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Conformation Herding Champion


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To all of you that participated in this thread and felt that what you said fell on deaf ears after reading Doug's final summation, please know there are those of us who lurked, learned a lot, appreciate the time you have taken to share your knowledge, and the fact that you kept it very respectful despite the difficult subject matter. I, for one, don't know enough yet to have participated in the discussion, but I "feel it" and look forward to meeting you in person on the trial field someday.

 

Jodi

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"Herder Collies" often have poor construction, and have to work unnecessarily hard to counteract their lack of form.
you have got to be kidding me. misty was bred for function not form, yet she has the best structure you could imagine, for working that is. I have had AKC peope tell me that misty is to small, to thin, and out of proportion. struction is somthing I pay very close attention to, and again I am not talking about looks, I am talking about the kind of structure that makes misty tough(bred for cattle) and less likley for bad injury caused by, say being kicked. but of coarse misty would never make it in the show ring, she is smooth coated, small, thin, split face, and huge prick ears.

 

misty_stacked.jpg

 

care to argue that this dog would have horrable problems working because she does not meet conformation standerds? honestly :rolleyes:

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I have to second what Jodi said, and thanks for saying it so well. I've been checking this thread first for days!

 

I've learned enormous amounts about not only border collies, but the value many people place on form/looks/beauty. It's sad to me, in many ways. I've always been a 'function first, then form' sort of person, and wouldn't you know it, I wind up thinking border collies are the best dogs in the world!

 

Thanks to all of you for taking the time to write with such knowledge, eloquence and patience so that we could learn. Education never stops.

 

Ruth n the Border Trio

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Yes, Jodi, again thank you for your comments!!!

 

You probably represent many people like myself who have found this thread an educational experience about working Border Collies, why the vast majority of us shouldn't be breeding dogs, and about the history (with pictures) of some famous contributors to the breed.

 

I have to admit that I have looked forward to reading this thread each day for the information and education it has been to me.

 

By the way, we own two young purebred dogs from working lines, both started on cattle, and both neutered. I understand more and more why Border Collie breeding is for those who are capable and competent to assess and evaluate dogs, prove them, and combine lines that work.

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Doug,

Ever heard "form follows function"? Do you honestly believe that the "herder collies," as you call them, have such poor structure that they have to struggle to do their work? Do you honestly believe that people who use these dogs for work day in and day out are breeding dogs who are not built to do the work they are meant to do? Do you honestly believe that tipped ears, heavy coat, heavy bone, and a particular sort of stop or color eye have anything to do with a dog's ability to do it's job working stock day in and day out?

 

I hope that most of the people who have read this thread have actually gotten out of it that a great working border collie doesn't have to *look* a certain way to be a a great working dog (as Becca's pictures show so beautifully). Doug, in case you misunderstood (as apparently you did),Becca (nor anyone else for that matter) never said that the dogs pictured were poorly built, only that they didn't meet a conformation standard for *looks* and might well be considered ugly by some who let the looks instead of the work be their guide. Let me put this another way, ugly or pretty is a value judgment, and individuals have different ideas of what is ugly and what is beautiful, but the work is not based on value judgements--the dog can either do it or it cannot. And so far I have yet to see any conformation champions doing the work to the same standard as your average working-bred dog.

 

No doubt Doug is confusing *looks* with structure, which is akin to saying that a blonde with blue eyes who is under 5'4" (looks) couldn't possibly be a triathlete because she doesn't fit some arbitrary looks standard of what a triathlete should be. Please.

 

When conformation-bred border collies can go out and work to the same standard as working-bred border collies, then perhaps the conformation breeders will be able to discuss the importance of structure with the working dog breeders. But, in truth the conformation breeders pay lip service to structure and its importance while actually worshipping at the altar of looks. Just ask the German shepherds whether arbitrary looks or useful structure were actually achieved with a conformation standard requiring excessive angulation and an extremely sloping topline. Or the breeds such as bulldogs and pugs with extremely flat faces that have breathing problems. Or the breeds like bloodhounds that have significant eye problems because the breed standard and the fads call for excessive droopiness of the eyelids, which leads to too many infections, with blindness being the ultimate result. But breed a dog with a "tighter" eye? God forbid, as it would never become a champion. So instead let the dogs suffer to meet a looks standard that has nothing to do with any sort of healthfulness and usefulness. You get the picture (well some of you do at least).....

 

J.

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So far today, I have handled about 600 sheep through a sorting race, weighing about 50 lambs to draw a load of 20 to very exacting specifications (five between 40 and 45 pounds, with finish, still on milk, three 45 to 50 pounds, etc.) for a customer that pays top dollar, but only for exactly what they want.

 

I have some tired, but very happy dogs. I still have a few hours of daylight left and after I finish evening rounds, I think I may take them all to the pond for a dip. Might even join them myself.

 

Doug may think he can improve on what the shepherds of the past centuries have given us. He's welcome to try. I doubt seriously that he can do it, and that makes me all the more thankful that there are good stock people -- some simple farmers and some with high-level degrees -- who are working to ensure that when Molly, Bess, Tweed, Nap, and the others have to take their rest, there will be others coming up behind them, begging for the chance to fill their roles, and show me how much better they are than the ones that went before them.

 

If only the AKC would close its studbook, so many of these issues would resolve themselves. All the ambiguity would be gone -- everyone would acknowledge that there are two breeds of dog that share the same name and some common ancestry, but little else.

 

In the meantime, it's like being an afficianado of good diner food, or old-time music. It's out there. You just have to know where to look.

 

After a while, the imposters are pretty obvious. And the hunt is as much a part of the fun as the finding of the thing.

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Very eloquently stated, Bill. I only wish to have a task like that on my agenda one day.

 

You bring up a very good point, and one I hadn't put much thought into, probably because the date keeps getting extended. What will happen when the AKC closes its stud books ... Hmmm...

 

Jodi

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---"What will happen when the AKC closes its stud books ... Hmmm...

 

Jodi"---

 

If the ABCA wants to contest the AKC Border Collie name for the breed, as the Jack Russel people did as was mentioned in one post above, maybe it should do so before the books close?

 

One other point on working border collies not being sound, as some misguided soul mentioned:

 

I just had my working border collie dog spayed and hips x-rayed at the same time and the vet keep saying how they were some of the nicest and most functional he had seen in long time.

 

My dog comes from old working lines and several generations of high point cattle herding dogs, bred for their working ability.

 

It is not very logical to say, as that poster did, that working dogs have poor conformation for their task and work being handicapped by it.

Not very probable, the work is too hard.

 

Only the ones properly built for it and that doesn't mean that they all have to look the same, as there are different looks that are functional, have the ability to work for hours on end and days and years.

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I have had my dogs in with three different vets at different practices, and they always comment on how healthy and fit they are, and working dogs in general are, compared with many traditional show breed. And one of these vets shows Standard Schnauzers, so she's not neccessarily slanted toward the working breeds (my other two vets breed field pointers and Berners).

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Oh, I don't know who those Beardie dogs are - they're from John McColloch's "Sheep Dogs and Their Masters", p 47.

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Here's something that just occurred to me, as I was looking at my utterly typically black and white bitch who nevertheless is not acceptable according to the Australian standard due to her coyote ears:

 

One of the excuses people make for conformation standards is that it is important, for some reason, to be able to recognize a dog as a member of Breed X by its appearance. The standards are often based on an idea of what the majority of the parent population looked like or what an important founding sire (or more rarely, dam) looked like. i.e., Joe Dirt had a very fine hound who was black and tan, so the Mississippi Dirt Hound must always be black and tan. &c.

 

However, I've noticed that in practice, the traits that are selected for don't make much sense by these criteria, or even in the context of the just-so stories concocted to justify the standards that are written. Anyone with eyes can see that the vast majority of Border Collies are black and white. Old Hemp was, as far as I can tell, black and white. If you ask any random schmuck on the street what a Border Collie looks like, he'll tell you they're black and white. What justification can there be, then, for selecting for fashion colors like yellow ("Australian red") or light grey (lilac) that were rarely, if ever, seen in the parent population? I mean, crikey, Solo's red (sorry, I meant "chocolate") and the average person on the street has a hard time identifying him as a Border Collie, although he's utterly stereotypical in every other sense, purely because of his color.

 

So why is it the coat MUST be rough and the ears MUST be tipped and yadda yadda yadda, but the coat can come in pastel colors? I'm sorry, but if conformation breeders are claiming to breed to "type" I'm not sure how selecting for flukey colors is a part of that.

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The main thing that I have noticed about those who breed for colors -- and in the working world it's usually red or merle -- is that they need to be known for something. And they can't be known for working ability of their dogs, so they go for novel coloration.

 

It's to the point where I almost don't take a red dog seriously, becasue so many of them are bred just to be red. This is unfortunate, because there have been some very good red dogs over the years -- I believe that Longton's Tweed was red for instance.

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It was pointed out to me in a private email that there is a large faction in the AKC that wants Border Collies for Agility and Flyball and these are the people keeping the books open. They know if the books are closed they will not have a large enough gene pool to draw from to get true Border Collies to do performance sports.

The conformation people can inport all the dogs they want they don't need our dogs because they could care less if the dog can work or do performance sports. The would just as soon the books were closed.

I don't know any of this to be a fact but it sure sound reasonable. I too wish they would close their books and go their own way.

 

Kevin Brannon

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It's to the point where I almost don't take a red dog seriously, becasue so many of them are bred just to be red. This is unfortunate, because there have been some very good red dogs over the years -- I believe that Longton's Tweed was red for instance.

 

Yes, it is sad. Color is so often an indicator of poor breeding practices that, while I do not think there is anything inherent in redness that makes a dog a less than stellar working dog, I do think that the relationship between "red" and "not that great with sheep" is statistically significant.

 

I have a soft spot for red dogs (for obvious reasons) and while I would never buy a puppy from a color breeding, I would be likely to pick the only red puppy from a nice litter on the basis of its color, all other things being equal as they normally are with puppies (since you can't evaluate a sheepdog when he's eight weeks old). I used to struggle with this and wonder if it was a bad thing, but then I figured it wasn't any different from picking the puppy with little white on his face because he looks like your old Bob dog, or choosing the one who poops on you, or whatever. I don't think a red puppy from a good breeding is any less likely to turn out than a black puppy, so why not take the red one and test my theory?

 

So listen up, people breeding nice litters in a couple years or so! If you just by accident happen to end up with a cute little red bitch puppy in your litter (i.e., color breedings need not apply), and you want her to go to a hobby herding home, call me first! I know the agility people will be beating down your door for the red one, but I'll actually work her and she'll still get to do agility.

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Sam wrote:

 

Well Melanie, I uh already tried that...You shouldntlet the small fact that they were boys infulence you! Ah well, Fred can stay here, I do love his little red self.

 

**********************************

And take my word for it, this was NOT a color breeding!

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Sheryl,

 

Yes, thanks :rolleyes:

 

If you're talking about the pictures where I said "look into their eyes," in retrospect, that was probably not a very good way to describe it to people who don't work their dogs on stock. In my mind, I could see in the dogs' eyes they were responding to stock. Others might (and did apparently) take it that dogs crouching looking at balls or other non-livestock items are doing the same thing. The complexity level is about million-fold greater.

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