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I started this thread so that the instructions for posting pictures thread doesn't go way off topic. Here's my reply to our newest member's post:



From your website:


My ambition is to breed Blue Merles, which conform to the Border Collie standard, are capable of working and are healthy.
It's obvious that you are an experienced dog owner and accomplished many worthy things with them. I applaud you for that.


Please be aware though, that the people on this board hold the philosophy that Border Collies should only be bred for their ability to work livestock, and no other reason.


There are very good reasons for this that make a whole lot of common sense, but it's not always clear until a person has really looked into the reasons.


I hope this becomes apparent to you at some point because Border Collies could really use someone like you on their side to root for them.

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Sure thing Cheri. You guys don't want to be anywhere near my lactose intolerant self if I eat ice cream. However, I ate the entire bag of popcorn (ORB Movie Theater Butter) while waiting with baited breath. It was hard to eat and hold my breath, but somehow I managed it. I also ate an entire GIANT butterfinger... yet I'm still a Cave Troll. Ergo, given my Cave Troll Status I'm putting myself on restriction from posting any more until tomorrow. :rolleyes:

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And I know the lady. While my goals for a border collie might be different from hers, I respect her--a lot. I have never heard her say anything bad about any dog. In fact, she is one of the few people who thinks my homely Satch is beautiful---but that's beside the point. I think Miz is absolutely right when she so eloquently said that border collies need someone like her to root for them.


So Maggie. Welcome.

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Hi Vicki and Donna, and everyone.


Although I show my dogs, I firmly believe that Herding Ability should remain a Top breeding priority. The only pictures I have of my dogs herding, are very blurred, and I'm very new at it myself, and they are too.


My priorities have changed somewhat over the years, especially watching the conformation dogs in the ring.


Luckily, my foundation bitch was dual registered, and from solid herding dogs, and I've been as careful as possible, to retain her ability in her offspring.


I was a little worried about Neo, as he came from predominently show stock, but he seems very keen to work. Now I need to find someone who will let me work my dogs, which wont be easy for me, as I live in a non farming area, and don't have the land for my own sheep.


I'm working on it though, and would like to be able to take my dogs into the ring, knowing that they are capeable of doing the job they were intended for, as well as being good enough to compete. If I can manage both, then I'll feel I've acomplished what I originally set out to do.


If I can learn to spell along the way, that would also be an advantage.


I hope you don't have the impression that I care only about how a dog looks. I'm trying to produce the whole packadge, and although the ones I keep and show look the way I like them to, they also have to need to work, or they don't stay.


I love all Border Collies, no matter how they look, and it was their need to work which made me choose one originally. The opportunity for herding where I live, is slim, but, I'm hopeing to change that as soon as possible.


Conformation Showing, is just a hobby, and Crufts, just a day out. I haven't joined to promote the ring, I've joined to learn about what can be done outside the ring :>)))

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Hi CoRayBee


I have always loved teaching bite work, and Collies are so easy to teach. They run rings round the Working Trials PD Dogs here, and I'm sure the Schutzhund Competitors wont let them compete, because they know they'll never beat them.


If they can guard a flock of sheep, and the Farm Property, along with finding lost sheep, then there isn't anything they can't do, that the bigger breeds can.


They're easier to teach to leave as well :>))

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Hi Maggie,


I have nothing BUT respect for your outlook.

Anyone who has accomplished with their dogs what you have been able to has my vote. (yankee expression)


I've seen the pictures of your dogs working and while I wasn't there to see it in person........they sure weren't just following them around sniffing at them like I've seen some of the show bcs doing. (and they were given an instinct certificate because they followed along sniffing butt??!!@#@$@##$@#$ (pet peeve of mine)

I was dog sitting at a herding trainers home one fall and some akc bc people came and rented sheep for an instinct test. The fluffy blue and white dogs, (with grooming powder still in their coats) literally followed the sheep around the round pen trying to sniff but afraid to get too close. The testing person stood with clipboard in hand and yelled...." oh yes, he's showing interest" then they proceeded to push the sheep off the fence

(by themselves...not using dogs) and then let the dog approach again. IF the sheep moved back to the fence the dog was awarded the certificate showing it had herding instinct. Because the sheep moved 3...read that THREE feet !!!



The pictures of your dogs working gave me a totally different impression.


They were balancing on the sheep and keeping a business attitude about it. Tail was nicely tucked between hocks and they had some serious eye action going on. The sheep were well flocked and your dog was maintaining distance nicely.


I have never really liked merle bcs until I met your dogs. There is nothing weak about their appearance which is something I once thought about merles. (I've had to revise my opinion about many things over the years. Comes with age)

Please keep up the good work Maggie. I would be proud to own one of your dogs and work it too!!!!


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Hi Maggie, welcome to the Boards.




How were you able to assess your foundation bitch's ability? How have you gone about trying to retain her ability in her offspring? How do you measure whether you've succeeded or not?


I only ask because I couldn't find any indication on your website that herding ability has been a top breeding priority for you.

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From the same that Eileen quoted above regarding "ability", there is a video I highly recommend called Starting Your Border Collie on Cattle, Sheep or Ducks that is available from Rural Route Videos .


It's a real eye-opener and shows you what a young, well bred BC can do their *first* time on stock. It's amazing! This ability is heritable, passed down through the generations, and is not taught. It's just in their genes.


That video was instrumental in making me understand what a Border Collie is all about, and why it's so important for the breed as a whole that they are bred with working ability as the number one priority. It also helped me understand why breeding for any other reason is such a threat to the Border Collie breed.


It's impossible to breed BC's for working ability until you know precisely what working ability is. Many BC's can find their balance point and fetch some sheep to you. That's no great feat for a BC, and those young ones on the video do that on their first exposure.


Eileen asked some good questions. It's not necessary to answer to us, but they are questions you should ask yourself. Please consider looking at the video. It's a real eye-opener and says volumes more than anyone here can, at least it did for me.

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Hi Eileen


When I first brought Breeze, I had no intention of showing her. She was a miss-marked very small ISDS Blue Merle. No one would have looked at her in the show world, but she was exactly what I wanted.


We brought her to replace the GSD's who were too big for search work. I lived in Kent, on an Island, which was covered in sheep. Although she was never taught to drive, she was used quite a lot to help bring in young sheep, which she loved, and which I enjoyed tremendously.


We were there for 10 years, and her two sons went with her, when friends wanted to catch and move young stock. A number of her offspring were brought by Farmers on the Island, as stock dogs, one brought two, both merles, and has since been in touch for another, since his original dogs are now quite old.


Both she and her sons were hard put to manage young Jacob sheep, and we all had to join in, but non of the dogs were intimidated by being run over numerous times, nor did they bite. They just got up, like we did, and started again.


Every generation following has met sheep. I know you can't assess a dog by letting it chase a few sheep round a small field, but there isn't a lot of opportunity here to regularly use a dog. I live fairly close to London, and it's pretty built up. What land there is, is Army land, with no stock on it.


The dogs I breed from, are very highly motivated, and have shown a strong interest in sheep. The males I choose are also highly motivated, although half of them wont have seen a sheep, they have to want to work.


The line I have now, goes back to Breeze, and some of the best ISDS dogs. I like the look of them, and I also like their attitude towards work. They'd be useless to me if they wont work, I rely on their search work to pay the mortgage. Showing them is a bonus, and gives me a hobby at weekends.


Pebbles, who at the moment is the only bitch I have to breed from, has already produced dogs trialling sheep in Hungary and Belgium and winning, from her first litter ( Jody Miller has seen pictures of her son at 5 months already working sheep and ducks). In fact, Jody has gone a long way, in changing my attitude towards the show world.


Pebbles is seven generations down from Breeze, and her antecedents have all been like her. If I can produce even a couple of good herding dogs from each litter, I think I've had some measure of success in not ruining the breed.


My website wont show much if anything about herding, but on the Other Arnpriors pages, Pebbles son can be seen as a puppy learning to herd.


Most of my puppies go to people who compete in dog sports. I never sell to show homes, unless I know the dog will be worked as well, but there is a shortage of sheep to work them on.


I can only do the best I can, but I started with a very good little dog, and she's stamped her mark on all of her offspring that I've kept from her.


A dog with health problems would also be useless to me, and it's even harder to narrow my breeding prospects by only breeding from DNA tested dogs, which also have to be hearing tested and hip scored.


I enjoy my weekends at shows, and I like to breed merles, but I also do the best I can to breed Border Collies, not just pretty dogs that can trot nicely up and down the ring for two minutes, fluffed up, and full of chalk. The rest off the week, they look just like anyone else's dog.muddy, scruffy and kennelled, because they never get tired enough to make living with them in the house comfortable, even if they've been out most of the day working. You'd never know they ever went near a show ring.


They come in to live, when they get old. One or two in the house, is manageable, but not eight, of which four are neutered (three because they are good to show, but either aren't working propositions, or haven't passed the health tests).


By opting to breed Merles, I've narrowed my choices, but that's my preference. It doesn't make them less of a Border Collie, because of their colour, unless I allow it to. If I can keep the lines I've got strong, hopefully, that wont happen.

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Hi Donna


I wanted a Blue Merle, long before they were a recognised show dog, but my mother would only have GSD's in the house.


I love the colour, and the challenge of producing it, in good dogs. I wouldn't have a merle, just for the colour, I'd rather have nothing. I waited over eight months for Breeze, rather than get one just because it was merle.


I don't know why I prefer merles, and I was disappointed to find that they are as unpopular in the show ring, as they are else where.


Stubbornness has to be a part of it, but I love marble too, and merles as near as I can get to that.


Neo was a present, I didn't decide I wanted that colour.


Breeze wasn't actually my first merle. I brought a Red Merle ISDS dog from Audrey Wykham (Sadgyle) over twenty years ago, but when I split up with my husband, he wouldn't let me have him.

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Hi Maggie, thanks for responding.


As you probably realize from Miztiki's post and from reading this, the USBCC, which sponsors these Boards, believes that border collies should be bred solely for the ability to work livestock. I have no interest in trying to reform people from other countries , partly because I think that as an outsider I couldn't possibly know enough to do that effectively, and partly because I ain't all that successful here at home. But while you're very welcome to read and post here whatever your views, you are likely to find a sermon cluttering up your threads if you advocate breeding for other purposes or claim to be breeding for herding ability when you're not. You can read and consider the sermon, or you can treat it as you would any message which follows the phrase "and now a word from our sponsor."


The reason we think border collies should be bred for "the work" is grounded in basic principles of genetics and artifical selection. That is how the breed was created -- it was bred to a working standard which is every bit as real as the Kennel Club's show standard. If you breed without ascertaining whether your dogs meet that working standard, and without breeding only those who have shown themselves to be superior exemplars of the standard, the dogs you produce will gradually move away from that standard, every bit as much as if you were trying to breed to the Kennel Club appearance standard without being able to see or touch the dogs you were breeding. This is even more true if at the same time you are breeding for a totally unrelated quality such as color. The dogs you end up with, over time, will be different from the dogs bred to the working standard, and to that extent will not truly be the same breed, even though you are legally entitled to call them by the same name.




You're not using "work" to mean livestock work, right? It sounds as if you're using it to mean work at search & rescue, or acting, or dog sports.


Having a strong interest in sheep, and being motivated to learn and do tracking or obedience exercises or the like, is no basis for concluding that a dog has enough herding ability to be a useful sheepdog, or even has herding ability at all. Yes, they are prerequisites, but more in the way being able to see and hear, and liking to run are prerequisites. They are qualities that are possessed by many dogs of many breeds. But a complex, delicate blend of multiple traits goes into making a good stockdog, and many of those traits -- balance, power, and stock sense, for example -- simply can't be assessed without training the dog to its full capacity on livestock.


Because of the number and complexity of the traits required to make a good stockdog, and because many of them are matters of degree rather than absolutes (for example, a good sheepdog must have the right amount of eye -- too little eye is bad but too much eye is also bad), and because we don't know the genes that govern them, herding ability cannot be "fixed" in the breed, the way coat color, for example, can be fixed in the Belgian Sheep Dog or the West Highland White Terrier. (Many of the gene combinations for what we need may very well be heterozygous ones, for example, the way Mm produces the merle phenotype you desire but MM or mm does not.) Without constant selection pressure for demonstrated herding ability at every generation, herding ability will inevitably deteriorate. Enough random "bits" of it may remain so that a dog may be interested in sheep, or may be highly biddable, and in very rare, totally coincidental instances an individual who has enough ability to be a useful dog may pop up, but the necessary combination doesn't just stay there in your lines. Through the phenomenon of genetic drift, it is gradually, inexorably lost. This is just as much true if you're breeding for dog sports and SAR as if you're breeding for the show ring or for color, so to me the meaningful split in the breed is not between dogs bred for show and the rest, it's between dogs bred for livestock working ability and the rest.


But, you say, there aren't any sheep around here and I like blue merles. Okay, understood. If you were in the US, I'd say "then don't breed." Or maybe "get an Aussie." Since you're not in the US, all I'd say would be "then don't say you're breeding for herding ability, or that herding ability is a top breeding priority for you," because demonstrably it's not. If what you're doing is trying "to breed Blue Merles, which conform to the Border Collie [conformation] standard, are capable of working [at SAR and other non-livestock pursuits] and are healthy," you're just not breeding for herding ability, no matter how much you like the notion of breeding for herding ability in the abstract. I believe you when you say you "would like to be able to take my dogs into the ring, knowing that they are capeable of doing the job they were intended for." But I'd call that hoping for the best, rather than breeding for the best.

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