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the other side (conformation)?


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#1 sandra s.

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 08:23 AM

I'm merely curious, so if you're tired of these topics, just ignore me.
Now that we have seven pages of arguments as to why BCs should be bred for working ability (which I wholeheartedly agree with, even if that doesn't help you guys very much), can anyone tell me what kind of reasoning the conformation side uses?
I mean, HOW do they try to convince the public/the herding people/potential buyers that a BC needs to have tipped ears and nothing else?

#2 Pipedream Farm

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 08:36 AM

The very cynical side of me thinks that the AKC doesn't set breed standards, judges do. Judges pick what they like and breeders try to give judges what they want so their dog will be picked by the judge. When judges' tastes change so do the breeding goals and the standard follows.

In my cynical world a few very influential judges (who happen to be big time breeders) set the "standard".

I have no knowledge on how it all works.

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#3 sandra s.

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 09:05 AM

I wonder what such a judge would say if someone criticised his decisions. Surely they can't just say "My personal taste is better than yours and therefore collies must be fluffy because I like it that way". :confused:
Don't they even have pretend reasons like any other politician who wants some more money?

#4 BigD

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 09:34 AM

Personally, I don't understand it at all. How somone can profess a deep love of the breed and walk around with coins glued to the inside of their pups ears. Makes me sick.

#5 Shetlander

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 10:47 AM

From what I read they don?t see "form follows function" but rather think function will follow form. Of course, they don't do a good job of explaining why the ears would need to be tipped (though they'll say if the ears are down, the dog's hearing can be affected). They'll say the fluffy coat protects the dog from the elements. Can't remember what the argument is for heavier bones. Of course, it is aesthetics. A dog can have prick ears and still be a BC -- it's just considered a "fault." Same thing with under or over size.

Conformation people often talk about BC's that "have it all." They feel that the dogs can have "beauty, brains, and temperament" that there is no reason why the dog can't meet their standard of beauty and still be just as good a working dog. I don't know enough about conformation to say who is setting the standards of what makes the dog beautiful. I've always been told it's the breed clubs.

Coming from shelties, the dogs are touted as herding dogs, but of course nothing along the lines of a working BC. I think almost everyone looks at shelties as companions, performance dogs or conformation with herding done on a recreational basis. There is no pretence about why the sheltie's ears need to be tipped that I remember other than it makes them look prettier. I never used coins or tape on my dogs' ears, but I did glue them. With one dog, I gave up quickly. The other took a few months but she has tipped ears that make her look cute. It may be stupid, but it didn't hurt the puppies. They didn't even seem to notice. It's not like the ears were cropped. If I have another sheltie, I'd probably try for the 3/4 look again.

With my 7 month old BC Quinn, I'm having fun waiting to see how his ears turn out. Whichever way it is, he'll look great and it will be part of who he is. I like the different looks among BC's. I do think a little wistfully about smooth coats, but that's just because there's so much upkeep grooming a sheltie

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#6 Eireann

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 10:51 AM

I dont understand it either....if someone loves a breed, than they should love that breed for what it does. I think conformation would be like buying a toaster or something and saying "No,it cant make toast, but doesnt it look nice sitting on the counter?" If it can't make toast (aka work) than what's the point of having it? ( aka breeding to it)

#7 Kat's Dogs

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 11:19 AM

Kats (yes, I know we all hate him. :rolleyes: ) got his dogs from a show/Barbie breeder. In one of the books he says "she doesn't believe in breeding feral dogs on purpose". Of course herding dogs are NOT feral but that is just what he said. So that might be part of it.

Mostly, when you want a dog (an ordinary dog, like a beagle or something) you would want a show champion because it means that the dog must be pretty healthy (good bone structure, clear eyes, cute face, healthy fur, ect).

Same thing for BCs. Show Border Collies DO have clear eyes, healthy (although poofy) fur, straight legs (although many good working dogs are cow-hocked) and stuff like that. They tend to think that working dogs are "not healthy" because they don't win ribbons for how long their tails are. But even though we would want to breed herding dogs its not like we would breed a dog with good instinct that has a genetic eye disorder and is blind! But show people think (that to whatever lengths) we would breed a dog with good instinct even with many (genetic) health problems - which of course is bogus.

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#8 Rosanne

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 12:02 PM

The Breed club sets the written standard, but the judges and the breeders are the ones who really decide what is in fashion at the moment.

The BC Breed standard is actually very lenient and would seem to describe a working BC pretty well - of course when you look at what's in the ring it really doesn't match the written standard, but gosh it sure does look pretty.
The written standard does allow for fully pricked ears, but it does say that it prefers ears that match each other. Full floppy ears are frowned upon. Also, white should not predominate as the color of your dog, and only merles may have have blue eyes (I think). Silly sheep don't like floppy eared blue eyed white dogs.
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#9 sandra s.

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 12:31 PM

Okay, thank you all for explaining!

I've read the AKC standard some time ago, and it did seem pretty loose to me too, but someone (the judges, apparently) still makes people think that BCs have to be black and white...

I like the "feral" description :rolleyes: . How scary it is when a dog has an actual brain in its head!

#10 Kat's Dogs

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 12:57 PM

I don't remember if it was AKC's standard but one said something like "and the fur should not be so much that it interferes with the dog's movement". lol!

Well, even though the standard is very loose for BCs, in the national shows, the all look the same. Black/white, tipped ears, poofy, white blaze/paws ect. I find that odd don't you think?

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#11 juliepoudrier

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 01:32 PM

Mark,
I think you're spot on. As an OT example, my mom had a borzoi that was mostly black. The breeder liked colored dogs and bred them. AFAIK the breed standard for borzois says that *any* color is acceptable, but try showing anything that isn't predominantly white with colored spots--you won't get anywhere. This is because the judges influence what is bred by what they put up at shows. Since mostly white dogs with colored spots are what wins, folks started breeding just for that. Those who try to maintain the diversity in the breed just sort of fall by the show ring wayside. Sound familiar? I'm sure many breeds suffer the same fate at the hands of judges and the breeders that cater to the look of the moment. Border collies are just one more example.

Here's a site that lists a number of borzoi standards, including the standards of the USSR. Note that almost all allow any color. So why do we see only predominantly white borzois with colored spots? Judging followed by breeding to suit the judging. Enough said.

http://personal.palo...d-standards.htm

In border collies, the Aussie show standard pretty much became the de facto American show standard, largely because once the border collie was recognized by the AKC, conformation folks imported Aussie show lines and that's what the judges saw and "learned" as the appropriate look.

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#12 SoloRiver

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 01:46 PM

The BC Breed standard is actually very lenient and would seem to describe a working BC pretty well - of course when you look at what's in the ring it really doesn't match the written standard, but gosh it sure does look pretty.

Yup. The Border Collie standard is actually a good example of what I think were good (or at least better) intentions that don't work in practice. The problem is that in the breed standard paradigm, a loose standard only allows for more abuse by judges in terms of putting up personal preferences. If you're going to accept that an "ideal" dog can be described in a written paragraph, then it should follow that the paragraph is written as narrowly and specifically as possible. How else can judges be truly objective?

Not that I think there isn't a narrow "standard" of sorts -- it simply isn't written in so many words. The striking homogeneity of Border Collies in the breed ring is a testament to the fact that whatever the standard says, the Generic Ideal Show Dog will still always win: square, hairy, symmetrical in markings, upright in posture, forward in movement. The fact is that this type of dog "shows" better than others, regardless of what the breed is actually supposed to look, act, or move like. There's a reason why there's always a Poodle in best in show judging.
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#13 Dixie_Girl

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 06:40 PM

I also think there is another reason for the AKC saying one thing and judging another. Probly NONE of AKCs judges have ever owned a BC. So they go by what they know(not enough to teach a duck to swim :rolleyes: )about the BCs. And if you will notice, just about any time there is an ad for BCs info,,,generic dogs in pics,,,,or items for sale or a clinic or trials,,,any time a specific BC is not featured,,,,,they ALL look like this elusive, perfect BC. Therefore these judges, who probly don't memorize the standards for all breeds has that pic in back of mind and judges accordingly......IMO
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#14 JacknKegsDad

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 03:53 PM

Jack is a bit of a looker, with tipped ears and all, but he'd never win any conformation prizes.

He's from working stock...and is very much the BC, as far as "personality traits of the breed" go...but he's got curly fur on his back, and his hind legs are slightly under the body (great for endurance, but not for the showring).

Ultimately, I think all BC's are "beautiful" to look at, if they're healthy.

The "eye" is, I think where their beauty lies - regardless of mismatched markings, spots, one floppy, one pricked ear, one blue eye/brown eye etc.

That intense look when focussed on their prey/objective, the soft eye/smile when seeing mum/dad/the kids etc. - and a desire to explore the world around them/push boundaries (which Jack does, often - the bastard! :rolleyes: ) - is what makes a BC a BC for me... :D

#15 nancy

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 04:34 PM

About a year ago, KillerH conned me onto a horse (I was barefoot, and the unadjustable stirups were lots longer than my legs, and the last time I remember being on a horse was when Ike was in office). We went along with 2 of her border collies to move a herd of young cattle (stock?). I'll bet neither of her dogs would pass AKC confirmation standards. Luckily, the bovines didn't ask for credentials. A border collie is because of what it does, not how it looks.

#16 PennyT

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 04:46 PM

Roseanne wrote: "The Breed club sets the written standard, but the judges and the breeders are the ones who really decide what is in fashion at the moment."

Penny: This is absolutely false in the case of the border collie. The AKC Board put together a standard for the border collie and voted to admit the border collie as a breed. The parent club was presented with a standard by the AKC. This was okay vis a vis the AKC corporate charter under a special circumstances provision.

The AKC later let the parent club tinker with the standard and present it as their own. However, when admitted the BCSA as parent club was presented with a take it or leave it breed standard written (or rather cobbled together) by the AKC. Ask the BCSA if you are too new to border collies to believe me. If whomever you talk to says they weren't around then, go look at AKC board minutes.

This AKC rulership from the top down is still the case regarding border collie registration. The AKC just revoked registration on a very well bred border collie because the dog looked funny. The dog did quite well at an AKC herding trial but the rep didn't like the way the dog's coat looked. Go over to the politics section on this to a thread about updates.

You need to stop parroting all the AKC drivel you have been fed over the years.

#17 sandra s.

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 09:53 PM

Originally posted by Dixie_Girl:
I also think there is another reason for the AKC saying one thing and judging another. Probly NONE of AKCs judges have ever owned a BC. So they go by what they know(not enough to teach a duck to swim :rolleyes: )about the BCs.

What, they don't even have a breed expert to do all that oh-so(-financially-)important judging?!

Jack'nKeg'sDad and Nancy -
I couldn't agree more! I hope you didn't take this the wrong way. I'm curious about how they defend their views (if, for example, they have to discuss with a supporter of the working dogs) because I would find it extremely difficult to come up with a truly convincing reason for why a BC can't have a beardie beard, etc.

I had the chance to go to a big dog show last year (then I wouldn't have to ask all these questions now), but I didn't go because I find the whole culture depressing. And I don't need some arrogant fluff butt breeder snotting down on my Kessie, who is, after all, a mutt, since nobody knows who her parents were.

#18 Black Watch Debatable

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 01:02 AM

Penny wrote:

You need to stop parroting all the AKC drivel you have been fed over the years.

When Rosanne wrote, "The Breed club sets the written standard, but the judges and the breeders are the ones who really decide what is in fashion at the moment," I think she was absolutely correct---and no one would ever accuse me of parroting AKC drivel.

According to the BCSA minutes, in 2003 the members voted to accept a revised BCSA standard rather than replace it with the UK standard. When a breed club has the margin of freedom to revise or replace one standard with another, no matter how horrid and derivative their standard may be, they are "setting the written standard."

And breeders certainly determine what is in fashion.

The fashionable conformation border collie---imported lines, huge coat, Newfie-Aussie body, short face with an exaggerated stop---owes a lot to the influence of one West Coast breeder. Her dogs took Best of Breed at Westminster for several years running, IIRC.

The first year border collies were shown in conformation classes, I stood at ringside next to this breeder at the Orange Empire show. She was holding the leash of a little Australian import---a foundation bitch, I gathered. Lasting impression: I heard the breeder tell several people, "This is the head I'm breeding for!" And, "Her coat is terrible right now." (Biggest, thickest coat I've ever seen.)

I don't think judges play nearly as influential a role. In fact, I dunno how AKC judges even manage to keep their breeds straight. Mrs. Roberta L. Campbell, for instance, judged the border collie conformation classes at the Orange Empire show last weekend. (Three entries---big whoop :rolleyes: )

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#19 kelpiegirl

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 01:58 AM

I went and looked at the page you linked- these dogs look SO much alike it is scary. It reminded me of a rough collie, in that coat became so much more important than work, and instead of a shorter muzzle like the show bc's, you get a long muzzle. Ugh.
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#20 sea4th

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 02:33 AM

Not surprisingly, the criteria the west coast breeder lists mentions nothing about working ability, or even @@ --- instinct!!! And that pretty much sums it up.
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