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Breeding question- mixing or sorting of traits?

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Sometimes removed from the breeding pool means destroyed, and this is a fairly common phenomenon among the old school farmers (who generally don't have the time or desire to find pet homes), so understandably some folks took your statement to mean that the dogs were removed in that more final sense.

 

J.

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Years ago a dog with problems was usually shot by the farmer, hence we have a healthier breed today. Unfortunately as Border Collies came into prominence for other things and people less 'strict' started breeding we have people who breed with their hearts instead of their heads and we are seeing the results.

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Ah. Good to know. We are old school and severely ill/infirm puppies are humanely euthanized quickly. Dogs who lack confidence are not.

 

...

 

Mr. McCain makes an important distinction. Confidence is fixable. While underlying character issues may not be. Whether character is heritable is an age old, species independent question, I suppose.

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I know this response is a bit late, but has anyone ever read WORKING SHEEP DOGS (A practical guide to breeding, training, and handling) by Tully Williams? I've never really heard of the guy or seen his name mentioned in the forums, but that might be because he's a kelpie breeder. He does an extremely thorough job of separating heritable traits. It's honestly been a joy to read, but I'd like other's opinions on it and its credibility. Big book though, I'm not all the way through it yet. Still have more than half left.

 

He puts a lot of emphasis on "confident" pups versus "weak" pups. Here's an excerpt I thought was relevant:

 

Some pups show some interest, but only in a half-hearted fashion; most pups of this type are 'weak'-- fear is holding them back. Often they show interest while the sheep are moving, but then, if the sheep stop and look at them, they lose interest. As they gradually gain confidence they begin working more strongly. However, some weak pups can still start strongly, particularly if they have very strong instincts and a lot of 'eye'; while in contrast a gradual starter may be that way simply because it only has weak instincts.

 

He later quotes James Moore, "Above all things, never breed from a soft-tempered ['weak'] dog."

 

I know there's a point where he explains how heritable each of these 'traits' are, but I haven't gotten to that part yet.

 

I just thought it would be helpful if not interesting. I'm certainly enjoying the read, taking notes and the like.

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Much would depend on the bloodlines involved. If one parent is from line breeding of similar dogs then that type may be the more dominant. If the types behind the parents are of mixed type of working ability then it can be almost a crap shoot.

 

Confidence is bred into a dog, HOWEVER proper rearing can increase/decrease confidence in most dogs. Training on stock can increase or decrease confidence depending on how it is done also.

 

But I have to ask if a dog is showing a lack of confidence, on stock, should it be bred at all?

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I have read Tully's book and seen his tapes. I have corresponded through e-mail. I like his explanations and ideas.

 

My best dogs have courage, confidence and are not sulky, sensitive if S*** happens.

 

This will always be my goal when breeding. I only breed for myself and my own work. I also have had luck in my limited experience to breed like to like and hot on top and cold on the bottom, kinda like the old 1/4 1/8 ID to TB in three day, ya know?

 

If a dog quits because all heck is breaking loose. Gunshots, guys swearing, F-15 fighters roaring over head, if my colt has a bucking fit. If the dog quits it doesn't matter what else he can do, he isn't there to help me.

 

One thing that worries me is the vanishing of the work. The old time work.

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Except he's not a kelpie breeder, he gives a good explanation of this on the main page of his Web site.

 

Ah, I was unaware he had a website. I guess his dogs are a 'breed' of his own creation.

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Dear Aspiring sheepdoggers,

 

There are a few quite ordinary things one can do to improve one's chances of getting a sheepdog litter 95% of which will work stock adequately (chore dogs) and one might be so good that properly nutured, reared, trained and handled he or she might reach the top 17 of the National Finals. The ordinary things include breeding to a prepotent stud or picking a pup from a litter whose prior mating has produced some pups of the quality you seek.

 

Most sheepdog pups from such matings will work adequately to outstandingly.

 

Beyond that, breeding sheepdogs is a gift or a crapshoot and while there are dozens of theorists and a few theoretical books, I can think of no more than a handful of NA sheepdog breeders who frequently produce litters of exceptional puppies. (Frequently: once a year).

 

According to Ms. CurlyQ, Mr. Tully "later quotes James Moore, "Above all things, never breed from a soft-tempered ['weak'] dog."

 

After Wilson's Cap, Wiston Cap was the most prominent sire in ISDS history. When I asked John Templeton what sort of dog Wiston Cap was Templeton said, "Oh he was soft. Sort of sulky."

 

Which terms I'd use to describe Wilson's Roy - the finest sheepdog I ever saw and bred to three times - and Roy was one of the top sires on the east coast.

 

"Weak" and "Soft" and "Cowardly" and "Sensitive" and "Biddable" are terms we could argue about all day. Would I breed a very "timid" bitch? Probably not. But then, I am not among that handful of gifted breeders.

 

 

Donald McCaig

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I enjoyed reading the link above about breeding for different traits. Especially, the one posted by Ludi, "Heritability of Herding Related Traits". This was very helpful to me. It has been my experience that eye is becoming harder to find around here. I have noticed this as a general trend around here. I have often wondered how eye is passed on. Is it dominant or recessive? Based on the study in the link mentioned, it seems to be recessive. In my conversations with fellow handlers here in Texas, most are reluctant to breed a sticky or very strong eyed dog. My experience with recessive genes tells me that if you want a moderate amount of eye, you should probably select a puppy from two parents with medium to heavy eye. Possibly even more eye than you are comfortable with. It seems that the dogs that are considered not useful for having too much eye may also lack power. I have a good friend who has a very strong eyed dog that also happens to be his best farm dog. However, his eye does keep him from being a top trial dog. I had a female from him that was really nice. Arthur Allen once said "The only time you can have too much eye is when there is not enough power to back it up." In summary, I think this knowledge will help me select my next puppy or the next bitch to breed my dog to. However, it is a scientific fact that not all of the puppies will inherit the same amount of eye, power, etc. We can only hope to improve the odds. On the bright side, it is very uncommon that I receive a dog in for training or raise a puppy that does not work. Eye and Power are only two of the many traits that make a dog good. There are many other traits to consider in a breeding program. It is no surprise that outstanding young dogs seem to be few and far between.

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I have a good friend who has a very strong eyed dog that also happens to be his best farm dog. However, his eye does keep him from being a top trial dog. I had a female from him that was really nice. Arthur Allen once said "The only time you can have too much eye is when there is not enough power to back it up."

I have a dog like this. Fearless. Can move anything. But a little difficult to manage on very light trial sheep, where her eye interferes with the flow. But as a farm dog, she is unbeatable. (And she can and has won open trials, but she requires more proactive management when trialing.) If I had to choose between her and another with less eye who also lacked her fearlessness in the face of nasty minded stock and the ability to move anything, I'd choose her every time. That said, she is also rather sensitive to human emotion. So it's okay for a steer or bitchy ewe to take her on, she'll stand up to that just fine. Don't yell at her, though. ;)

 

J.

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