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Breeding for work ability, etc.

Guest PairDogx1.5

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Guest PairDogx1.5

Let me say first that it is never my intent to start a controversial thread which becomes angry or nasty -- questions come to my mind and I post here to seek answers & understanding.


It was mentioned in another thread that sometimes a good breeder will breed a bitch that displays little talent for working, because she throws good pups (workers). Well, if the bitch showed little talent, how did anyone ever find out she throws good pups? What else was it that the (responsible) breeder saw that made them breed to this bitch? Were they just hoping the pedigree would prevail through her? Or are there more solid factors? What are they?


And, does the same hold true for dogs? Are males ever bred that show little talent for work, but somehow are deemed able to be good "passers of genes"?



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Guest PrairieFire

When knowledgable folks bring up certain breedings that "throw good 'uns", they have a bit more expereince with the breed than most...first off...


As far as "little working ability" - remember, that is a matter of degree...


Many of those breedings that are talked about, are first done by folks with many years of expereince and usually with great success in thier breeding programs.


So they breed a "well bred" dog that perhaps isn't National or International level - but usually works BETTER than most non-open level handler's dogs, under thier tutelage - partly because they can pull that dog out of work for long enough to have pups.


In some cases as well, the bitch works ONLY on the hill - and is considered not trial material - remember, these breedings that most folks refer to, are done, not by hobbyists, but "real" dog folks - National Team members, etc...


There can be a ton of reasons why someone with that expereince would breed a dog or bitch - knowing that, even if the pups weren't of National or International quality - they would still be better than many other breedings...


Sometimes I wonder if there isn't a very big misunderstanding of what makes these "top" dogs - and what exactly they ARE...because many folks in this country have no idea of the abilities of these dogs...only because they haven't been exposed to them...


The "cull" dog, or "hill only" dog of many top breeders - T. Longton, J. Simpson, J.M. Wilson, J. Templeton, C. Smart, S. Davidson, etc. - was probably better than most dogs that you and I see go the post...




Bill Gary

Kensmuir, Working Stockdog Center

River Falls, WI






[This message has been edited by PrairieFire (edited 11-06-2002).]

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Just my experience - definitely I have no real cause to speak to this, not being a breeder myself.


My new pup is from a bitch who has not trialed yet. But both grandsire and granddam are Nationals-level performers, and the breeder has been years under the tutelage of a local genius who himself has been mentored by some overseas breeders who probably know a bit about how working abilities are passed on. Anybody ever hear of John Thomas, H Glyn Jones and Jock Richardson?


Anyway, I wish my pup's dam had been trialed before being bred but it wasn't feasible for various logistical reasons, but I had a lot of faith in both sides of the breeding. My pup fetches sheep from 50 yards away at 3 months old with no training (those "oops" sessions that occur with a really keen pup) so it appears that my faith is well founded.


Yea! I guess this means I can say my pup has "It" and stop this silly herding stuff and put a "Ch" on her front end? (c:




Brook Cove Farm, NC

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I've never heard THIS, but it's definitely true that a bitch who is not suitable for trials will be bred because she throws good pups. Working ability is a complex of many interrelated traits, and a bitch/dog who lacks one may still contribute others to her/his offspring. I know of bitches who are not biddable enough to succeed at trials, for example -- not good at fussy, precise work -- but who will walk straight onto their sheep and take charge in any circumstances, and who will produce terrific trial dogs if bred to the right stud. (The same is no doubt true of dogs, but it's the bitches that come to mind right now.)


To go off on a bit of a tangent here, this brings up one of the biggest problems I have with the BCSA approach to "preserving herding ability." From the start, they wanted to set up a criterion for breeding--some credential that would determine whether a border collie should be bred or not. The one they settled on--passing a herding instinct test--is obviously worthless, but the real problem is that the concept itself is faulty. Even if the credential chosen were winning an open trial, it would still be a bad idea.


Knowledgeable breeders of working dogs use their KNOWLEDGE to determine who should be bred--knowledge of all the elements of working ability, working style, strengths and weaknesses, pedigrees, accomplishments and characteristics of related dogs, ways that certain lines have combined in the past, stockmen's needs, etc. People who have this knowledge can evaluate breeding candidates directly for themselves, including farm and ranch dogs who don't trial and even dogs who have been unsuccessful at trialing. They don't need to rely on checklist criteria. But unfortunately there is no substitute for this kind of knowledge. Long live the people who have it--our breed depends upon them.

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I read about the old timers in UK keeps brood bitches and work is not a requirement in their lives.


If you'll put the knowledge (both stock and dogs) they have into an account,they could afford to keep and breed whatever they wish.

Also,they are not as screamish about dogs,if a dog won't turn out you won't find them running around trying to find pet or alternative homes.

Another point,you won't find the old timers introducing their pups to toys,walks or finding ways to entertain their pups.

They have only one outlet,they obey and get to work.

Very different mentality.


From the pages of WBC mag,one contributor always writes about the importance of breeding only trials winners to trials winners. From where I stand I see what they preach and know only 10% of their breeding actually works.


Breeding is about balance,one cannot put two dogs together with similar faults (WORKING only) and hope the pups will turn out without a trace of those faults.

And unless the dogs are out there working and people are damn honest about what they see and don't like,creating a litter should not be done on a basis of how much one likes what they see in their dogs and believes they ought to be propogated.


My .02 cents,take it for whatever it's worth.






Inci Willard




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Knowledgeable breeders of working dogs use their KNOWLEDGE to determine who should be bred--knowledge of all the elements of working ability, working style, strengths and weaknesses, pedigrees, accomplishments and characteristics of related dogs, ways that certain lines have combined in the past, stockmen's needs, etc. >>Eileen


Well said smile.gif!


I have been helping a german shepherd get started in herding (my sheep are not talking to me LOL)and the owner is totally new to the activity. During the lesson, Nellie was running around loose outside the pen, and Rhett was lying down quietly in one of the possible sheep escape routes. After the lesson, we gabbed a little about her dogs and she commented on Rhett still lying quietly and asked if she was the "mom" of my other dog. I said yes and she asked, "so what titles do you have on her?" I explained that we don't really deal in titles, its a different world than AKC and we are more interested in the work the dog can do. So she asks " how do you know what dogs are good if you don't have titles?". The only answer I could come up with was "because we can see them work". I think that for me really showed the difference, we strive to know a good dog from an ok or substandard dog- while the AKC world looks to its judges to say what is right or wrong, using a limited definition of both.

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