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AKC dog in Finals?

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I think you will oftentimes find a merle or two (Dick Williams has run a merle, I remember, and Rose Anderson runs merles) and a few red dogs, perhaps. Definitely, colored dogs are a small minority.

 

I think, though, that while few colored dogs are successful at higher levels of trialing, there is less bias towards them than there might have once been - rather, I think most people are willing to judge a dog on its performance and not on its appearance.

 

Was it last year that a red dog won on of the Finals across the pond? Or the Supreme? I don't remember for sure.

I think he won the English finals.

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I saw Lyle Lad run at the Vashon Sheepdog Classic and it was a red dog I believe. However it was such a smokin' run I don't think anyone was looking at the color.

 

There you go, Tea. Said it best as usual :)

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I think what we will see in the coming years is a balance between a reduction in bias towards colors as a younger generation takes over stewardship of the working sheepdog and skepticism about the working ability of colored dogs due to the rising popularity of pet/sport bred candy colored Border Collies.

 

In other words, I think the bias would eventually go away if breeding for pet/sport dogs stopped, but I don't foresee that happening any time soon.

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actually the trend in sport dogs will probably increase the bias. few fo the strictly sport bred dogs can work up to par, Over time I think we will see more dogs bred solely for sports with fewer crosses to the working lines, but IMO still too many

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Dear Doggers,

 

Ms. Liz wrote (in part): "I think what we will see in the coming years is a balance between a reduction in bias towards colors as a younger generation takes over stewardship of the working sheepdog . . ."

 

I doubt it. In a quarter century, I've seen two red and two white dogs I would have liked to run, no merles, That doesn't mean I haven't been beaten by all of the above - I have been. Nor does it mean that I could NEVER find an off-colored dog I'd want to run. It's possible.

 

I have known several people whose preference for red or merle dogs influenced their breeding programs. I've not known one whose pups were sought by experienced handlers.

 

Color is a whim. Less important to what I (and most handlers) are attempting as whether one prefers a leather or nylon collar or whether one feeds raw.

 

Preferring traditional colors may be prejudice. But it is unlikely anyone will change that prejudice without producing dogs over a period of years that are among the very best. Top breeders are rarer than top handlers and I know none who’d have the slightest interest in off-colors. .What’s the point? It isn’t hard enough already?

 

 

Donald McCaig

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Nobody here has really brought up the notion that sheep REACT to dogs of different colors DIFFERENTLY...

 

I myslef, being a novice and not understanding why good dogs of color weren't more prevalent....heard for so long it was just a biased thing. That traditional herding people didn't like the "fancier" colors...or that there hadn't been many that had been real great!!

 

It wasn't until recently at a couple clinics run by a few of the top big hats in the country (Ali being one of them)...that they explained that sheep react to dogs of color, differently.....and that although there had been a few good ones, whose talent level over rode there strange coloring in terms of the sheep...that sheep generally responded best to mostly dark colored dogs..mostly white being the most confusing to sheep..

 

ESPECIALLY significant on the lift...when dog and sheep meet eachother for the first time on a trial field and the dance begins...

 

Makes sense when you think about the delecate balance between the sheep/dog..and the predator vs prey factor that they would respond differently to different colors/patterns..

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Except that sheep come in colors other than white, and predators generally don't have the Irish markings of a classically marked border collie. It makes more sense to me that sheep will respond similarly to those dogs that are most like what they are used to seeing. All you have to do is watch sheep that haven't been worked much, if at all, by dogs and what you'll see is sheep reacting to the dogs' behavior. For example, at the Bluegrass on the novice field Texas lambs were used. They didn't know dogs, but the dogs they turned on or stared at were the dogs who *stopped* at the top or who crept up on them (stop/start). It didn't matter what color the dog was; what mattered was what the dog *did* in those crucial seconds when the dog first made contact with them. Predators and prey can read each other: intent, danger, etc. If sheep look at a dog or won't move off a dog I would be more inclined to believe it's because they sense a weakness in the dog and so don't feel threatened and so don't move. It's sort of the same thing you see at oases in Africa where prey species will continue to drink while a predator goes by--not because of the color of the predator but because they know the predator doesn't intend to hunt them at that moment.

 

FWIW, I set sheep at the BG with a white dog. The sheep never challenged him or turned to face him, and I don't think it was because he somehow overcame the "handicap" of his color. Of course he has a full black mask, so maybe they just didn't know he was white on the rest of his body. ;)

 

When people speak of bias, though, it's because the biases are rooted in the types of attitudes/ideas you mention. At least one well-known handler thinks that red dogs don't hold up well over time.

 

Unless someone actually does some sort of scientific study, though, it's all just personal bias and biases learned from others or perhaps even developed on one's own. But I don't buy the notion that the off colored dogs only rarely can rise about their odd color to handle stock. JMO of course.

 

J.

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Nobody here has really brought up the notion that sheep REACT to dogs of different colors DIFFERENTLY...

 

Though sincerely believed by many, this is something that is said (and repeated) much more often than it's seen.

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One really well-known, world-class dog trainer/handler thinks there are good ear sets and bad ear sets. Others think the color of the roof of the mouth or other "marks" are indicative of a dog with what it takes. There are prejudices in the sheepdog world as there are anywhere else - maybe found in personal observation or based on a few cases, and maybe just old handlers' tales.

 

Go to any major trial and you will see dogs of all appearances that can move their sheep - but with more conventionally-colored and marked dogs in the majority, that's what's going to win the trials in the majority.

 

JMO.

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This has been a very informative thread. I am just beginning to learn how to be a handler and start participating in sheep dog trials. I have had border collies for years, most of them being the traditional black/white with various amounts of white. Some split face, some blazes, one all white faced. I had a red too. I am also very drawn to the blue merles because of their coloring. I had considered getting a blue merle to breed with my female until I read this thread. Now I am not so sure. I currently have a smooth coat tri blue merle (not breeding quality) and in all honesty he has been the least intelligent border collie I have ever had. He has been very difficult to train in just simple obedience and I still have issues with him. Even though I love the merle coloring, I am still drawn to the traditional black/white. Such a sharp combination. I will, however, always look for the rough coats as I just like them best.

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Welcome! This is an informative, sometimes argumentative, forum where there is a lot of good information. Questions and opinions are welcomed but responses are often passionate!

 

I'm glad to hear that your interest in finding a sire of a particular color has been influenced by this topic. Now the next question is, is your female breeding quality, do you have potential (hopefully working) homes lined up for any pups you wouldn't be keeping, and if you are a novice-level handler, do you know enough to even consider breeding (and finding the "right" sire) at this point in time?

 

Not meaning to be critical, but asking some questions and wondering if you have asked yourself these sorts of questions already.

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I had considered getting a blue merle to breed with my female until I read this thread.

 

We get what we think/talk about. If you want a working dog, breed the best to the best and hope for the best regardless of color. If you want a specific color, coat type, breed for that. You cannot have it both ways. If you're breeding for one, you are breeding against the other for all practical intents and purposes.

 

You can argue with that, find all kinds of examples, and you might be right to some extent. But it's still the best rule of thumb in a mind field of variables.

 

When I choose a puppy, I could not care less what color, what coat type, what ear set, whether its' mouth is black, eye color, etc., etc, etc. I care only for the working traits in the mother, father, and immediate forebearers (grandparents) that are important to me. First and foremost of those is the outrun.

 

Your chances of finding a good working dog are far greater within blk/wht, blk/wht/brwn simply because there are more good ones in that range than in any other variation. And since you are a novice, BCLuvr, I suggest shooting at the biggest target. As a novice, I would not suggest breeding at all. How do you know what you are assessing in the dogs you are breeding? It would be like me making wine. I have no earthly idea what type grapes, where best to buy them, how much water, how long to soak? how best to store, in what materials, or at what temp.

 

Truly good working dogs are so hard to find, that if you limit yourself by color and coat type, it becomes almost hopeless. As you become skillful at handling sheepdogs, good trumps appearance every, single time by a vast measure. Plan ahead.

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Sue and Amelia.......thank you so much for your advice and questions. I raised border collies years ago and most of them went to working farms/ranches. A few I felt were not "good enough" for ranch work so their owners bought them for pets and flyball. It has been many years so I am relearning a lot of what I once knew. I am new to the sheep dog trials, something I wanted to do years ago but just didnt have the time, as I had a small child. So I apologize for not being more clear with my experience with the breed. As someone said on here earlier, I pick a puppy based on my ability to "connect" with the puppy. I am waiting on a puppy right now whose parents are both working cow dogs on a ranch. I expect the litter to be black/white which is fine by me because I love the black/white dogs best and as Amelia stated the color is the least important to me. This will be my first trial dog, so my expectations are not high, as we will both be learning together. I am also working with someone in the area that has done trials for many years.

 

As for breeding that is way down the road. Not within the next couple of years for sure. I need to learn all I can about doing trials first. And I need to see how my puppy will perform before even considering breeding. He/she may not be breeding stock and I feel that is something I wont know until the dog reaches maturity. So if I gave the impression I was rushing into it, again, I apologize. In talking about the merle color, I had just always been drawn to them for the color and this thread made me see them in a different light. Amelia, you are correct, it should be more about the dog's ability than looks. I shall heed your advice. I am sure these boards will teach me more and more as time goes by and I look forward to getting to know many of you.

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I know the dog "Hollman's Mike" Mikey. He could have been a really good working dog but his previous owner didn't work him to his full potential. A Friend of mine tried to buy him and she would have done very well with him, but they decided to sell him to Karen instead and she has bred him to death. Very sad, I really liked that dog.

 

Wow. I don't know who you are but I'm shocked that you would say that Mike has been bred to death. He will be 12 years old in a few days and he has sired 12 litters over 11 years. Hardly bred to death. Mike is well loved and taken care of and has produced some very nice puppies for me. Many of his pups are herding and also doing well in agility, flyball and other sports. They have excellent temperaments and have all been placed in good homes.

 

Karen

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Yes but interesting that this dog is NOT registered with ABCA. Only with AKC. And from a breeder who is primarily an Agility/Flyball = Sport breeder.

 

Sport is from Holman's Mike who is ABC & AKC registered x Contact Point's Full Tilt who is also ABC & AKC registered. I registered the litter with the AKC. I could go back and register Sport and any other pups from this breeding with ABC but it hasn't been done and once the dogs are over 3 then you have to have DNA testing done on the parents as well as the dog(s) that are applying for registration. It was deemed not worth the expense a couple of years ago. I am now dual registering all litters when it's possible. It was basically an oversight. When registering with AKC it is easier to restrict breeding rights and sell on a limited registration and ABC at the time didn't offer option that to my knowledge. Since most of the dogs I sell are not sold with breeding rights then it was easier to register with AKC at that time. Obviously Sport did not need to be ABC registered to compete.

 

I am a Border Collie breeder and most of my pups do go to people that like to do agility. I also sell pups to people that like to do herding. I have a small ranch and keep over 100 head of sheep for herding and there is a full time herding trainer that lives on my property and teaches 40-50 lessons a week. I resent people assuming that my dogs are not working sheep and that the pups I breed are only doing agility.

 

Karen

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It is obvious that this dog is running to a high Open level so is an accomplished working dog. Just curious about his pedigree; is it all 'sport' or is there some good working dogs a generation or so back? Is this an exceptional handler who has access/$$ to top clinicians or ? Plus his Nursery dog is a well bred working dog.... Like I said earlier - just curious - no iron in the fire/don't know the guy or his dog. Just wondering from folks who have seen the dog run in CA? Or know the pedigree behind?

 

 

When Mike bought Sport he was a new to herding and his previous dog was a Rough Collie. He has done a great job with Sport and his new dog Mia. He's not a famous or exceptional handler and probably didn't have regular access to any famous/top clinicians. He's dedicated and loves herding and worked hard. But you can be all of that and if you don't have a dog that wants to work and can work you won't get anywhere near the finals. Sport isn't perfect but no dog is.

 

Karen

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I find it interesting that folks are skeptical of the likelihood of a merle being able to make the cut as a working stock dog. I myself am skeptical of merles because of the looming danger of a merle to merle breeding. So are many others here. But there are other reasons to be skeptical of merles. I suspect the old-timers knew this, and stayed “on the safe road” with the black dogs. Merles are more prone to skin problems (including skin cancer) and allergies, and sunburn. I saw this time and time again in rough and smooth show Collies. (And where did those show Collies come from?...)

 

I think the old-time shepherds, whose livelihood depended on the dogs – just as many shepherds do now – would naturally stack the deck in their favor when making breeding choices. If the merle dogs fell prey to more physical problems, I would think that would be reason enough to stick with the black dogs when it came to breeding. I suspect it wasn't about the color of the dog's hair, or the reaction of livestock to that color - it was more likely about the about the baggage that came with that color.

 

Certainly a merle could have the talent to work well, but a dog “broke down” is useless, as is a dog whose breathing is compromised by inhalant allergies or distracted by chronically itchy skin.

 

Of course there are merles that don’t have these problems, but in an age when fleas were simply part of the package with a dog, and allergies were not well understood – let alone treatable – dogs who suffered unduly from either would be 2nd class workers, and likely shunned. It would be no surprise then, if a bias against merles arose.

 

My opinions about the physical vulnerabilities of merle dogs come from personal experience and observation. They have been supported by breeders that I knew. Perhaps some of our more learned veterinary professionals might have something to say on the subject?

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When registering with AKC it is easier to restrict breeding rights and sell on a limited registration and ABC at the time didn't offer option that to my knowledge. Since most of the dogs I sell are not sold with breeding rights then it was easier to register with AKC at that time.

 

Sorry, this won't fly. While no doubt there was a time when ABCA did not have limited (Non-Breeding) registration, that was certainly not the case during Sport's lifetime. Not even during his sire Mike's lifetime, if Mike is 12 now. You could certainly have registered the litter NB with ABCA. Wouldn't it be more honest to say that your focus was AKC, so you registered AKC?

 

I am a Border Collie breeder and most of my pups do go to people that like to do agility. I also sell pups to people that like to do herding. I have a small ranch and keep over 100 head of sheep for herding and there is a full time herding trainer that lives on my property and teaches 40-50 lessons a week. I resent people assuming that my dogs are not working sheep and that the pups I breed are only doing agility.

 

Why should anyone assume, just because one of your profit centers is herding instinct tests and herding lessons (given by someone else, on one of your properties advertised as having "a round pen, a larger square pen, and a very large arena"), that your dogs work sheep to any meaningful extent, or that your breeding and training are not focused almost exclusively on agility? From reading your own websites, I don't see how anyone could avoid coming to the conclusions you resent.

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