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Sue R

"Types" of dogs

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This question has been bouncing around in my head for some time since I have read or listened to several very experienced trainers/handlers express their ideas about different physical "types"of dogs.

 

In essence, what I've been told or read here and there includes these ideas:

 

A long, leggy, lanky dog with a long tail just isn't the kind to get the job done.

 

A long, leggy, lanky dog will not "hold up" in the long run like a more compact dog. I'm assuming this is meant in the physical sense, soundness and so on.

 

Now, I've seen some top handlers with really consistent and successful dogs that could easily be described this way - Jim Cropper for one, and Bobby Dalziel for another. Of course, on the other hand, I've also heard people be critical of the type of dog that a certain handler (not necessarily either of these two) runs (or even critical of that top handler him/herself). It's hard to separate out the personal prejudices from the good information sometimes.

 

I've always felt that the variability of the working Border Collie was one of the breed's strengths. A diverse gene pool tends to be healthy; it is an indication that breeding has been for work and not for appearance; and it means that there can be types of dogs that suit differing situations to one degree or another.

 

Of course, there are always handlers that prefer a "type" because it suits them or their needs - but is there a "type" (described above) that is less likely to be a "good working dog" or a dog that is sound and remains sound? I'm curious about folks' opinions on this. Is it just personal prejudice or might it be grounded in fact?

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Hi Sue,

 

This is really a great question and I look forward to reading the responses you get!

 

I have also be thinking about this lately because now between my mom and I we have 4 border collies. And Daisy, is the odd girl out. She is tall and narrow and my mom's two are much more broad chested and I think that my new little guy will be broad chested too. I look at Daisy and wonder if she is really built for stock work? Either way we both enjoy it and will continue to do it as an activity together.

 

ETA: And I do agree about the diversity comments you made as well.

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Interesting question Sue- I don't know the answer, but I did notice alot of references made to preferring a dog with a short back in the Top Trainers Talk About Starting a Sheepdog book. Jet is actually pretty long backed (and really long tail with a huge white tip, which makes it look even longer!) but seems to hold up ok. Nellie has had the best stamina of any dog I've had and she is long legged but short backed and just has these bunchy muscles, that even when she is not being worked alot, seem to hold some condition. Her sire was definitely big, long and lanky and could work cows all day, but I do believe he began to break down around 11 or 12, not to the point he couldn't work, but he might be sore after working hard.

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Hum

 

Gunny is small short backed, short legged and will go all day and feels rather hard, you know her muscles are hard.

(Rescue) She has been lame once. I think she pulled a muscle. After two weeks lay off she was sound.

Cap has retired, he always had good stamina, he is small and wiry. Average legs I guess

(Rescue) He never took a bad step in his life.

Taw is like Gunny but her legs are a bit longer. She isn't really working yet.

(Stimatze Breeding)

Sweep is a tall, average on legs, His back is longer. I guess his tail is long? But he also can go all day.

(Geri Breeding, Scimgeour) Seems very sound, he is young.

 

All these dogs are slick coated, but Cap.

Gun is brown, Cap is white factored, the others are mostly black.

 

 

The working dogs are doing about 4 miles a day average. That does not include I guess gathering. That is just there and back. Some 4 hours a day out, but not all of that is work. Some of it is waiting. Then simple putting stock up at night, maybe 1/2 hour of that.

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I've read about prefences for leggy, prick eared, smooth coat dogs (more predatory) vs blocky, rough coated, flyaway ears (steady, more responsive). I don't know if this has to do with the actual physical characteristics so much as the bloodlines and I have certainly seen every combination of type out there working to a high level.

 

http://www.bordercollierescue.org/breed_ad...ests/VivBc.html

 

Just to be clear, I do not agree with every she says in this article, especially about white dogs.

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First off, don't believe everything people tell you as most of it will be a load of old rubbish. Tall dogs, short stocky dogs, hairy ones, ears up down or sideways. If the damn thing works and you like it end of story.

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I guess I think of the "types" more from a breeding selection point of view then evaluating the ability of an individual. IMHO, you always get individuals whose drive and/or instincts will compensate for potential physical weakness, you just hope that the weakness don't lead to a shorter working carrier, though I wonder how many dogs are really working as hard as they could. It is something to consider, yeah the dog may last over a decade working in a certain way, but would they have lasted that long if the work was harder, longer or more taxing.

 

When I look at Jake he lacks a bit in the athleticness department, yeah he can cover ground, work like a fiend and keeps going for long period of times, but he is a clutz when he in not working. Would he be a better working dog if he was more athletic? And, where is he lacking physically that causes the lack of athleticness. I think he is just a touch too long legged and just a little too narrow in frame, when you look at him he is just a touch out of balance (IMO).

 

The way I look at it, finding/identifing physical faults is not a bad thing, it's just part of recognizing that there is room for possible improvement. Problem is, some people take it as a personal attack on their dog or on someone elses, when it was not meant to be. It just identifies that there is something you see that you would like to change that you can readily see that could be getting in the way of talent and instincts. Basically, yeah that dog is good, but imagine how great he would be if this or that was a little different.

 

I don't know if that makes sense or not.

 

Deb

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Basically, yeah that dog is good, but imagine how great he would be if this or that was a little different.

 

Nah, I have to wonder if people start thinking this if you loose sight of how good they are to begin with. Who can say if said dog would be "better"? Might be worse and that the way they are put together is what makes them good?

 

In response to Sue's question - I think it's a matter of preference and due to where, what and how much the dog works. I know I want a dog with "leg" but my dogs go miles on any given day. What's more important to me are the "feet", nice tight compact "cat" feet I have noticed are not shredded to bits here or sore.

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First off, don't believe everything people tell you as most of it will be a load of old rubbish. Tall dogs, short stocky dogs, hairy ones, ears up down or sideways. If the damn thing works and you like it end of story.

 

My sentiments exactly. There's a particular look to a dog that I vastly prefer but I wouldn't kid myself that the look I like somehow makes the dog superior to others when it comes to work. Long and lanky or short and compact are probably less important than how all the parts fit and work together.

 

J.

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I liked that article.

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While I agree with this, I will say though, that it is better if you have a good working dog, who is built efficiently enough to handle the work. Because at the end of the day, they can have all the talent in the world, but if they can't physically handle the work, they can't.

 

First off, don't believe everything people tell you as most of it will be a load of old rubbish. Tall dogs, short stocky dogs, hairy ones, ears up down or sideways. If the damn thing works and you like it end of story.

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Because at the end of the day, they can have all the talent in the world, but if they can't physically handle the work, they can't.

 

Most of the people that seem to make comments like those above, aren't working them hard at real work.

 

There is every type of collie out there when it comes to working and trialling well. Those handlers that use such dogstypically aren't judging conformation other than in a casual way. Myself...well if I had a nickel for everytime I've seen a dog who looked a piece of crud standing around but was poetry in motion on stock for a long career I'd be a rich women.

 

Dogs, while similar to horses in many ways, are not. (if we were required to send them out with monkey shepherd riders maybe....). And what we know of judging conformation in dogs come mostly from horses.

 

The dog is the sum of all it's parts, both in and out, and the tie that binds is the heart and drive to do the work right.

 

I would say the show dogs have ineffective conformation, but I don't really know. Frankly I've never seen one work well enough to justify enough use to test stamina.

 

I did have one dog I suspected of having bad feet, but then I got her adjusted chiropractically and it seems to be a non-issue now. If had a preference it would be for a leggy dog, a ground covering type with big strong, well padded feet. However we've got some short legged ones here with regular tidy feet and in their day they had more than enough stamina to go with that ability. In fact I know at least 2 shepherds/ranchers that give an eye tooth for another one like them.

 

Work the dog. Let that decide what is effective and if it's high standard...then breed accordingly.

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Not sure how this conclusion was made, based on what I wrote. If the dog is built so that he can't cover ground without getting exhausted, then what I say stands true. Work is the best equalizer, of course. For me? My preference is the bitch I work now, hands down. Why? Because she can go all day long, and runs as fast as any dog I have seen out there, and can, when her mind allows her to, stop on a dime.

 

 

Most of the people that seem to make comments like those above, aren't working them hard at real work.

 

There is every type of collie out there when it comes to working and trialling well. Those handlers that use such dogstypically aren't judging conformation other than in a casual way. Myself...well if I had a nickel for everytime I've seen a dog who looked a piece of crud standing around but was poetry in motion on stock for a long career I'd be a rich women.

 

Dogs, while similar to horses in many ways, are not. (if we were required to send them out with monkey shepherd riders maybe....). And what we know of judging conformation in dogs come mostly from horses.

 

The dog is the sum of all it's parts, both in and out, and the tie that binds is the heart and drive to do the work right.

 

I would say the show dogs have ineffective conformation, but I don't really know. Frankly I've never seen one work well enough to justify enough use to test stamina.

 

I did have one dog I suspected of having bad feet, but then I got her adjusted chiropractically and it seems to be a non-issue now. If had a preference it would be for a leggy dog, a ground covering type with big strong, well padded feet. However we've got some short legged ones here with regular tidy feet and in their day they had more than enough stamina to go with that ability. In fact I know at least 2 shepherds/ranchers that give an eye tooth for another one like them.

 

Work the dog. Let that decide what is effective and if it's high standard...then breed accordingly.

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Forgot to say "HI" JD- you best remember that "other breed", we know and love so much!

 

First off, don't believe everything people tell you as most of it will be a load of old rubbish. Tall dogs, short stocky dogs, hairy ones, ears up down or sideways. If the damn thing works and you like it end of story.

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I think the question was more about preferences than judging dogs based on conformation. I know I have my preferences (smooth coat for one) that are more about where I work my dogs than a judgement on dogs that are not what I prefer. One thing I will never have, is a dog that is excessively heavy on it's front end (when moving). I think it's ugly to look at and can't possibly hold up to real work and I won't have it or breed it. I don't hardly breed anything ever so it's probably a moot point, but I still cringe when I see dogs working on their elbows on an outrun or flank. Most of my own preferences are like that- what I don't like, not what I do.

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One thing I will never have, is a dog that is excessively heavy on it's front end (when moving). I think it's ugly to look at and can't possibly hold up to real work and I won't have it or breed it.

 

 

Do you have any thoughts as to what causes/allows a dog to work in that style?

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Do you have any thoughts as to what causes/allows a dog to work in that style?

 

I would think it's a combination of structure and style- I guess I'd call it "overexaggerated crouching". I don't mind dogs eyeing up/crouching and a little heavy when they are walking up, driving, etc- but I've seen occasional (not common) individuals that seem to be always crouching, no matter what they are doing. I hate to look at it. Reminds me of pleasure horses with that downhill build, tripping on their own front legs (although I realized the movement of dog and horse is different).

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I would think it's a combination of structure and style

 

I think your probably right, it's funny how many people think they are just judging a dog based on a preference or a style when that preference or style probably is directly linked to the structure/conformation.

 

Unless you have a freak of nature, I would suspect the a particular style needs to be supported by a particular structure, or specific difference in one structure or another, may also have something to do with muscling. Is it unreasonable to say that when a person selects on a style they are not basing the selection on the dogs ability to work?

 

IMO, it is related to how appealing the dog is to them when working. I think that when a person decides that this style or preference is not to their liking they will then find reasons, the easiest place to justify those reasons is by trying to find fault in the work and then attributing that fault in work to the style or preference.

 

Deb

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If you are staring at your dog trying to find physical fault while they work....sheesh I don't know what to say. Why don't we just trot them around the ring and have a looksie to decide which one is best that way? oh wait...they are trying that and it's not working...fascinatingly just as it has never before....

 

One of the best producing and working btchs in early US trilaing history was Lewis Pulfer's Dell. She had very front end down style of working - "stylish" if you like that work. I'm glad so many handlers that followed with those marvelous Dell pups, grand and gg-pups didn't stand her up next to a horse and a ruler and say "oh my, front end low! Couldn't possibly work. Breed that? Horrors! Next!"

 

Dell doesn't stand along for that particular type of dog. Which for what it's worth, is just as successful a working type as others that move and appear totally different.

 

Which leaves again....the way to tell what works, is to work it.

 

There are always room for preferences and human nature with dogs - short coat, long coat, long legs or short, ears pricked or down, etc. However when those preference get extreme those handlers better get terrifically talented at "their" type dogs as they are cutting themselves out of a lot of other good ones with their bias.

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There are always room for preferences and human nature with dogs - short coat, long coat, long legs or short, ears pricked or down, etc. However when those preference get extreme those handlers better get terrifically talented at "their" type dogs as they are cutting themselves out of a lot of other good ones with their bias.

 

Sigh.... I said that the dog I'm talking about is uncommon and I can't think of a single top trialer that I know right now that's running a dog like that. I don't know if Pulfer's Dell ran the way I am thinking or not- I don't know of any time I've had the opportunity to breed or own a dog that I am describing, just that when I see one I just don't like it. Geesh- no one said anything about someone else liking it just fine nor do I have a specific type of dog that I must have. Looking around my living room now, I've got 4 working dogs here that I like quite a bit and not a single one is the same exact "type" as any of the others. I didn't make a pronouncement on dogs with style (I like a little style, although only one dog I have now could have been described as stylish) or dogs that were built low. What I specifically do not like is a dog that travels on that front end to an extreme, even when it's not eyed up. I don't see how that really eliminates that many dogs from the types I like to work.

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Jamie

I get what you are saying :D

 

I for one, don't like "clunky" dogs. I don't mind a big dog, but I want that big dog to be "fleet of feet", and it's harder with bigger dogs. I prefer short coated, prick eared, red/tan dogs, named Lucy, for what it's worth :rolleyes: But, I also like long coated one ear up, one down, black tri dogs named Danny too.

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There are always room for preferences and human nature with dogs - short coat, long coat, long legs or short, ears pricked or down, etc.

 

 

Sounds like you think everyone should drive the same car just with different cosmetic options....

 

doG forbid anyone would be critical of their own dog, they might just sell it and buy a different one. Worse yet, if they find fault in their own imagine how they look at yours.

 

A top handler once told me that the best thing you could do is know the faults and short comings of your dog, that way you can know where they need help and handle them to the best of both of your abilities.

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A long, leggy, lanky dog with a long tail just isn't the kind to get the job done.

 

A long, leggy, lanky dog will not "hold up" in the long run like a more compact dog. I'm assuming this is meant in the physical sense, soundness and so on.

 

 

Geez, I sure hope this isn't true. Long, lanky, and narrow chested with a long tail describes Odin to a T. He did have OCD on one side, which is a pretty big physical fault. Of course, I think I stacked the deck against him there with an early neuter plus I think it was a specific injury. But after that everything has been great. Vet just checked his hips yesterday and loved what she felt - and even though he is skinny she just kept saying "look at all this muscle!" He does have small tough feet that don't get bloody, and while I've not worked him on stock all day long yet, he can sprint after a ball for hours and hours without seeming to get tired in the least. When I take him to a field site he goes all day long, running laps around me the whole time.

 

I think about human athletes - there are certainly body types for some sports (i.e. swimming vs sprinting vs. long distance running vs. weight lifting etc). I would think stockwork is variable enough that it is more about the mental than the physical ability, and about stamina, but I guess I don't know. Now, a career in frisbee or something? That seems more like you want a specific body type (small, shorter back maybe?).

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Two things two different old timers have told me they look for in dogs:

 

1. Broad head: "More room for brains, though that doesn't mean they'll use them."

 

2. Deep chest: good lung capacity.

 

These types of preferences, especially no. 2, make sense to me (vs. strictly cosmetic preferences, which generally wouldn't have any real bearing on ability). But then I own an oddly built nearly 10-year-old open trial dog who still goes balls to the wall and is fit as a fiddle, so who knows?

 

J.

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Two things two different old timers have told me they look for in dogs:

 

1. Broad head: "More room for brains, though that doesn't mean they'll use them."

 

2. Deep chest: good lung capacity.

 

These types of preferences, especially no. 2, make sense to me (vs. strictly cosmetic preferences, which generally wouldn't have any real bearing on ability). But then I own an oddly built nearly 10-year-old open trial dog who still goes balls to the wall and is fit as a fiddle, so who knows?

 

J.

 

 

# 2 "Deep Chest" not only provides good lung capacity but better holds a big HEART...a must!

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