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Maralynn

"A puppy is a crap shoot"

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I see this posted frequently as an encouragement to steer people towards rescue.

 

In one way, it's right and I agree with it.

 

On the other hand? Well, the reason people chose a purebred pup is that it's not a complete crapshoot. They know the genetics, they have an idea of the genetic potential, they can see the health of the parents, they can see their tendencies and temperaments. If the resulting litter truly will be a complete crapshoot then one shouldn't be breeding it.

 

Is a well bred pup a sure thing? heck no! But, when buying a pup, we should be buying it because we have an understanding of their genetic potential and that potential is a good fit for our wants/needs. It's why I got Tess after living with Kolt for three years. It's why people see a dog they like out trialing and end up with a pup out of that dog.

 

And a rescue, while we know their outward, exhibited potential, we aren't going to understand their genetic potential in the same way that we might a pup. We may work with that rescue for years and still have a fearful mess. Or they may turn out fabulous. Or they may have a fabulous temperament and underlying health issues. Realistically they are potentially a crapshoot of a different type.

 

If you can solve the issues with a rescue, you can likely raise a well bred pup right. If you want something specific, find a well bred pup with the right genetics or a rescue that fits the bill. One choice isn't better or worse than the other. Both are about finding a dog that suits your life and needs.

 

 

 

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It's nice to see hear it's not wrong for me to want a puppy, thank you :) My last dog didn't fit all aspects of our life because of his personality, but danggit he still had fun and so did we.

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It's absolutely fine either way.

I think with a puppy you need the ability to select that good breeder - who will also be honest with you about what you can expect of a puppy from them, based on that genetic potential. Or the ability to recognize that yourself, which can be hard when you're new to dogs in general or a specific breed.

 

And with a rescue you need the ability to really see and evaluate a dog, or a really honest rescue who also has the ability to read and evaluate the dog.

 

Basically, I think that it's all kind of a crapshoot if you don't know what you're looking at, and nothing but maybe a rescue puppy is if you do.

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Yes, absolutely. I don't like the all too frequent split personality where the same person advocates for well-thought through breeding and at the same time has a knee-jerk reaction to whoever asks about a pup "get a rescue".

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When people are looking for a companion or a non-working dog, why not advocate for a dog that's already needing a home through no fault of its own? And when someone wants a working dog, to advocate for a well-bred pup?

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I have no issues advocating for a dog that needs a home. At all! I frequently suggest rescue to folks as a good option for a pet or sports dog.

 

But sometimes I feel like people are unnecessarily negative about a well bred pup as a means to upsell a rescue. A rescue dog should be able to stand on their own merits as a good choice for a person without pointing out all the things that could go wrong with a decently bred pup.

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I think a pup is more of a risk ( and a nuisance :) ), when looking for a stockdog prospect.

But the alternative for me is not a rescue, but a well bred dog started by the breeder, ideally 8 to 12 months old. A bit more expensive than a pup, a lot less expensive than a fully trained dog. A reasonable middle road.

That is the choice I made with the dog I purchased to fill the place of Peli who died last december. He is currently on try-out.

But I need a working dog, not a pet. And if I wanted a pet dog a bordercollie would not be my first choice.

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When people are looking for a companion or a non-working dog, why not advocate for a dog that's already needing a home through no fault of its own? And when someone wants a working dog, to advocate for a well-bred pup?

There is a time for everything, and I am all for finding rescues a good home.

 

The thing I don't like and very often see in Polish groups is when someone comes and looks for a good breeder but gets mobbed with not-so-subtle suggestions to go and get a rescue. Even if someone wants a companion dog but wants a puppy from a reputable breeder of border collies, I don't think it's fair to try and send them off to a rescue unless a person knows that a particular dog is indeed a border collie, and not a border collie wanna be or a border collie look alike.

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I think a pup is more of a risk ( and a nuisance :) ), when looking for a stockdog prospect.

But the alternative for me is not a rescue, but a well bred dog started by the breeder, ideally 8 to 12 months old. A bit more expensive than a pup, a lot less expensive than a fully trained dog. A reasonable middle road.

That is the choice I made with the dog I purchased to fill the place of Peli who died last december. He is currently on try-out.

But I need a working dog, not a pet. And if I wanted a pet dog a bordercollie would not be my first choice.

I agree. I don't think I would take a border collie if I knew I would not be able to work sheep with it, or I knew it would not work sheep with me.

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I am just going to throw this out there. I have had 7 puppies. All purebred. All from breeders of working dogs. Of those 5 have had serious health issues. I don't know whether it has just been bad luck or whether the breed has some serious health issues.

 

I have had probably 6 rescues and they were all healthy but I didn't get them until they were 3 or 4 years old and by then most of the early problems have been weeded out. I had one I pulled from a small town shelter that had to be treated for heartworms but that isn't genetic.

 

My next dog will be at least a year old. I am not doing the puppy thing again even though I love puppies. A whole lot of the serious health issues show up in the first year. Not true for epilepsy but I am willing to risk that.

 

I will probably try to find a pure bred working bred dog that has washed out for some reason. I don't care if it works well or not. But I like the disposition and looks of the working dogs so I will always go that route. And if I could find a rescue that fits the ticket I would go that route.

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I have had probably 6 rescues and they were all healthy but I didn't get them until they were 3 or 4 years old and by then most of the early problems have been weeded out.

 

I think you really hit on something. My bitch had two litters, and 2 pups died from epilepsy by the time there were 2.5 yo, and two were hit by a car. So by 3 yo you had manic car chasers (hard to tell how much its was bad management how much it was management and how much the genes) and epileptic dogs weeded out. Among the rest of the pups the only one that is not well is my Bonnie - who has EAOD, otherwise excellent physical shape. Another pup had thyroid problems but after a run of medication she is fine and off meds. Everybody else is in very good health and excellent temperament (including a certified therapy dog). The "magic" age for epilepsy and phobias to appear is two years of age. Severe dysplasia is much earlier. So a dog over 2 is a good bet health-wise and phobia-wise.

 

This would match my observation of the dogs in the village where I used to live - My neighbors go through their mixed-breed dogs faster than I could blink. And there I was with my berner 9 years old - a breed that's really sickly.

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I do believe a pup comes with many unknows. They grow they change, their personalities change and change again. Therefor a crap shoot. If looking for a working dog - to do actual work - you have a better chance of success IF the parents work, if you like the way they work, if they have been health tested and passed, if they have produced other litters that are healthy and working.

 

You never quite know how first time breeding may go. I have bred dogs I work daily on stock, both are very useful dogs. The pups from that cross were all over the board. Health was not an issue but some work wonderfully, some not suited for work.

 

A started dog gives you the benefit of seeing some of the strengths and challenges in that dog. People often dont look to themselves when dogs do not exhibit quality they want. They blame the dog. No dog is perfect but many things influence what it exhibits - both personality and behavior and work. You can change what that dog exhibits by changing Yourself - how it lives, how it is handled, training method... There are those who simply want what they want without the work. An older dog where you can see what they are is ideal for those folks be it a working or pet dog.

 

I have had working dogs for 19 years. I have seen enough folks work a dog to know not every dog will work for every handler. What one person enjoys another doesn't. What an experienced trainer/handler can do with a dog in a couple minutes is amazing but most folks who watch and try can not repeat that. It takes YEARS of work and really seeing the dog and understanding it to know how to bring the best out of it and how to help it.

 

Dogs respond to the ability, consistency, confidence of handlers I see it in livestock work, grooming, vet clinics, dog parks... A HUGE part of breeding I believe is matching the pup with the people, home, situation. Not simply selling a pup to anyone with money. In the working community I believe it goes beyond that. We need to let others know if we find problems, we need to neuter and spay before rehome/selling dogs, we need to be in contact with the breeder and make ourselves available to those we sell pups to. The other side of that is we need to listen to the breeder when we are told about the individual characteristics of the parents and sibling. Example - some dogs when working tend to always want to come forward, or stand at a stop rather than lie, or strong to the head always wanting to gather rather than lining out for a drive...simple tendencies of the dog I believe. Rather than thinking you can fix it in a pup you ought be thinking about if you can live with that particular trait if it shows up.

The goal needs to be making the best partnership ( if working or not) not having the top placing dog or dog you can show off. Half the work or more is OURS. Owners tend to be more of a crap shoot than dog imo.

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Well from a breeder´s perspective yeah, sure.

From where I stand the owner is kind of a given, and I am only a crap shoot after serious food poisoning.

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Smalahunder, folks who are regular posters & users of these boards aren't crap shoots, I believe. I'm thinking of the people who are not border collie savvy, maybe not even dog savvy. The person who thinks they know a lot and don't.

 

Ruth & Gibbs

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Can I just say, that everyone here was a novice at some point? There are BC owners out here who can and do really enjoy this breed without all of the vast knowledge and training experiences that each of you individually have had.

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Can I just say, that everyone here was a novice at some point? There are BC owners out here who can and do really enjoy this breed without all of the vast knowledge and training experiences that each of you individually have had.

 

I think that may depend on your definition of novice. While I was a novice to the breed when I got my first, I was not a novice to the world of high energy dogs and animal management when I got her. I has raised sheep and chickens for 8 years and had spoken to numerous people about the breed and had a basic understanding of their needs and farm dog management in general.

 

I don't think that you need to know the secret password to be allowed to own the breed and I agree that everyone starts somewhere. And there absolutely are owners who keep their dogs happy as active pets. But there are novices who are carefully selecting a dog who they think is a good fit for their lifestyle, and novices who want a cool dog and find one through a FB puppy mill.

 

Basically I think that if you get into the breed without a solid knowledge and respect of their needs and possible behavior quirks, then you have a much higher chance of something going wrong in the process. I think if you do have an understanding of all that then you have a fairly equal chance of things going right with either a nicely bred pup or an adolescent to adult rescue.

 

(I do agree that if I absolutely needed a dog for stockwork, then I too would be looking at purchasing adolescent/young adult who had some training foundation on them)

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Interesting. I have never used the "crap shoot thing" to steer people away from breeders and toward rescue, nor do I know of people doing that regularly. When I speak of a puppy being a crap shoot it's from the *starting point* of a well-bred litter and the discussion is about what puppy to pick. Given that the pup's ultimate ability as a working dog can't be known at 6-7 weeks (the crap shoot part of things), not to mention that the ultimate outcome will most certainly be greatly influenced by the raising and training of said pup, I always recommended that people choose the puppy that "speaks to" them or appeals to them in some tangible way. If you like the puppy for itself, then in my opinion you're going to put more time and effort into its raising and training and maybe also be more accepting of its weaknesses/holes once training has begun.

 

As others have mentioned, a young adult, and especially one that's been started, will be much less of a crap shoot.

 

But I've honestly never heard anyone suggest that because puppies are a crap shoot one should consider a rescue rather than a pup from a breeder. As Sue mentioned I have heard/seen numerous instances of people looking for a pet being asked to consider rescue, but not when the person is looking for a working dog.

 

J.

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For a working dog I haven't seen this either. But I do appreciate people's desire to get a dog even for a pet that is actually a border collie with all that it entails. Of course in the US you do have BC rescues that are known to be BC and not just a somewhat-after-three-beers maybe perhaps look like a BC.

 

One bizarre situation I saw when a cattle owner wanted a border collie to work cattle and a bunch of people were trying to steer (pun intended! :) ) him away from this breed, but not towards a rescue just toward a different breed. It was very weird.

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There is a basic misunderstanding among 'ranchers', livestock producers with cattle, that Border Collies are not 'strong' enough to work cattle. These folks often believe that a Cattle dog- ie heeler, or Aussie is more suited to cattle.

 

It comes down to simply being uneducated about working dogs and how they work. Most folks do not look deeper than outward exhibited behavior to see what is really happening. They assume because a dog is biting it is 'tough'. Most dogs bite from fear, concern, uncertainty... It is the get them before they get me uncertainty that is also exhibited when dogs are leashed and lunge at other dogs or people.

 

Real confidence is not aggression, it is a quiet steady come forward or it is a wait to prove you can not be intimidated giving livestock time to think and choice another option. Folks wrongly assume cattle need to be pushed/driven rather than gathered and fetched. They do not understand the differences in breeds, what they were intended to do, how they work or 'feel' livestock. It does not help when 9 out of 10 web sites show dogs biting cattle further supporting this misinformation. Don't get me wrong, not at all against a dog gripping when appropriate, I need that myself with NCC ewes on occasion. Bite needs to done only when necessary. There is a huge difference in a dog that bites from strength and confidence and one that bites from fear.

 

It is up to us to educate them, show them the differences in breeds then allow them to make an educated choice.

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There is a basic misunderstanding among 'ranchers'.... There is a huge difference in a dog that bites from strength and confidence and one that bites from fear.

I so absolutely agree with everything. Strong and smart - to put pressure when needed and as much as needed and sometimes to take it away to accomplish the task - I so love a dog that has the pow! when necessary and then knows how to make sure it's hardly ever necessary. My second sheepdog had it, my second doesn't.

 

It is up to us to educate them, show them the differences in breeds then allow them to make an educated choice.

 

So I did, Denice, so I did :D . It was all the easier since none of the "experts" were cattle people B)

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Celt was my main go-to dog for managing our cow/calf herd for over ten years. He was pressure-sensitive to a fault. He lacked confidence. He did not resort to gripping. He got the job done. Period. Most of the time, it takes reading the stock and having a sense of balance, and not being a quitter, to get it done, on reasonable stock.

 

He did grip twice, once a heel grip on a weanling steer and one other time. I am not sure who was more surprised by the grip, Celt or the calf! It was so out of character.

 

I do get frustrated by the emphasis on photos showing gripping in working cattle. I think that's partly due to those photos being action shots and not the subtle (boring?) photos of hood, quiet, low-stress work. It still grates on me that those are the preponderance of shots you see and therefore imply that that is what working cattle is all about.

 

Rank cattle are one thing but, in my experience, normal dog-broke cattle respond better to tactful, diplomatic work if they've been handled and worked reasonably. And that reduces the stress on everyone, managers, stock, and dogs.

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