difference between half-siblings. I guess sharing one parent doesn't really contribute as much of an overall effect as I expected?

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I think it's more of a crap shoot, isn't it? I don't have a lot of experience with the breeding aspect, since mine are all rescues. I don't think things like stamina and standing up to hard work are really based much in size, either. Again, just a crap shoot. I have two male border collies that are fine boned (one more so than the other) and both top out at 30 lbs. Alex has more speed and stamina than two 45+ lbs, heavy boned border collies I know. I think it just depends.

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There is no physical standard for Border Collies, so you can find dogs than range from 25 to 75 lbs quite easily. Years ago I knew one that was 19 lbs. Her full littermate brother was a solid 45 lbs. When people breed for work and not for physical traits you tend to get a wide variety of dogs.

 

Size has nothing to do with inbreeding levels (coefficient of inbreeding). You can create a line of very small dogs by inbreeding on a small ancestor, but the actual inbreeding itself doesn't cause the size reduction.

 

I don't care how large or small my dogs are and have owned everything from a solid 55 lb male to a 27 lb bitch. Incidentally, the big male is the great uncle to the tiny bitch.

 

Oops, I hit send before I was done.

 

Endurance and longevity are not a function of size so much as structure and overall physiology. Some dogs will have a ratio of slow vs fast twitch muscle fibers that is more conducive to endurance vs sprinting. Some dogs have better bone structure than others, so will have fewer injuries. For reasons that we are still trying to understand, some animals (and people) age faster than others.

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Endurance and longevity are not a function of size so much as structure and overall physiology.

 

And as to the work, I don't see how plus or minus 20 pounds would matter. The sheep weigh 150 pounds or so each, and there are way more of them! For perspective, this is Scott Glen's Don with the yearlings at Soldier Hollow last year:

 

996471565_PGQsY-M.jpg

 

And Tommy Wilson's Sly moving the ladies right along:

 

996480514_nWXqR-M.jpg

 

Actually, it was just fun to look at the pictures!

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On inbreeding, I know his half-sibs are inbred because I know their pedigree and was amazed at such a close cross. Of course, I've had bad experiences with inbred dogs before, have taken way too many genetics classes, and therefore a bit wary of them when it comes to purchasing one. I wouldn't get one unless it was free and/or I really, really liked the parents.

So you have some opinions on line/in-breeding, you've had bad experiences with inbred dogs before, and you wouldn't entertain the thought of getting one unless it was free?!? blink.gif That's just ... odd.

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So you have some opinions on line/in-breeding, you've had bad experiences with inbred dogs before, and you wouldn't entertain the thought of getting one unless it was free?!? blink.gif That's just ... odd.

 

I guess I should rephrase: I wouldn't be as concerned if it was free or a rescue because the dog would be spayed/neutered and I wouldn't be supporting certain breeding practices directly. Plus I wouldn't have as much invested in the dog financially and would know up front that there would probably be issues so I would be more prepared emotionally to deal with hard choices.

 

Thanks Liz on your explanation of endurance and size, very interesting. I've had all sizes myself but since I haven't bred any of them I have a limited view of their abilities.

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I wouldn't be supporting certain breeding practices directly. Plus I wouldn't have as much invested in the dog financially and would know up front that there would probably be issues [emphasis added] so I would be more prepared emotionally to deal with hard choices.

Really? Do you really believe that inbreeding/line breeding automatically = issues? That's an extremely limited view. Most breeds have had traits fixed (and that includes working traits) through some form if inbreeding/line breeding. Rare breeds have been successfully preserved through judicious inbreeding.

 

Yes, inbreeding can concentrate the bad as well as the good. But a breeder worth his/her salt is prepared for the bad and culls. Such breeders generally also know their lines so well that they can fairly accurately predict the outcomes of the crosses they make.

 

Personally I'd be more inclined to buy from a working breeder whose lines were predictable than from someone who's breeding out crosses willy nilly with no real idea of what the result might be.

 

Inbreeding and line breeding have their place in a breeding program, at least for conscientious and experienced breeders. Condemning the practice wholesale and implying that the practice always produces animals with problems just reflects ignorance of accepted breeding practices.

 

(And yes, I have a crazy inbred dog, and I'd be willing to bet that at least some of his issues--or the predisposition toward those behaviors--stems from how he was bred, but I can also say that he was the product of a couple of backyard breeders; that is, not the sort of breeder that should be undertaking that kind of breeding, assuming the fact of the inbreeding even crossed their minds.... BTW, he's normal sized and healthy as a horse at 12 years old.)

 

J.

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Really? Do you really believe that inbreeding/line breeding automatically = issues? That's an extremely limited view. Most breeds have had traits fixed (and that includes working traits) through some form if inbreeding/line breeding. Rare breeds have been successfully preserved through judicious inbreeding.

 

Yes, inbreeding can concentrate the bad as well as the good. But a breeder worth his/her salt is prepared for the bad and culls. Such breeders generally also know their lines so well that they can fairly accurately predict the outcomes of the crosses they make.

 

I have seen some successful inbreeding litters and in some cases it can be useful. I avoid it in general because I've seen successful quality breeders produce some messes from inbreeding attempts and I wouldn't want to pass on that issue to someone else (I've been the one who got the problem dog before and I can't imagine doing that to someone else). Also, inbreeding limits the gene pool as does mass breeding to popular sires which may or may not lead to issues in future generations. I think in moderation just about anything can be a useful tool but how does a breeder know when enough is enough? I'd rather (and have) get a pup from someone who does little inbreeding (yes, I think everyone may chose to inbreed on ocassion) and still produces generation after generation of solid working dogs.

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I prefer a smaller working dog but it has nothing to do with working ability (where I've never noticed a difference). Rather, I find it much easier to heft my 28 lb bitch(es) in and out of paddocks and to fit on a 4-wheeler than my larger 40 - 50 lb dogs.

 

Kim

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Julie, I thought of your Lark as soon as I saw the title to this thread. :) It's a pleasure to watch the wee miss work. B)

 

Oh - and as I am the product of centuries of some pretty close breeding, I'd like to thank you for pointing out that the practice is successful at fixing superior traits. :D Although I have a cousin or two whose DNA I am not happy to share - for evidentiary purposes. :blink:;)

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I'd rather (and have) get a pup from someone who does little inbreeding (yes, I think everyone may chose to inbreed on ocassion) and still produces generation after generation of solid working dogs.

 

Interestingly enough, Loki's dam and littermates were bred to be flyball dogs, not working dogs. The flyball passion of the girls diminished and the dogs were left with their mother to get back into herding with. But the fact remains that they were not bred for working ability at all.

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Interestingly enough, Loki's dam and littermates were bred to be flyball dogs, not working dogs. The flyball passion of the girls diminished and the dogs were left with their mother to get back into herding with. But the fact remains that they were not bred for working ability at all.

It's not clear what you're trying to say here. Are you saying the litter was small dogs intended for flyball who have shown instead an aptitude for working?

 

J.

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It's not clear what you're trying to say here. Are you saying the litter was small dogs intended for flyball who have shown instead an aptitude for working?

 

J.

 

 

Something along those lines though I wouldn't be caught with a dog out of any of the three in that litter due to past events. My point is that she says she prefers to purchase a dog that is bred for it's working ability though that isn't the case in that particular litter. They were bred primarily for flyball and herding as an after thought. I also have a dog bred for flyball/agility who will probably never see stock as I'm not near anyone that I know of whom I would trust him with, but I don't pretend that he was bred for herding.

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I'm still confused. Does Crawford Dogs own one of the dogs you're talking about?

 

J.

 

 

The mother of her dog, Loki, is a dog that was bred specifically for flyball as was her mother, and as a smaller end border collie as well. I'm not sure how big or small Loki is. The point was that she was criticizing inbreeding and saying that she would only take an inbred dog if it was free or if she really really loved the parents and that she only purchases her dogs from dogs bred for their working ability on both sides. I'm just pointing out that isn't completely the truth and she is more or less the pot calling the kettle black. She says she wants to purchase from someone who produces generation after generation of working dogs, but since these dogs were not working dogs, but were primarily flyball dogs and bred for flyball, then she is not being truthful or honest with herself maybe. Some of the best herding dogs are slightly, if not more, inbred to keep the workign ability as strong as they are. I'm just confused myself how she criticizes then turns around and does the opposite of what she claims. Like I said, I don't care how the dogs are bred, just be honest about it. I have both herding and sport bred dogs as well as a couple of rescues of unknown breeding, but I'm honest about where they came from and what they were bred for.

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