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Performance dog: breeder or rescue?

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Thought I would get your opinions on where I should look for my next performance dog (agility for sure, possibly flyball, rally, herding, etc.).


I've narrowed breeds down to German Shepherd, Border Collie, AmStaff, or Australian Cattle Dog so far and I know I want a male. My current girl is a BC, possibly mixed with cattle dog.


There are two adolescent ACD (and/or BC) mixes at the local shelter that could be promising and I know BC rescue gets a lot of potential performance dogs too. I hesitate to get a GSD or AmStaff from rescue for performance due to the structural problems in GSD and dog aggression in AmStaffs.


I found a great breeder of AmStaffs who I've been talking with and I could probably get a pup from her in the next few years that has parents with health cerfs and low incidence of dog aggression. My uncle breeds good GSDs, but I don't know if hhis dogs' temperament is suitable for a working situation (much calmer, lower drive I think). I could find a good pup from BC working lines too I'm sure - never a breeder of strictly agility or conformation dogs of course.


I had my heart set on a baby pup, but those two cattle dog teenagers are awfully tempting.


Can you all give me some things to think about when it comes to shelter animals vs. breeder animals in this situation? What about adolescents vs. baby pups?



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The cattle dogs, am staff and gsd's all have body shapes that aren't always the best for agility, though the cattle dog is the best for this, as sometimes you can get one that doesn't look like a fire plug as the breed people strive for (read: something with legs :rolleyes: . Cattle dogs can be tough- my friend had one bitch from working lines that until her dying day was NOT friendly to people or dogs, but a good dog to her owner. She has a middle aged male that has done very well in agility, but is somewhat soft! So, you really need to research. I know several folks in the north east who have gotten their cattle dogs from a breeder down south, and I have loved everyone one of them (they are smart, athletically built, and not too tough, but not too soft.).

As for shelter animals, heck, there are SO many awesome dogs, I would say that would be a great way to go, if you do your research on the dog as much as you can.


Since you also want to do other things, why not look at BC rescue- there are SO many great dogs out there, several who are at the BIG DANCE in Scottsdale this weekend (USDAA's annual tour de force).



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Adorable puppies will BE teenagers in just a few months so why not just jump right to teenage stage if you are dedicated to training (sounds like you are). That way you can also get a better picture of the dog's potential in a addition to having a good idea of size, personality, etc.


Same goes for any rescue. Some rescuers will even let you pay for health checks on a dog you are seriously considering (ie, hip/eye tests).

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If you go with an acd and want one to do performance events with, get one that is leggy. Many of the show acd's have shorter legs and squat looks. They may still have drive but are not as well suited for performance events because of the structure - you will loose speed and agility.


I currently have an acd and she is awesome. She is more leggy than many you see. In our region for flyball and the surrounding regions, Foster is probably one of the fastest,if not fastest cattledog. I am not trying to brag - she runs an avg of 4.3-4.4 with a best of 4.2 and all the others are running about an avg of 4.8 or slower. She is also more driven and not very soft. She is not unfriendly, but she is not all gaga over folks or other dogs. She is not very affectionate and could care les about being loved on, most times. She is a ball to the walls dog and never does anything 1/2 way. She comes from a working cattledog farm which I think has something to do with how she is... I know a few acd's from AKC lines and none of them touch Foster drive wise, toughness, or work ethic. All those folks said they would never want a Foster because of how she is. I personally love how she is and would get another.


There are a ton of nice rescues out there. I would definitely look into one of those before a puppy. You can start training earlier, you can have an idea of structure, you will have a better idea of how they get on with people and other animals and you will know the drive element.


I would also be weary of getting a GSD for performance events. GSD's are my favorite breed but I do not think I would ever own another. They are just to temperamental and the ortho problems are to great. I do know someone who knows some wonderful GSD breeders and I can ask for some references if you want...


Good luck

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Thanks for the input thus far everyone!


I too was leaning toward the ACD (leggy version, no 'show' dogs for me) or a BC. I love shepherds and AmStaffs, but they will probably be my 'family' dogs down the road.


My current girl was adopted at 11 mo and although she herds more like a BC than an ACD, I think she's prob a mix of the two. I think I may try to rescue another ACD/BC mix for my next dog - I can't choose between the two breeds and I don't really want to be like everyone else running a BC in agility lol.


I would love to raise a pup cause I really miss not knowing Maggie as a baby pup, but I think for performance it might be better to look at dogs b/n 6mo and 1 yo since they're still young, but old enough to see some of their adult build and personality like someone mentioned earlier.


More thoughts are always welcome!

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Here's the link to one of the dogs at the shelter that got me thinking - I think he's prob BC/ACD personally given the build and markings.




Wish I wasn't still in school cause he sounds like a great boy.

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It's definitely your decision but I would go for a 6-12 month old rescue pup if a good Flyball dog is your main focus. BC rescues are always on the look-out for performance homes, because sooo many BC's (and other herding breeds) are abandoned because they aren't happy in an average pet home.


I totally understand your wanting to raise a puppy, and getting a pup from a reputable breeder will give you a lot of reassurance on a dog that be have sound health and temperament for performance. I'd guess that almost any Border Collie puppy from working parents will have great work/herding drive and would excel in Flyball, Agility, Herding, whatever :rolleyes:

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I would love to raise a pup cause I really miss not knowing Maggie as a baby pup
I can relate to that - I miss not knowing Sammie and Maddie as puppies. Both must have been absolutely adorable.


But I don't miss knowing them as puppies nearly as much as I miss Speedy - the one we did get as a puppy - being a puppy. I'll grant that he's a bazillion times more fun now that he's an adult, but I'll miss that little bundle of puppy for the rest of my life.

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That dog looks like a Texas Heeler to me!!


Personally, I've not seen any reliable indicators of what "makes" a super sport dog. But if I were looking for one, I would go with a young adult that has been preassessed by rescue. Both my agility dogs (and my flyball dog) came from shelters and rescues.


At the AAC Agility Regionals last spring, we had a lot of our rescues running and they all qualified for the Nationals:


Cay was rescued as a young adult and qualified with 335 points in the 22" Regular Division. Cay had only started training about 6 months before and the teenage boy handling her had just started working with her.


Maggie May is a Kelpie or Kelpie X BC who not only qualified with 402.20 points but also took 5th place (of 28 dogs) in the 16" Specials Division.


Seamus, owned and handled by Maggie May's owner, qualified with 301.72 points also in the 16" Specials Division. Seamus is a BC X Cattle Dog and is not particularly drivey. He does fine at agility but is not stellar at it, but Q'd anyway.


Ruger (most of you know Ru) qualified with 369.82 points and a 10th place (of 25 dogs) finish in the 22" Specials Division. Ru came off a chain where he spent his entire life. He is between 5 and 8 years old. He excells at everything, is one of our clubs fastest flyball dogs and he's an excellent herding dog as well.


My dog Tweed, who is probably a BC / Aussie mix, qualified with 411.72 points and a 12th place (of 48 dogs) finish in the 22" Regular Division (the most competitive division). Tweed is not a "drivey" dog but he is a great agility dog.


Wicked, who you all know from these boards, qualified with 349.03 points in the 22" Regular Division.


There are obviously some dogs who will never make the cut as stellar performance dogs, but imo, the majority of them can excell with the right handling and training. I would venture that is the bulk of their success.



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Hmm I'm starting to lean toward the rescue route - and right now it looks like finding a 'Texas Heeler' won't be too difficult (I checked on Petfinder and found quite a few young male BC/ACD mixes).


I have looked at mals but I really do need a dog with an off switch - the ones I have met were usually a little over the top. Do you know if hip dysplasia is more prevalent in mals than BCs or ACDs? That's one of my main concerns with a larger breed especially.


I did work with a fabulous mal at the dog daycare where I worked and he's one reason why they are still in the back of my mind as a performance dog. He was technically owned by my boss, but spent all of his time in a kennel unless I let him out. I actually was able to teach him the English words for basic obedience since he was trained in German (schutzhund work), and I actually had approached my parents about adopting him. He was a big guy though - prob about 80lbs - and already 2 or 3, I can't imagine the energy needs at 6 mo or a year lol. How do they compare to BCs anyway?

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