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Yesterday I met a friend of mine, a farmer, who is also into border collies.

 

He used to have four dogs, and told me he had sold off his three year old bitch, and intends to sell off one of his two younger dogs too. The oldest one nears retirement and the other youngster he intends to keep is more or less just started (a litter mate of my Max).

 

He said he planned on buying a "really well bred" dog sometime next year, and he intends to take his time finding a good pup.

 

Good for him of course, but it did get me thinking. His statement was that "only one in ten dogs (of quality work bred) turns out really good".

 

I think the dogs he is selling off right now were not bad at all. Keen, enthusiast workers. Not perfect maybe but good working dog material.

 

I see this here even stronger under the handlers who are ambitious trial people; They have rather a lot of dogs going (at least five to seven) ditching the ones that are not good enough, and constantly buying/breeding "raw material".

 

I was wondering as there are quite a lot good trial people here, is this a realistic guesstimate; out of well bred working dogs, only one on average good enough for top trial work?

What do you think is an acceptable turn over percentage?

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Hum, I focus on my work and learning how to train, if I have the time, if I can afford it, and if the dog is willing, I trial for fun. I do not sell dogs lightly. One litter I had all worked fine and 4 out of 7 trialed through pro/nov two moving up to open, one at open, I believe.....It may be that one only made it pro/nov, but they are 4 yrs so I am sure will move up.

The next litter, all work, 2 have started trialing out of 7 and I believe won their first time out, ranch class at 21 months.

Boy I would be very disappointed indeed if less than 3/4 of a litter did not work well enough to help me in my work.

( I breed only for myself)

one of my best work dogs I do not trial she does not like being micro managed, however that might be, me., I have 4 or 5 that do trial. I like to trial and see what the dogs do at a trial.

I do not give up on dogs easily, I try to figure out what I am doing wrong to unlock their potential.

But my work comes first, I simply need them at home. The work is not moving 60 head from fenced pasture to fenced pasture. It is tough, steep, unfenced and varied on cattle, sheep and goats till I sold the big goat flock.

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The higher your goals and expectations the lower the percent there will be of those that can meet your standard.

 

If you want a dog that works, you can easily hit 100%.

 

If you want a dog that is better then the average dog, your percentages are going to fall off rabidly.

 

Now expect a dog to naturally handle the work you have in a specific fashion, those percentages go down even more.

 

So the turn over percentage is going to depend on what the handler is willing to accept and also how well any given cross is at producing that type of dog the handler is looking for.

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Good for him to check things out. And I do not agree with the 100% workers-that is KC mentality (in some countries it seems many think "It is a Border collie, therefore it works"). Quality pups are MUCH harder to find. But that means one's TYPE of quality. There are people who think very highly of their dogs working abilities, however another would not want that sort of dog.

 

But regardless of the type of 'quality' it does take proper rearing and good training, good work to make the dog the best it can be.

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I've let dogs go (sold them) in order to focus on dog that best suit me and my needs. Many of the dogs I've sold have been very good and have gone on to be great working dogs for their new owners (working ranch or Open trial). Just because I sell a dog does not mean it's not good….in fact, I am very proud of dogs I've sold on who are great partners to their owners. There are some that aren't going to work at a high level….but an average to fair working dog can still do good work for someone (novice handler, small/hobby farm work) or be a good pet.

 

Please keep in mind that some ranchers and open handlers supplement their income with an occasional sale of an animal…..this is not uncommon with either work horses or work dogs. I have friends who make a portion of their income training and selling top quality dogs. If they were selling substandard animals then their market would likely dry up.

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10% seems really low to me. Would all pups be future National or International Supreme winners? Of course not, but if a breeder is breeding carefully, I would expect a higher percentage of above average workers, certainly.

 

J.

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I go and work with a big hat in ID to get a second opinion on my pups and young dogs. He has been impressed. This makes me happy, as I have my grand work dogs and a very respected handler's opinion on them as trial dogs.

 

I think this whole thing again hinges upon what is meant be working stock. Many of you have said this.

 

I agree with Julie.

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BTW What were your %'s?

I very freely shared mine, what have yours been?

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Tea,

I'm not sure who your question is directed to….maybe the OP.

I'll answer anyway. "My %" is a mixture of dogs I've bred/produced and dogs I've bought from others. All of the dogs I've bred and kept (and maybe resold later) and dogs I've bought from others have worked good to excellent…..some have been stellar (for me), some have been stellar for someone else (sold on by me because they don't suit me…or I have others who suit me better), some have been good to average, some have been extremely talented but soft to train, some have been extremely talented but hard (for me) to train. Of puppies I've sold, not more than one or two (say less than 10%) have been reported to me as not keen (or not keen enough). There have been pups that folks haven't liked (and said weren't good) and sold on and were good for someone else. One or two that "weren't good", I've taken back and found that they were fine for me.

You know….these poor dogs get bashed so much for lacking this or that. But, there are soooooooo many horrid handler/trainers that never give the poor dogs a fair chance…..or criticize a dog when in reality it just isn't that person's "type"….but a good type for someone else. The person plays a big part in partnering with a dog and developing it to its full potential. Frankly, there are a lot of really poor handler/trainers out there…..or folks who simply are not in touch with their own limitation or tolerance or needs.

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That was a great post! Thank you, I agree with you! Good for you! I was just curious to see, I have not really asked anyone about % before.

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Dear Doggers,

 

I once asked Tommy Wilson, who has had as much high level experience with sheepdogs as anyone, how many well bred sheepdogs would work sheep. 95%.

 

I'd like to add a couple small points to Workindogs excellent observations.

 

If most top handlers are always looking for the next great dog (that suits their handling style), more handlers are blind to their own faults and seeking the dog that can -magically - overcome them. I've known several open handlers with enough money and knowhow to buy top dogs but not enough patience to create a team. So sell the dog, buy a new one. These handlers are a great boon to us poor folks, supplying a steady stream of splendid dogs at discount prices.

 

One more point: Handlers who can identify a great dog as well as Stormy Winters, Alasdair MacCrae, Bobby Ford or Tom Conn are rare. It takes years of knowledge and a very real gift. You can't buy what you cannot identify. But you may sell it.

 

My solution has been to work with the dog I've got. I enjoy helping a dog find its own sheepdog glory - no matter how intermittent that glory might be. My dogs have made my farm work possible and given me the fun and friends and travel of sheepdog trials. If my dogs aren't not the best, well, er . . . neither is Donald but sometimes we get lucky.

 

Donald McCaig

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What great comments! Thanks to those who have shared.

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You know….these poor dogs get bashed so much for lacking this or that. But, there are soooooooo many horrid handler/trainers that never give the poor dogs a fair chance…..or criticize a dog when in reality it just isn't that person's "type"….but a good type for someone else. The person plays a big part in partnering with a dog and developing it to its full potential. Frankly, there are a lot of really poor handler/trainers out there…..or folks who simply are not in touch with their own limitation or tolerance or needs.

 

This bears repeating! Thanks for saying it Elizabeth.

 

And Donald, your comments are spot on as well.

 

J.

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Thanks Donald!- You sheepdogging geezer!

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Have you ever noticed that you are "handed" while balancing, wearing, turning the post, etc? Turning one direction and you change the balance point smoothly; turning the other way and you change balance point faster or erratically. So when the dog is calm flanking one way and dives in or slices the other way; is that the dog or the training (all the way back to balancing with the young dog)?

 

So how much of the dog's faults are from the dog and how much from the trainer/handler?

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Dear Doggers,

So sell the dog, buy a new one. These handlers are a great boon to us poor folks, supplying a steady stream of splendid dogs at discount prices.

 

Donald McCaig

Elizabeth and Donald,

 

Thank you for excellent posts.

 

And, Mr. McCaig, if you know of any available 'splendid dogs', please let me know. :)

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Thanks for all the great replies.

 

As I posted this question I did realize there is no "right" or "wrong" answer to it, it is about personal preferences and methods, and of course goals.

 

To answer Tea´s question (don´t know if it was directed at me) about percentage, I have had one real wash out. She was Táta, my very first bc. She just wasn´t useful at all. Very stressed, afraid of sheep, and no feel for them.

Being my first and therefor not too sure if it was me or the dog I really tried and tried and tried, sought help, sometimes seeing a bit improvement but never to a level you could call stock work .

Finally I let an experienced trainer asses her, his opinion, "hopeless".

Just before I gave her away Gláma fell in my lap, one year old, untrained (as in not even a recall), and immediately a lot better than the dog I had "trained" for the last one and a half year.

So Táta went to a pet home.

 

At the moment I am training Max, he was started half a year ago. Not a particular fast learner (at least slower than Gláma), but I think he will turn out okay. A different character, and I like him.

 

So I am a bit in the "work with what you got" camp, as long as the dog is useful in open range work. He does not have to be brilliant; as Mark and others have pointed out, that is not necessarily the dog´s fault, I am a beginning handler with a lot to learn.

 

A big part of this is also the problem of not being able to assess the dog until started for some time, meaning it will be at least one and a half year old or so. Enough time to worm their way in to your hart....

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It was directed at everyone who cared to answer. Not just folks that breed. But just % that you had from a pup? Just curious.

 

Mark- I have experimented with what you are talking about. In my young pups I have put them on dogged safe young lambs and in a 1/2 acre field and just watched what they did from what was bred in them. I have an old dog hold the perimeter. I do not train during this or talk. The old dog only will move to keep them together. The pups are 9- 12 weeks old. I can see a lot of tendencies from doing this. Also helps me place a pup.

 

However In horses and I feel in dogs as well, we do create all kinds of faults in in partners. Some we cannot see because we are too green. Some we do see and hopefully get help to correct. All of the dogs and horses have faults, as do we.

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^^Yep, and as trainers we need to try to learn from our previous mistakes so that the next dog isn't at our mercy, at least for that particular issue (the previous mistake).

 

Regarding percentages, I've bred only two litters. One had 8 pups and one had two pups. Of the 8, I started 1 and trained 2, and all showed good potential (two of those are with me, one is my main work dog and an open trial dog, the other has been trained to the open level but is epileptic so is not trialed, though I will use her to set sheep at trials and has been trialed through open ranch; the third was used some for work until her owner passed away and is now a pet). Of the remaining 5 pups, one is an open trial dog. Three others were trained up to various levels. None of those three was in the ideal working home, IMO, to bring the dog to its full potential. At least one of those three could have made an open trial dog; all three are certainly useful farm dogs. The 8th pup was also epileptic, and had to be PTS at a fairly young age (4 or so).

 

Of the litter of two, both are just now getting started and both so far show good potential. I ran mine in her first trial a few weeks ago (at eastern P/N). I see no reason why she won't make an open trial dog as well as a good farm dog. I can see her strengths and weaknesses already so will tailor her training to strengthen her weaknesses and build on her strengths.

 

Pups I raised and trained, but did not produce:

1. Twist, who took me, a novice, and then new open handler to the National Finals before she was 4 (so maybe you can say that my training ability or lack thereof didn't mess her up, lol!). My go to dog for EVERYTHING until she retired.

2. Lark, open trial dog, the other main work dog on the farm now that Twist is retired. My second set out dog.

3. Ranger, trained to open, very loose eyed, didn't suit my handling style, but was certainly useful around the farm. He actually liked to be micromanaged, which is completely not my style of handling a dog. He went to a pet home with an owner who does work him some (this was a situation of a great home being offered that I didn't pass up--I wasn't actively looking to place him).

4. Kestrel, was started on sheep but then I placed her because she was beating up on my old dogs. I saw no reason she couldn't make it to open, but it wasn't going to be with me because of the antagonism I felt toward her for her behavior with my old dogs. She is in a working/trial home and being run in novice. I required spaying as a condition of placement because all of the pups in her litter had what I considered to be undesirable temperament issues (regarding getting along with other dogs).

5. Kiss, just 9 months and just starting out with training. She's much like the dogs I already have so I ought to be able to train her up to open. Time will tell.

6. Corbie, 5 months. Not started in training yet.

 

Here's what I will say about all of my dogs. They are all (now) related except Corbie. There's a type of dog I like and that I get on best with and prefer to train. It should be no surprise that if there's a type of dog I like and I get that type to train then I should be able to train them successfully. In other words, by choosing the type of dog I like to train and work with, I'm setting myself and the dogs up for success. That said, Ranger was completely not my type of dog but I was still able to train him to open level. I think if a trainer is open to training "in the moment" so to speak and approaching each dog as an idividual that may or may not fit into the trainer's preferred training method, then the trainer will have much greater odds of being successful with that dog.

 

Most of the handlers I know are able to train dogs fully, but then pass them on for personal reasons; that is, it's not that the dog doesn't have potential or won't be able to trial at the highest levels (although certainly that is the case sometimes), but rather than the dog doesn't suit that particular person for any number of reasons, some mundane (I don't like his personality) to more specific (he's fully trained but not the best shedding dog or is inconsistent on the trial field or whatever). Most of the reasons for which one handler may pass on a dog might not be an issue at all for another handler. The other side of the coin: handlers who blow through talented youngsters looking for the next great nursery dog. The dogs they pass on often have, IMO, been pushed too hard too fast and may have resulting issues (e.g., gripping under pressure) that a new handler may not be able to resolve.

 

I tend to agree with Elizabeth that many "bad" dogs are simply the result of bad trainers/training, including trainers who choose dogs that are simply not suited to their training style (which could be called bad training I guess, if the trainer persists in using methods that they like but that are not suitable for the dog at hand).

 

J.

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We've had 3 litters

 

1st: only 2 pups survived: one took two different handlers to open the other only made it to PN

2nd: 8 pups: 5 open dogs, one owned by an open handler that passed and the dog became a goose dog, 2 PN dogs

3rd: 9 pups: 5 open dogs, one PN/ranch, 3 pets

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thank you, it helps so much to read and hear of the experiences and thoughts of others.

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Like Tom Wilson said, I too strive for high percentage of workers. I've had good success (and dogs that are excellent farm workers with little/no 'formal' training.

I've bought in dogs that were nice pets and could be useful on smaller places with little work for them but were better suited (IMO) as pets.

I strive in my breeding for 100% capable of being useful at the very least. I want a dog that can do a good job with livestock with little training (better yet, 'on the job' type of training.

Many years ago I sold a pup to a farmer. A few months later his neighbor called and wanted to know why my pup didn't need any training. He had bought several dogs from several people (some Open trail winners) and ALL his dogs had to go out for training. My reply-his neighbor was lucky.

Now I realize that a good dog is a result of good breeding but it does take knowledge and willingness to let the dog think and do a job to get the best. But I'd prefer a dog that can do it's job with little training and less handling

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some dogs are not suited for you and need to find the correct home....do you marry the first person you date and expect it to work out (some do )....but you need to find a dog suits you ...if the dog doesn't suit you, the dog will suit someone else...and nothing is wrong with the dog...it's like the boyfriend or girlfriend that didn't work out......but hopefully you have an idea of what suits you.

 

and when you breed or buy a pup or dog, look to the parents and pup's siblings (earlier) to see how they turned out to see if that suits your style and what you want the dog for....

 

 

so to answer your question, the % depends on the sire and dam, what they bring to the table, if any pups have been proven or not, training, if they suit you, etc.....but the odds are increased if you have good working parents with solid work for a start.

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