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The yellow/australian red is ee red, not just red or liver. It creates the blonde dog.

 

I believe it's the same gene that produces the golden retriever gold.

 

I wasn't aware that it could mask merle. i true, it's kinda scary in terms of producing double merles by careless breeders.

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Yea, when I was poking around on that dog genetics page that's floating around on Google, the description made it sound a little scary with what it covers.

 

I think it is, since aren't the flat coat and the golden pretty much the same breed? They were just split back when the golden fanciers couldn't put points on the gold dogs, got pissy, and decided to make them a "new" breed?

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FWIW, my red dog was hard to see at great distances (consider the field at Edgeworth in fall, brown grass, dog 600 yards out). But if ease of sight were the only criteria, then perhaps there'd be only white border collies, since I can see my white dog at great distances (and have been told by handlers that even if they can't see the sheep at the set out, they have ususally see Pip holding them). Then again, foggy weather in the UK could change that criterion (my white dog is not easily visible in the fog). ;) But I could easily see him at the same location/distance on the Edgeworth field where I couldn't see Kat....

 

It makes me wonder if most of the stories about color choices are simply just so stories.

 

J.

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Thanks Maxi, and yes I realize the first statement is wrong. I was including tri in my thinking but didn't say that.

Would really be interested in hearing more of the old thoughts on why some colors seemed to be better working dogs than others and any other old myths and possible reasoning behind them.

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I suspect most stories about colors were old wives tales or based on a person's personal experience (small sample sized, skewed opinion).

 

Anti merle:

 

I know some big name UK handlers who won't own a merle because they don't like their work style. If a handler didn't like the work style of a particular bloodline and that line happened to be easy to spot because of their color, it would make sense they develop a bias against the color. All the merles I have found in the world are related, so it's easy to see how this could happen.

 

There is also a health bias against merles (they aren't as healthy). Double merles, if they survive to birth, are often born blind and deaf. Shepherds would take note of that. Even homozygous merles do have a slightly increased risk of being deaf. Combine merle and heavy white on the head, and the odds of a pup being deaf go up even higher.

 

Anti excessive white:

 

Increased risk of a pup being deaf. Increased risk of autoimmune diseases (debated in the veterinary world but accepted as true by many). Different reaction of the sheep (I've seen it happen).

 

Anti red:

 

Bias against a particular bloodline, as with merles?

 

Any time you have an unusual color, it stands out in your mind. If that dog of an unusual color isn't up to your standards, you are more likely to remember it. It would be pretty easy to develop a bias as a result. I happen to have owned a red Border Collie who was an amazing working dog. I have zero bias against red, but I don't like most red Border Collies I see at trials. They really do stand out in my memory because they look different.

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All the merles I have found in the world are related . . .

 

The question is (and I'm not asking this to be confrontational), have you found all the merles in the world? Have you looked into the working merles in Wales, for instance?

 

Re: health bias, I think it's only fair to remove double merles from the equation, as they're a result either of an accident that amounts to irresponsible management or worse, just plain wrongheaded breeding practices.

 

We discussed here recently that blue eyed dogs have a slightly higher likelihood than merles to be deaf, yet for most people there's not the same prejudice (though I'd argue there is/was some among the older hill shepherds, quite possibly for just that reason). So add blue eyes and the risk of deafness would also increase, as it would for a white headed, blue eyed dog of solid color.

 

And some of the earlier merles from the line you mention were good working dogs. I had one and there was one, a contemporary of mine and distantly related, in NH/ME who won the Northeast Championship in his day. I suspect that most of them now, having been bred for reasons other than work, would be pretty sadly lacking, though. <sigh>

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I've seen some working merles I liked. Almost bought one. Just saying that some of the big trialers in the UK don't like the way merles work.

 

"All the merles I have found in the world are related."

 

Not saying they all are, just that all the ones I have personally found are related, going back to a small group of dogs that a single farmer kept in the early to mid 20th century. It seems that most, if not all, of ISDS merles were revived from that family of dogs. It may be that the big trialers, who are old enough to have known the dogs who came from those lines, may have just not liked their work style. We are many generations down now and some of the working bred merles are quite nice. Paint them black and you couldn't tell the difference.

 

Think of merle from a shepherd's point of view. He happens to breed a merle to a merle, not knowing you should not double up on the gene, and he gets deformed, blind, deaf pups. That could certainly turn him off merles for life. Even just a dog who is Mm bred to a dog with heavy white on the head, resulting in some deaf pups, could also turn them off merle (and white heads).

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"All the merles I have found in the world are related."

 

Not saying they all are, just that all the ones I have personally found are related, going back to a small group of dogs that a single farmer kept in the early to mid 20th century. It seems that most, if not all, of ISDS merles were revived from that family of dogs.

 

Interesting. I'd love it if you'd consider sharing the details to me in a PM. I can send you my e-mail addy.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I love the video from the 1930s or 1940s that was mentioned by Maxi - if I am not mistaken, the sire of the litter of puppies who is shown working the flock of sheep is a merle.

Obviously, it's hard to say from an old black and white film clip but FWIW I'm not convinced the sire in this video is merle.. If he were, you'd expect about 50% of the pups to also carry the merle coat pattern - but none appear to. Most seem to be black and white with one being a lighter colour.

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One very well known handler believes that red dogs don't hold up as well, physically. As a result many of his followers are also anti-red dog. Sometimes it's as simple as that....

 

J.

 

....or maybe the last sentence of Julie's comment could be.... 'Sometimes it's as sad as that....'

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One very well known handler believes that red dogs don't hold up as well, physically. As a result many of his followers are also anti-red dog. Sometimes it's as simple as that....

 

J.

 

 

It could be true in his own experience but not necessarily true across the board.

 

If there are few red dogs in the population and those dogs are from less than superb stock then locally there may be validity in such a prejudice. Elsewhere there may be red dogs coming from very good lines.

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Obviously, it's hard to say from an old black and white film clip but FWIW I'm not convinced the sire in this video is merle.. If he were, you'd expect about 50% of the pups to also carry the merle coat pattern - but none appear to. Most seem to be black and white with one being a lighter colour.

 

 

Statistically, yes, you'd expect this, but genetics is a crap shoot.

 

It's conceivable to have an all solid colored litter with a merle parent, as well as one that has all merle puppies and no solids.

 

Would it be unusual? Of course. But both are within the realm of possibility.

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Statistically, yes, you'd expect this, but genetics is a crap shoot.

 

It's conceivable to have an all solid colored litter with a merle parent, as well as one that has all merle puppies an no solids.

 

Would it be unusual? Of course. But both are within the realm of possibility.

Happened to a friend of mine. Used her merle dog as stud for a red / white bitch wanting a merle pup as a stud fee and they were all b/w or r/w.

 

She's more than happy with the r/w pup she took though.

 

And no, I don't approve of her breeding practices but no one made me queen of the world yet.

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Statistically, yes, you'd expect this, but genetics is a crap shoot.

 

It's conceivable to have an all solid colored litter with a merle parent, as well as one that has all merle puppies and no solids.

 

Would it be unusual? Of course. But both are within the realm of possibility.

 

The genetic chances of any pup in a litter being solid coloured from a merle sire is the same as getting a head when flipping a coin..So sure, all solid coloured pups in a litter from a merle parent happens and using the coin analogy, it's like getting a run of heads.

 

Just for information, some frames in the news reel being discussed in this sub- thread show 7 or 8 similar-aged pups together (so I assume these are from the same litter), So the odds of all solid pups happening from a merle sire ( if he is in fact merle) in this particular case are either 128:1 or 256:1 (for 7 or 8 pups respectively)...so sure it can happen...but it is much more likely that the light coloured sire is not merle.

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It could be true in his own experience but not necessarily true across the board.

 

Well, sure. My point was that a respected *individual* can easily spread his/her personal prejudice to a larger population, thereby feeding into the whole "myth making" regarding how color affects a dog (or stock).

 

One such myth is that red dogs have more temperament issues (kind of like red-headed people, lol). I happened to own a fear aggressive, sound sensitive red dog. If I chose to tell all my students that red dogs are known to have temperament issues at a greater frequency than other colors within the working border collie population and then held up my own dog as an example, I would be perpetuating a myth by using a very small anecdotal example and my own personal influence on my students.

 

J.

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I also wonder where all the colors and patterns came from? .

HUGE question.. Check out http://www.doggenetics.co.uk. The information on this website doesn't just relate to border collies, but it may help explain why there are so many different colours. ( several of the coat colour genes can work together to produce yet more colours).

 

Several of the alleles for the different genes that cause the variation in coat colour/pattern are recessive. This means that when a dog carries only one copy, they do not produce any alteration in the coat colour of the dog itself..

 

In addition, If this 1 copy does not have an effect on working ability or health of the dog AND even if working ability is the main (only) criteria for breeding BCs.... then these different coat colour alleles will remain 'hidden' within the population because there is no real reason to select against dogs who carry them.

 

But if this carrier dog is mated with another dog that also has a similar recessive allele then some of the pups may be homozygous for that gene mutation and these pups will show the different coat colours. So in theory, producing an occasional 'odd' coloured dog in a litter should not be an issue (though in some cases.. having 2 copies of the altered coat colour allele can have consequences for health..Merle is often cited as an example here)

 

However, if you decide that your breeding strategy is to put colour first and make working ability of the parents less important...then you increase the risk of producing pups who do not contain the right combination of genes to have the potential to become excellent working dogs.

 

Hope this makes sense.. I'm sure others will be able to explain it much more clearly and also expand on things like 'spontaneous mutations', 'popular sires' 'founder effects', 'epigenetics' and 'mosaicism'... All of which will also play a role in producing the multitude of coat colour and patterns seen.

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