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Bridging division between Working Border Collie Tradition vs. “Working” Agility Dogs+Other Disciplines


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Because Ejano, other dogs just ain't smart enough, dog intelligence tests prove that all other dogs cannot compare with the B.C. intelligence....No agility dog can ever! touch a Border Collie. What dog can have name and object recognition of 500 words plus....No dog!!! You only breed the very top agility champion lines and only!!! from handlers who've got decades of experience in teaching agility, training for agility, who've got real proven titles and ranks and only if they keep close friends and contacts with the sheepherding community. If anyone fall short they are O-U-T!!!! All other agility dogs need to ideally come from the working border collie lines, because having a wide range of complex tasks, allows the B.C. to exercise those brain neurons and intelligence factors. The intelligence factor is what makes the border collie the best agility dog....No other breed can even touch or come close to what a Border Collie can do....

 

So why do you want to change it?

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Serena, I would like to invite you to our farm one day when we have some pups that we are raising. Our dogs are strictly working bred and I believe that after meeting them, playing with them and temperment testing them you will discover that there will be more then one that would make outstanding agility prospects.

 

There is no reason to preserve agility lines when the talents and abilities that make those dogs as good as they are is already being preserved in the working border collie population by working dog breeders. No, not every breeder will have the style and frame of dog that will be ideal for the more competitive jump heights, but I believe that you would be able to find plenty that have a personal preference for a body style, movement, etc without blatently sacraficing working ability as would happen in the case of preserving lines of agility dogs.

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I'm completely lost in Serena's reasoning now. Agility dogs are different, but they need working genetics, but they're different and the skills needed are different because the agility border collie needs intensity and tight turns whereas the the working border collie works wide and waits (seriously, you really need to experience working border collies before you make general comments about them because you lose your arguments by making incorrect comparisons) and works differently when chasing runaway sheep (huh?). Anyway, I think that I have nothing more to contribute here. It really is just going round and round....

 

J.

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For me the difference is training. Basically, I want any dog that joins my household to have as little training as possible. Every one of my rescues has come in with almost zero training and that's exactly how I like it.

 

A "herding washout" has training, so that is not a dog that I have any interest in purchasing.

 

Actually many herding dogs have a very minimal amount of formal training when started on sheep even when they're 8-12 m/o. A name, recall, a stop perhaps, some basic manners (ie, don't jump on people) and that's about it. Because you're working with an internal set of traits one often doesn't train a dog much before starting them - with such a biddable dog, too much training can get in the way of the instinct.

 

Beginning herding training (and please, those of you who know much more than I do, correct me if I'm wrong) you're working with instinct, seeing if the dog has the correct genetic balance to work stock it or not as opposed to teaching the dog new skills.

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NOT what I said Julie, you only took sections of my quotes. If any sheepherder took what you wrote about me, they would get upset...That is not! what I wrote! If you keep cutting out essential parts of my quote I will get upset because people will definitely misunderstand what I'm saying....

 

Serena wrote:You see, folks, age, temperament, honing skills of agility has specific intensity levels and how the pup's talents can really be apparent- their natural gait, the way they use movement, their specific gait when they run or leap. What translates in agility is highly specific, just like herding skills are highly specific. Agility, unlike sheepherding, everything is not on waiting and holding off but intensity of tight turns. Think of it this way....The working sheepherding dog has a wide complexity of tasks given to it, and there are times when they must circle wide, wait and watch. In agility, one cannot "circle wide" or delay or hold off...The movements are restricted to as if the "sheep" were on the emergency fly and the dog must keep up with this constant intensity and constant rush and instantaneous thinking right up close to that "sheep"....The border collie in a sense is skimming right up to those hurdles, every dive and lean......just like a working border drives down when it has to chase down sheep that are going at full blast.....

 

I'm not a sheepherder! I'm only talking about visuals! I've got ballet and artist background, so I'm only trying to describe the motions of agility and only briefly mentioned what I visually "see" in sheepherding B.Cs.... But almost all concentrated only on what agility requires. Any agility expert knows that the way I'm describing agility is not "technical" language either, and yet they give me a break on this, sheesh...I'm describing movement the way a dancer and visual artist would and not as a sheepherding or agility expert.

 

Thanks, Debbie, and yes, I would definitely go to working farms such as yours to select a puppy once Eluane passes on. For those like me and who can accept me, I would go straight to a working sheepherding line and observe the pups...Iowa is still close enough to visit. There is no need for me to go elsewhere but the working lines.

 

ABCA is one of the most important papers with real working lineage that a pup can ever have. One needs real solid lines, people who can try to work with an agility person, who we can talk to, etc. etc. Videos are some of the best bridges. People don't get things until they see it...That's why I love lurking at the sheepherding section. Videos are the best way to build bridges and to start to understand.....Just like I would love to someday say incremental videos, the tale of sheepherding pups as they grow and mature...There are very deep, very personal stories for every one of our border collies. I too wish there were videos on Will Rolfe and how he trained and the partnership of that once-in-a-blue-moon agility Border Collie.

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Very long time lurker and before I go back to lurking I must reply to this:

 

Quote:

"The first one is what I call the one-in-a-million agility Border Collie that comes just once in a rare blue moon. This is the agility line that absolutely must be preserved. [/b] Brilliant thinking of the dog, how it cuts the corners and retrieves on the space. Extremely few agility Border Collies have that quick, that blazing, that tight...."

 

I don't know what part of the country you're in, but from the numerous posts, appears you're familiar only with ACK-style agility and a limited pool of border collies and/or dogs in general. Maybe you don't see a lot of border collies? Or see primarily sporter or barbie collies? Maybe I'm just lucky, but I live in a part of the country where I regularly see brilliant handling and brilliant dogs. Many of those brilliant dogs are border collies, many are border collie mixes and quite a few are other breeds, and, yes, plain old mutts. I'll add I've never been to an ACK agility trial. Again, maybe I'm just plain lucky, but I regularly see the tight turns, blazing speed and all the other poetic things of which you speak. A good many of the border collies I see competing the numerous weekends a year I attend trials are "rescue" dogs likely from ranches out here and well-bred dogs from working lines. I also see sporter collies and barbie collies. Gotten very good at seeing the differences - although I'll add it's often a certain type of handler that will choose one over another.

 

Agility involves some athletic talent, true. But handling and training are what make all the difference. You can have the most athletic border collie in the world, but how you handle and how you train, like with any sport, are key.

 

Quote:

 

"....The border collie in a sense is skimming right up to those hurdles, every dive and lean......just like a working border drives down when it has to chase down sheep that are going at full blast....."

 

These constant comparisons between agility and stockwork are driving me batty. The sporting activity I love to do with my dogs is agility. I've taken one of my dogs to sheep because I wanted to see and feel for myself as he comes from working lines. Forgive me, I'm about to shout. THERE IS NO COMPARISON. My dog is a different creature on sheep and his innate talent gave me chills when he turned on halfway through that first lesson. Followed with some more lessons and my little dog apparently has the basics to be a potentially fierce little stockdog. Unfortunately, time and funds are limited, so we're sticking with what I like to do (plus that leads to having to get major acreage, sheep, cattle, horses, etc. and I haven't hit the lottery yet. Plus then wouldn't I have to find the cowboy to go along with all this? :P)

 

As said time and time and time and time and time again ... the border collie from working lines is the whole package. Breeding border collies for agility leads to a different dog altogether.

 

Methinks one should broaden their world. As suggested, read "Border Wars." Go attend a stockdog trial. Talk to some people that work their dogs and step away for a bit from this hyper competitive ACK agility world within which you seem indoctrinated. Here's an idea too - attend a different agility venue. Try a different flavor. Let's see, there's USDAA, NADAC, CPE, UKI and just for fun - check out Teacup.

 

My two cents, take it for what it's worth. Gotta do something poetic with my dogs now.

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Sorry, to me it looked like your "once in a blue moon" dog blew the contact on the A-frame. Didn't get faulted for it, sure, but with it that close, I personally would be concerned about injury. First concern in agility, IMHO, should be safety, not fastest time. Is a championship really worth your dog blowing an ACL?

 

The dog, again IMHO, sees the sport as a game. I say this because of the barking, and my experience has been that dogs bark excessively when they are either having fun or getting frustrated. A working border collie, one that is on livestock, does not (this has been my experience, those with more, please correct me if I am mistaken).

 

Serena, I realize that your background is in art and ballet, but Liz is right, when it comes to the working stock dog, you really don't know what you're talking about.

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Actually many herding dogs have a very minimal amount of formal training when started on sheep even when they're 8-12 m/o. A name, recall, a stop perhaps, some basic manners (ie, don't jump on people) and that's about it.

 

I would consider that far too much training for a dog that I would purchase, so yes, I would still opt to purchase a puppy. I'd prefer even a rescue to not to have been taught those skills by a former owner, and I've been fortunate in that regard with all of mine.

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That confuses me to no end Kristine. To each their own, I suppose, but training is all about consequences; therefore, any older dog is going to have training on them, whether it was intentional or not. Example: Dog runs off, finally comes back, owner yells at dog and puts dog on leash/locks dog in crate, so dog learns "fun ends when I come back/I get in trouble for coming. I don't ever want to come!" Training really is no more than learning, so I really don't understand your preference.

 

Personally, I've learned more about training and behavior in general by "fixing" incorrect previous training, and I've even changed the dog's name when it didn't seem to fit, or, if the problem was really bad, I just changed the cue word. No big deal, so I must admit that your argument is really foreign to me.

 

Again, to each their own.

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Nope, Kellie pup, As long as part of the 4 feet touch the A-Frame, all is good. The back paws struck just enough of the safety zone...

 

Hey, to a kind forumer I posted 2 links of ballerinas as an experiment to tell if any "outsider" can indeed tell the difference between great ballerina versus the brilliant once-in-a-lifetime ballerina.... There are specific techniques involved in agility that a non-agility person cannot recognize just as I would struggle to describe what makes a brilliant versus good working dog. You have to be immersed in the art form and it takes a lot of years to fully understand.

 

There are specific movements where that once-in-a- lifetime agility border collie shows its quality. Ignore the few barks and look at the eye gaze and how it's soooooooooooo close that jumping style, how low it is to the ground for the maximum coverage.....

 

Barking: It all depends...Juice, our top U.S. agility dog for many years had beautiful gorgeous movement too. And it never barked. Not once...It all depends on the dog. About 70% of Border Collie agility dogs I know don't bark....Eluane never ever! barks on the course or in training....I would guess??? don't know, but sheepherders train many a border collie not to bark, because indeed it would scatter the sheep? In the agility world, barking is irrelevant to most, and therefore it wasn't trained out of the dog....

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Nope, Kellie pup, As long as part of the 4 feet touch the A-Frame, all is good. The back paws struck just enough of the safety zone...

 

Very well, but I personally still feel that hitting the contact "just enough" is still not enough. I prefer clear contacts, largely, again, for safety reasons.

 

Barking: It all depends...Juice, our top U.S. agility dog for many years had beautiful gorgeous movement too. And it never barked. Not once...It all depends on the dog. About 70% of Border Collie agility dogs I know don't bark....Eluane never ever! barks on the course or in training....I would guess??? don't know, but sheepherders train many a border collie not to bark, because indeed it would scatter the sheep. In the agility world, barking is irrelevant to most, and therefore it wasn't trained out of the dog....

 

You missed the point. Barking is NOT "trained out" in stockwork. The dog doesn't bark because of instinct. The dog is working, not playing.

 

Until you can grasp the fundamental difference between instinct and training, you really can't understand what we've been trying to tell you. Try your hand on livestock, when the dog "turns on" then maybe, perhaps, you'll understand. I certainly didn't understand it at first.

 

There is more to the herding argument than training.

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That confuses me to no end Kristine. To each their own, I suppose, but training is all about consequences; therefore, any older dog is going to have training on them, whether it was intentional or not. Example: Dog runs off, finally comes back, owner yells at dog and puts dog on leash/locks dog in crate, so dog learns "fun ends when I come back/I get in trouble for coming. I don't ever want to come!" Training really is no more than learning, so I really don't understand your preference.

 

It has a lot to do with the fact that I train a certain way and I want my dogs to have certain associations with certain behaviors. I would much rather "undo" unintentional kinds of things - and I certainly have - than try to change associations with specific behaviors that were put in place deliberately. Of course, all dogs learn much that is not specifically trained. In a previously owned dog, those sorts of things often provide an excellent starting point for building a training relationship.

 

For instance, I would find it extremely frustrating to try to teach a dog that has been taught not to jump up not only to do so on cue, but to do so with enthusiasm and confidence. I would still do so, but I would much rather start with the crazy out of control jumper that has just been allowed to do so, and shape that natural enthusiasm into a confident trained performance, any day of the week. Now that's a "blank slate" in my book!! I'd much rather work around an unintentionally poisoned recall than try to bring back natural behaviors that have been trained away on purpose.

 

In addition - and even more important - I consider the most foundational of training to be one of the most key components of the start of the working relationship between dog and handler. I want to experience that with each of my dogs as fully as possible - that is a very big part of the work that my dog and I do together. In addition, the very experience of training those things has an impact well into the dog's performance career. At least that has been my experience. I simply would not want to miss out on that.

 

Again, to each their own.

 

Certainly. :) And I realize that most don't share this preference, but for me it is a very strong preference, and when I someday look to add another dog to my household, it will play a part in that decision.

 

And while this may not seem to tie in to the original topic at all - building bridges between Border Collie folks who are involved with sports and working Border Collie folks - I believe that it does.

 

I think it is good for those who are not on the sport side of things to realize that not all sport people have the same motivation when seeking out a new canine sport partner. An older "washout" may well appeal very much to some because the dog's lineage and history is known. Others, like myself, would not consider a "washout" appealing because of the amount of training that has been done since certain elements of training are an important part of the dog's formation as a performance partner. Etc. etc. etc.

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Very fair on your part, Kellipup. I wasn't for sure, so that is why I had a huge ??? by my comment. I did think that in certain circumstances like cattle herding a bark indeed would have to be used. And that's why I had no idea for sure. Like I said my observation is as a dancer/artist on the movements. When it comes how a sheepherder trains, I have no idea or clue. I'm still learning though! got lots of wonderful Boards' sheepherding viddies to watch :)

 

Oh, Gloria I was sooo frustrated with trying to get Amelia's sheepherding link! Like I said tons of times that video blows away all agility videos, lol! but it's embedded into her YouTube Channel, and I can't get it out!!!! (beat head against brick wall). I always feel whenever I talk about agility I need to bring Amelia's video back up in "honor of the working border collie"...

 

And thank you soooo much for that wonderful link you gave me Gloria. Hurrrrrrayyyyy, and Yippeeee! and Yahoo-za! I am bookmarking both by the way into special folders.

 

But hope this one link can show up...but in a way I doubt it...Maybe it's nested in some channel??? Maybe we can get the ABCA to do a separate floating link so things will show up? and everyone can enjoy and learn from? hehe, it works! :D

 

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..... this dog did not lose any of its working Border Collie heritage.... This dog has moved beyond even the training- and into the gene realm that comes once in a blue moon....

 

I have no idea if this dog has or has not a working border collie heritage. If he does, then I salute him as a stellar example of all a working-bred border collie can be. But if he is not from working lines ... I see an agility dog laying down a blazing fast, impressively athletic run. But nothing in his performance strikes me as "gene realm" in the same way a dog moves, when addressing the livestock he's born and bred to work.

 

 

... but sheepherders train many a border collie not to bark, because indeed it would scatter the sheep. In the agility world, barking is irrelevant to most, and therefore it wasn't trained out of the dog....

 

Serena, no. No, no and no. Farmers do NOT train their working border collies not to bark, because it's in the border collie's genes not to bark when working sheep. A border collie is silent when he works. He barks when he is playing - or warding off the mailman.

 

While we're talking videos, watch this one. This is the working gene pool in action. This, Serena, is what we are fighting so hard to keep in all its bold, undiluted, un-diverted, unadulterated glory.

 

Breeding for agility does not, cannot and will not preserve what this video demonstrates.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEFm1qkXaI0&feature=player_embedded

 

 

~ Gloria

 

EDIT:

Fixed YouTube link.

Sorry, last night I didn't see that Serena posted the same video apparently at the same time I did.

 

P.S.

Why am I still here ... :blink:

Edited by Gloria Atwater
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Okay, look at it this way then. There are people out there who seem to have a natural gift toward dancing or drawing or painting. For a teacher or coach, all they have to do is hone those natural abilities and direct them to a cause. Those artistic gifts can be equated to instinct.

 

Then you have people who have to struggle to draw a straight line, even with a ruler, or just can't seem to get the most basic of dance steps. It takes more time, they have to be trained to do these activities because it does not come natural.

 

A working border collie will naturally walk up, will naturally give the "eye," will naturally flank/circle and/or drive. Some even have a natural stop. Those does not have to be trained, just honed and directed.

 

With obedience, rally, agility, SAR, freestyle and a host of other things, the dog has to be trained for those tasks. The learning theory, distinct consequences, comes very much into play with these activities.

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Gloria, on full editor mode, there's a media button. Just paste the URL from the status bar there :D

 

Don't use the code on the youtube "share" button. The boards aren't set up for it.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEFm1qkXaI0&feature=youtu.be

 

 

ETA: Great vid!

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I used to think I knew quite a lot before I got into USBCHA trialing...I did BC rescue for years, dog disc sports and ACK herding.....but once I stepped onto the field for the first time, then I realized what a complex, brillant partner I had next to my side. Then I realized I knew SQUAT!

 

Dog disc, agility, fly ball, etc...is just taking a fine tuned working dog and making it do a sport. The true test is on the field, with sheep or cattle, working as a partner to get a JOB done.

 

Agility is a SPORT.

 

Shepherds did not spend hundreds of years working and breeding the dogs on the moor and hills for agility. They WORKED the dogs. It was their JOB.

 

Breeding for sport is total disregard for what the dogs were developed for over the years

 

Breeding top agility dogs is not breeding for the betterment of the breed.

 

Step out on the field, run in a few trials, then you will understand. Otherwise, you think you know but you really don't.

 

Do the walk, not the talk.

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Serena - here's another way to visualize the difference between the training of a stockdog and the training of an agility dog.

 

Picture two blocks of red clay - 1 foot x 1 foot x 1 foot

 

When you finish your work on them you will have a very good agility dog and a very good stockdog.

 

On the first block are blank faces. Begin carving. Carve carefully, a little at a time. As you remove material from the block you will begin to find blue clay. You must not carve that away. Remove all the red clay and what remains will be your stockdog.

 

On the second block you draw a likeness of your ultimate agility dog - front, back, top and sides. Then you begin carving. The block remains the same color no matter how deeply you carve, so you must create the agility dog by carving out the shape that you desire, using the template of your drawings on the faces of the cube. In other words, you must create the agility dog.

 

The agility dog must be made from the ground up. You must teach him what you want him to do, and teach him in such a way that he learns to want to do it. Then you can polish his skill with further training and motivating encouragement.

 

The stock dog is there from the moment he is born. He is waiting inside the block. His instincts tell him what to do, and his desire to do it is inborn. In his training there is no need to teach him what to do. You must simply teach him to work as a team with you to do what he instinctively wants and knows how to do. You must teach him a vocabulary of whistles, body postures and spoken words to bring his desire and your objectives together.

 

The stock dog is created by breeding. Training does not give him the ability. It merely refines his inborn skills and knowledge - and makes them available for you to direct. To have a good stock dog you must choose a dog that is carefully bred for the work, back through his many generations of ancestors.

 

The agility dog must be created by training. He is not born with an instinct to race through a series of obstacles, nor does he have any inborn knowledge of how to do this. To him you must impart the knowledge and eagerness to excel on the course by training. Or in the case of a Border Collie, you must re-direct his natural keenness and quickness into a different channel than the one his genes direct him to. This is possible because of the component of bid-ability in his nature. But as both stockmen and agility handlers can attest, his instinct may take the upper hand from time to time, to get the job done in a way that you did not foresee or request. This sort of independent thinking and judgment may save the stock or the stockman from an unfortunate wreck, and is an important component of a really fine stockdog. But it is rarely seen as optimal in the artificial constraints of an agility course.

 

This quality of independent thought is one more reason that the perfect stockdog may make a good agility dog, but the best agility dog may not make a good stockdog. And why when breeding a line of ideal agility dogs, one will begin to lose qualities necessary to a brilliant stockdog. And so as others have said, you may use Border Collies to create a brilliant line of agility dogs, but what you will soon have, without thorough testing and work on stock, will no longer be Border Collies. There is nothing on the agility course to alert you to such losses until they are irretrievably gone.

 

This is another attempt to explain why Border Collies are endangered by breeding - any breeding - by anyone other that stockmen/women. I trust that those with actual experience with working dogs will correct my inaccuracies and omissions. :)

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The agility dog must be made from the ground up. You must teach him what you want him to do, and teach him in such a way that he learns to want to do it. Then you can polish his skill with further training and motivating encouragement.

 

The agility dog must be created by training. He is not born with an instinct to race through a series of obstacles, nor does he have any inborn knowledge of how to do this . . .

 

While not the same as stockdog instinct, I actually have to disagree with you on this.

 

The very skills that Agility uses - except for weaving - are instinctive to many dogs, and, in a unique way, particularly natural to the typical Border Collie.

 

Take an off leash walk in the woods with your dog sometime. You may get to observe him or her jumping over tree limbs, crossing fallen logs across creeks, even arcing and turning and doing many of the things that dogs do on the Agility course, climbing up and over and down, etc. Not according to Agility rules, of course. But racing through a series of "obstacles" - yes, I have seen dogs that are not trained to do this, do it without training.

 

These are things that I never saw in the same way that I see them until I got into Agility. And I do not only observe these things in my Agility trained dogs. Of course, many Agility skills must be trained. Yet, it is something that the Border Collie has that is not created through training, that sets it apart as an Agility dog.

 

In addition, some dogs do have innate ability/instinct that comes into play on the Agility field. After working with one of those "from the ground up" dogs who even had to learn to like Agility, working with one who just gets much of it, almost with no, or very little, training is downright astonishing at times.

 

Again, this is not to say that stockwork and Agility are the same. Of course not. As they say - apples and oranges.

 

But to say that the Agility dog must be completely created, from the ground up, through training is not accurate.

 

And the instinct that the Border Collie brings into the working partnership between dog and handler is every bit as much in play as the training. Sometimes that works against the team. Often it brings in assets that simply cannot be trained into a dog that doesn't have it.

 

One who hasn't experienced it may well not see it, but you really do know it when you see it. And it is a beautiful thing.

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...All that power, intelligence, and brilliance in that one dog should be apparent to all who view this dog and that this dog did not lose any of its working Border Collie heritage...

You don't have a clue whether or not this dog has lost "any of its working Border Collie heritage" because you have not seen whether or not it is capable of working stock. You are simply seeing what it can do on an agility course.

 

You are very determined, but I don't believe you have a clue about working dogs and are making gross assumptions and generalizations about something you don't know anything about (working dogs).

 

On the other hand, this topic has produced some wonderfully composed replies that are well worth reading more than once - even if they seem to make absolutely no impression on your thoughts. Perhaps they will influence others in a positive way to understand the working Border Collie, and why breeding only for the work is the responsible way to breed.

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No breed can touch the border collie in agility?

 

AKC Agility Invitational

 

Border Collies

MACH4 Bluefire My Oh My RN MXF TQX

MACH20 Hillcrest's Vixen FTC1 TQX

MACH4 No Limit MXF TQX

MACH5 Pistol Pete Knotts OF

MACH3 Speedoggie Power2thrill Bonjon MXF TQX

 

Golden Retrievers

MACH7 Fast-Trak's Laser Flash MXF TQX

MACH13 Flashpaws Runaround Sue MXF TQX

MACH13 Mystic Corvette Post My Bail NAP NJP MXF TQX

MACH8 Rivercity Yessiree Bob VCD2 FTC1 TQX

MACH4 Wedgewood Flashpaws Ready To Rock MXF TQX

 

Papillons

MACH16 Candella Cloudberry XF

MACH3 Livewire Its All Gravy XF

NAC MACH32 Pinpaps Jonquil Of Skipnlena FTC1 TQX

MACH9 Primavera's Birthday Bash XF

MACH2 Primavera's Sweet Baby James MXF

 

 

The Goldens and the Papillons sure are giving them a run for their money. And they're not sheepdogs... at all. There's a Pap with a MACH32; that's higher than any of the border collies.

 

A high level of agility requires training and a spirited, driven dog. Drive is present in lots of places, in lots of breeds, for lots of reasons. It's not something that has to be bred for with agility as the goal.

 

Agility is special, sure. But it's something that most any dog can do to some degree, and LOTS of breeds can do it well.

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