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Why Pick on ME? Just want a pup!?!?

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All right, so you've come to these Boards because it's the Border Collie Boards and you've decided the pup you want is to be a Border Collie. You're a thoughtful person so you are going to do some research on the breed and ask the opinion of the experts on how to find a good breeder, rather than answer a newspaper ad or go to the pet store.


To your vast surprise, you discover that Border Collie people are not the least bit welcoming to your good intentions. They start to blather on about hip dysplasia, rescue, conformation, herding instincts, and the ruination of the breed. Ruination of the breed? You just want one little pupper to play with the kids!


You start to talk about how you don't want a show dog to win titles, you just want a pet and can't someone just point you to someone who breeds pets or dogs with less instinct? That's like gasoline on the fire, however - it's like you proposed feeding babies to zoo animals - you don't even understand what all the fuss is about. That pet store puppy is looking better every minute!


What happened? Where's the open arms to newbies?


The fact is, that the Border Collie is a unique breed - there are a few breeds that are bred in the same way around the world but none readily available in the US, and none with specific working abilities as refined as the Border Collie. In addition, the Border Collie stands at a crucial junction in its American existance.


Conformation people are trying to convince Americans that the Border Collie is "just another dog" which can be produced the same way chihuahuas (God bless 'em) are - with attention to superficial health issues and standardized appearance, appropriateness as a pet, and NOTHING ELSE.


The people who have maintained this breed the way it was created, however, stand on the other side trying to point out that the Border Collie will NOT be the same breed unless it is bred EXCLUSIVELY for working livestock, at the very least.


Where does that leave the puppy buyer? Between a rock and a hard place, frankly. In conformation breeds, it's relatively easy to find a quality breeder. The AKC displays the results of the conformation events (and other events) where anyone can access them. One can quickly research the top "performers", ask around about them, find a local breeder who goes back to those lines and makes sure their own dogs achieve that standard also. The breed clubs publish a Breeder Code of Ethics which anyone can see and compare the practices of the breeder they are working with.


What about a dog with a WORKING standard, however? The answer is not simple at this time, unfortunately. Working breeders don't currently have a Breeder Code of Ethics. There's no central place to look up trial dog winnings and that's not the be all end all anyway - some very nice dogs never trial formally (though they meet the working standard in their work).


What's a puppy buyer to do at this time? All I can suggest is

  • Immersion - read these Boards. Go to ISDS style trials and volunteer to work (no previous experience needed). Volunteer with rescue.
  • Mentor - befriend people. Learn about their dogs. Learn about other people's dogs.
  • Observe - find dogs you like and try to figure out the common denominator. Ask about breeding and identify lines and names that keep coming up in dogs you like. The Border Collie world isn't that big and the differences between major lines isn't so subtle it takes an expert to see them.

All this work for just a family companion? Well, if you think GETTING the right puppy is hard, wait until you RAISE one . . . :rolleyes:

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I continuingly admire your posts. They are insightful and intelligent... You are able to express opinions and points without being rude or disrespectful. I sincerely thank you for all of the experience, help, and ideas that you have passed on to me (especially in the "lambing update" post).


I think this is a post that should remain on the boards to be referred back to when there is a post about getting a puppy or about certain breeders... rather than get into the disagreements and arguing all over again, we can simply say "please refer to this post".


Thank you for taking the time to post this in the manner that you did!

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Its a funny one isnt it when I was looking for a pup I didnt have much knowledge about the way the dog world worked. I called a couple of rescue places and too be honest they were damn right rude "oh you work for a living" in a tone which completley put me off dealing with them, I have learnt now that a lot of people that work and care for animals sometimes dont have the best people skills.


So we put the word about we were after a BC a local sheep farmer got in touch told us he had a litter due. He asked for ?50 for one which is about $85, as it happened we got a great dog the farmer in question wasnt a breeder as he says he turned his back next thing she was pregnant both dogs are full time working dogs in fact his only dogs. Oh and he claims the father is the best dog hes ever had and has won some trials He kept a bitch gave us Cai and his other sisters have gone off to an agility club somewhere. He did ask us to keep him intact if we could as he may like to use him later on.


So as it happens I got a bc from the best place but this is more by chance than anything else

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Okay, Rebecca, now my two cents' worth (as a relative newcomer to the board). And if you think you got flamed, just wait until you see the flack I am going to get.


Shadow is not a working dog; she has the instincts of a Border Collie, but her make-up is such that she will spend the rest of her life having fun (for instance, agility for fun, but not for competition). She joined our family as a companion, and for no other reason. She is an incredibly affectionate dog, and beyond her ball fixation is very laid-back. She is not interested in herding (beyond having a little fun with birds and squirrels, which she tries to herd but will not attack), and doesn't have a mean bone in her body. (My vet describes her as a "mush-mush", and predicts that she will be the best companion dog we have ever owned.) Nor does she qualify as a Barbie Collie; her coloring is asymmetrical, and she has far too much black, as well as copper tinging in her fur. And yes, she came from a breeder; she was hand-picked from the litter by my wife and me because of her natural affection for people.


With that said, I am an advocate of this board. I know that my motives for selecting the breed are different from most on this board (it is a personal matter, and one that I refuse to go into here, because it involves a personal situation that is nobody's business). But I understand and support the orientation of many (most?) who participate here. It is precisely for this reason that Shadow is registered with ABCA, and that I renew my membership every year even, though Shadow is spayed; the organization fosters the continuation of the breed for its true value, and that is a noble motive that deserves to be supported.


What does that mean bottom line? You can select a Border Collie for simple companionship, and still understand and support those who seek to protect the breed as a working and trialing entity. There are breeders out there who bloodlines include dogs geared to companionship; their websites will usually indicate this. My only caveat would be this: If you want a dog simply for companionship, think about rescue. Sometimes you can find a dog that simply didn't work out as a working dog, and might be ideal for a companion. Why didn't I get my BC from a rescue organization? Quite simply, because when I was looking none were avilable in my area. My Belgian Sheepdog did come from what might be described as a rescue situation, however; and I couldn't be happier with the dog.


But whatever you decide, be aware that you are not the only person on this board whose dog joined the family as a companion. At the same time, it is possible to select a dog for this reason, and still understand and support the motives of those persons and organizations who seek to perpetuate the breed for its truly unique abilities and characteristics.


Okay, everyone, fire away... :rolleyes:

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I have no quibble with SELECTING a dog for any purpose whatsoever. I'm a huge fan of SAR/service dogs, and I do sports with my dogs myself. If conformation shows were JUST beauty contests like the old "best looking dog" competitions at the first sheepdog trials, to encourage people to socialize and groom their dogs (not to mention feed them), I wouldn't even have much of a problem with them either, beleive it or not.


The problem comes when breeders breed with ANYTHING in mind OTHER THAN working livestock in the way a Border Collie ought to. Where the rubber meets the road for a puppy buyer is choosing betweeen THAT breeder who respects the traditional breeding methods, and one that claims to breed Border Collies that are "better pets" or "better agility dogs".


Before these people came along, you could go to a farmer and get a nice pup. These were the dogs that made the Border collie pre-eminant as sport dogs, AND as pets for active families. They were healthy, temperamentally sound, and capable of just about anything. It wasn't broken! Why fix it?


Now it's confusing because a lot of farmers breed farm dogs that don't work - because there's a market for pets. They claim that their dogs are superior because they have "Great temperaments." Though often the parents haven't been off the farm so you'd never know whether they have fear problems.


Plus, there's people who breed their pets, to be pets. The parents were great pets so their pups must be good pets. But the parents were bred too young and never checked for health issues so the epilepsy, hip dysplasia, and eye problems are all huge surprises.


Plus, there's sport and conformation people who market their surplus pups to be pets. But they don't mention that their dogs are bred for particular temperaments, either very high-drive or very low drive, to the exclusion of the rest of the working package that keeps all that in balance. Conformation dogs are simply another breed, but sport bred dogs are Border Collies with important pieces missing - like a car with only one brake pad and one rotor.


These are vast generalities to illustrate my point, by the way, so please don't tell me about all the dogs you know that don't fit these descriptions. I'll address the exceptions below.


Finally, there's truly working bred dogs from responsible breeders. It's here you'll find complete Border Collies, bred to be adaptable, biddable, eager to learn, sound in ways that science hasn't figured out how to test, and as smart, athletic, driven, focused, and hardworking as they've ALWAYS been. Sure you'll find dogs like these at other breeders, but it's by the grace of God. There's no way you can consistently match what past breeders of Border collie have given to us, without replicating their methods.


A somewhat new age-y notion is the holistic approach - the idea that you can't take a piece away from the individual without upsetting the natural balance in some way. The working standard is a holistic approach to breeding Border Collies, while those who try to breed for this or that, are detracting from the Whole Dog. Which way makes more sense, knowing what we know now about the wisdom of tradional approaches?

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Educational and yet non-confrontational.

See, its possible :rolleyes:

I loved your post, and agree that it should stick around for people looking for a pup to read.

I have learned so much here. Its easy to be humble and realize that you still have a lot to learn when you dont feel your being directly put in your place.

From a newbie perspective,


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GREAT POST REBECCA thanks for taking the time and I believe most newbies that take the time to join the forum are here for help and opinions to help them make the right decisions either with their dog or getting a new dog Keep up the good work Rebecca a great ambassador for the forum thanks

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I wish you're post could become a "must read" as part of becoming a member of this board.


I think too many people come to this board thinking a BC is just another pet breed, but smarter than most, and thus will be welcomed with open arms by all just because they want or bought one.


It reminds me of a person that could not understand why the Classic Cougar (car) club I belong to was not allowed to join because he had just bought a 2000 Mercury Cougar. To be a member, you must own what the club believes to be a Classic Cougar 1967 to 1973. He couldn't undertand that. His car was same manufacturer, same nameplate, but to those of us that love our cars, it is NOT a Cougar. Most of us believe that Mercury should have scrapped the nameplate rather than admit this little blunder to our namesake's heritage. We have nothing against this person or his car in particular, but we have a set of standards that defines what a Classic Cougar is, and appearance itself has nothing to do with it. Similarly, the Cougar of that time was built on the same platform and shared many parts with the Mustang. But a Mustang is not a Cougar, so even 1967 to 1973 Mustangs are not eligible either.


Hopefully, some many see the parallels between the Cougar and the Border Collie, but hopefully the BC will not follow the formers embarrassing demise.

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Rebecca, this is one of the first posts that I have read...just joined yesterday. I think I have come to the right place! I wish I would have been able to send someone to your post...he was searching for information regarding bcs on a rescue site i belong to....I tried to tell him pretty much the same thing your post said, but i am afraid i am not nearly as eloquent as you.Thank you for expressing so beautifully what you did.

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Rebecca, Maybe you could clarify..


What does "working" really mean? Some say working means people whose dogs compete in trials, others say the dogs help a farm/ranch function. When I think work, personally I think of a dog that helps a farm/ranch function by using their herding ability, bravery, and intelligence.


Btw, I think working dogs and farm dogs are completely different. ANY breed can come from a farm.

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Nicely put Rebecca!

I love the Cougar analogy too!

When people ask me about my Border Collies because they are beautiful, affectionate, loving, funny etc. :rolleyes: Then ask about the breed where to get them, are they expensive, the usual questions. I tell them my story. That when I decided to buy a Border Collie I found people who had bred working dogs. They used them on their farm, and trialed them as a side line. I tell them to look for working dogs that are used to ensure that the breed is maintained as working dogs.(They sense a pattern developing ) I tell them to research carefully . I also tell them that I looked for a working dog. I planned to work these dogs. By this time they usually say is it important that the dogs be bred for working. I am able to tell them the reasons why it is important. That if they want a high enegery dog that will work stock, then this may be the dog for them. I explain that it is important to me that someday when I want another stock dog I will be able to find them. That they won't be like the Goldens who can no longer retrieve. The labs that have a sub group that work up to a point.. And the best example of all is the Irish Setter. They either have glazed over by then or we have had a great chat about dogs. It is my small way of educating people.

I think folks are so used to the AKC hype about the breeds they don't get in to what the dogs were really suppose to do. They actually believe that an Irish Setter that can no longer hunt is acceptable. They have lowered the breed standards to the point that almost no breed can do what it was bred for. I don't want to offend people, but as long as greed and ego is the main motivator for breeding then these things will continue to be a problem . So if you want the sole companinship of a dog fine, but at least pick out a dog that can still do what it was bred for. If you can't handle a high enegery active intense dog stay away from the breed. It seems simple but apperently not.

Andrea D.

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Working in the Border Collie, to me, and I think to most working folks, means to work livestock to the tradtional standard. That means a dog capable of gathering large fields, fetching with little help, driving substantial distances, penning, sorting, and preferably doing all that both on the farm and off the farm. Plus working yards, pens, chutes, trailers, and other environments. When I think of a working Border Collie, I think of a dog that is capable of working in an extremely wide range of environments and with many types of livestock, whether different kinds of sheep/goats/whatever, or different species. Border Collies can be trained to do the work that other types of herding dogs can do, but is is very rare that those dogs can be trained to do the advanced work that the Border Collie does naturally.


The Open sheepdog trial is the standard that produced the breed, so I compare any dog I see to the work performed there. I don't think "Trial dog" or "Farm dog" - I see dogs that either can do the work or can't. I know dogs I'd get a pup off in a New York minute (hmm, actually I have one now), who have yet to step on a trial field (and may never, but I know they can do the work - though I personally want to see the other parent working at a very high level in that case.


I'm not sure whether that answered your question, JEssica, since I didn't quite understand it.

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I lurk here all the time because Border Collies are my favorite breed and also because in my opinion this site has the most knowledgable people and best dog-related resources on the web. But I try not to post too often--because we don't have a Border Collie. And I think our story might be pertinent to "newbies" who are considering this incredible breed.


I'm not a newbie--from childhood I've had 14 dogs in my life (mostly rough collies), plus pound puppies and some other breeds. My mom was the "eccentric dog lady" of the neighborhood, and I've inherited her love for dogs.


After extensive research, and even more extensive and wrenching soul searching, my wife and I decided that ours is not a good home--right now, anyway--for Border Collies. Maybe one day, but not now. And therefore, out of great love and respect for the breed, we decided to bring home other dogs instead.


The good news is that there ARE many very, very good alternatives out there, in terms of intelligence, athleticism, and, most importantly ability to love and be loyal family members. And while all dogs, as important members of our families, need special attention, the fact is that most other dogs do not require the considerations one must make when they bring a Border Collie into their lives.


Borde Collies need space, need patience from their families, need your understanding. Everyone knows they herd and need to run a billion miles a day at a billion miles an hour (of course--neither of those statements is absolute), but what a lot of people conveniently forget--even though they read it again and again--is that these are dogs that sometimes have bizarre obsessions. They're sometimes neurotic about getting your undivided attention. The thing I wish more people understood is that they're extremely intelligent--AND THAT IS NOT NECESSARILY A GOOD THING!!!!


High intelligence in dogs does not mean your new puppy is gonna help your kids with algebra homework--it means they're likely gonna find ways to open your refridgerator; they're gonna find ways to get around, under or over the gate; they're gonna realize that the way to get your attention frequently means doing the things you most don't want them to do.


And therefore, Border Collies wind up in shelters at probably a higher rate than any other breed. What a searing indictment of us as pet owners.


So--if you don't want to be picked on 'cause you just want a pup, do what we did. Think, read, research, be honest with yourself, and THEN make appropriate choices.


(We chose an Airedale, Emma, who's a bit of a terror but as she approaches her first birthday is beginning to show slight signs of calming down and becoming a great dog, and a Labradoodle, Mojo. I'm the kind of person who doesn't even like saying "doodle", but you know what?--sorry to my fellow-BC worshippers here--Labradoodles might be the single greatest "breed" on earth...bar none. Easy, easy, easy to train, extremely athletic and agile, won't herd sheep--but guess what? Won't herd three-year-old kids, either. And I used to think that no animal was a better communicator through their eyes than Border Collies---until we got a Labradoodle. Oh, and they don't shed and are hypoallergenic.)


We have friends who have one of the greatest frisbee dogs at our park--which is more than enough for us. You know what he is? A Mutt--mostly Westie and (they think) Lab. Weird combination--great dog.


So if you love Border Collies, go for it, but please think and be honest with yourself about what you want and why. You owe it to your dog, and you owe it to yourself if you don't wanna get flamed at places like this.

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Well said, Seth. If you can't do the dog justice, don't get it in the first place.


Just one thing...and I can't help my fat mouth here... "Labradoodle" is not a breed. Your dog may be an absolute dream but it is a Lab/Poodle mix. "Labradoodle" is a foo foo name dreamt up by savvy people who now get to charge $1200 for an unregisterable mixed-breed dog they claim is purebred because one parent is a pb Lab and one is a pb Poodle(or they do up here, anyway. :rolleyes: ) No offence meant WHATSOEVER, it's just a peeve of mine.

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Hey, I actually kind of enjoyed Seth's post. He's one of those guys I'd think really, really hard about adopting a dog too. I'd probably try to talk him into one of the zillions of "Borderline Collies" that end up in rescue.


Yeah, my eyes crossed over the Labradoodle stuff, but I took his point to be that not every family in the world needs a Border collie when there are so many nice NOT Border Collies out there. I'm still not sure I understand the whole Labradoodle concept when there is already such a thing as the Water Dogs (Portugese, Spanish, and Italian) that are pretty mcuh the same thing and are actually the type of breed that both those dogs go back to. But whatever.


I liked the part at the end about what a good disc dog the mutt was. I'm assuming a shelter dog, not a designer dog. That's so true - two of the best competitors on our flyball team are street dogs - one an Aussie/retriever mix and the other such a mix of dogs one can't even begin to decipher it - we call her a Stumpy-Legged German Shorthair Pointer because that approximately what she looks like.


I guess Border collie people are like our dogs. Smart, openminded, but a bit hypersensitive and snappish at times.

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I don't want to get involved in this one, just want to point out one thing that is one of my biggest peeves:


ALL DOGS SHED, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A NON-SHEDDING DOG!!!!!!! An animal is not born with the same hair it dies with. I hate to even see that phrase! Poodles shed, maltese shed, mammals shed. (not sure if a whale sheds, but it must atleast shed skin :rolleyes: )

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Also, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog (proven scientifically) since the allergen (a protein) is secreted in the mouth. Just another example of false advertising that dog buyers have believed.




This is an old notion that has been disproved by science, despite what breeders would like to tell you. PHARMACIA Diagnostics is a company that sells allergens to other companies that develop human allergy tests. On the information page for their product e5 Dog dander they state? Although allergen differences occur according to the origin of the allergen (e.g., epithelium or saliva), no breed-specific allergens occur (5-6) (34) (38-39). (This is contrary to much earlier studies (7-8).) But the concentration of allergens varies within breeds and among them (44).


Here is another summary statement about the same study published be de Groot. The allergen has been found in varying degrees among nine dog breeds and among individual dogs (de Groot et al., 1991)

source: Indoor Allergens: Assessing and Controlling Adverse Health Effects (1993) The National Academies Press


Also found on PHARMACIA?s website. Qualitative breed specific differences between dogs have never been convincingly proven. Despite many attempts, we have never been able to show any differences other than variations in the relative concentrations of the allergens. Those differences are in our experience as great between individuals as between breeds.

source: Dog Allergens, e2 and e5


Also from the PHARMACIA webpage. Can f 1 is a major allergen and the most important Dog allergen, and Dog dander and saliva have a high content of it (38) (42-44). The protein is produced in the canine Von Ebner?s glands, which are small lingual salivary glands opening in the lingual epithelium. This protein actually ranges from 21 kDa to 25 kDa and is found in dander and saliva, but not in serum, and is a lipocalin (45-46).


Until a breeder tells you that they have measured the amounts of Can f 1 and Can f 2 produced by their dogs, I would not believe their claims of a hypo-allergenic (i.e. gland-less) dog.





[ 05-17-2005, 03:57 PM: Message edited by: Eileen Stein ]

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  • 1 month later...
Guest JoeysMom

Rebecca (and all): I just wanted to say thank you for your original post on this thread. I adopted my BC baby from the local animal shelter, and (sadly, I admit) really didn't know much about BCs (the shelter told me she was a different mix, but she is clearly a BC). I couldn't leave her because she and I bonded immediately, and she is my heart dog. My point is that I have learned a lot from asking questions and reading previous posts on this board. I have also done my best to seek out other sources of information to learn about how I can provide the best possible home for Joey. So, thank you to everyone. As a newbie, I appreciate all of your past, present, and (most likely) future help.

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Wow. What a long chain of posts. I just read 'em, and I've just got two things to add regarding obtaining a bc:

--75% of the border collies on Petfinder don't appear to have much border collie at all. It sometimes seems like any black and white dog is called a border collie mix. People are familiar with the breed and they have a reputation for intelligence, so shelters label any black and white dog as a border collie mix to help its chances of adoption.

--Secondly, in terms of welcoming new owners into the fold, I think most bc owners just want people to go into this commitment with their eyes open. I would never recommend a border collie to a first time dog owner. Border collies are like "advanced dog" and you'd better have a good understanding of how a dog's mind works, because a border collie is a dog's mind times ten.

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