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ACD vs Border Collie (LONG!)

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Alright, so I've never introduced myself here basically because of the fact that I do not have a BC. The main reason I joined this forum was to educate myself more on the breed before I made any decisions.

 

A little history about myself: I am the old age of 20. I have owned dogs every second of my life, and up until three years ago I had pretty much no education on health testing, feeding good food, ect, ect. Well, because I am now a dedicated forum member to three separate boards I am learning new things every day. In the fourth grade I signed up for my first of five years with a dog 4H group which began to show me the basics of dog training and earning a relationship with your dog. During high school, I drifted more towards expanding my horse training knowledge. When my childhood dog of 12 years passed away, I was heart broken. The summer before I began college, I decided to add a dog to my little family. Harlow, now two years old, is my Boxer (even though she is attached to the hip of my hubbie, but that is another story).

 

Eventually, we want to have a small cattle ranch, and I would like to have the dogs to work the cattle when we need to move them from pasture to pasture and such. Plus, I would like to have a dog who has the stamina and durability (and the right ventilation system) to be able to do trail rides and other activities with us. I refuse to take my Boxer on the trail with me, because even though she has the energy, it is hard for to keep up without taking breaks to get the oxygen she needs. She does much better on our walks to the lakes and bike rides where we can stop and let her chill for a bit. Also, my goal for the future is to become a Equine and Cattle Vet Tech. I will most likely be taking my dog to work with me, so I would like a dog that pretty velcro and isn't much of a wanderer, ect, ect. I know that it depends a lot on the individual dog, but I also know there are stronger urges to have a glue-like personality in different breeds.

 

So, the point I was trying to make in this (thank you if you have stuck with my nonsense thus far) is I am having a hard time deciding between the BC and the ACD. I realize there are pros and cons to each, but I figured the best way to help my decision along would be to ask the people who live with these dogs every day.

 

Thank you for sticking with me throughout this... I know it was kind of all over the place. Any input at all would be helpful! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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Hi and Welcome to the boards.

Glad you are doing your research. Your lifestyle sounds like a good life for a border collie, given that and the fact I am a bit biased ;) I'm not sure what the cons would be of a border collie choice. ACD's , well I refuse to comment on least I be accused of being a breed snob.

Whatever you choose training will be the answer to either choice.

We'll see what other comments you get. :)

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Hi, welcome to the boards!

 

I think the best way to make your decision would be to meet and watch both BCs and ACDs at work. There are ACDs out there with precious little working talent - yes, the show ring has even got its hooks int hem - and there are BCs with plenty of drive on cows.

 

So, I'd advise you to go to some cattle trials, watch the dogs, and get to know some ranchers/farmers who use dogs on their stock at home. Finally, when you go to purchase a pup, make sure you know the parents work well. The breed may mean less to you than the dogs themselves, I think. :)

 

Good luck!

 

~ Gloria

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I second the strategy of going to see both breeds work. So different.

 

On the subject of some of the differences that make me come down on the side of the Border Collies are directly linked to my personality. And the following statements are based on personal experiences with owning and fostering and hold true for me.

The ACD's have always shown me to be a bit more one person oriented. Although mine learned to share the attention with some time, they seemed to prefer not to. This goes for people as much as the revolving group of foster dogs.

They also seemed more clingy to me. Again, not to the point of anxious but still. I don't like clingy. I have a dog now that is and it is not what I prefer. (I have a hard time describing it). But I have friends who love that. Who prefer it actually. My Border Collies miss me but give them their food and maybe a stick and they are okay with me being gone for a bit. :)

The ACD's I have had where quite intelligent and keen. Paired with a fair amount of hardness. Which in my life is not needed. Although some of my Border Collies have been just as hard, it came in a different package.

I adore ACD's exactly for their athletic ability, smarts, stubbornness and also love their looks. But for my life, my choice when given, is a Border Collie.

Not sure if this helps.

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I don't like clingy. I have a dog now that is and it is not what I prefer. (I have a hard time describing it). But I have friends who love that. Who prefer it actually. My Border Collies miss me but give them their food and maybe a stick and they are okay with me being gone for a bit. :)

 

I understand completely.

 

I have a BC mix (probably a bit of GSD) that is absolutely devoted to me and I feel so guilty that it annoys me sometimes. I want a partner not a slave. If I am out for the day he will lie by the door until I come back even if there are others in the house. It's not that I don't love him, just that I wish he'd show more self reliance.

 

Our BC is very much my daughter's dog but I will do if she isn't around. Not sociable but not clingy like the mix.

 

I don't know anyone with working ACDs as they are rare here but I do know someone with 2 of them plus 3 BCs. One of the ACDs had to be retired from agility because he wouldn't stop "herding" anything that moved, and one of the BCs is a car chaser. Seems you can get similar problems with both.

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My BC is half McNab, which is a whole other debate... If your looking for a BC but are unsure about BCs on cattle, you might do some research on getting a McNab. Some argue that a McNab is a border collie while others get their panties in a knot when they hear that. On the flipside; Ive seen plenty of BCs on cows too.

 

I grew up in a cattle ranching town where working ACDs were very common. They came from working ranches, and had no pedigrees. No one bothered to trial them, or their BCs; it was too remote. So, they do exist! An ACD, however, would not be my first choice to double as a family pet.

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Of course it's hard to generalize because individual dogs will fall along a continuum, but the people I know who have ACDs will say that they tend to be much more stubborn--the "make me" sort, or at least they better understand why if you want them to do something. The one cattle dog I saw trialed regularly never had much of an outrun (and I understand from her owner that she is pretty typical of the breed), which could be an issue if you're gathering larger pastures. As someone else noted, if you're interested in ACDs be *sure* you actually see the parents (and hopefully relatives) actually *working.* Do not take anyone's word about "well they could do that if only I had [more talent, more time, more money]." People who are actually using the dogs won't have a problem showing you what they can do.

 

Hard-headed, stubborn border collies exist, too, but of course I don't think people would be as likely to generalize the breed as a whole that way. Again, go see dogs work. You don't say where you're located, but depending on where that is, I'm sure we could point you to some cattle trials where you could see a number of border collies working.

 

For cattle work, I'd stay away from the "rip and tear" school of cow dogs and cow dog training. It's possible to move cattle thoughtfully, without setting things up for a fight, and without unduly stressing or running the weight off your cattle. Unless you're dealing with wild cattle, you won't need a dog that has pit bull in its background or whose parents require shock collars for training. The cattle dog culture is a bit different than the sheepdog culture in this regard (this is also a generalization, of course, and there are a number of folks on this forum who work both and do so well, but these aren't the sorts of cow dog people I'm talking about). But a good working border collie should be able to work both species in essentially the same manner. Yes, cattle will require bite from a dog, but that doesn't usually need to be the first or only tool the dog uses.

 

And of course ultimately your decision will need to be based on what *you* like in a dog. ACDs have never appealed to me, even before I had border collies. There are other herding breeds that *do* appeal to me. If you meet some of each type (and trials are a great place to meet larger numbers of dogs--not sure where you'd go to find ACDs except maybe AKC or AHBA trials) and see what general attributes of each breed really appeal to you.

 

J.

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I've had both. It's hard to beat a good Border Collie, but ACDs can be really good dogs. The most important thing is make sure you find dogs (Border Collies or blue heelers) from bloodlines bred to handle cows (and see them actually doing farm or ranch work (not just at a trial). A lot depends on how you are going to use them also.

 

A lot of ACDs are driving dogs, but my daughter has a little blue heeler that is fast, super smart and a strong header (has the instinct to go to the head and turn back livestock). She gets along great with the entire family including the cats. She's a really delightful companion.

 

If you are attracted to the ACD you might consider the Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs. They come from similar roots, but are different breeds. The dog, Skidboot is an example of that type (although he had a tail):

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for a working dog I would go with a BC, mostly based on what I have heard from cattle ranchers in my area who use dogs, everyone I have run across uses either BC's or crosses ACDs and BCs for cattle work, while going on and on about how usless pure ACDs are these days lol.

 

from a pet point of view... I have 2 of each, they are very similer(although my ACD's are crossed with GSD they act like ACD's..they are just big lol), but the BCs are softer and a bit more inclined to be in tune with what I need ie we can work together to accomplish something without any need for commands.

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I can't speak to working ability, and it would be redundant anyway since some other folks have given you good advice on that already, but in my experience cattle dogs tend to be more pig headed in general than BCs, but also more sensitive / sulkier which some people find challenging when training. Like Julie, ACDs have never really appealed to me, though I've met a couple of cutie-pie smaller-than-average ones that have caught my eye, but in terms of personality they've never really thrilled me. They seem rather barkier too.

 

RDM

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They seem rather barkier too.

 

RDM

 

Ah, yes. Although the OP did not indicate an interest in agility, I did want to comment that I can tell whenever an ACD is running the agility course at a trial -- they have a very distinctive bark and they use it the entire time they are running. :) It is sort of cute from a certain perspective, but I am glad my dog doesn't bark like that.

 

Jovi

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I happen to have both a Border Collie and a Heeler (ACD) for working cattle. I love them both and could not do without either. They definitely have their own unique style of working and how they handle different situations.

 

My BC is used only on cows, yearlings, and calves, never bulls. He is gentle and patient with the babies, but holds his ground and gets in the cows faces if he has too. He does not have enough of that "fierce" and tough presence to work bulls. My Heeler on the other hand is brought out mainly for moving the bulls across the pasture. He is what I like to say fearless, tough and will not take crap from any of the bulls or cows, but he also has a super gentle side with the calves. On the occasion my Heeler does get to work cows, it is mainly in the mountains when we need a dog that will pick up and go and is not afraid to get a bit nippy to move the cows to new mountain pasture. (Sometimes they get a bit sticky in the trees and don't realize we aren't punishing them by making them walk a few miles, just moving them to new areas with more grass! Stupid cows! :P ) Bullet, the heeler, is definitely only a driver. He does have a basic concept of come bye and away, but to him those only mean move left or right. Nitro, the BC on the other hand is used for gathering and driving.

 

My BC is also not as stuck to me as my Heeler is. Heeler's are most certainly a one person kind of dog, but that might not be bad for you. Especially if you plan on taking your dog to new places for your job. My BC when we go somewhere new around the ranch always wants to immediately see/sniff everything he can, my Heeler on the other hand is more "I'll just stick with you" until I tell him he can go play or whatever.

 

I would second the idea that you try and see the two breeds in action. As I said, each is unique and you may find that you will need one of each! :D

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...So, the point I was trying to make in this (thank you if you have stuck with my nonsense thus far) is I am having a hard time deciding between the BC and the ACD. I realize there are pros and cons to each, but I figured the best way to help my decision along would be to ask the people who live with these dogs every day.

 

Thank you for sticking with me throughout this... I know it was kind of all over the place. Any input at all would be helpful! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

 

In the event that breaking away to observe trials and chat with handlers is difficult for your circumstances, Google's YouTube is quite a resource to make a quick survey of a topic. I recommend in-person observation/interviews if reasonably available. A good dog will become like a hired-hand [like several?], so now is the time to make the right decision. Be prepared, you will see excellent to poor dogs and handling on the internet. My understanding is that ACD's are sometimes referred to as Blue or Red Heelers, so use those search terms, as well. I have no business connection with the following YouTube channel, and love my BC...just liked the way his ACD's and Kelpies worked (little to no biting hocks and noses, and generally good stockmanship):

 

http://www.youtube.com/user/Samthe71

 

IMO you can't beat a BC as an all-round herding dog to have on the farm/ranch. They are especially good in wide-open spaces, gathering stock out 1/3 mile and farther. BC's are good in pens/corrals and alleyways, as well. ACD's sometimes don't have the long distance cast-out capabilities, yet I have seen some with this built-in instinct, or trained into them. IMO you see long outruns less frequently in the Heelers. For each breed, be sure the particular dog you are considering and its lineage have shown endurance and power. These qualities are essential for the situation you have described. -- Best wishes, TEC

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Thank you for all of the great responses! And thank you for being so friendly, as some forums would just blow me off for not being a regular.

 

I do like a dog that will stick like glue to my side and is specifically devoted to me. That is actually a really strong trait that I am looking for.

 

What I like about ACD's: They seem to have more of an "off" switch, from what I have read. For example, after work is done, or if they don't have a job one day, they are okay with it. They don't obsess nearly as much over work as a BC, from what I have heard. I'm sure that it depends on the individual dog, but as a generalization. They stick to you like glue. They aren't scared to take it another step with the cattle.

 

http://www.ksranchheelers.com/ is the breeder I would be going through if I did not rescue. The only reason I am leaning more towards going through a breeder is because I do want a working dog... And that is what these guys are bred to do. Also, because they are health tested, there is a less chance of them having health issues.

 

What I like about BC's: They are absolutely gorgeous. I love their look. They seem to be better as a family dog. They seem to have a less intense way with the cattle. They seem to be more lovey than an ACD. They are freaking smart as a whip, which ACD's are intelligent as well, but these guys are just number one for intelligence.

 

I do not have a breeder picked out that I would go through for a BC. I am pretty picky about that, and I just haven't found The One yet. (I'm more picky about where I get my dog than where I got my husband. ;) )

 

I am definitely considering fostering both breeds before I make any decisions. Thank you all again for all of your help!

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What I like about ACD's: They seem to have more of an "off" switch, from what I have read. For example, after work is done, or if they don't have a job one day, they are okay with it. They don't obsess nearly as much over work as a BC, from what I have heard. I'm sure that it depends on the individual dog, but as a generalization. They stick to you like glue. They aren't scared to take it another step with the cattle. >>

 

Just an (admittedly breed-biased) opinion. I live with three border collies (all working) and one ACD. The ACD is definitely the most hyper, obnoxious animal in the house. He does not have an off switch even though he's at least 10. He also will not work an lick on stock and I have never seen any ACD that could do anything comparatively useful on cattle that a cattle prod couldn't also do. They do obsess about work, but in ways that are not helpful IMHO. Granted, while I've never seen one that was from parents that worked to any kind of standard but I think that's part of the problem - there aren't many that do.

 

He is definitely a one person dog (not mine, can you tell ;)!) and if you aren't that person, he'd rather bite you than look at you.

 

Get a border collie. You'll thank me later. (This in about 50% tongue in cheek, but I definitely take exception to the idea that ACDs will "take it another step" on cattle. Nothing beats a good, strong border collie on cattle.)

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Virtually every dog needs to be taught to relax in the house when their owner desires peace and quite. Active breeds especially must be raised with rules and boundaries. The more obedient the dog, the more successful you will be at teaching them to chill on command.

 

I used to think I wanted an ACD, until I realized how pig headed they can be and how little of the original working instinct is left in most of them. I am forever grateful to my Mom for insisting that if I wanted an intelligent, loyal, athletic companion, Border Collies were the way to go. (Mom, on the other hand, might be regretting her gift that sent me down the path of sheepdog trials, farm life and livestock ownership.)

 

As far as working stock dogs, you can't beat a Border Collie for gathering ability and natural stock sense. They can be fabulous on cattle if they have good genetics and training.

 

I would suggest contacting your local BC and ACD rescues to see if they have any upcoming events where you can surround yourself with each breed. Sheepdog trials are another good way to meet a lot of Border Collies in a very short period of time.

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I'll admit....I don't know too much about ACDs. A friend of mine had one....it was old and it would bite you if you got too near. I was a little bit scared of it (ok, more than a little). The little ACD that impressed me the most I met while gathering cattle off the range....a peppy spunky little dog that really got the cattle moving. I was impressed with its ability to sustain multiple kicks to the head...and still come back for another kick to the head. I think that might be why they have such thick skulls. It was a nice spunky little dog, definitely a heeler, no scope to gather the range, but infinite ability to take yet another kick to the head. It stayed near its owner and drove, heeled, and didn't dodge kicks very well. Seriously, it was a fun and effective driving dog but maybe rattled and aggravated the cattle a little more than needed.

 

I have to say that the border collies would never have survived so many kicks to the head. The good news is that they were usually too smart to get kicked that many times and figured out how to be persistent and tough, head, bite a nose, possibly heel (and DUCK!)... they learned to work the cows so as not to get kicked again. In my opinion, the border collies moved the cattle much more calmly, less stress and steadier work. Another plus, the border collies had scope to send out of sight, over the hill and dale to find/track cattle and the sense/scope to come back with them on their own.

 

This is a border collie board and I'm a border collie person.....a little biased to be sure. However, I've seen border collies do fantastic tough (as nails) work as well has gentle calm work on range cattle.

 

My friends that have ACDs admire their toughness, aggressiveness, spunky attitude and usually expect them to guard (protect and bite). I think they can be hard to train (pig headed and not so talented). I think that there not many that are still working to a high standard.

 

Really, they are apples and oranges....they do different work in a different way. Even though I personally prefer border collies, there is no right answer....it depends what you like and what work you need done.

 

Others have given you good advice......go see both and see them actually working. The breed for you will call to you.

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Really, they are apples and oranges....they do different work in a different way. Even though I personally prefer border collies, there is no right answer....it depends what you like and what work you need done.

 

Others have given you good advice......go see both and see them actually working. The breed for you will call to you.

 

You said it perfectly. Of course most everyone will tell you to get a Border Collie because this is a BC Board and we all have them but you definitely need to go out and meet some of each breed to get to know them better.

 

My boyfriend had a red heeler when he was younger. I loved him- smart, bull headed, athletic and cute on top of it. Every dog is definitely what you put into it. My boyfriends dog would have been a total out of control mess without the proper guidance, same goes for any high energy smart dog. I wouldn't though, get caught up on how smart BC's are. If you have never trained/worked with one you may not understand how different it can be from other dogs. Many people tell me my dog must have trained himself or my favorite: "it is like he speaks English"...no, that is the result of a lot of hard work and training. Anyways, I wish you luck, both breeds in my opinion are great but you really need to do your research to find the dog that is right for what you need.

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I'm just going out on a limb here, but I bet that if you had the chance to see border collies work vs ACD work, your decision would be really easy. :lol: I've only seen them both on sheep (and I won't say what kind of trial, since I lost my flame-retardant suit somewhere), but it really is like apples and oranges!

 

Personality wise, I much prefer the border collie for the same reasons others have already mentioned. The best thing you can do is spend a lot of time with each breed, as many representatives as you can, and go from there.

 

Good luck!

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What I like about ACD's: They seem to have more of an "off" switch, from what I have read. For example, after work is done, or if they don't have a job one day, they are okay with it. They don't obsess nearly as much over work as a BC, from what I have heard. I'm sure that it depends on the individual dog, but as a generalization. They stick to you like glue. They aren't scared to take it another step with the cattle.

 

 

my experience has been the exact opposite lol my BCs whe not doing something are more then happy to lay down quietly around the house, and lest we think its just because my girls are older, all the BCs I know from work are the same way, the other dogs on break time act like idiots still going crazy or playing with their friends or bounce against the kennel barking, the BCs all curl up in a ball and sleep till next time. my ACDs cal chill out just fine...AFTER they have done something, and if it wasnt enough they get up and start looking for stuff to do..ie, not stuff I want them to to do lol. both my ACDs and BCs are super attached, one person dogs, I call them my bookends :P

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.... I was impressed with its ability to sustain multiple kicks to the head...and still come back for another kick to the head. I think that might be why they have such thick skulls.

 

I had a conversation with someone who had ACDs when they lived on a farm. They remember how tough they were. One day, one of his ACDs were chasing the horses (OK, it probably wasn't trained too well, but that is not the point here), and got kicked in the head. He just lay there - not moving. The person went to get a shovel to bury the dog, and when he came back to pick up the dog, the dog jumped up and trotted away. He was fine after that.

 

Jovi

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I have a border collie - heeler mix and she is an absolute joy as a farm dog. She has a very strong sense of ownership for all the livestock on this farm. I can trust her with any child, kitten, lamb, baby chick etc but she is death to any predator that comes on this property. She has a terrific off switch indoors but she is very alert even when she is inside. Just this week, she let us know that a pair of coyotes were trying to enter our lambing corral. How she smells or hears them from inside our house is nothing short of amazing. Our losses to coyotes has dropped measurably since we adopted Maggie. She will run a single or pair of yotes. If confronted with a pack, she will just alert us from the safety of the yard.

 

As a companion dog, she has me picked as her special person. She is tireless while on patrol all day. We have sheep, goats and cattle. Maggie will move sheep willingly. She will move cattle but keeps her distance. She prefers not to be around the goats at all.

 

I also have a working ABCA border collie whose parents worked cows for generations. This dog is tiny and fast and lives to work cows. Sheep are okay, but if she does sneak away from me, I will find her in the cattle yards every time. Cattle work is in her soul...

 

I second the idea to see a dogs parents working cattle if possible. I got lucky with my bc -heeler mix. She's a grand farm dog but for specific work, I get out the little border collie.

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Most everyone has already said the things I might say. I'll just add that we have some really nice lines of border collies here in the US bred for working cattle calmly and quietly. They have plenty of bite on both ends but generally only use it when necessary, not just because they can.

 

I laughed at EB's mention of the ACDs coming back for more kicks to the head again and again. It's true. What the smart border collies do (often after that first kick to the chops) is watch for the rear foot that has weight on it (you can see the dog eying the situation and waiting for the right moment), and then hit that heel, as when the foot is down bearing weight it can't come up to kick. The dog knows that either the other rear leg will kick, and the dog is to enough to the side of that leg to not get hit, or know that as soon as the weight shifts to the other back leg, the one they just hit will kick. Either way, the dog is out of the way. They work smarter, not harder,

A

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I've had GSDs, Malinios, ACDs, and now(thank God) BCs. The ACDs were the only ones that I finally put outside in a kennel. They would bark and listen to the echo and bark at that and there was NOTHING you could do to get them to stop. They were very smart dogs, but didn't always choose to use that brain to work with me.

 

I started them on sheep with my neighbor Mac MacGregor, they showed interest in cattle but we could never get either of them to actually move in and try to work them, or even join the BCs that were working them. No amount of encouragement ever changed their mind.

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I have had an ACD in my life ever since 1975. As a pet and trail riding(horses) companion for most of that time. The first two were quite small dog aggressive. I did some herding in the kennel club program with my last two about 10 years ago. Then I got a BC and now am a hobby sheepdog trialer with 4 of them. If you do decide on an ACD, the breeder you have chosen would be my choice too although I would ask to talk to some past puppy buyers. I am not a fan of the AKC show type of ACD. Back in the day, I loved the heelers for their total loyalty, nice size, easy-care coat, smart, pretty, quiet but would protect you if needed. They do like to be near you at all times. The downside of an ACD is that they do require a strong dominant owner; they can be dog/people aggressive although not as much now as 20 years ago. They are limited in the type of herding work; they are better on cattle but can in no way compare to the all around usefulness of a BC. I always say that working my ACD was like driving a tractor, while working my BCs is like driving a Porsche. A tractor can do things that a Porsche cannot do and vice versa. Apples and oranges.

I lost my beloved ACD to cancer in January and will probably not ever get another. The BCs are SO much easier to live with. All four are couch potatoes and certainly have the 'off' switch. They were so much easier to train in all respects; on sheep and in general. When my ACD was a puppy, if he was chewing something he shouldn't, I would have to actually get up and go to him, before he would stop. With my BC puppies, a soft little growl-correction from across the room was all that was needed. BCs have 'biddable' built in. ACDs have 'prove you mean it' built in. Also, my BCs are just as loyal and follow me everywhere. They would also protect me. My little bitch is a little too protective; I have to watch her closely when away from home as she views other dogs/sometimes people as danger. Better socialization as a pup would have helped so that is my fault. However my other young guy was raised the same and he is friends with the world.

As others have said, best to get to know people who have each breed AND work cattle with them. The hardest thing will be for YOU learning how to train any dog to work your stock. And as an ACD friend of mine says, if you work a dog on cattle, you must be prepared to lose that dog. Cattle can injure/kill any dog. Your best bet might be to get one of each. ;-)

best of luck, Lani

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