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Breeding for Trials vs Breeding for Work.....Your opinions?

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Hi all,

ISDS Chairman in a video about Bob Fraser said Bob bred for everyday work and not the Trials. Of course we're going back to mid-century Mindrum line of BC's.


Anyone like to share their thoughts on exactly what YOU think this means, or in a modern day context? Stamina? Speed? Versatility?


As many different opinions welcome....

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"Everyday work" can be vastly different based upon how livestock is managed on that farm or in that region. Management methods are often influenced by the geography and climate in that region.


Before I would comment on everyday work being an adequate evaluator for selection of breeding I would want to know what everyday work entails on that farm; it may or may not be a high enough standard for me. I would say the same for the work at trials; I would want to know more about the work needed for the trials.

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Once you start breeding for a purpose other than the one he dog was originally bred for, you are heading down a slippery slope. Well-bred working collies can take on a variety of tasks other than herding, as is true for other well-bred working and herding dogs. Exaggerating certain traits and minimizing others is not a good idea when what you have traditionally is a smart dog who wants to work.

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Like Mark, I believe there are too many contexts and situations to make blanket statements about trial bred vs. working bred. There are traits I like in a dog that *might* make that dog less suitable for trialing, but that's not the same as saying the dog couldn't trial. Trials are what they are, and some are a better test than others, but I think it would be difficult to say that a dog that wins only X type of trials is the best dog. Nor is the dog who wins only Z type of trials. What about the dogs who don't win every time they go out, but who place consistently in both X and Z type trials? What about the dogs that people pull right off of work on the farm and take to trials? I for one, pretty much never practice trial courses, but my dogs can and have run well in open trials.


I fall into the school of people who believe that real work is what makes a good working dog, but that a dog who does real work should be able to be polished up enough to also trial (in general). At the upper level of trialing I really think most people want their dogs to be able to do real work and will find every opportunity possible to make that happen (assuming that don't own stock).


There was a similar discussion on Facebook recently and the question was whether people demanded the same precision at home when doing chores that they would at a trial (which is just one subset of the farm vs. trial question). The answers were interesting. Some people insisted that if you allowed a dog to "cheat" at home, then it would also cheat at a trial. But others (and I fell into this category), noted that sometimes one needed and could allow "rougher" work at home. That doesn't mean we allow our dogs to behave badly and therefore they could never be trialed, but rather that we trust our dogs to understand context and that we believe you can take a dog that has, for example, been dealing with belligerent ewes with lambs at home and still trial it with finesse on flighty hair sheep.


If the dogs have been properly bred and trained--for work, with all aspects of work being considered (and not, for example, just because it's done well in a few novice classes on well broke sheep)--then it's my opinion that the dogs should be able to do both. Will they always be stellar? Probably not, but then generally no dog really is.



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