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stamina / over heating

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This was a topic brought up in a cattle dog group a while back. People noticing a lack of stamina and over heating more easily in recent years. I was wondering what your all thoughts are. There was some belief that this is being seen more often in trial dog lines.

I have a 2 year old right now that is progressing nicely in her training. Talented young dog, very natural. But she overheats quickly limiting our training time. I do think part of her issue is she tends to be a bit intense. This is the first dog that I've really had this problem with.

Just curious if others are noticing this.

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I believe some dogs get 'mentally hot'. Either they get anxious or just keyed up or intense. I have found if i make an effort to relax they do also to some degree. My dogs are really physically fit, no one is carrying extra weight but humid days are still tougher. I find individual dogs vary quite a bit. I am not sure there is a difference in trial dogs vs farm /ranch dogs but disposition is genetic. I also find some dogs dislike 'training' and do much better if I am able to simply do chores with them paying attention to points we need to work on. I take a couple minutes then and there to work on that one thing and we go on to the next chore.

 

I am not sure why it is some dogs do so much better with on the job training than training sessions. I wonder if it is me, do I approach them differently and put out a different vibe? I bet that is part of it. Going chores with a young dog I expect imperfection, we just do it again and they are better the second time. With training I go out wanting it right so my approach is different.

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I have two dogs one rough coated one smooth. The rough coated bitch is indefatigable, does not get overheated easily and recovers (stops panting) quickly. The smooth bitch overheats and tires quickly and takes a long time to recover (to stop panting).

 

The rough coated also has incredible stamina, and can work forever on cool days. The smooth coated not so at all.

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I suspect the issue comes about as much from mental exhaustion as physical. Dogs who are "hot headed" burn themselves out very fast. Now, I think most dogs are excitable at first when learning a new task, but most also figure things out, relax and get on with the job. I've certainly met some dogs who could never settle.

 

The real question I guess is, are breeders inadvertently breeding for these dogs?

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I have raised that question some time ago on the boards, resulting in some very touchy replies from the trialling crowd. Apparently stamina is something that dogs maintain, even if you don't select for it...;)

My point was if you select dogs on working very concentrated for twelve minutes, and only train and use him for such work, you simply don't know if that dog can work all day long in the free range round up.

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I think it's a perfectly valid concern that if you only train a dog for trials, never use it for work and breed it, you might be selecting for a sprint dog rather than an endurance dog.

 

Most of the trial people in the UK have real work for the dogs, but I've spoken to a few who revealed they have a very small holding and the dogs are primarily a sport for them. I've spoken to a few others who do indeed have real work, but the trial dogs are so valuable that they don't use them for real work a lot, fearing an injury will end their career or ruin their resale value.

 

I know this happens in the USA and I am sure it happens in other counties.

 

There is the other side of this too, the people selecting for dogs who can run trials but don't need a lot of work to keep them tuned up. They want the weekend warier dogs. Without naming anyone, I've heard a few top handlers admit to breeding for this type because the hobby people can buy them and be successful.

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it is memorial day, and my brother just left. this day means something, but it makes me sad too. So this question kinda takes my mind off it. So I shall write of my own experiences and thoughts.

First it is helpful if folks define what is meant by work. This term is used often and without definition it can lead to confusion.

my work right now consists of gathering in corrals to put out on hill, and regathering- only if necessary at dusk. also we are shearing right now. which requires a dog to turn himself off and rest in shade when not needed. my cattle work is just putting out in morning and gathering at dusk, feed is lush and thick so my work is not hard or all day now. in fall this will change. I am a full time rancher.

in my own dogs, the fizzy sort does wear out quicker but they may learn to conserve by the hours of the work day and a bit of age.

A tense dog that hold their mouth closed will not be able to pant well to dissipate heat. I don't breed those.

 

i have a couple slick haired that are great in heat and a couple that are not.

i have a couple long haired that are good in heat and a couple that are not.

If they are not good in heat I don't breed them.

 

my best dogs on hot days seem to know just how much energy to expend. they do not flop back and forth but move stock by line power. they pant with mouths well open, and they have big mouths and large tongues. they use shade, water and rest when they can without me saying anything. and this is bred in. the flop i can control, but on a hard day where we are out for hours i cannot see the dog. if a dog wears out i would be forced to carry him home on my horse.

so any dog at risk of this i do not use for that work, and i do not breed from.

 

my best dogs on hot days also have hard, tough, feet. because in dry country on rocks if you have a days work soft feet won't do.

 

I have a dog that must move stock by movement rather than walk in power and that beauty of beauties- presence- this dog works a lot harder than my other dogs that have power and presence. so that first one can over heat quicker.

 

calm, power, big tongues, tough feet. (BtW I am outcrossing right now. )

 

now lets also at some point talk about cold.

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now lets also at some point talk about cold.

My dogs: the same one that is good in heat is good in the cold. The one that overheats in the summer also shivers in the winter.

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Iceland has a very nice climate for dogs. Not very warm in the summer, and maybe more surprising not that cold in winter either. The gulf stream still works.

So overheating is not really an issue here, also because the long workdays in the roundup, are in autumn;September, October it peaks.

So general stamina, and especially tough feet are important here.

 

Anecdote from my dark days before the bordercollies; our first two dogs here were an icelandic sheepdog/bc mix (probably)and a lab/shepherd mix. The first a male the other female.

Very different, but both great dogs. Also both crazy energetic.

But when we went trail riding you saw the icelander go into "long distance gear", he stopped fooling around, and went in a relaxed trot along the horses, not spending more energy than necessary. He could walk like that for days on end, through any terrain. The lab/shep bitch kn the other hand we had to send home by car beginning second day, completely shot.

She never aquired this "travel sense" that the other dog seemed to have naturally.

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I'm sure that mental hyperactivity/stress can have much to do with a dog overheating, but I wonder when we talk about trial dogs vs work dogs if we aren't also missing the conditions in which those dogs are kept. Dogs that are kenneled outdoors and working outdoors for longer periods of time are most certainly acclimated to the hotter temps (and perhaps higher humidity, which is the bigger issue in my part of the world, the southeastern US) and probably have greater stamina due to acclimatization alone.

 

I have friends whose dogs live in air conditioned spaces and when they need to be outside working on a warm/hot day, they don't last very long. My dogs live in the house (but also spend a lot of time outside), but I don't use a/c and they do seem better able to go for longer periods of time outside in all types of weather. This may not be sustained hard work like gathering a hill--it could be something like setting sheep at a trial for 12 hours in the blazing summer sun. As trialing has gained popularity as a sport and so many people have crossed over from other sports, the management of dogs among trial folks has most definitely changed and I think this plays a large factor in how dogs fare out in the weather at trials or just working in general.

 

I also think that dogs who are going to be expected to work longer hours out in the weather need to get exercise out in the weather. With the advent of people exercising dogs from the backs of ATVs or mules/golf carts (I see this mainly with trial people), I think dogs are being conditioned for bursts of speed over shorter periods of time. I don't know many (if any) folks who ride their ATVs for 45-60 min to exercise their dogs. I take my dogs on long walks, 45-60 min. They don't run flat out the entire time--they run, they trot, they walk, they flop in the shade briefly--but I think that kind of exercise will help build stamina, especially in hot climates (we've already had days approaching and exceeding 90 degrees and it's not even officially summer yet) in a way that quick runs on an ATV or similar will not. (And I do realize that some folks just aren't physically capable of taking their dogs for long walks over hill and dale in good weather and bad--I'm just pointing out that even if dogs with less stamina aren't being created through breeding programs, they are likely being created through our own management of them.)

 

So while I think there certainly could be a lack of stamina being bred into border collies, I also think that our own management of them can be an exacerbating or mitigating factor.

 

J.

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Julie, I agree with you and do the same thing. I try to not use AC in my house unless it's extremely hot, and even then I don't set the temperature very low and mostly use it at night so I can sleep. My dogs are outside as much as possible to get them used to the heat. For exercise I try to run them next to a bike for 45 to 60 minutes. Though I will admit with my work schedule this does not happen every day.

 

The original question came about when a very experienced dog person with a large ranch mentioned trying a number of new lines, looking for an outcross. There was a clear difference in stamina level despite living in the same housing, eating the same food, being exercised the same way. I trust this person in her assessment that there was some fundamental difference in the dogs. She felt it was genetic, but was it a physical lack in stamina alone or was there an element of being hot headed?

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My wife once jokingly proposed an alternative trial, just send the dog/handler teams into the hills in the morning and award points for each sheep that is brought in by the end of the day.

:)

By the way I think nobody doubts the influence and importance of training/conditioning.

It is the genetic component that is worried about in the OP.

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My wife once jokingly proposed an alternative trial, just send the dog/handler teams into the hills in the morning and award points for each sheep that is brought in by the end of the day..

Bonnie and I are packing ;) . She will go to win the trial while I sit and chat with your wife :)

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Well, yes, and I clearly acknowledged that at least the hot-headed/tension aspect could create easy overheating, but then we're talking about two different breeding issues: breeding dogs whose intensity causes them to overheat more easily (or have less stamina), at least in early training and those who just plain don't have stamina.

 

For the OP, I'd say if s/he's suspicious of some lines, then try to buy from lines that work all day on ranches. We are fortunate here in the US that it's possible to find lines that are unrelated, or at least not closely related, to only trial dogs. If the OP's youngster is heavily from trial lines, then ISTM the answer would be to avoid those types of dogs in the future. That is, if one is suspicious of dogs from trialing lines, it should be fairly easy to find dogs who aren't from trialing lines, and I think this would be especially true for dogs that work cattle, since there are fewer cattle trials and lots more ranches raising cattle who also use dogs (and who don't trial).

 

As long as there are weekend warriors out there who don't need a dog to be able to manage more than perhaps a 30-min double lift, then I suppose "we" could be selecting for less stamina. That said, I, for one, believe that even dogs not genetically predisposed to have great stamina can certainly develop stamina through actual work or other exercise. And that was my point. It's a two-pronged issue. If you never actually ask for stamina in any way from a dog, how can you know whether it has real stamina? And this is a separate question from the one about youngsters running hot because of mental excitability.

 

I think for this discussion to have real value from the OP's perspective you'd need to remove from the discussion those dogs who, at least as youngsters, are too hot/intense because I think they are a special "subgroup" so to speak and are not indicative of overall stamina capabilities in trial dogs or work dogs at large.

 

And one final thought: Are the folks who use dogs exclusively on cattle selecting for more hot-headed dogs because they believe they need that extra "oomph" (once mature) when working cattle? Could the two desires/needs be working at odds to one another?

 

J.

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well said, Julie and Everyone.

 

It is interesting to ask that about working cattle. I will only speak from my own experience. It is best on unfenced mountainous country to have a quiet, powerful dog who when he/she bites, bites hard and in the correct place. then allows cattle to move off when they turn and go the correct way. Cattle then move gently, nobody gets hot and takes off at a run creating a big problem when the cow vanishes into a canyon and the herd scatters.

and that dog when i send him at distance i can trust will be diplomatic.

 

however there are some situations where the FOG (Fear Of God) Must be established....then you might need a Tickman. then the stop or diplomacy might be coming from you, as the dog might wish to push more when he needs to release. so you tell him stand or steady, where the first dog will do this on his own.

 

once my cattle are dog broke a good sheepdog can move them as long as there are maybe no bitty calves, or bulls with attitude.

 

but every now and then i need tick to teach an onery bull he must move as i wish, or run off some cattle that have crossed into my land.

 

but he is best used on horseback and within eye, ear shot.

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In what situations has the increased incidence of lack of stamina/over heating been observed?

 

If primarily during trials is it not possible that what is being observed is actually increased stressed being put of dogs during trials as competitiveness has increased? The dogs have not changed, handlers are putting more pressure on the dogs in order to win.

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Mark, I believe for the person who started this topic on FB, it was noticed on the ranch. When the young dogs were taken out to do real work, some fell short of their peers in stamina.

 

I do agree that trials are an unnaturally stressful environment for the dogs and will lead to overheating faster than at home.

 

Julie, I live in an area where cattle trials are more common than sheep, so I compete at both. I would say among the cow dog exclusive people there are two mindsets. Some do like the really aggressive biting dogs that need to be trained to let go and back off. Some want genuine feel and stock sense backed up with power and the willingness to bite hard when it's needed. Both types compete in trials and use them for ranch work, so you still get the spectrum of weekend warriors to dogs that work long days every day.

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Of course you could see overheating during a trial but apart from that it is imo impossible to see a lack of stamina during an event that takes less than a quarter of an hour, or at the most the thirty minutes of a double lift.

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Liz, just how large of a sample from the total population of working dogs could have been see at one ranch in order to decry the loss of stamina in the whole breed?

 

In order to assess if something is changing population wide one must sample population wide, not just in one's backyard or region.

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Dear Doggers,

 

Too many cattlemen fault the shepherds who created the dog with being, er "sheep people" and thus impractical wusses wearing Stetson's they haven't earned..Hence, the shepherd's contests are too "particular" for cowboys and the shepherd's dogs are weak and getting weaker. All that damn trialing!

 

Donald

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If someone came here decrying the lack of working ability in the border collies they have tried and then it turns out they were all from AKC "working" lines we would advise them to look for better dogs. I would offer the same advise here. If the dogs that have been tried on the ranch lacked the desired stamina; look for different working lines. Not everyone who breeds working dogs breeds to exactly the same criteria or the same goals. This is even true for those breeding for ranch dogs; they are breeding for their own goals colored by the work needed on their ranch which may not be what you need/want.

 

People need to give up this notion of the idyllic ranch bred dog; it is no more or less than a dog being breed to goals that were developed to meet the needs on that ranch (not all ranches and therefore ranch work is created equal).

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And therefor no concerns may be voiced without being backed up by a sturdy peer reviewed methodologically sound research?

I am getting a strong feeling of deja vu here....:)

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Concerns can be voiced; one could ask if the issue is breed wide. Making statements about the issue being breed wide should be backed with more evidence than local/limited observations.

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My Theory that Explains Everything :D

 

When we first start with sheep dogs - I think it's fairly safe to say this - for just about everybody there is no way to go about the business of sheep-dogging except to be a little bit starry-eyed about the dogs that compete at a high level.

 

 

Oh, wonder!

How many goodly sheepdogs are there here!
How beauteous canine is! O brave new world,
That has such dogs in ’t!

[here endeth the Shakespearean paraphrase]

 

But, as we progress in our own training and in the training of our dogs, and as we advance in competition, we begin to notice more and more, the shortcomings of our hitherto canine heroes. Our perception becomes sharp, discerning, and critical. The dogs of the future will never match the heroes of our beginnings, of those dogs that inspired us. And as we, at first, stared in wonder at the dog that outruns 700yds at full speed and then goes on to do everything else, so now we see that this dog preserves the strength with forceful but steady stride, while that one runs with abandon and that its stamina, be it of mind or body, will come short for the task still at hand later.

 

So maybe it is not the dogs that have changed, maybe it is us?

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I see disturbing parallels in the horseworld.

Dressage horses of today are completely unfit for the work the dressage sport was once supposed to be a test of.

Closer at home I see a comparable development in the icelandic horse breed where the expensive sport horses are not really very usefull for the kind of work that shaped the breed until relatively recent.

Now I don't say this will happen to bordercollies, but it doesn't hurt to be conscious of the risks involved in putting results in competetive sports (as trialling is) as the supreme goal in breeding programs.

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