Let's say you have a choice of three Supreme champions to use as stud, and you chose the one you like the look of the best(assuming you grade the three dogs equally in respect to working ability and health) how are you limiting the gene pool or compromising the working ability?
All three studs could be equally good dogs in and of themselves, but you're leaving out the part where one stud may, above the other two, be the best *match* for your own bitch (that is, the dog whose own strengths and weakenesses are the best complement to your bitch's in your attempt to produce puppies that you hope will be *better* than either parent--what folks often refer to as "nick"). If that one particular stud happens to be the one whose looks you like least, and you make looks a criterion at all, then you've already compromised your breeding by not using only the *best possible match* between stud and bitch (because you chose another stud based on his appearance after his working qualities).
On the other hand, I chose a stud which I believed was the best available (considering the situation where the originally carefully selected German stud refused to mate and we had to go back to Poland for mating)even though there were much better show dogs at the same breeder's who would not cause the risk of lighter eye (a bad thing for show) in their progeny as the father of Bonnie's did.
So it sounds to me that you chose the stud who would be the best working cross for that mating, *even though* you risked a conformation attribute (eye color) that might mean the pups wouldn't fare as well in the show ring. How many others, with an eye to winning a conformation championship, would have done the same thing? And how many would have chosen the stud who would produce better eye color, even if it meant that the working aspect of the match wasn't as good? Unfortunately far too many people (in the KC culture here in the US) would make the latter choice, and in fact that's how the working ability gets watered down.
I agree with you to a large extent. I mean that to me border collies are the most beautiful when they work - their beauty unrolls like scroll on the field. However, the BCs are also beautiful to me when they take a nap, or run around like idiots playing with each other or sit in the passenger seat and watch the world in a way that nothing escapes them. And I agree that it's not important, but it does not mean you are committing a grievous sin if on the list of priorities under point 17 you have "preferably tricolored, light built".
It's not a big deal at all when it sits at point 17, unless of course you start choosing your mating pairs to try to obtain that characteristic. It's no secret that I like tris. I also like smooth coats and big prick ears. But when it came time to breed my bitch, color, shape, coat length, ears, etc., had absolutely *no place* in my decision beyond the obvious ones that might result in health issues. The sire of that litter is not a dog I consider at all attractive (though I'm sure his owner does), but what he looked like *did not matter* because what was important to me--in fact the *only thing* of importance--was whether he could bring working characteristics to the match that would build on my bitch's strengths and minimize her weaknesses. Some of the pups did turn out to have smooth coats and prick ears (there were no tris), but that was a happy "accident" and not something I ever even considered when I chose a stud. I personally believe that if I had added looks criteria to that choosing of a stud, then I automatically limit my choices and perhaps even automatically discard the potential best choices because of it. Heck, my Lark is the cutest little prick-eared tri-colored, smooth-coated dog on the planet, and I picked her because she was smooth and a tri, but that was after the fact of her birth (as Barbara pointed out), and neither parent was tri and there was *no* expectation of tri in that litter.
Julie gave a good example of hunting dogs which were bred for a certain uniform look and for hunting ability, where the hunting ability was paramount. I saw an old photograph of beagles and they looked different from the KC beagles but they all looked very much the same among themselves.
Sure, but part of the point I was trying to make was that those same old timers still put work first, and I'd be willing to bet that if one beagle in a pack didn't have the exact same stop as the other beagles in that pack, but was the best hunter of the bunch, it likely still would have been bred from. The classic horse example is Seabiscuit. Nothing to look at, but a hell of a racehorse. These folks weren't throwing animals out of the breeding pool based on appearance characteristic first, whereas that seems to be exactly what's happening in the KC world, at least here in the US. That's how breeders are able to sell *puppies* as pet quality vs. show quality. You won't find many folks who are breeding for a purpose tossing pups out of the breeding pool because there's *no way* to know if the pup can live up to the working potential that is being bred for. That is a HUGE difference in approach to breeding.
Nonetheless please note that most of my post was trying to show you the situation from the point of view of an KC person by choice, point to problems in communication, help communicate, try to find a starting point for a discussion, show why a KC person may be put off by your attitude.
I have an interesting situation in that I have a student who wants to do stockwork and trial. His wife wants to show border collies in conformation. She bought a conformation-bred dog, which he then brought to me for lessons. It soon became evident that if he wanted to have a farm and a dog to work it, not to mention trial, this dog was not going to be the dog he'd do it with. So he got a Welsh import and the two of them are doing great as a team. His wife has come out and watched training sessions (she also came out when we were working the show bred dog). She says she can see the huge differences between the two dogs, and yet she can't or won't make the connection with how breeding for that perfect show look has in fact played a huge role in why the dog she bought (for three times the price of a well-bred working pup no less) is incapable of being even a useful farm dog. I don't know if she's simply been completely indoctrinated by the "other side" or what, but even after coming to lessons, seeing the differences between the dogs, having me explain the purpose of the dog for the work, and so on, she still told her husband that first, she didn't want the show-bred dog working because she got too dirty (it was a very wet spring) and might hurt herself (doG forbid then she couldn't be shown), and second, that the stock training was making her show dog *aggressive* (and this observation was based on rough play among their own dogs, something that had occurred in the past, but which was now apparently attributable to the one dog being trained to work stock). So while I can appreciate your attempts to point out where we might be failing on our attempts at communication, I think when the thinking on the bench show side is so entrenched, it's such an uphill battle as to be virtually unwinnable (the arguments the wife presented were ones I've heard before in other places and from other people). And I also think that every time you says "sure, it's okay to have an appearance standard in place" such folks will sieze on that and never hear the remainder about how that appearance standard needs to come *after* a work standard. (And I don't know how many times I've heard folks who want only to show react to the idea of working their dogs with something akin to disgust because it's dirty, hard, requires the human to move A LOT and so on--in other words, it's not easy--when of course if you have a "perfectly built" dog per the KC standard--it's really not so physically difficult for the human or the dog to get in the show ring and strut their stuff.) Maybe it's different in other cultures, but here I think it's safe to say that many people want to take the easy way out, and proving a dog's working ability--no matter whether the task is stockwork, hunting, sled racing, etc.--is much more difficult and takes a lot more time, so if they've already been indoctrinated in the KC culture of appearance then getting them to change those attitudes will take a whole lot more effort than what you're suggesting.
As for the comments about pretty mathematicians, the problem with such comparisons is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And American culture has a different standard of beauty than, say, Samoan culture. Who chooses which standard is the better one? I heard on the news the other day that thin women earn on average something like 14 percent more than heavier women (not obese, mind you, but just not the thin that our culture prefers and considers beautiful, and which of course has led to self-loathing, eating disorders, etc., among our young girls). Conversely heavier men earned something like 16 percent more than their thinner counterparts. It doesn't matter if the heavier woman is kick-ass at her job compared to all the thin women on the planet; she's going to earn less by virtue of appearance alone. Appearance-based standards--aconowledged or not--are pervasive in our society. In the KC world, the KC (or more aptly, the judges' fancy du jour) chooses, without regard to the fact that beauty is *subjective.* Even though I prefer a smooth-coated prick eared dog, I'm not tossing out my rough coated airplane-eared dog because he seems to be a good worker so far. But under an appearance standard, my smooth-coated, prick-eared dogs would never have gotten past the breeder's choice for retaining for breeding as pups, and that makes no sense for an animal with a purpose (beyond appearance). And since we accept appearance-based standards in the rest of our lives, why wouldn't most people find it very difficult to comprehend an argument that says appearance shouldn't be considered, no matter how that argument is delivered? We get news stories about it all the time, and yet those stories don't seem to have changed our culture to any noticeable degree.