Jump to content
BC Boards
Sign in to follow this  
zenotri

Breeding has nothing to do with functionality?

Recommended Posts

The following is a response I received on another forum to my statements about preserving the working ability of the BC. I'm almost scared to respond to it, in case I don't do it justice. I am hoping some of you who are more experienced and eloquent can help me get it right. I have already stated some of the more common issues, but this one just blew me away...

 

"Breeding has nothing to do with functionality, it's an enviroment thing.

 

If you took the two best opposite show examples of a working breed, put them together & then raised the pups in a working enviroment, the pups would work, & the next generation would work even better, etc,etc.

 

Any dog that doesn't fit the standard shouldn't be used in a breeding program, then you wouldn't have wrong shaped eyes, the wrong ear sets & so on & so forth.

 

& I would even venture to say the "real" breed enthusiasts wouldn't use any dog/s that don't fit the standard in their breeding programs.

 

CoE states the reason for breeding is to improve the breed, not change it."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow.......that basically says "forget to important part of hearding genetics; AKC standards are the only important thing."

 

Nature vs Nurture arguement.

 

I can see why you're hesitant. But with the last comment...improving the breed. Who says looks are the important part? Should it not be based on ability? By wanting to breed only for looks, that is changing the breed. It changes the very function the breed is for.

 

I'm cringing at this, and I know others can say it better than I can.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's the first & second statements that bother me the most. The cosmetics & working vs show argument is one I'm a lot more comfortable with. But herding traits being improved by environment? It's just so ludicrous, I'm not sure where to start. Do I try to list traits that can only be inherited? Or do I just assume some people will never get it & leave it at that?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe a history lesson is in order? :rolleyes:

 

It depends how much you wnat to fight it. There's actually a wealth of information out there, even in psychology books, to prove the point. I like to argue (problem is sometimes I don't do all the research I should). At the very least, I'd throw in one post with everything I wanted to say, all the evidence to back me up, and leave it at that. Some people you can't convince, but there are others reading the post that just might sit there and think "huh, I didn't know that. Maybe they're not off their rocker and so-called standards are detrimental to the breeds."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually if you took two dogs and put them together, you would get some pups more like the sire and some more like the dam. Some may look like conformation dogs and some might not (assuming one parent was the "perfect" conformation dog--from the poster's standpoint). If one of the parents is a good worker, some of the pups may be good workers. But breeding a good worker to a nonworker has never been, and will never be, an accepted way to "improve" the working ability of the breed as a whole.

 

That's like saying it would have made sense to breed Man O' War to some mare who "sure was pretty" in someone's eyes but who couldn't run worth a lick. Somehow I don't think anyone would have spent big bucks for the result of that cross when the foal(s) appeared at the Keeneland yearling sale. You'd be paying a lot of money for what amounts to a crap shoot. But if Man O' War had been bred to the top stakes winning mare (who cares what she looked like), probably the price on the resulting foal would have been astronomical. Why? Because the latter foal has a much better chance genetically of having what it takes to win a race.

 

If you want to maintain top-notch working ability, you breed to the dog that's got what it takes (and your dog better be a great worker too). That's the ONLY WAY to improve the working traits of the border collie. And guess what? Looks don't even enter the picture.

 

I think where the original poster goes wrong is in stating what "real breed enthusiasts" would do. Perhaps breed enthusiasts would do just as s/he says, but people who actually want dogs that can help them with their livestock in a superior manner don't give a rip what the dog looks like. Kind of like the old horse saying, "the prettiest color is fat." Well, the prettiest border collie is the one that does its job well, and here's a news flash for the "breed enthusiasts": ear set, eye color, length of stop, thickness of coat and all that other crap that is so important to "the fancy" has NOTHING to do with the dog's ability to work stock well. Never has, never will.

 

I don't think I even need to delve into the whole mindset in the fancy that takes a dog with "improper" ears and ties them up, glues them under (you know, for that perfect tipped look and correct position on the head) and then proceeds to BREED that specimen with the artificially created perfect structure because it's got its conformation championship.

 

And as far as taking any old thing and turning it into a great worker by raising it in a working environment, well, if it were that easy, folks would be turning out top workers right and left without a care for what dog was bred to what bitch. After all, it wouldn't matter, right? As long as you expose those wonder mutts to a working environment the minute they pop out of the womb. I wonder why this isn't happening? Could it be because what the poster claims is true isn't actually true? In fact, I would say that the exact opposite holds true: no amount of exposure to a working environment will transform a biscuit eater into a great working dog. Yes, you might get some semblance of work, eventually, but it would be a pretty poor return on investment when you could take a well-bred working dog and virtually guarantee yourself a decent worker as a result of breeding/genetics alone.

 

Granted, some of this is generalizing, but I think it's quite fair to say that you aren't likely to create something out of what's not there genetically, save for the very rare happenstance.

 

Oh, and if I wanted to be really nasty, I think I'd have to point out that probably every breed of dog that has been "improved" by the fancy with respect to their idea of structure/conformation has in fact lost or nearly so all semblance to that breed's original functionality. Yep, that's just the direction I want the true working border collie taken in, sure.... Oh yeah, but if I just take that poor conformation-bred Irish setter or labrador retriever and raise it in a bird hunting environment, it will regain the ability to hunt birds just like that. Yep, that's why serious bird hunters are just lining up to purchase those show dogs (not)!

 

J.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If you took the two best opposite show examples of a working breed, put them together & then raised the pups in a working enviroment, the pups would work, & the next generation would work even better, etc,etc.
If it is so simple, why don't they prove it?!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

>

 

If I'm understanding this correctly, they're talking about pups born to a Best of Breed winner mated to the Best of Opposite Sex winner -- IOW, the dog and bitch found to be the best conformers to the breed standard. They're claiming that those pups would work if "raised . . . in a working environment." (Whatever that means -- raised in a barn, maybe?)

 

To me, this statement simply illustrates the staggering ignorance of livestock work, and what livestock work involves, to be found in the "Border Collie fancy," and the staggering arrogance that accompanies that ignorance. They don't hesitate to say something is so on no other basis than that they want it to be so.

 

My first response would be "How do you know?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The ONLY people who would say something like that are people who have no real experience of working sheepdogs (and watching a trial or doing an HT etc don't count).

 

Without getting into the conformation-vs.-working, "which is better" debate, those sort of statements show total disregard for the skill and effort put into the breeding of working sheepdogs over centuries- and that's just plain rude.

 

What do they think people have been breeding carefully all these years? Do they think sheepdog breeders have been stupid? Deluded? Wasting their time?

 

The other interesting point is that conformation people are generally firmly convinced of the inheritability of MOST traits in dogs. Structure, coat, features and temperament- they breed for these, and advertise them. Even "working" ability in games like agility and obedience are bred for, and advertised.

 

So why do they believe that "herding" ability is the one exception to this rule? Why is this instinct not an inherited trait, but other aspects of the dog's mind (like temperament or "drive") are?

 

Its also possible they don't understand the difference between dogs that work sheep in some way, and dogs that work sheep well. Many dogs of all sorts of breeds will show interest in sheep, and will even go around them, and bring them back to their handler, especially with some training.

 

People who have just done a Herding Instinct test and a couple of classes with their dog are usually told how promising the dog is, and are thrilled to bits to see their dog defying all the cynics by actually going out and around the sheep, and bringing them back!!! They don't understand the finer points, and they haven't seen dogs of varying abilities attempt more testing tasks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally posted by zenotri:

Breeding has nothing to do with functionality, it's an enviroment thing.

If this were really true then we should be able to take the best examples of Newfoundlands, breed them, put the pups in a herding environment and get great herding dogs. :rolleyes:

 

Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you guys, some very well written comments..and a couple of laughs too.

 

as the thread has progressed...I honestly don't think it is worth it. These are people who are never going to be convinced, some of them don't even have working breeds. I wish I could leave these threads alone...but I can't, I just hate the thought of people reading & believing them. I'll keep an eye on it, but since I don't seem to have received an ounce of support from anyone else, it's probably better that I just leave it alone & let it die.

 

LOL, because of it, I've been on a crazy, mad rampage all day...and now...I'm just tired...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That would be great KillerH, if anyone has some time on their hands. It's 11 pages though. Started being about Siberian Huskys. I only got involved & made it about working sheepdogs dogs on page 9, so if you read from there you will find plenty to "discuss" I'm sure.

 

I have tried really hard not to be nasty, for me it's about educating the hundreds of people who read it, rather than changing the mind of the narrow minded few who have posted.

 

http://forums.dogzonline.com.au/index.php?...ic=43624&st=120

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest JoeysMom

I don't like to comment on these threads; I'm not nearly knowledgeable enough about the subject--but I enjoy reading them to learn more. May I just say that I read the pages you suggested from the other forum, and I am quite frustrated. Needless to say, I'm glad that I've learned so much from being on these boards. Ignorance is not always bliss--sometimes it is just stupid.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I read the thread, and you are doing a terrific job, Vickie. I don't want to post there because I just don't have time to get into an argument on another board, but here's what I'd say if I did. Feel free to post any or all of it if you think it would help.

 

Whether a dog bred to the show standard will work or not may depend on how hard the work he's asked to do is. I can't speak to sighthounds' work or guardian dogs' work, but I can speak to the work of the Border Collie. It is very, very demanding.

 

Debating whether it's breeding or environment that makes a good working Border Collie is missing the point. A dog without the bred-in requisites for work cannot be trained to be a useful dog, and a dog who has the bred-in requisites for work still needs training. So it's both.

 

Physical structure is among the least important working requisites -- very few medium-sized, normal-shaped dogs are physically unable to do the job. Here are a few of the more important qualities we breed for:

 

Keenness. You can't make a dog work sheep who doesn't want to work sheep. But you don't want the dog to be so crazy excited by sheep that he can't be sensible around them. So with keenness, as with many of the necessary working traits, the extremes are undesirable -- the goal is moderate keenness.

 

Power. The dog must have an innate quiet authority that sheep respect. Again, you don't want the dog to be so powerful that sheep flee at the very sight of him, or so weak that the sheep won't move for him. You are breeding for the right amount of power -- like the policeman who says "Move along please," or the father of whom it's said "Dad never laid a hand on us kids, but if he told us to do something we knew we'd better do it."

 

Balance. Balance is the innate feel for where the dog must be in relation to the sheep to control them and keep them staying where they're wanted or going where they're wanted. You cannot train this. You can train the dog to obey commands like "go left," "go right," "walk up," and you can even train him to go slowly or quickly, wide or tight, but if the dog can't feel where he needs to be, you will be spending all your time trying to read the sheep for him and put him in the right place, and you still won't have a useful dog.

 

Work Ethic. This could be called responsibility or character, if that didn't sound so unfashionably anthropomorphic. It's what makes the dog not leave a tough or sick sheep behind when he's working out of sight of you, or what makes him keep working when he's hot and sore and tired and thirsty. It's what the phrase "an honest dog" pays tribute to.

 

I could go on and on, listing eye (another category where there's too much, too little, and just right), courage, biddability, etc. But I think this is enough to make the point.

 

How do you breed for power or balance or courage if you don't test for them in your breeding stock? If you're not breeding for those things in every generation, thinking through your breedings with the goal of optimizing them, they will soon wither away. If you ARE breeding for them, but are breeding for a certain ear set, coat color, etc. at the same time, they will diminish, because you are narrowing the pool of talent from which you're willing to draw. A person who is trying to produce the fastest white racehorse will nearly always be beaten at the races by those who bred to produce simply the fastest racehorse.

 

(A fuller, more technical explanation of why breeding to an appearance standard is inconsistent with breeding for work can be found at http://www.bordercollie.org/kpgene.html .)

 

Those of you who said that not every working-bred dog works well are correct, but that's because much more goes into producing a good working dog than most non-livestock folks realise. We don't always succeed, even when we're trying our best. But that's not an argument for making the task even harder, by trying in addition to breed to an appearance standard which for the most part is irrelevant to working ability, and is sometimes antithetical to it. Doing that would just drag our dogs down.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well stated, as usual, Eileen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you so much guys, Eileen, I have posted your message. That is EXACTLY the kind of post they need. Facts that they can't argue with, something to educate them about all the essential traits that they seem to be unaware of, something to make them realise just how amazing the Border Collie really is & why it can't be compared to most other breeds.

 

Vickie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Heres a post for you- for the "why can't we all just get along"

 

You cannot serve two masters and do justice to either one.

 

Our problem is not with people changing the breed and making a fluffy pretty pet- or animal to run around a ring.

Our issue is with you changing the breed// but keeping the name.

Change the name to Welsh Collie; Barbie Collie; Scotts Collie-- and you'll never hear from us again.

 

Continue to warp the BREED Border Collie and we can never get along- and you will never have our respect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eileen, I've read that post a few times over and you couldn't have summed up the essence of the Border collie more eloquently. I don't believe anyone could argue with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"How do you breed for power or balance or courage if you don't test for them in your breeding stock? "

 

This is the point that Eileen made that is largely overlooked. Breeding is one half of the equation. SELECTION is the other half and probably more important.

 

You cannot say; "my dog is a good herding dog because he/she comes from good herding lines." You can only say; "my dog is a good herding dog because he/she can work livestock".

 

And you should only breed your dog if you can honestly say; "my dog is a better herding dog than most."

 

It says little about your dog's herding ability that he/she has ##Wisp as a great great grand sire, if in the three generations in between there has been no selection for working ability and instead for "right" shaped eyes, "right" set ears, "right" proportions, "temperament", or prowess on the agility course.

 

The biggest misperceptions that most conformation people have is that the "breed standards" are somehow empirically determined and that they have any relevance to behavior. They don't. They are determined by fashion. what determines the standard is what wins in the ring which is determined by the preferences and biases of judges.

 

There is zero evidence that working ability is linked to any physical characteristic of the Border Collie. You cannot tell anything about working ability by the shape of the eyes, the ratio of height to body length, the set of the ears, or coloration. If you could, picking a good dog would be easy and some breeder out there would be fabulously rich, having bred every champion herding dog there is.

 

So, if there is no relationship between physical characterstics and herding ability, then it stands to reason that selecting for physical characteristics will do nothing to retain herding ability. Selecting for ability in agility, SAR, or anything other than herding will have a similar effect. Fifteen thousand years of animal husbandry are proof that only by both breeding for specific traits and then selecting the offspring who best display those traits (and "culling" the rest the old way or the spay/neuter way) will you either retain the desired traits in a breed or improve upon them.

 

Pearse

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well they're still not even coming close to getting it...and probably never will. I can only hope that your great posts have opened some eyes & made a few people think.

 

I am curious about LGD though, being one of the other few breeds that carries out its original funtion. I spent a few hours this afternoon reading about them. Despite a couple of people in this thread saying that show & working people are united for the most part, I seemed to find plenty of evidence on the web to contradict this.

 

I have to assume it's another case of them believing in something that they want to be true.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the show people want to believe their dogs "do it all" and that nothing diminishes the ancestral instinct of their breeds as they continue to breed for everything but the useful purpose for which the breed was developed. Maybe their theory is that if you believe it, it must be true. Also, if they were to face the truth, they would have to admit that their breeding for "the perfect specimen" of their breed is simply a mockery of worthwhile breeding.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wizard's First Rule (Terry Goodkind): "People are stupid. They will believe any lie either because they want it to be true, or they fear it to be true."

 

 

I love your last sentence Sue. That's it in a nutshell.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...