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Smooth coat vs. rough coat and ear set


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#1 crumcake

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 07:34 AM

My Zag is getting old, going on 14! I am getting old too, 62! I have had Zag since he was a little over a year old. He was my first bc. He has been and continues to be quite the teacher. I can't imagine another breed I could communicate with the way I can with him.

 

I hope to have him ? more years, but I know the end will come too soon so I contemplate getting another bc when he is gone. I think I would like a smooth coat bc. They are sleek and handsome and of course, easier to maintain. But people keep telling me they are higher energy, especially the ones with prick ears. I live in Michigan where agility is big, but not so much herding. There are some small scale sheep farmers who use border collies. I suspect this influences this attitude towards the smooth coat. 

 

Any way, I would like the opinions of the wide community of these boards: Is it true that smooth coats and ear set are reliable determiners of a higher energy and drive in border collies? 



#2 Liz P

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 09:44 AM

Load of bull. It's determined by lines, not coat and ear set.

#3 GentleLake

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 10:12 AM

Don't know who you're talking to, but that's utter nonsense.


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#4 denice

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 02:50 PM

Coat and ear set makes NO DIFFERENCE to personality.  Its like saying people with red hair are smarter. I will add to Liz's post and say behaviors have a "training"/raising component along with genetics.  Look for parents who's  personality and disposition suit you and get a pup from that cross.



#5 crumcake

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 06:10 AM

Mostly the agility people here have rough coats. The smooth coat bc with prick ears looks more sporty so I think that clouds peoples attitudes towards them. Also they are more likely to have come from herding lines instead of having AKC lines so of course they aren't for pet owners! 

 

Having read here about herding lines being the better source of a pet, I am feeling more confident about having a smooth coat. 

 

Thank you all for your input! Good idea to judge the pup by the parents.



#6 gcv-border

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 11:14 AM

Definitely utter nonsense. Best indicator of drive and personality is the parents.

And you are not old. A friend of mine just got a new BC pup at 74 years young!

Jovi

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#7 Liz P

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 01:23 PM

Denice, I will agree to a point. I've raised a lot of pups from different lines.  They are all taught self control, basic obedience, how to settle in the house.  The lines make a huge difference.  Some take a lot more work and are a lot less likely to be naturally calm and relaxed (months of training vs years to get the same effect).



#8 Gloria Atwater

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 08:01 PM

My Zag is getting old, going on 14! I am getting old too, 62! I have had Zag since he was a little over a year old. He was my first bc. He has been and continues to be quite the teacher. I can't imagine another breed I could communicate with the way I can with him.

 

I hope to have him ? more years, but I know the end will come too soon so I contemplate getting another bc when he is gone. I think I would like a smooth coat bc. They are sleek and handsome and of course, easier to maintain. But people keep telling me they are higher energy, especially the ones with prick ears. I live in Michigan where agility is big, but not so much herding. There are some small scale sheep farmers who use border collies. I suspect this influences this attitude towards the smooth coat. 

 

Any way, I would like the opinions of the wide community of these boards: Is it true that smooth coats and ear set are reliable determiners of a higher energy and drive in border collies? 

 


Coat length and ear set contribute exactly as much to a border collie's temperament as eye color dictates human personalities.

Which is, of course, to say NONE.

Sometimes an area or group of people may have known a number of dogs with a certain coat or ear set who acted in a certain way, so they think all dogs who look like that must be the same. But that is balderdash. I've seen hyper rough coats and mellow smoothies and everything in between.

Ears, coat, eye colors, big dogs, little dogs, white dogs, black dogs - none of it matters at all.  :)  The best determiner of high energy or drive in a prospective puppy might be to get acquainted with the parents and any other relatives, but even then there are no guarantees. So, choose the pup that suits you - whatever it looks like, it's the dog inside that counts.  :)

 


You ask of my companions. Hills, sir, and the sundown, and a dog as large as myself that my father bought me. They are better than human beings, because they know but do not tell. ~ Emily Dickinson

To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace. ~ Milan Kundera

#9 crumcake

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 07:26 AM

GCV, thanks for the reassurance! Some days I'm young, some days not so much. Its odd how so many of these commercials on TV for products for the elderly or ill have border collies. Like the are symbolic for energy and ability. 

 

Liz, what did you have in mind when you said that some lines take a lot more work and some are naturally more calm? Are you saying that there is more to look at then the parents? Are you talking about sporting vs. herding lines or differences within herding lines? That would make puppy buying more complicated, I would suspect. Especially if I were to get a puppy from someone who keeps their dogs outside only.

 

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#10 Liz P

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 08:26 AM

Not working vs sport, just different personalities. My dogs live in the house with me, so I can't stand dogs who fidget and pace all the time. I like a naturally calm minded dog. That's very different than drive level, which far too many get confused about. Some think insane, over the top dogs = high drive while calm dogs = low drive. I want dogs with self control that are high drive.

#11 Zach

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 08:47 PM

that makes no sense about the energy level. What you need to look out for is the white feet - for every white toe the dog has you're just asking for more trouble...



#12 GentleLake

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 10:51 PM

Is this the dog version of the old proverb about horses, a paraphrase of which is: One white foot, buy him; two white feet, try him; three white feet be in the sly; four white feet, pass him by? (Or, ...three white feet look well about him; four white feet, do without him.) :lol:


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#13 crumcake

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Posted 13 August 2017 - 07:14 AM

I think "Wine before liquor, couldn't get sicker" probably has much more truth to it than the white foot thing. :unsure:

 

It seems there are a lot of strange ideas and misconceptions about border collies.

 

I think someone bought one of those "Smartest Dogs in the World" puppies from Kentucky. They loved him and taught him manners as a pup, but then let him rome and do as he pleased. The neighbors weren't on board with this so his owners ended up turning him in to the Humane Society smelling skunky when he was about 14 months old. 

 

So I got him. He had been through two people by that time, but still had a bit of skunk aroma and a big attitude that showed in the way he would look at me sometimes like "Are you sure you want to let me do that?" I had pledged in my heart to be the best Border Collie Mom in the World No Matter What.

 

Two things saved us: Learning double frisbee and that he knew he did it when he bit me. And that as "pet" owner I could provide for much of his needs just bossing him around in the house. (He didn't need much of that though.)

 

A big turning point came when finally The Best Border Collie Mom in the World No Matter What said to her husband, "Ya know, I think I have to lower this dogs expectations." Then I relaxed and enjoyed and got to know Zag. I could go on and on about him, but I will spare you.

 

My point being; I don't think there is another dog that comes with as much baggage, unless it is the pit bull. 



#14 rushdoggie

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Posted 13 August 2017 - 11:17 AM

Not working vs sport, just different personalities. My dogs live in the house with me, so I can't stand dogs who fidget and pace all the time. I like a naturally calm minded dog. That's very different than drive level, which far too many get confused about. Some think insane, over the top dogs = high drive while calm dogs = low drive. I want dogs with self control that are high drive.

 

Yes. This.

 

Thinking and self control do not = low drive.


"one dog shy of a crazy dog lady..."

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#15 Zach

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Posted 13 August 2017 - 06:54 PM

I think "Wine before liquor, couldn't get sicker" probably has much more truth to it than the white foot thing. :unsure:

 

It seems there are a lot of strange ideas and misconceptions about border collies.

[joke]  ;)

 


My point being; I don't think there is another dog that comes with as much baggage, unless it is the pit bull. 

i think the baggage in the case of the pit bull is more often projected by the people...but I don't suppose we need to get into that 



#16 Eileen Stein

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 09:29 AM

I just wanted to comment that the OP's question is not one that can be dismissed out of hand.  It is certainly theoretically possible for smooth-coated prick-eared border collies to have higher energy and drive than rough-coated ones with a softer ear set.  Remember "Belyaev's foxes," the silver foxes that Belyaev and Trut bred for tameness?  Over the generations, as the foxes became tamer and more people-centered by temperament, these behavioral changes brought with them changes in appearance, most notably in their coloring and markings, as well as in other behavioral characteristics (prolonged puppyhood, more frequent heat cycles).  (There is a new book out, written by Trut, which deals with this project, called How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog) -- I haven't read it yet, but I'm eager to.)  

 

Gene linkage is one possible explanation for this -- if a behavior you're breeding for happens to be caused by a gene that is in close proximity on the chromosome to a gene that affects appearance, the two would more likely be passed to offspring together.  Changes in the production and timing of hormones by genes could be another explanation.  

 

So it could be the case that smooth coats and prick eared dogs could be higher in energy.  But are they?  You'd have to observe a lot more dogs than most people are able to do to answer that question.  For example, my current pup is from a litter of eight, where four were smooth-coated and four were rough-coated.  So far (they are 10 months old), there does not seem to be any correlation between coat and energy level in the pups, but that is a very small sample.  

 

So I guess what I'm saying is that it is possible that smooth-coated prick-eared border collies have more energy and drive than those without these characteristics, but evidence that they actually do is lacking.


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#17 Zach

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 12:01 AM

Good thinking, Eileen, but I think you're missing an important element that is more likely to affect the foxes in that experiment than in a breed of dogs over the last 100-300yrs, and that's drift. Genetic Drift is the process of random deletion or unlikely preservation of a particular variation in a small population. Because the captive foxes were fewer in number (than ALL the herding dogs in the UK over a couple centuries), and only preserve a small proportion of the natural variation, you likely have some traits that are uncommon in the wild that are, by chance alone, disproportionally high in frequency in the captive sample. That can mean you get some odd things that come up and become fixed in the population. This IS, by definition, evolution, which is only the change in gene frequencies over time. However, you are talking about links between desirable features and those that are sort of pulled along with them because they are non-independent. In this small population, you also have drift, which inserts a randomness that is difficult to distinguish, and therefore not a good model for how selective breeding would have affected linked traits in a larger population over a longer period. 

 

Finally, because smooth and rough coats appear (I think) to be simple Mendelian traits, 1) they are very malleable from generation to generation, 2) having a smooth coat does not rule out the presence of the (recessive) rough coat gene, and 3) they do not consistently correspond with ear shape or erectness. I haven't heard of any theories that the two coat types were isolated from one another for any period of time, which means that they have been intermingling behavioral genes as well as those of appearance probably throughout the development and reinforcement of the breed standards. So, IF there ever were any linkage, and that is a big IF, then they certainly would have been freed a long time ago.   



#18 crumcake

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 07:31 AM

Eileen and Zach, your posts are very stimulating. I don't think I am adding anything earth shattering here, but: 

 

I think it can it be said that smooth coat is dominant genetically in all canines. Can it be said that humans bred in the rough coats in domesticated canines to give them a more "pet" appearance? Maybe I should add to that the feathering that comes with dog breeds coming more often from Europe. 

 

I'm really curious about the wider implications of smooth coat, prick ear dogs in general as it may apply to BC's. Cutting Doberman's ears so they look more alert doesn't change the dog, but changes how people perceive the dog and how it may react to them. (Which also changes how the dog reacts to people.) A German Shepherd with folded ears would not be accepted by humans even if it were fully trained in Schutzhund. I will suppose that it is lucky for me that this deliberate breeding either way is not part of the Border Collie history. 

 

Maybe when I eventually get my smooth coat BC (if he also has prick ears) strangers who come to my door will think he is some kind of guard dog! That could be handy.



#19 Zach

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 08:46 AM

Yes, I agree that the human (mis-)reading of dog personalities from their appearance has been a significant driver of breeding efforts in many breeds. Working at a vet clinic in college I had a chance to see how dog would react to the various anatomical alterations commonly done, which, just typing it out inspires comparisons in my mind with Frankenstein. Of course, some modifications are done with the intention of being helpful (e.g., dew claw removal), but Border collies are lucky to not be among those with cropped ears and docked tails. In one of my less delicate conversations at a dog park, I spoke with a woman about her deberman puppy who I'd met and liked very much previously, but on that day it came with bandages and a sort of cast on its ears after they'd been cropped. "That's a shame about his poor ears, I believe they say that's one of the more painful procedures..." I said. She replied, "oh I know, but it really is important to make them effective for protection." Knowing I should walk away, I couldn't resist, "I thought that's what the teeth are for." She said, "oh no, the pointy ears really make a big difference." I finally succeeded in removing myself.

#20 amc

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 08:53 AM

I'm surprised no one has brought up Sheila Grew's observations on Border Collie "type" as set forth in her excellent Key Dogs from the Border Collie Family first published in 1981, with Volume II coming out in 1985.  A combined hardcover edition was published in 1993.

 

She identifies four main types of working Border Collie:  the Northumbrian type, the Wiston Cap type, the Nap type, and the Herdman's Tommy type, also stating that not all working collies will fit a type.  She attributes behavioral traits and temperaments to each type which I find fascinating as well.

 

Germane to this discussion is her assessment of the Nap type, which she describes as "smooth coated, very fast and with abounding energy and power."  The photos all show prick-eared smoothies.

 

It's a wonderful read for anyone interested in border collie history, and the photos are remarkable.

 

Amy


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