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What is the point of this?


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#201 Pippin's person

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 09:35 AM

Sandra,
It's the whole AKC "machine" that's the problem. The conformation breeders have co-opted the breed and next thing you know John Q. Public *believes* that the dogs they see on TV at Westminster or Crufts are the "true border collie." No, the conformation breeders won't prevent good working dogs from being bred, but they will prevent most people who don't know any better than to think the AKC is the standard of purebred dogs from recognizing that the working border collie in all its diversity is the true border collie. I mentioned in another post not too long ago after helping with a sheepdog demo at an open farm day that every single person who asked me about my dogs asked me what breed they are, and when I asked in return if they had an impression that border collies were only what you see at Westminster, they all said yes. I then went on to explain why that wasn't true, but it was evidence enough of the power of the AKC and conformation breeding to influence average people with regard to what a particular breed is, looks like, and should be.

J.


I haven't finished reading this thread yet (and normally, I try to read all the way through before commenting), but Julie's comment here struck me because I heard someone say something along these lines the other day. There were several border collies congregated--and they included our Rafe--a smoothie-with only a few hairs of white on his tri-colored face--with floppy, airplane ears, etc, who no one away from a trial field EVER thinks is a "purebred" border collie . Someone pointed to a classic BW, rough coat out of conformation lines and said to a non-dog-fanatic, "Now *that's* a Border Collie".

Of course, they weren't wrong--that is a border collie--BUT, the exchange illustrates the same point Julie is making and the "lie" inherent in the conformation standard at all--which espouses all kinds of variations--few of which show up in the breed ring--and even fewer of which show up at shows such as Westminster. That does affect the breed over time--I suppose it's mostly a question of how.

At a different spot, someone who does AKC herding events mentioned a judge recently saying (as this person walked to the post with a rescue BC) that he didn't particularly like border collies--a sentiment I have heard on more than one occassion from folks who attend those kinds of herding events.

Of course, to each his own I suppose--but I really can't understand why people who have these kinds of things directed toward them and their dogs (or who know about such things) continue to give even a dollar to the AKC. [ETA: whether in the show ring or in other venues sponsored by the AKC]

I once planned on getting an ILP for Pippin so I could do some AKC agility trials with her (even though I was offended that I couldn't get one for Renzo since he's a unique breed of one--something clearly relevant on an agility course....). I was too lazy to get around to it and now I am so glad I didn't.
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#202 kelpiegirl

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 09:37 AM

I think conformation shows are just PLAIN stupid. Embarrassing, really. Embarrassing for the dog paraded around, embarrassing for the handlers, and well, an embarrassment for all dog people. How dumb must dog people look? That movie "Best in Show" really captured the essence of what dog shows are about.

A good dog person values the DOG, and it's usefulness to his owner. Looks are not useful, nope, and breeding for looks is useless. Of course we all like a dog that is "cute", or "handsome", but that should be secondary- WAY secondary. Boxers are valued more when they are "flashy", meaning that they have white on their forelegs, and a white collar, and some white on the face- that is a PAINT job, and it means nothing to anything, other than a beauty (useless) pageant. Boxers were used in the world wars, and valued as strong, loyal, intelligent, healthy, and just very useful dogs. Now health issues have surpassed other topics when the breed USED to be USEFUL.

I *really* appreciate a useful dog, now that some of my income is derived from said usefulness. Since the UK and Scotland incorporated the BC into their flock care so many years ago, it is probably *assumed* that the BC will work, and most folks won't have one, unless they have a job for it.
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#203 Geoffrey

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 09:40 AM

And so, John Q., who decides he wants to start hunting waterfowl, may have *no idea* that there are field labs and show labs and since the show labs are what he sees on TV and what are touted by the AKC (which is beneficent and has the reputation of promotoing "the best of the best" in the public mind), that's very well what he might end up with--unless he comes across someone in the know who can explain the difference (and he's willing to listen).

J.


I missed this when I wrote my previous post (in a hurry), but I felt the need to comment on it. Show labs are the minority of Labradors and John Q. Public actually has difficulty recognizing that they are, in fact, purebred labradors (and not lab/rotties, lab/newfies, or "pigadors") - many breeders complain about the "uneducated" public who won't believe that their 94lbs Lab is a purebred and a good example of the breed, let alone a show CH. In the case of Labs, the damage is really not mainly the AKC's fault, which is all the more depressing. The AKC has a very nice field trial system to evaluate the working ability of retrievers, but unfortunately is seems that people prefer to trot around the show ring with artifically dyed, primped, dogs with foreign substances in their coats (chalk, hairspray, dye, who knows) who may have even had BRACES on their teeth to incorrect an "incorrect bite." Not to mention the majority of labs are also obese. The blubber is to protect the dogs from the cold water in Newfoundland of course :D Not that any of these dogs actually work or will ever swim in the cold ocean off Newfoundland.

Oh, and interestingly enough - the "correct structure" found in show labs tends to have the highest incidence of HIP DYSPLASIA. Of course, show people will just say that is because they test their dogs and field people are irresponsible and don't test - however, many field breeders test (and many conformation people don't, actually). Field dogs just tend to have less orthopedic problems and have a longer working life.

And on the topic of working ability: I know someone on another forum who is obedience training her labrador and cannot get it to RETRIEVE because the dog has a very soft temperament and very little drive - but she's already got a breeding planned out for the dog his spring. Unfortunately, because the dog finished it's show CH quite quickly, the litter has been pre-sold for the last 8 months! :D (Show people comment that field labs have TOO MUCH drive and poor temperament, btw).

Sorry to take the discussion OT! (I think I may be venting my frustrations with the other board...the fieldy people got told to butt out and stop posting in the conformation section because we don't know anything :rolleyes:)

#204 painted_ponies

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 09:51 AM

Most of all, it seems to me that once a breed loses its ability to work, it would also lose its good image after a while, so people would stop buying the dogs for work, and the AKC would get no more profit from those whose working lines they ruined. So I wonder what they're after in the long run.


I have my suspicions. Check out this list of 2006 AKC registration stats. Almost 125,000 Labradors, and the AKC gets around 20 bucks to register each one. Plus the 20 bucks + $2.00/pup from the breeder to register the litter. AKC isn't interested in preserving the working abilities of Labs, nor even in the conformation of most Labs, because that's not what sells pups - the pet market does that.

Labs, it turns out, are great pets. Apparently the high pain threshold that allows them to work in icy waters makes them great punching bags who won't retaliate when the kids use 'em for trampolines. I suspect this is why AKC registers so many retriever breeds, in hopes of uncovering another gold mine. Not that all retrievers pan out as pets. Goldens, yes - Chessies, not so much. :D But it's worth a shot, right? :rolleyes:

I bet AKC saw great pet potential in the Border Collie. They're pretty, they like people, and they're super smart. Those would be the traits AKC would be interested in preserving, not working ability. The average pet owner probably doesn't even know BC's are supposed to work stock.

Whatever their strategy, BCs have apparently not been a moneymaker for them. Only just over 2,000 BCs were registered with the AKC in 2006 - about ten times that many are registered with ABCA. Is this because BCs don't work out well for the average pet owner? Probably so in part, but there were 3,500 or so BCs listed on Petfinder last year - a significantly greater number than were registered with the AKC.

Anyway, to answer the OP, I believe the point of conformation shows is to increase the pet market for the breed. Lots of people select their next breed by watching dog shows and picking one they think is pretty. AKC markets to those folks by perpetuating the idea that a breed is defined by how it looks, not by what it does. The puppy mills and the BYBs aren't turning out dogs to match the conformation standard, but as long as they can produce fluffy black and white dogs who are roughly the right size and shape, most of their customers won't know the difference. After all, the pup is AKC registered, so it must be the same kind as the dog they saw on TV.
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#205 Rebecca, Irena Farm

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 10:11 AM

over time what is to stop the border collie in america being slightly different from the one in the UK from the one in europe from the one in oz?? - they all have to work different land - and people prefer different ways of working)


Interesting point, but in fact what has held the working breed stable no matter where you find it, is the fact that good livestock work is good livestock work no matter what land you work, or what people handle the dogs. The breed DID change in some places - the Kelpie and McNab breeds are good examples of BC stock that has changed significantly in response to the needs of the local handlers. But by and large the Border Collie breed already offers such a wide variety of working styles and abilities that it's useful in the vast majority of livestock handling applications.

We also keep our genetics in touch with the homeland by freely importing new blood from the UK on a regular basis. The ISDS has been very wise in encouraging this.

It is very true that the situation in the UK, and actually around where you live rather than to the south where it is the show dog that dominates, is different. In the UK, I don't think anyone in the KC really kids herself that their dogs can hold a candle to the farmers' dogs. That attitude is very common here! We get the propaganda that kennel club dogs are not only "good herders" (blech) but also better than working bred dogs because THEY do health tests for everything, and Pat Hastings evaluated the structure of the parents, and have "titles on both ends," and the pups are raised in the kids' bedrooms and temperament tested and clicker trained from two weeks old, ad nausem.

They don't understand that all a farmer really needs is to know whether the dog will be useful - but they talk a good enough game to convince the average newbie to dogs that all the rest is value added.
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#206 kelpiegirl

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 11:51 AM

Becca
Have to take up the "BC stock that changed....." comment. Following is a link to the history of the Kelpie. Suffice to say that the Kelpie was not a branching off of the BC, whatsoever, and it was not "local" handlers, rather an entire country, which developed through raising sheep on million acre stations.

http://www.noonbarra.com/history.html

Interesting point, but in fact what has held the working breed stable no matter where you find it, is the fact that good livestock work is good livestock work no matter what land you work, or what people handle the dogs. The breed DID change in some places - the Kelpie and McNab breeds are good examples of BC stock that has changed significantly in response to the needs of the local handlers. But by and large the Border Collie breed already offers such a wide variety of working styles and abilities that it's useful in the vast majority of livestock handling applications.

We also keep our genetics in touch with the homeland by freely importing new blood from the UK on a regular basis. The ISDS has been very wise in encouraging this.

It is very true that the situation in the UK, and actually around where you live rather than to the south where it is the show dog that dominates, is different. In the UK, I don't think anyone in the KC really kids herself that their dogs can hold a candle to the farmers' dogs. That attitude is very common here! We get the propaganda that kennel club dogs are not only "good herders" (blech) but also better than working bred dogs because THEY do health tests for everything, and Pat Hastings evaluated the structure of the parents, and have "titles on both ends," and the pups are raised in the kids' bedrooms and temperament tested and clicker trained from two weeks old, ad nausem.

They don't understand that all a farmer really needs is to know whether the dog will be useful - but they talk a good enough game to convince the average newbie to dogs that all the rest is value added.


Never wrestle with pigs, you only get dirty, and they like it.


http://kelpiematrix.blogspot.com/

#207 sandra s.

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 12:42 PM

Thanks to the folks who took the time to answer my question so thoroughly! I'm glad I did ask, now. Seems like I underestimated the AKC's influence more than just a little.

#208 Ellie

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 03:17 PM

kinda like buying a car just to wash it... eye candy is all about eye candy. Darn shame though liked it better when it was just ABCA.


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