Jump to content
BC Boards
Sign in to follow this  
Guest PairDogx1.5

"Hard-wiring" vs. environment

Recommended Posts

Guest PairDogx1.5

It seems like one of the things we tout about well-bred working Border Collies is the "hard-wiring", their abitity to demonstrate the centuries of careful breeding that went into making them what they are. My question is what do most of you think is the balance of influence between the hard-wiring and the rearing & environment? Is the breeding easily undone by the environment the dog lives through? Is it not easily undone? Is it merely covered over and able to re-surface easily, or not? Might it re-surface unexpectedly and surprise you? How predictable is it? Or can anything be squelched & modified & controlled & anticipated by the way the animal is influenced in it's life?

 

Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest PrairieFire

Too much time on your hands, Pairdog...or just a wee drap in the evening...?

 

We had a bitch come to us (our breeding, and you know my beleifs on breeding only for working) - that had spent 5 years doing flyball (apparently at a national competition level, but what do I know)...raised as a pet in a house with children, basic obedience work, all that...

 

I finally talked the owner into letting me take her to sheep.

 

On her very first expereince she went out in a nice outrun, got behind the sheep at a nice distance, and stopped - inched forward until the sheep started moving - then lay down as they lifted...

 

Her FIRST ever experience on sheep.

 

At five years old.

 

After extensive pet and flyball training.

 

 

------------------

Bill Gary

Kensmuir, Working Stockdog Center

River Falls, WI

715.426.9877

www.kensmuir.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nature vs Nurture--that old arguement will rage on for eternity.

 

From my experience, the herding 'desire' is a very difficult thing to define. Hence the major problem with so called herding instinct tests. And along with desire are traits such as balance, biddability, eye etc. Having seen more than a few dogs (and many different breeds) over the years, IMO environment CAN modify herding desire.

 

I have seen dogs which were used exclusively for obedience until the age of 10 years suddenly 'turn on' and be able to do simple chores (50 yard fetches, holding a few sheep off feeders etc) without any training whatsoever. And I have seen 'well bred' pups kept as pets and not expoded to sheep til about age 2 years which never really show any great interest in stock. It varies greatly.

 

I have also trained a couple of dogs which showed minimum natural talent--essentially no balance, moderate to little 'eye'--but these dogs had tremendous trainability. Once they learned the basics and were placed where they worked daily in real farm situations they blossomed into tremendous dogs, and if the owners had desired (or had the handling skills), would have been very good trials dogs.

 

And take the case of the young pup which 'escapes' into the cows often. His owner beats him every time. Some pups will still desire to work, while others will simply decide that it isn't worth it. If said dog does not work which is it, nature or nurture?

 

And among the 'other' breeds I have found examples which have very good talent--although it 'looks' different from a BC since most of these dogs lack the 'style of the BC. Some of these dogs have very good balance and even 'eye' to a certain extent. Most lact the physical structure and some of the mental components (mainly lacking the internal drive to accept typical pressures from training) to make top notch dogs, but they DO have some of the elements.

 

This is why it is so very important to test (in a real way, not a simple 'instinct' test) each generation of dogs to see what is in them before breeding to ensure the continuance of the breed as a working breed. As has been pointed out several times, while the working traits can remain around, 'hard wired' as it were, for many generations, the quality can be lost in a single generation and the ability either 'lost' or burried within the genetics in two generation.

 

As for breeding the bitch with little 'talent', that is best left to those who 'know' IMO breeding is sorta like gambling. You play a sorta 'genetics roulette'. I believe it was Carol Schaffner many years ago--when BC;s were few and far between in the US--who suggested breeding a bitch once, and if you didn't like her pups, try a different stud, then if she still didn't throw good pups, get rid of her (or at least don't breed her again!). Essentially, not all crosses will produce 'good ones', but if you aren't quickly seeing the desired results, try another approach.

 

Pam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest PairDogx1.5

nah Bill, just been saving them up for when I had a moment or two... smile.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...