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My border collie female is 8 1/2 months old and has not been fixed, because we are going to breed her. How can I tell when she gets her period? What about when she is in heat? When can she get pregnant?

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Originally posted by Madison's Mommy:

My border collie female is 8 1/2 months old and has not been fixed, because we are going to breed her. How can I tell when she gets her period? What about when she is in heat? When can she get pregnant?

If you know so little about dogs that you don't even understand heat cycles, maybe you should reconsider becoming a breeder.

 

Pearse

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That's pretty harsh. This is our first time, and everybody has to start somewhere. You know, I come onto this board for support and education, not condescension. My dog is completely well cared for and extraordinarily happy. Who are you, the border collie police? Why don't you keep your nasty comments to yourself.

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Don't be surprised if you get some pretty strong opinions on this board - everyone comes from a different perspective and many of us have seen what happens when people who aren't ready to breed do.

 

That said it is good you're coming here for advice rather than just going it alone if you are convinced you want to breed.

 

Why and when are you planning on breeding your girl? Does she have health clearances (hip xrays, etc.) ? Does she work? Have you done any research? Do you have a mentor who can help you? Are you aware that you could lose you girl during her pregnancy/whelping? If you breed, will you take pups back years after you sold them if their owners can't keep them? How will you screen possible puppy owners?

 

These are all questions that need to be answered so everyone can give you the best advice/suggestions possible.

 

Personally, it would take a lot for me to be convinced that you should breed your girl. I've volunteered at a shelter for 6 years and have seen plenty of pure BCs come in for just being a normal BC - their owners weren't properly screened and didn't know what a BC needs and the breeder wasn't responsible enough to take them back. A lot of these dogs had behavior problems and some had health problems that would've been prevented if their parents had been screened.

 

Hopefully you can see why this makes me hesitate to help someone who may or may not know what is really involved in breeding.

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How was Pearse being nasty?

 

If you come to this board for support and education you must know that asking about when your dog will get her "period" and when she can get pregnant will not be met with any support at all. Your questions, at the very least, show a lack of knowledge about breeding (not to mention dogs in general).

 

Please don't call my comments nasty too, because they're not meant to be. Please continue educating yourself before you think about breeding your girl.

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Originally posted by MaggieDog:

Personally, it would take a lot for me to be convinced that you should breed your girl.

 

A lot of these dogs had behavior problems and some had health problems that would've been prevented if their parents had been screened.

 

Hopefully you can see why this makes me hesitate to help someone who may or may not know what is really involved in breeding.

This is Madison's Father:

 

It's unfortunate to see that the culture of fear not only dominates contemporary journalism and politics but has ostensibly infected canine dicussion boards, which, one would normally look to as an educational resource. Apparently our use of the phrase "breeding" has touched a nerve that I fear is a perceived threat to one's profession. FEAR NOT. We intend for Madison to have puppies because we have been so taken by her that we would like to begin a family tradition with her bloodline. If we become amateur breeders, sorry, you may have some more competition after all. We will be endlessly responsible and what your posts presume is unfortunate.

 

To be more specific:

 

1)yes we know that we could "lose our girl" during pregnancy, guess dogs are like people after all, and yes we will have her tested to ensure that she is medically capable, etc.,;

 

2) yes we intend to "screen" owners, considering that we are "breeding" with good friends whose family will be taking pups and our family will be taking pups and this is not a professional but a personal goal . . . and . . . did I say that your question is offensive;

 

and

 

3) yes we would always take a dog back, in fact, based upon the apparent trust issues that your post reveals perhaps you have a pup or two that could use a more nurturing environment, if so we'd happily accept;

 

Grow up and think a little more before you condescend!

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I have spoken to my vet and have read numerous books about border collies. However, I have not had any specific answers, other than "oh, you'll know when..." As I said before, this is our first time, and no one in my family has done it before, so I am starting from scratch. Instead of any more lectures, how about a straight answer to my questions?

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Your puppy is WAY too young for you to even be thinking about breeding her. Her body is far too immature. There are always risks in breeding dogs, they are multiplied exponentially when the dog is just a puppy.

 

Border Collies are relatively late-maturing dogs. Often they are over four or five years old at the time of their first litters. This is because working ability, health, and other important factors cannot be properly evaluated until the dog is mature.

 

You have plenty of time to learn about breeding and to evaluate your girl to determine if she is a dog who should be bred. Border Collies are working dogs. They are also a breed suffering from big-time overpopulation problems. Frankly, the only ones that should be reproducing are the ones that can improve the working qualities of the breed. That means that they must be excellent livestock working dogs as well as sound in mind and body. You cannot evaluate your dog unless she is a working dog and you are willing to do some health testing (hips, eyes, hearing, etc.). In addition, it is difficult to make good breeding decisions unless you know something about the dogs in her pedigree and the types of dogs who would best complement her. This is a lot to learn -- so start now!

 

Breeding is not a risk-free enterprise. Bitches may suffer complications and die, puppies too -- not infrequently either. I know someone with a really nice Boxer bitch -- a really nice breeding, too -- who lost her bitch and all of the puppies but one due to complications. Once the puppies are here, they are an enormous responsibility in terms of care and placement. Are you prepared for the costs of whelping and puppy care? Are you sure? (Complications that require hospitalization can end up setting you back thousands of dollars.) Do you have enough homes lined up for the puppies? Are they good, responsible ones that will keep the puppies for the rest of their lives? Are you sure?

 

I have a really nice working bitch with amazing structure and a to-die-for temperament. I do not plan to breed her. I don't want the responsibility and I don't want to risk her. If anything happened to her, because of my decision to breed her, I would never be able to forgive myself. I am glad there are responsible breeders out there to take the onus off of me. I can always get a puppy from one of these breeders. The fact of the matter is that there are so many nice Border Collies out there that I really feel no need to grow my own at home. My bitch will be spayed this fall and I don't regret it one bit.

 

But at any rate, your puppy is still very young and you have years to learn about breeding. There are a number of good books out there -- I'd check your local library to start research. In the meantime, learn to recognize the signs of a bitch going into season and guard your pup accordingly to make sure no accidental breedings occur. They would be extremely risky considering how young she is, and you wouldn't want puppies from a stud you didn't carefully choose.

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Solo River,

 

I KNOW that Madison is way too young to breed now, and we are not planning on doing it for at least a year and a half to two years (if we do at all, which we are not 100% sure). That is why I am TRYING (without much luck) to find out how I can tell if she is in heat. My vet has not given me a straight answer, books have not either, and now this board has not. I do not want her to become pregnant at this time. And by the way, there are really no such thing as working border collies on Long Island, unfortunately. I wish she had a herd to work, but alas she does not. I exercise her plenty and try to give her other "tasks" to do to keep her mind and body active.

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I've just seen your recent posts and sympathize with your desire to have more dogs like your current one.

 

Personally, if I wanted a dog like my current ones I'd go back to the same breeders and buy puppies bred similarly to the dogs I already have. Border Collies are much less inbred than most other breeds of purebred dog. What this means, practically, is that there is a lot of variation out there in terms of looks, personality, and other qualities that make us like one dog more than another. Dogs that are less inbred are less likely to produce carbon copies of themselves. It would be unsurprising if you bred your bitch and ended up with puppies who didn't look or act much like her in terms of the qualities you find endearing -- especially if the stud were not carefully selected. Again, good stud selection requires an understanding of pedigrees and lines and personal knowledge of the dogs that make them up -- so I'd start researching now. Otherwise, you are likely to be disappointed in the litters you produce.

 

I'm not sure that a "family tradition" is a great reason to breed dogs. I know that you disagree with me, but I hope that you hear me out. I am trying to answer your questions honestly. It's true I don't want you to breed, not because I fear "competition" (I am not a breeder) but because I love this breed and because I have seen first hand the cumulative effects of a lot of casual breeding. There are too many Border Collies who need homes. There are too many Border Collies who are not all they should be in terms of temperament and working ability. I live with one -- and he is my favorite dog -- but I know he is not breedworthy and that at any rate, the qualities about him that I love the most are personal qualities unique to Solo that will never be reproduced in another dog. The excellent qualities of this breed are tied intimately to breeding for a purpose -- for sheepdogs. The farther you get away from that kind of breeding, the farther away you get from all of the things that make Border Collies cool. Do you want to be a breeder who preserves the best qualities of the breed, or one that contributes to the overpopulation problem?

 

At any rate, there is plenty of time to learn and do research. It's possible your puppy is an excellent example of the breed. If that's the case, you'll do a much better job and have an easier time of it if you've taken time, made connections, found mentors who will help you in your breeding decisions, and let your girl grow up and show you what she's got.

 

Good luck.

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Madison's Father:

 

None of the posts you see here will be in opposition to your breeding of your dog because of any perceived competition among breeders. Take some time to read the posts on this board and you'll see that your comments are way off the mark. And while you will see some condecending remarks sometimes, there have been none posted on this thread.

 

Madison's Mommy:

 

My experience with a dog in heat has been vaginal discharge, some butt scooting, licking of the vaginal area and a general change in behavior (a little bit bitchy and a little bit scattered too). Just keep in mind that even if you have your girl in a fenced in yard while she's in heat she can be bred thru a fence (chain link) and intact males will go to GREAT lengths to get to her. I'm glad to see that you have no intention of breeding her until she's older, if even then.

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Originally posted by SoloRiver:

Frankly, the only ones that should be reproducing are the ones that can improve the working qualities of the breed.

Madison's Father again,

 

What do you mean by working? If intense frisbee catching and toy hunting counts then Madison works very hard, if you're talking about hearding sheep, then no BC within 300 miles of us works. Of course we have the BCs that chase the geese at golf courses, but that's about all that I've seen. Our golf club has several BCs that the greenskeeper and staff care for and their work consists of running around a lot and resting in golf carts, again, if that's working then Madison does plenty. The family duck and turkey farm was sold, unfortunately for us and Madison, in the 70s like most others on LI.

 

Isin't it okay to raise BCs as pets?

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About heat cycles:

 

The reason that it is difficult to give you a straight answer is that there is a lot of variation between individual bitches as to the signs of heat and when she will accept a dog. A generic description is here:

 

http://www.vetinfo.com/dencyclopedia/deestrus.html

 

With my bitch, who I bought as a trained working dog (which is why she was not spayed when she was a year old or thereabouts) the first sign of impending heat is that she blows coat -- more or less explodes in shedding all over the place. More hair than I ever thought she had. When she does this I know her season is coming in about a month and a half.

 

The next sign is that her vulva will swell, she'll also usually start licking herself a lot. Some bitches don't swell noticeably, others are hard to miss. Some bitches change personality during their seasons (becoming more aggressive, usually), mine doesn't. Soon after she will bleed. Some bitches keep themselves so clean that you never notice the blood, mine unfortunately is not very fastidious so she must wear an old pair of my undies with a sanitary napkin in it for a couple of weeks. My (neutered) male is usually pretty good about telling me when Fly is in high-risk mode in terms of getting bred -- when she is ready she will stand for him and he will mount her, even though he has no testicles. The entire cycle lasts a little less than a month and the bitch must be guarded carefully during this entire time -- I mean, NEVER leave her in the yard alone, make sure all doors are double-locked at all times, I am not kidding. Traveling salesman type dogs will probably be hanging around your house at this time -- luckily I live on the second floor of an apartment building so this doesn't happen to me.

 

As far as working Border Collies -- I would be surprised if there were absolutely none on Long Island -- but at any rate there are many, many trainers and sheepdog handlers in New York, northern New Jersey, and New England -- so you have many, many training opportunities. My own trainer is about 30 minutes outside of NYC, I drive two hours to train with him -- if you are interested, I can send you his email address. I really think it is essential if you love the breed as it is -- with its intelligence, athleticism, and all those funny quirks like crouching and staring and playing ball for hours and hours -- that you make breeding decisions with producing working dogs in mind. And you won't know anything about the breeding qualities of your bitch, unless you work her. Not to mention, it's a hell of a lot of fun.

 

Good luck.

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Originally posted by Madison's Mommy:

Grow up and think a little more before you condescend!

Madison's father, your post and infererences were for more condescending than any response your child received.

 

I invite you to re-examine your reasons for breeding your puppy, as they are inadequate in the grander scheme of things. I invite you look at Petfinder on which you will find more than 3100 border collies who are currently homeless. I invite you to visit the website of Glen Highland Farm a border collie rescue not far from LI that has numerous dogs available, including puppies!

 

I encourage you to listen to the people here who are rescuers of the breed and advocates of the breed, who can tell you why there are excellent reasons to breed for working ability and nothing else.

 

I have three wonderful rescue dogs, all of whom I am "taken with" and all of whom are unique, wonderful individual personalities. If your dog has wowed you as much as you say, perhaps you should do her a favour and spay her, and adopt another border collie as a tribute to her for introducing you to the breed.

 

You might also keep in mind that Madison at 8 months and Madison at 2 years might be two very different dogs.

 

RDM

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Your bitch will leave spots of blood wherever she goes, and her vulva will become enlarged when she goes into heat. She can become pregnant at any time when she's bleeding. When she is at her most fertile and receptive, she may become very overt -- backing up to things, flagging her tail to the side, etc.

 

Every dog for miles around will be in your yard. There may be fights around your house.

 

The entire process of heat will last between 10 days and three weeks, depending on the bitch. After heat, whether she is bred or not, she will go through all the hormonal aspects of pregancy. Some bitches even come into milk. We have one that steals shoes and tries to nurse them; thankfully she is not actually in milk, just longing for puppies to rear.

 

That said, I have to pile on to what others have said about trying to influence your decision about whether to breed your bitch. Unless you are planning to train her and prove her as a sheepdog, there is no way you should even be thinking about breeding her. Ever. The Border collie is a working sheepdog, and if you don't know whether yours is a good one or not, you don't know whether it's a good example of the breed.

 

Part of "doing your research" is the process of being around Border collies for several years before you start making decisions about which ones are good for breeding and which ones are not. If you had done that sort of research -- or perhaps apprenticeship would be a better word for it -- you would know how to detect a bitch in season.

 

I am not going to push you to spay her. But please, please don't breed her unless and until you know what you're working with. Unless you can answer this question in the affirmative: "Will the pups from this litter be an improvement to the breed?" There are way too many "wonderful" dogs being bred by people who do not know the answer to that question.

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By "working" I mean working livestock. There are, frankly, plenty of dogs out there who will play fetch and hunt toys. If you lower your breeding standards to these criteria you will eventually end up with dogs who are not much like the one you have now.

 

Border Collies are special, as you've noticed. They are more intelligent, more intense, more athletic, more handler-oriented, more obsessive than just about any other breed of dog. This is because they are one of the last breeds on earth that has not been "dumbed down" by breeding practices that take them away from the purpose for which they were originally developed. They are real, honest-to-Pete working dogs. They are smart and fast and really into working with you BECAUSE they were bred to be working dogs. If you change the criteria for which you breed, you will change the dogs. Most likely several generations down the line your breeding program will not be producing the kinds of dogs you started with because you will have no means for differentiating between the ones that will produce more Madisons and the ones that will only produce generic tailwaggers.

 

I don't think it's a good idea to breed Border Collies purely as pets for the reasons outlined above. There are already, literally, hundreds of breeds out there that have been dismantled in this fashion. None of them are what they used to be. Border Collies haven't been ruined yet -- but the more they are bred for reasons that do not preserve their working qualities, the closer they will be to being ruined. I'm not saying you're a bad person or that you are out to ruin the breed. But I encourage you to take a good hard look at your pup, think of all the reasons you think she's special, and remember that she came from somewhere -- a rich heritage and living history of breeding for WORK, not pets, not show dogs. If you cannot or will not carry this heritage forward, I think that your "family tradition" of breeding Border Collies will eventually disappoint you.

 

I'll also add that Border Collies are not simple dogs to breed. Look at all the extreme qualities that they have -- these become volatile when breeding is not done carefully with purpose in mind. For example, selecting for all that intensity without also selecting for the concentration, impulse control, and trainability that is so well tested by working a dog on stock results in hyperactive, out-of-control dogs. (This is why I think so many pet-bred Border Collies have reactivity issues -- working dogs are bred to think, so they can control their reactive impulses -- remove this selection, and you just end up with Tasmanian Devils). Breeding dogs who can and will run all day without also selecting for dogs who love to work with people (and I mean REALLY love to work with people -- ever seen a working dog take whistle commands from a handler over half a mile away? -- I have, try to train any old dog to do that!) will get you dogs who can outrun you, and will, and don't come back or care when you call them. You get my drift. I live with a dog who was crappily bred. I know.

 

I highly encourage you to get to some sheepdog trials and meet handlers, owners, and breeders while doing your research. You'll see Border Collies being all they can be. I can't think of any better way to illustrate the difference between ball fetching "work" and real work. (That's not meant to be snide. My dogs love to play fetch too.) There are many trials within reasonable driving distance of you. Trial season is sort of over now, but there will be plenty more starting in the spring -- here is a schedule:

 

http://www.frontenac.net/~duke/nebca/trials04.htm

 

You will probably see me at some of them -- I'm easy to spot -- I'll be the only Asian person there and one of my dogs is red. Feel free to come over and say hi. (But don't try to pet the red dog -- he's from a careless breeder and has, um, issues.)

 

Thanks for sticking around and caring enough to keep discussing with us here. This is a great resource for Border Collie owners. Feelings run high when it comes to breeding because we love, love love this breed. Please understand that.

 

Oh, and I forgot to mention why I decided to spay my bitch. It's not because I am not going to breed her -- I was never going to breed her, but she was already three when I got her and I thought there was no point as long as I could keep her from being accidentally mated by another dog. But, she developed a mammary tumor that had to be removed, and many of these tumors are hormone-mediated so that the more heat cycles the bitch goes through, the more likely the cancer is to come back. The risk of mammary cancer goes down to nearly nothing if a bitch is spayed before her first heat and to a little more than nothing if spayed before a year. Had Fly been mine from puppyhood she would have been spayed at a year of age. Mammary tumors are VERY common in mature intact females. I can find some of the journal articles I read when researching my decision if you like.

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Originally posted by Pearse:

If you know so little about dogs that you don't even understand heat cycles, maybe you should reconsider becoming a breeder.

Pearse

Madison's Father again:

 

 

First, sorry, but the above is condescending in my book and is the reason for our spirited responses, in contrast to the above, what should have been said was what Mr. Snappy said, which is pointed, informative, and impassioned.

 

Second, thank you to all for the later posts, they have been very informative and we now know some of what we were asking about to begin with.

 

Third, from a genuine health and safety concern, it is overbreading among humans that all on this board should be most concerned with.

 

Fourth, nobody answered my question about keeping BCs as pets, is it the informed position of this board that the only good BC is a farm working BC?

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Keeping Border Collies as pets and breeding them just to be pets are two very different things.

 

Most of us here consider our dogs to be our pets. Mine are pets first. They are not true working dogs in that it's not how we make our living -- we live in the city and only work stock for fun. If we could never see sheep again I wouldn't love them any less. They are both great dogs and because of them I know I will never be without a Border Collie -- other breeds just don't do it for me anymore (although I do also have a Papillon, they are cool dogs and I love mine but they are not Border Collies).

 

But the fact that Border Collies can be great pets for the right homes (knowing Madison you can probably see how not every home could be right for a Border Collie, since they are so active and intelligent) does not mean that they should be bred for this purpose. "Companion" is an important role for a Border Collie but it's also sort of a lowest common denominator. There are many, many dogs who are not even Border Collies who can be good companions and great pets. If that's your only goal, the bar isn't very high. To keep Border Collies the way they are, you need to set your bar higher than that.

 

The reason Border Collies are consistent in the qualities that make them great pets for active, dog-oriented people is that they were bred to be more than just pets. Breeds differ from each other because they are bred for different things. Border Collies are special because they are bred to work sheep. Relaxing these criteria will inevitably result in a generic black and white dog. Think of all the breeds that you don't have instead of Border Collies -- there are probably numerous reasons why you don't have any of them that all add up to "Well, they just aren't Border Collies." Neither will your dogs be, generations down the line, unless you breed them for what they have always been bred for. That's just the way selection works, as practiced by dog breeders, cow breeders, tropical fish breeders, whatever. You get what you select for. If you select for "just pets," you'll get just pets. If you select for working dogs, by gum, you'll get Border Collies.

 

Border Collies are cool. I don't know Madison but I am willing to bet she is a really cool dog. That is because she is a Border Collie with the rich heritage being a Border Collie entails. If you're gonna breed Border Collies, respect that heritage and breed the best Border Collies you can and you will not be disappointed. Trust me, the longer you stick around here and the more you learn about Border Collies, the more obsessed you will become about preserving their special qualities as well. And then you will know enough to be a good breeder rather than a producer of generic black and white dogs.

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Dear "Madison's Mommy" and "Madison's Father",

 

I wasn't being nasty. I was being blunt and there's a world of difference. I was also being serious. All I was suggesting is that you REALLY consider what you are doing and more importantly why.

 

As for the whole "climate of fear" nonsense. Grow up. No one threatened you. You solicited advice in a public forum and you got advice and opinions that weren't what you wanted to hear. That's all.

 

Pearse

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I'll second what Melanie said about breeding because you want another dog like the one you have. This is a very common reason I hear from people wanting to breed their dogs: they love their dog and want another one like her (or him). I find this touching and dear (that they are so madly in love with their dog that they want to breed others like him/her, and I certianly empathise, since I feel much the same about my own dogs) - but unfortunately it isn't a very sound reason to breed ANY dog, regardless of breed, because it doesn't really work. Generally speaking, you are more likely to get another dog like your current one if you go to her parents and get a full sibling (of the same or another litter) than if you breed yours. If your motivation is to get another dog like her, breeding her isn't your best option.

 

If you have other motives, then you've already been given excellent advice about when and why (and whether) to breed. To reassure you (if possible) about MY motives, I am not a breeder, nor do I have any intention of being one at this time, so I have no concerns whatsoever about competition. Furthermore, I live about as far away from you as it's possible to get in the continental U.S., so even if I WERE breeding I'd be unconcerned about competition from you as breeders. I will say that I have one dog who could be described as a "breeding prospect", only because he still has his testicles - but the chances of him being bred are vanishingly small. He's young, yet, but I don't think he'll be a good enough stock dog to justify breeding him. This is in a dog of excellent temperament, smart and sound, with perfect eyes and hips to make OFA weep for joy, and also good-looking enough to be featured on (so far) two BC calendars in national release. Not to mention the fact that (if you cannot tell) I am COMPLETELY besotted with him. I do (because he's male) have the option of storing semen and breeding him many years down the line (even after he dies); I personally think that even if I were sure right this second that he was good enough to breed, it would probably BE after he died that I'd feel like I knew enough to select the appropriate bitch for him. Even in non-working breeds it IS important to make appropriate choices of which dogs you breed in order to produce sound dogs which will improve the breed. Certainly I see - DAILY - the results of less judicious choices, and the cost in misery and money is high. When you consider the U.S. as a whole, it's staggering.

 

It sounds to me as if you love your dog more than any other dog you've ever had, and admire and respect all the things that make her what she is. If that is REALLY so, and not just my interpretation of your motives, then please PLEASE think long and hard about this, and longer and harder again once you're sure. The traits we all love about BCs - and make no mistake, the people on the boards are here because they DO love BCs, not just their own but the breed as a whole - have come into being because they were bred for a specific job, and that job is to work stock. Yes, they do brilliantly at a great many other things, but that intelligence and versatility came into being AS A RESULT of being bred for one thing: stock work. If breeding for that purpose is lost, the traits that go with it are lost as well. And pretty soon we have have dogs that are BCs in name only. Perhaps these would be nice dogs, charming and delightful in all respects - but they wouldn't be BCs. At least, not as we know them today.

 

Should BCs be kept as pets? Sure, why not? Plenty of people on this board keep BCs as pets and either never work them on stock, or do so only as hobby herders (I fall into both categories, with different dogs.) Many BCs live very happy lives and never see a sheep, and the truth of it is that even with careful and judicious breeding not every BC will make a stock dog - so it's good that there are homes for BCs besides the strictly working homes. There's nothing wrong with having a pet BC you intend to be only a pet. If you never herd a day in your life, you will still be welcome here, and in very good company. It's only when talking about BREEDING a BC for something other than work - not when talking about OWNING a BC for something other than work - that people start to worry. And they worry because of a love of the breed, and a deep-seated and passionate desire to keep it what it is.

 

By the time I post this, probably ten other people will have logged in to say what I'm saying, so I'll apologise in advance if I'm repeating them.

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Thank you to everyone for your advice. We certainly have alot of thinking to do. You have to understand that we LOVE Madison so much that it is scary. We know her whole line and the stud that we were planning to use also comes from a great line. But there is obviously alot more to it than that (not to mention that I would die if anything happened to her in whelping). Anyway, Solo- I would love to have your trainer's e-mail address and maybe to meet up at one of those shows. I really would like to know another border collie owner in person, because we honestly want to do everything as best as possible for our dog, because she brings us so much joy.

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Madison's Mommy and Madison's Daddy -

 

I will just say one thing. I don't have kids and we probably never will - just because we don't want them. But we do have 2 border collies. We would be terribly destroyed if anything ever happened to either one of them.

 

I read about folks on these boards that go through loosing their pets. I cry. It pains me to think that Buddy and Marzipan's time will come. And oh how I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to have 5 more little Marzipan's and Buddy's running around. But guess what? If I were to breed either one of them, I'd bet you a million dollars that I would not get another Buddy or Marzipan in that litter. Nope...not anything near like them.

 

And what have I done? I've risked her life in whelping a litter and I've drastrically increased her chances of breast cancer by NOT spaying her by her first heat.

 

Well...let's look at those odds...about 0 of getting carbon copy pup of either dog in breeding and MUCH higher of getting breast cancer or having difficulties in pregnancy.

 

My friend, it is just not worth it to me. I love my dogs more than most people would think is healthy and thus I will do my best to keep them safe, happy and secure. In my book, that does not mean breeding them. It means spaying by 6 months with yearly check ups, the best food I can afford, training for what they were bred to do - when available (not many sheep in Hawaii) and as much love as I can give them.

 

If I want another Marzipan, I will go back to my breeder if she breeds the same bitch and dog and get another puppy. Or...take Marzipan to the University of Hawaii and pay a billion dollars to clone her!

 

I hope you will take all this information people have offered up and seriously consider the health of your pup before deciding not to spay or to breed. For me, the risks are just to great NOT to spay.

 

Denise, Marzipan and Buddy.

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Please know that I understand the love you have for your dog. My dog Solo is my soulmate. I am probably a little too in love with him for my own good.

 

http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~mlchang/solo.html

 

The reason I have him is that his breeder was not careful about the choices made when he was bred, was not careful enough about who he sold puppies to, that the series of homes Solo went through were not prepared for the responsibilities of having a Border Collie as a pet, and then ultimately because he flunked out of herding school when the last place he ended up realized he lacked too many working qualities to make a good sheepdog.

 

Solo has problems that are partly the result of careless breeding and partly the fault of many people who failed him in his past. Nevertheless, he is my boy and I love him as much as anyone has ever loved a dog. I usually tell people he has a lousy temperament, but a fabulous personality. He is as smart, funny, handsome, and devoted as anyone could want in a dog. His problem is that he trusts almost no one and so very few people get to see what a great dog he is.

 

I will be devastated when Solo is gone. He is my first Border Collie and will probably be the only one to capture my heart the way he has, partly because of all we've gone through since I brought him home -- he has not been an easy dog to rehabilitate and we have a very, very close bond because of this. There will never be another Solo and I know that no matter how hard I tried I would never be able to create another in his image. That's the nature of love -- it's singular and you can't do it over again. When it's really strong it's partly because the object of that love is special, and therefore unique.

 

If you set out to create another Madison, you will be disappointed. Period, end of story. It is not possible to do. I know that I will always have Border Collies because many of Solo's great qualities -- the more general ones -- are Border Collie qualities. I even know something about the dogs in his pedigree so if I wanted a puppy who has Solo's best qualities (i.e., serious, complex, empirical personality) while avoiding his worst ones (i.e., aggression towards strangers who scare him) I have some idea of which lines I would go to. But I know that no matter what I do I will never be able to recreate what we have after he is gone. And that's a tribute to him.

 

The very fact that you love Madison so much is not a reason to breed her. It is actually an argument against it. Love isn't objective, and you have to be objective to know what your goals are when breeding dogs and to carry those goals out. Trying to reproduce the subjective qualities that make one individual dog more loveable than another is an enterprise destined to fail.

 

I have, myself, decided on a family tradition of my own, directly due to Solo. My personal tradition is that every other dog I own (i.e., rescue, buy, rescue buy) will be a rescued dog. (Solo was rescued, Fly was bought, Skeeter my Papillon was rescued, etc.) I must say here that Solo is unique in many ways and that most rescued dogs do not have issues like his, so I don't want you to be scared off, but do hear me out. If you love the breed and want to do the best for it and are looking for companions, ball-fetchers and frisbee-catchers, you could do much worse than to start a tradition of rescuing Border Collies. Glen Highland Farm (http://www.glenhighlandfarm.com), which someone mentioned above, is a rescue that is near Cooperstown that is, like all rescues, always stuffed to the gills with Border Collies of all ages, including puppies. While researching the breed I encourage you to visit the farm and the dogs who live there while waiting for new homes. It is a beautiful place with friendly proprietors and many repeat adopters. In addition, it is important to get some idea of the overwhelming number of homeless Border Collies out there first hand if you are thinking of breeding. There's a bumper sticker I've seen: "If you don't rescue, don't breed." I agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment.

 

I'll send my trainer's email address to you privately. In the meantime, check out http://www.littlehats.net -- it's a site geared toward novice sheepdog handlers and includes regional lists of trainers and clubs. There may be someone closer to you than my trainer is.

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I have a little bitch I love like crazy. She's from a terrific line and, on paper, could even make some great pups. She's got perfect eyes and hips. She's dynomite doing tasks on the farm that she's familiar with and there's not a sheep she can't move. But, I don't think she's solid enough to be breeding from - we've been training her for over a year and I don't think she'd add to the overall quality of the breed.

 

She'll be spayed tomorrow because I don't want to even take a chance of her getting "knocked up" as a friend of mine says. Her mother is alive and her sire has three brothers in the States with several pups on the ground working nicely. Her "lines" aren't going to disappear from the earth when Jen is spayed.

 

The best Border Collies come from working parents, period. It's how the breed was developed - it's what makes them the coolest dogs in the world. It makes sense to keep breeding them that way.

 

I'm not the least bit disappointed in Jen. I will enjoy her more when I'm not viewing her as a uterus. The other night, she tried out flyball and was doing the whole course within a few minutes. What fun! I had been keeping her from it because, God forbid she should get hurt and her sheep training be set back. There's no pressure on her now.

 

What if I said, the heck with it, she's a great ball chaser, cat herder, and even goes around the sheep pretty well, and she's perfectly healthy. She's sixteen inches tall and would make some great flyball pups if I found a short stud!

 

But all I know about breeding dogs is what I've learned from years of rescuing them. That taints your view a bit. I really want to make sure that NOTHING I ever breed, adds to the thousands and thousands of pets that die every year in my smalll area alone.

 

Maybe it's just that, if I produce pups and people buy them as pets, that's one less pup that will be adopted from the shelter, or breed rescue. Possibly even, I lose track of a pup I place and the owners decide that they want their family to experience the joy of life. They are responsible people, more or less (I wouldn't place pups with anyone else), but they aren't quite as picky about THEIR pups. One goes to a backyard breeder. Another goes to someone that gets tired of it after it eats the cover off the jacuzzi, and takes it to the shelter. Another is placed with a delightful farmer couple who show up with their children and promise the pup a life on their dairy farm - but of course, they are actually commercial dog breeders (puppy millers) - and the puppy spends the rest of its short life in a crate, producing puppies for pet stores (many of which also end up in the shelters).

 

This is not scaremongering. It is reality - in fact, it's not even the half of it. It's really important that a breeder have the welfare of the whole breed as his or her objective. Otherwise it's really hard to make tough choices and make sure the pups are going to homes where they will be appreciated.

 

Good luck.

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Please truly think about this first. It is the belief of many on here and in the BC breed that only dogs TESTED by herding and up to a certain standard are worth breeding to improve the breed should be bred. Do I see lots of others being bred? You bet I do, I also see dogs in rescue because of overbreeding. Should we be concerned of overpopulation of people, sure. We should be concerned about it with the dogs and other animals too. That statement about humans was condescending IMO. I would go to trials first, I would watch lots of dogs and work my dog before I ever decided to breed. I won't ever breed and I have "been in border collies" for almost 13 years. I implore you to think about all of this more and do what so many informed people have suggested here. More research!

Caroline

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