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I see you live not too far from me. Why don't you come out to the trial at Bittersweet Farm in a few weeks. See the dogs work. I will be there with my crew.

 

When is it? I would love to!

 

Well, of course get a working dog and gain experience with it. Just wait until you have experience (a LOT of it) before you decide to breed. Your post initial post suggested that you've already made up your mind to breed.

 

I have already made up my mind to breed- just not immediately. As I stated before, I am looking at years from now because I want the experience before I breed to ensure that I select for quality.

 

If you get a dog and she is exceptional, by all means breed her (I would make sure that you have a qualified trainer to help you make that determination). But then down the line, I would urge you to select for talent (and health of course) rather than a physical trait like coat color.

 

I still don't understand why selecting for both is impossible. Select for talent, yes. Select for coat color also- why not? It'll take some searching and many outcrosses to the dominant colored dogs to maintain exceptional working ability and a wider gene pool, but if the end goal of the program is to produce a well bred line of quality stock dogs, why the heck not?

 

With regards to the difficulty in breeding for 2 different traits, considering an example. In one litter, you have a two red dogs. One is healthy and talented, the other is healthy but not very talented. So you decide to breed the healthy, talented, red dog. So far so good. Next litter there are 4 dogs. 2 are red and 2 are black and white (red being recessive, something like this is likely). 1 red dog is talented, 1 black and white dog is talented. But the black and white dog is much more talented than the red dog. Which one do you decide to breed?

 

In the first litter, I would absolutely choose in the red dog. In the second, I would choose the black and white dog. Assuming the second litter came from the first red dog and the breeding went to a red factored dog, the remaining black and white puppies carry red- which still falls in line with what I want to produce. From the next breeding I can outcross to a red factored or red dog to produce more working red dogs. But I can do this based on working ability first and foremost!

 

If you are breeding for 2 traits, this kind of question is inevitably going to come up. You will then make a decision of which pup to breed -- and in doing so, you've decided the one trait that you are REALLY breeding for. You cannot simultaneously breed for two traits. Over time, the trait you aren't selecting or is going to fade away.

 

If breeding for two traits is impossible, why is it that almost all Border Collies have certain breed traits in common? The crouch, the white tail tip, the white collar, the blaze. These are physical traits that have been selectively bred in addition to working ability.

 

You are already searching for a foundation bitch but aren't going to do this breeding program for years? Then your foundation bitch will be to old to breed.

 

I am under the impression that it will take me years to find the foundation bitch that I am looking for.

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I love all my working dogs, each one has traits that are wonderful. But as I grow and learn, my personal needs and experiences change what my original idea of what a perfect working dog is.

 

Understandably, as I'm sure mine will too.

 

I hope you don't get all huffy with the responses and miss all the information that you can gain.

 

Seems unnecessary to say as I did ask for everyone's opinion...

 

Two questions

How much livestock experience do you have?

And why are you looking at dogs bred to work cattle?

 

"How much livestock experience do you have?"

 

I am a few classes away from having a BS in Animal Science and have worked a dog on stock a few times. Otherwise, I have very little livestock experience.

 

"And why are you looking at dogs bred to work cattle?"

 

Because it was an example of somebody breeding for working ability and color.

 

Christina, what makes you "better" than so many others that have tried before? Not just in dogs!

 

I'm trying to find where I said I was better than anyone who has tried it before but I seem to be missing it. Please explain!

 

PS: I breed geckos. I breed for color and looks. They don't do anything but look cute and adorable. They don't work or learn tricks. They just hang out and are charming. And even there, my two pairs have to at least be friendly. I can't even forget to look for something but a specific look only in a gecko!!! :(/>/>/> ;)/>/>/>

 

In mice I am working on coat type, color quality (the more vibrant the better), and temperament. It can be done. Much different from working instinct, yes.

 

Breeding for both working ability and color isn't impossible. Some people choose to do it. They just don't produce the best working dogs, because in the quest to do something that is far from easy, they are limiting themselves unnecessarily. The best handlers do not look to get a dog from breeders who breed for color, and there's a reason for that. Look at it this way: Suppose you are breeding racehorses. You want to breed for speed, but also you want to breed strictly white horses. After several generations, who is going to have produced the fastest racehorses, you or the folks who are breeding only for speed and not limiting themselves to one color?

 

But what exactly is the problem with having stock dogs who are not the best- but have other qualities that you're looking for? I'm not looking to be the best. I'm looking to have individually extraordinary red working dogs.

 

There are an awful lot of contradictions in the OP posts, and that doesn't even include breeding for color. Wanting a foundation bitch but not looking at breeding for maybe 10 to 20 years?

 

Already explained- I figure it will take several years for me to find what I'm looking for as far as lines go, and then having to wait for the right pup to come along, on top of learning all I need to know about handling. This isn't a contradiction.

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Having little if any stockdog experience or, for that matter, experience with livestock (at least not that your posts indicate)?

 

How is this a contradiction?

 

If you don't know much at all about stockdogs and livestock, how will you possibly be able to know if any dog or bitch you have is worth breeding?

 

Because I intend to learn first. Breed second. That's why I'm asking about the theory.

 

PPS: The genetics involved in breeding quality stockdogs is not the same as that of breeding mice and guinea pigs. In addition to the physical package, there is also temperment to consider - and the package of traits that contribute to stockworking ability. It's not a science, it's an art.

 

The genetics involved may be different but the genetic concept is still the same. Mode of inheritance is mode of inheritance whether you're talking about pretty colors or a stockdog's ability and talent.

 

I really don't know why anyone would start from the premise "I want a foundation bitch to breed red working dogs from" instead of "I want to learn about working dogs and livestock and trialing and all that entails, and once I have a lot of experience with those aspects of the breed, then I might consider breeding, especially if I have a good 'un."

 

Personal preference.

 

Is this question in regards to this post on Facebook?

 

 

Yes.

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Personal preference? You believe breeding should come before learning about the dogs and the work? And breeidng for color at that? :blink:/>

 

As others have said, if you truly want to learn about the dogs and what you should be breeding for (besides color) you need to start with a well-bred working dog and train it up to a high level. Only then can you even begin to understand what you should be looking to produce (besides red). Actually you should do this with more than one dog. And preferably let one of them be a dog that was bred strictly for color or some other traits (maybe conformation showing). Being able to compare and contrast the results from different breeding programs would be quite eye opening.

 

But if your preference is to find the red dogs first and foremost and worry about what makes a good stockdog later, then I can't help you. And yes it is a contradiction. In cliche-land it's called putting the cart before the horse.

 

As for the myths you've heard about red dogs, they are mostly that. Yes, my red dog might be difficult to see at a distance in tallish brown grass, but it's actually white dogs that are believed to be challenged more by sheep. I have a mostly white dog, though, and the only trouble I've ever had was when he was moving away from me in fog, which made him difficult to see. At least one top handler in the US believes the red dogs don't hold up as well as other dogs, but I don't know what that assumption is based on.

 

There are some very well-known working lines that produce red here and there. I believe Wiston Cap produced red so the potential is there in many bloodlines.

 

But if your ultimate goal is to produce a line of red working dogs that people who actually use these dogs for work would want, then it would make sense to learn about what makes a good working dog FIRST, and then worry about breeding later.

 

And I think I'm done wasting my figurative breath.

 

J.

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I don't know much about them beyond what I've read on their websites but do Abingdon Ranch and Basin Border Collies count for anything?

 

No, these breeders don't count for anything....they are color breeders (as you would be if you pursued this "plan") who only prove the point that everyone here is trying to make.

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The fascinating aspect of this forum, and I would suppose many others, is that folks come looking for advice, lack experience and, most often, don't know what they don't know.

 

Which is why, of course, they come to the forum in the first place. Then when they get the advice, they don't want to hear it because it contradicts what they have already decided, which is only natural because they don't know what they don't know.

 

So folks on the forum, being the good folks that they are, (not always nice but most often well intended) attempt to share with these new individuals, using the decades of experience and knowledge they have acquired after making so many mistakes themselves, those things they don't know.

 

For instance, if we could advance those many years of experience you are hoping to gain, we wouldn't be having this conversation at all. You would already know that breeding for anything other than ability creates erosion in the working Border Collie. Really very simple. If your goal is the best working Border Collie one can achieve, breeding for color and breeding for ability are mutually exclusive. If your goal is to breed a half-assed working Border Collie that has a certain look or color. Please don't. You are working against the efforts of most of the people on this board.

 

You are also in the wrong forum. I'm sure there are AKC forums that would love to have this discussion with you. They have done a wonderful job of breeding for a look and creating a bucket full of half-assed Border Collies that have diminished working ability.

 

My apologies for being blunt. Kinda.

 

dave

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But what exactly is the problem with having stock dogs who are not the best- but have other qualities that you're looking for? I'm not looking to be the best. I'm looking to have individually extraordinary red working dogs.

 

Breeding for less than optimum working ability is a disservice to the breed. The breed was created by farmers and shepherds whose sole criterion was working ability -- to breed the best possible partners for the management of livestock. That's what gave us the border collie breed we have enjoyed up to now. Breed for other things, as so many are doing today, and you will change the nature of the dogs you produce, and not for the better. Nothing is easier than producing a red dog. And pretty much nothing is harder than producing a good working dog, because of the complexity of the traits that must be present and balanced. It's a far cry from breeding for coat texture and vibrant color and docility.

 

And you know, a racehorse breeder would never say "What's the problem with having racehorses that are not the best - but have other qualities [i.e., color] that you're looking for?" That notion just wouldn't compute -- what would be the point of trying to have a not-the-best white racehorse? But sadly there are many people today who say this or some variation of this about border collies, because they have only an abstract appreciation/understanding of working ability, not an actual one.

 

If breeding for two traits is impossible, why is it that almost all Border Collies have certain breed traits in common? The crouch, the white tail tip, the white collar, the blaze. These are physical traits that have been selectively bred in addition to working ability.

 

I assume you're familiar with Belyaev's foxes? Then you know that breeding for behavioral traits can bring with it superficial physical attributes that were not selectively bred for. It's the same with border collies (although it would be more accurate to say that most border collies have these particular physical attributes rather than to say that almost all do). Nowhere along the line did stockmen consciously select for white tail tips, collars and blazes, and they selected for crouch only insofar as it contributed to the dog's effect on livestock.

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Adding my tuppence to the discussion ... :)/>/>

 

I still don't understand why selecting for both is impossible. Select for talent, yes. Select for coat color also- why not? It'll take some searching and many outcrosses to the dominant colored dogs to maintain exceptional working ability and a wider gene pool, but if the end goal of the program is to produce a well bred line of quality stock dogs, why the heck not?

 

Not impossible. Problematical. Difficult. And possibly unsustainable, if you continue to make the working ability your first priority. More on that in a moment.

 

 

If breeding for two traits is impossible, why is it that almost all Border Collies have certain breed traits in common?

 

I think what we're trying to tell you is that it's not just TWO traits. Working ability is not a single trait: it's a collection of many traits, the strengths and weaknesses inherent to each individual dog. For example, when working, is my bitch pushy or patient? Bold or timid? Excitable or calm? Strong-eyed or loose-eyed? Bidable or stubborn? Does she have a nice natural outrun or is she more of a driving dog? Does she have clean flanks or does she tend to slice in? Is she prone to grip?

 

All these and other factors add up to considerations when choosing a mate for breeding, because you don't want to double-up on undesirable working traits. So, adding color to your breeding criteria means that the gene pool for your red-dog breeding prospects becomes vanishingly small. There are lots of red border collies out there! But only few are true, good working dogs.

 

The crouch, the white tail tip, the white collar, the blaze. These are physical traits that have been selectively bred in addition to working ability.

 

Actually, no.

 

The crouch is not "in addition to" the working ability: it's part of the working ability. The crouch accompanies the famous border collie "eye." The "eye" has been bred for but not as a cosmetic look, rather as a means of controlling and moving livestock. It's the intensity of that eye which dictates the degree of a border collie's crouch. Strong-eyed dogs work with more crouch. BCs with less eye work in a less-crouchy, more upright fashion. The border collie crouch itself was never bred for. It just showed up as part and parcel to the working ability.

 

The white collar, blaze and tail tip pattern is another genetic incidental. That color pattern is called "Irish spotting" and also occurs in breeds of dogs unrelated to border collies, including Shih Tzus, King Charles Cavaliers and Boston Terriers. (Plus those domesticated Russian foxes.) It's mainly a quirk of nature that, while farmers were breeding for working qualities, this color pattern showed up and became a trademark of the border collie.

 

Yes, some shepherds preferred darker-faced dogs in the belief that sheep didn't respect white-faced dogs. But other shepherds liked white-faced dogs in the belief that the whiter face didn't scare or spook sheep the way a dark-faced dog would.

 

However - at NO time were border collies bred specifically for a white collar or blaze face or white tipped tail. They were bred for work and the color pattern came along for the ride.

 

That's what we're trying to impress upon you. Breeding for color plus working ability is NOT breeding for "just two things." Breeding for working ability is itself a juggling match of several things, trying to match multiple traits in a dog and bitch that hopefully will work well together - and even then, genetics may not play out the way a breeder thought.

 

The physical attributes of the border collie evolved incidentally as the dog was selectively bred to work. If you can find away to balance all those considerations and still track down a dog or bitch - somewhere on the planet - who not only compliment's your border collie's working abilities, but it's also the correct color ... you'll have accomplished something remarkable.

 

Maybe it can be done. But most of the efforts we see pretty much fizzle, and they end up with pretty dogs who have very watered-down working ability.

 

Just my thoughts!

Respectfully submitted,

 

~ Gloria

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However - at NO time were border collies bred specifically for a white collar or blaze face or white tipped tail. They were bred for work and the color pattern came along for the ride.

 

Exactly - the OP will presumably know about the accidental effect on appearance when selecting for an apparently unconnected trait from the Belyaev silver fox study that you and Eileen mention.

 

Bred for tameness, ended up useless for the for trade because they started to sort of resemble BCs in form and colour. (Not supporting the fur trade but that's where the study was carried out.)

 

Even breeding for working ability alone is a genetic minefield, throw an irrelevant factor like appearance into the mix and the potential complications will increase exponentially. You only have to look at the show world to see how well that works out.

 

BCs have the advantage of a large gene pool to pick from and it should stay that way without limiting choice for unimportant reasons like colour.

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The genetics involved may be different but the genetic concept is still the same. Mode of inheritance is mode of inheritance whether you're talking about pretty colors or a stockdog's ability and talent.

Colors are controlled by only a few genes. How many genes (or traits) do you think are involved in working ability and style?

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"Naysayers. I am so sick of the naysayers."

 

There is a big difference between "naysayers" and people with good, solid, sound advice that comes from experience, knowledge, and understanding.

 

Perhaps our responses might have been a bit more palatable if you had only stated your interests as wanting to find a well-bred, working-bred pup or dog; to work with good, honest mentors/trainers/clinicians; a place to learn about and work with livestock, along with training your dog on livestock, and maybe a place of your own and stock of your own when you know enough to do that; to learn how to work your dog in various farm or ranch situations, and be successful on the trial field (a good way to test the dog's abilities and your understanding of training and handling); and a chance to get a good start for yourself and your dog - with the idea that someday, maybe 10 or 20 years from now, you might have the knowledge and the proven quality of dog/bitch to breed a litter and so achieve a goal of having your own line of quality working dogs.

 

That's called "walking before you run" or learning things "one step at a time".

 

I'd admire someone with a plan like that. If those are your goals, then I wish you the best.

 

Some of the very people who are trying to explain things to you are people who have been down this path themselves, and they speak from a position of experience and understanding.

 

PS - If the genetics of breeding quality stockdogs was a simple as the genetics of breeding mice for coat and color, then anybody with a basic understanding of fairly simple genetics could make the decisions to breed quality working dogs - but it isn't!

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I don't know much about them beyond what I've read on their websites but do Abingdon Ranch and Basin Border Collies count for anything?

If you know people up in that general part of the country who are familiar with them, people who seriously work dogs in real-life ranch/farm situations and trial successfully at Open level (sheep and cattle), having years of experience under their belt - no, they don't count for anything. And neither does any other color breeder that I know of.

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Every year I work dogs, I learn more. I have bred a few litters but you can buy some pretty great dogs instead of breeding. I had my name on the list for a breeding and I was too far down the list. Low and behold I got a call asking if I wanted to take a dog (i didn't care, dog or bitch, liked the breeding), but he was red. Crap I thought to myself...a red dog...and roughish coat at that. But if I practice what I preach, I liked the breeding and wanted a puppy out of that cross. So i have a red well bred dog. Not what i originally had in mind (out of a b/w and b/tri), and he will get bred if he proves himself as a very good dog, not a decent dog that is red

 

Years and Years some of these people have been at it. It isn't like going into the show ring, picking a foundation bitch, a suitable fluffy pants ewers great CH and breeding. Working traits and biddablility the border collie has are amazing.

 

Take a run over to the Bittersweet trial and watch and enjoy and ask questions. Spectators are welcomed. Take lessons, buy a trained dog, realize what you don't know and be humble and learn! And enjoy this wonderful dog that generations of shepherds and farmers have bred for a purpose

 

Cynthia

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You are studying animal science? Great! Research these topics. They should answer many of your questions.

 

linked traits

 

Russian fur fox experiment

 

neotenization

 

founder effect

 

genetic drift

 

I will add others if I think of any.

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I would like to recommend two books that have proven to be both useful and inspirational to us, the first is "New Guide to Breeding Old Fashioned Working Dogs" by Guy Gregory Orminston, Guy actually suggests a plan for someone like yourself to get started at breeding top quality dogs not only as working dogs but also dogs of great character which is also very important when it comes to quality stock work.

 

The second book, which ties directly in, IMO is "Working Sheep Dogs, a practical guided to breeding, training and handling" by Tully Williams. Tully actually goes into depth explaining the different working traits and styles along with different charecteristics that can be pitfalls as you are breeding and selecting.

 

I keep both of these books at my finger tips and at the ready to be reviewed. Each time I open them and review what is written I find that there is new meaning in the words as my expirence and understanding has evolved, the same is true with the training books I have read and reread. As our base understanding of the topic developes our ability to comprehend what others are sharing with us also expands.

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I asked for advice because I wanted advice. Further questioning that advice doesn't mean I'm refusing to listen.

Well you are questioning advice that forms the consensus of a group of people that have much more experience with handling and breeding border collies than you.

From your posts it is very clear you lack the knowledge/experience to question this advice. That to me comes very near to "refusing to listen".

Leaving now ;)/>

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You my friends are Saints and I really admire the work and kind effort you put out there in order to teach.

 

 

 

To the oringinal Poster - To try to learn about something is a good thing. You are trying to learn, good for you.

 

 

 

Go to the trial....then go out to a big commercial farm that raises livestock as a buisness and uses the dogs.

 

 

Keep reading and rereading this thread.

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Well you are questioning advice that forms the consensus of a group of people that have much more experience with handling and breeding border collies than you.

From your posts it is very clear you lack the knowledge/experience to question this advice. That to me comes very near to "refusing to listen".

 

I don't think that's quite fair. There's nothing wrong with not automatically accepting what you are told as the gospel truth. No doubt she will be given conflicting advice elsewhere equally vehemently.

 

And there's nothing wrong with questioning why there is an assumption that something can't be done. History is littered with examples where received wisdom has been challenged and proved false.

 

Also determination to realise an ambition should be encouraged.

 

However, I do think the OP seems to be a little naive and simplistic about what she wants to achieve and red russel hit the nail on the head as to why this sort of thread usually follows a predictable pattern -

 

The fascinating aspect of this forum, and I would suppose many others, is that folks come looking for advice, lack experience and, most often, don't know what they don't know.

 

Which is why, of course, they come to the forum in the first place. Then when they get the advice, they don't want to hear it because it contradicts what they have already decided, which is only natural because they don't know what they don't know.

 

So folks on the forum, being the good folks that they are, (not always nice but most often well intended) attempt to share with these new individuals, using the decades of experience and knowledge they have acquired after making so many mistakes themselves, those things they don't know.

 

FWIW I don't get the impression that the OP is as intransigent as others may have been in simliar threads and I hope she will come to understand that there's a lot more to what she would like to do than seems to be the case from where she is standing now.

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You make good points Mum24dogs.

 

And of course you can take the verb "to question" in different ways; The (in my opinion) positive way of questioning an expert´s group´s opinion in the sense of, why do they hold that opinion or what does that opinion mean?

 

Or the questioning the validity of the aforementioned expert´s group consensus opinion. If you do and of course you have every right to do so the only response in my opinion is educate yourself and examine the question in depth. In this particular case probably not possible without becoming an experienced handler.

 

I have a feeling the second case applies (but I could be wrong of course). What I read in the posts is a strong determination to breed red dogs no matter what, and "questioning" every advice /opinion that is not supporting this desire.

 

NB, Just to be clear, I do not belong to the "expert group", I just agree with their opinions for obvious reasons.

 

Hm didn´t I mention having left...?

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At this point, the OP doesn't know what she doesn't know--the way an eighth grader who aced her science class might appear if she turned up on an MIT post-doc physics list and asked where she could find a good wrench because she planned to build a rocket that would be powered by the sun. It's not impossible to have such a machine built, but there is an awful lot of information she'd have to learn before she should be worrying about the wrench. It's not "wrong" for her to question the experiences and advice shared by the physicists on the list, but it might be seen as a tad ridiculous (and arrogant) for her to assume that because she feels she has learned all about the solar properties involved with photosynthesis in plants, she just needs to learn a little about astrophysics to build that solar-powered rocket.

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Welcome, Christina, to this forum, and wish you the best. This thread contains references to good stockmanship and genetic principles books, so I won't add to that existing list. If you are interested in learning about stockdog culture/history you will find an excellent list of resources in the tabs above the border collie logo on this page. Urge you to study, learn, discuss, get a BC, locate a qualified coach, attend sheepdog trials, and train frequently with your dog. Daunting list, yes. Easy, no. Satisfying, incredibly so.

 

Stick with this forum. This is the place to be. Don't take invitations or suggestions to go elsewhere. Members vary widely in personality, communication style, background and interests. Go with reasoned, measured, kind sounding voices. There are plenty of them.

 

Let me know if there is anything I can do to assist. Welcome again. -- Kind regards, TEC

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