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Sapphire

Do Border Collies tend to be dominant?

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Hi all!

 

We have a two year old Border Collie. We have had him since he was a 2 and a half month old puppy.

 

We have two other dogs - both mixed breeds, both older than he is.

 

Lately he has gotten "bossy" with them. He has taken over the oldest dog's favorite chair to sleep in. He tried to eat out of the oldest dog's food bowl this morning.

 

He is not challenging us at all, just the other two dogs.

 

Is this normal? Do Border Collies tend to be dominant with other dogs?

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Are East coast humans dominant over West Coast humans? Are East coast dogs dominant over West Coast dogs?

 

There are dominant and passive individuals and dogs in both groups.

 

There are both dominant and passive border collies.

 

It is not the breed but the dog's personality.

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Well duh!

 

Still, there are defining characteristics of different breeds.

 

For instance, there are Border Collies that love tennis balls and Border Collies who don't like tennis balls, but I think it's safe to say that most Border Collies tend to like tennis balls.

 

Another example - Labs characteristically enjoy swimming. Now there are Labs that don't like to swim, but enjoying swimming is a characteristic of the breed.

 

So, my question isn't: is every single Border Collie in the world dominant.

 

It is - do Border Collies characteristically tend to be dominant?

 

Sorry I wasn't clear on that.

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Mine seemed dominant when I got her at 8 weeks. She dominated four cats and a big lab who was already in the house right away. She would try eating everyone else's food. The lab showed his belly (he was 40 lbs!) to her. But at dog park and puppy party, she was shy (only if she was late for the party). She was smart enough to figure out whom she should dominate and whom she shouldn't. She is not like that with people but she can be stubborn!

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Originally posted by Sapphire:

It is - do Border Collies characteristically tend to be dominant?

I think the term "dominance" is thrown around far too much. I don't know why people are so obsessed with dominance, but dogs are not. They are mired in social rituals, but dominance is a very small piece of the bigger picture.

 

In my experience, as a breed border collies have a somewhat general tendency to be somewhat bossy and controlling because they were bred to boss around and control things. People rave about the breed's intelligence because the breed is generally smart (Tweed being an unfortunate exception) enough to take advantage of a situation, and test people and other dogs to see what they can get away with.

 

If your dog is maturing and he thinks he can best the other dogs by taking their sleeping spots and food, it's not necessarily because he is dominant, but more because he is opportunistic. As a rule, the dog is an opportunistic species, but border collies have the additional quality of being intelligent problem-solvers who will work a little harder for the prize.

 

Does that answer your question?

 

RDM

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I think Terry's response is basically correct (i.e no more than other dogs). The dog's personality is much more of a factor than its breed.

 

That said, Border Collie's tend to be high energy, concerned about a lot of things and a bit pushy. I have seen them described as the "police of the dog world". This might translate into what someone would call dominance, but I do not think it is quite the same thing. Just like the pugnaciousness of a terrier is not quite the same thing as dominance.

 

Dominance is a bit overused in my book. Say you have a 130 pound German shepard, who does not care about a lot of things and a 30 pound border collie to whom everything is important. The border collie may get its way in all the things it thinks is important, but on the things that the German shepard cares about (like food) it gets what it wants or else. Who of the two is dominant?

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One thought as a general thing... many dogs will begin to change behavior when they go into social maturity. I wonder if some of the changes you are seeing are related to that (since your dog is about 2 now, yes?)

 

As far as dominance... well, I wouldn't say I donsider BCs a dominant breed overall, comparing to everything I see at work across the board - so that includes Rottweillers and Akitas and Chows and mastiffs and everything across the spectrum, down to and including the softest golden retrievers and the shyest Yorkies and so on. OUt in the bog wild world, if I was meeting other dogs on the trail, for instance, my BCs would not start a fight (though other breeds might), and outside the house they seem to feel no inclination to boss other dogs around. Occasionally they WILL feel this need *inside* another person's house, but they are discouraged from this behavior, and it isn't usual in them anyway. In my own household, I have two BCs that are a bit domineering (well, one is my "step-dog"), and both of them boss around the other two dogs - one of which is another BC. The other is a Westie.

 

That said, I will say I think that the reason my two bossiest dogs ARE bossy is partly because they are smart. It's as if they look around and think, "Hmmm, I have the advantage here because I can out-think the other dogs and tell them what to do." And I also think it is in their individual natures to be a bit more confident, maybe inclined to think their way is the best way and to enforce it. The nature of their work does seem to include a willingness to tell other animals what to do.

 

It's normal dog nature to suck up on the goodies as much as possible, and if your BC has discovered that he can get them for himself, he's going to try it. So I think his behavior is normal dog behavior, BC or not. He sounds like he's challenging the hierarchy a bit, trying for the top dog position, which is to be expected at his age. He may win it or he may not, but in the meantime, he's probably going to push the others a little to see what shakes out. And unfortunately, that kind of falls to them to figure out... no matter how much you think one dog should be top, THEY may decide differently. You can ride herd on them and prevent all-out war, but over time, one may win the top spot that you did not expect to go there.

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You guys have provided some good insight. In particular the statement:

 

"In my experience, as a breed border collies have a somewhat general tendency to be somewhat bossy and controlling because they were bred to boss around and control things."

 

That completely makes sense. Before this, he spent a lot of his time and energy "bossing" and "controlling" his "herd" of balls. Now he seems to be taking slightly less interest in ball and more interest in bossing the other two dogs. Not entirely - he still plays plenty of ball, but it makes sense that he's changing a bit. As someone said, I guess he's reaching a maturity level.

 

It makes sense that it's less of an issue of dominance.

 

Thanks to you all.

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This posting reminded me of something. Piper is part of SAR dog team here and loves the two alpha males of the dog group, one is a big German Shepheard and the other is a Swedish Mountain dog of some kind (I can never remember the breed name). Anyways, she is submissive to them to a point, she kiss their mouths a lot before playing with them, but if they cross a line with her, she'll let them know about it.

 

Also, Babe was on TV the other night and I caught the tail end of it when Babe is talking politely to the sheep and Fly said "let me try" and as we all know because we have seen this movie, yelled at the sheep saying "ok now you're going to listen to me, get over to that pen" or something like that...I just started busting out laughing because sometimes I imaging Piper talking (no, I'm not taking any hallucinic drugs)...anyways, rambling here but I'll imagine her at times sounding like Fly...

 

So in answer to this thread, Piper is definitely submissive when need be but she can sure be bossy when it comes time too :rolleyes:

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Before this, he spent a lot of his time and energy "bossing" and "controlling" his "herd" of balls.

 

FWIW, I think you're reading WAY too much into the situation. But to answer your original question, dogs in general are only as "dominant" (your word, not mine) as you, the owner/handler/trainer, let them be.

 

-Laura

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Jazz only likes to dominate things that move. Everything else is safe. Oh, his master is safe, too. :rolleyes:

 

Jazz's pal (and dominator),

Kevin

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A working border collie can certainly tell the difference between a "herd" of ball and livestock.

 

Besides the overuse of the word dominance, I get tired of attributing all quirky behavior such as herding balls, etc. to herding instinct.

 

In fact the words "herding instinct" as used on these boards is generally an excuse for spoiled and bad behavior. Herding instinct in your border collie won't buy you a cup of coffee.

 

A dog's personality when not working livestock does not correlate to its performance when it is working livestock. An unsocialized or shy dog can be a powerful dog on livestock. An aggressive dog can be a wimp on livestock.

 

The amount of time that is spent on these boards talking about behavior problems sometimes boggles my mind. when the solution is so obvious.

 

Yes, I am stressed from the holidays but it seems like we read the same questions day after day on these boards.

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Oh yes, the holidays can be stressful.

 

I don't know what the heck herding instinct is. But Jazz came to us at day 41. On day 42, while out in the yard, he froze and crouched while staring at my wife, she moved left, Jazz leaned left, she moved right, he stepped right, and so on. I'd say it was kinda hard for him to be spoiled yet, having just left his mommy on day 38.

 

And no, Jazz's tendency to herd (dominate?, have fun?), doesn't get us coffee (or even green tea here in Japan), but it is "something" in my border collie I love and admire. It's controlled by me (his dominator), but when the wind blows even a paper bag across the park in the early morning hours, Jazz's ears perk up and he freezes, and, well--it is just too cool.

 

I too, have "no cutesy signature" (which I think is a cute signature), but I'm considering adding one..."lighten up and enjoy the boards".

 

If I do add that, I'll get rid of it after the holidays when we will all be a little less stressed!

 

Jazz's pal,

Kevin

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Terry,

 

Take a deep breath. I might have responded angrily myself. However, Lets not discourage people, ignorant or otherwise, from asking basic questions about bc's. We have a wide range of experience and perspective on this forum.

 

Don

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yeah, seriously...

 

granted people should glean posts to see if their problem has been talked about previously, but give us new owners a break. we aren't all experienced BC/dog owners such as yourself.

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Ironic how people whose dogs have never seriously been on stock think the displaced "herding" behavior is "cool", while people whose dogs do work stock don't allow that behavior except on stock....two completely different worlds.

 

-Laura

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There are at least two different bc worlds out there. And my dog's behaviors may seem displaced to those not in Jazz's and my world, for example. And that's just fine, right?

 

I do remember this being the General Border Collie Discussion area. And owners like me usually have no more to ask than general or "basic" questions. We're not here because we've got all the answers, but rather because we're in love with our dogs and want to ask "basic" questions and find some answers and occasionally get a good laugh or even cause a little laughter. :rolleyes:

 

Anyone want to guess where the quote below comes from?

 

Basic questions and answers about border collies, as well as sharing between border collie owners. Funny and inspirational stories are welcome, and no question is too basic.
Jazz's displaced pal,

Kevin

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INU,

 

It's at the beginning of the Border Collie Boards explaining what the "General Border Collie Discussion" is all about.

 

Hopefully we will all be in a better mood after the Holidays have past......

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The word "working" BC is often used on this board to mean a BC that herds stock. I would just like to say that just because my BC is not a "working" BC in the sense that he goes out and herds livestock, he is most definitely a "working" BC in the fact that he competes in agility and flyball. And when he is out there doing his thing he is definitely working! So there may be owners who aren't extremely familiar with the herding instinct and what exactly that means. Bailey was taught as a pup not to herd people and other moving objects. Not everyone that doesn't send their dog out to herd stock is an idiot. Nor does it mean we don't know anything about the breed.

 

Besides the overuse of the word dominance, I get tired of attributing all quirky behavior such as herding balls, etc. to herding instinct.
If you dropped 50 tennis balls on the ground Bailey would move them all from place to place. If you take one from his pile and move it he'll bring it back to the pile as soon as he discovers its somewhere else. What instinct would you attribute this too, other than herding? I'm not trying to be a smartass, I honestly am just curious because I would say that is a herding instinct. I have never seen a breed that wasn't a herding breed act in such a way. And I will agree, many "herding issues" are because the dog is spoiled and wasn't trained properly, but that isn't always the case.

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To Terry:

 

Quite honestly, I thought this was a discussion board. A place where we could discuss Border Collies. As someone else said, different people have different knowledge and experience.

 

If you are tired of anything that I bring up, I'd appreciate it if you simply go talk to someone else. Nobody said you had to reply to my post - least of all me.

 

I do not appreciate the condescending tone of either of your messages.

 

First of all, I never said that my dog had a behavior problem. I happen to be very interested in the dogs that live in my home and I enjoy learning more about them. I didn't come on here and say "how do I stop this?" I just wanted to know if this was a tendancy of the breed and analyze the behavior a bit. I find it extremely interesting - not a problem at all.

 

For you to assume that my dog has behavior problems because I asked a question is arrogant.

 

Furthermore, I don't believe you could prove to me that the way my Border Collie acts with balls is not herding related. Of course it isn't the same as livestock, but in any breed of dog a wide variety of stimulus can cause a dog to react by a certain instict.

 

I am sorry to hear that you are stressed, but I would suggest that you can decrease your stress level by simply refraining from entering discussions that you have had before and letting those of us who are interested in a topic discuss it.

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To BailysMom:

 

Just for fun I would love to drop 50 tennis balls in front of my Border Collie. It would probably be worth watching for hours!

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sapphire,

until you've been annointed by the sheep poo, you'll probably not understand what we're trying to tell you. there's nothing wrong with your pet BC playing with toys, just don't be fooled into thinking it's herding behavior. And if you're put off by Terry's "tone", you ain't seen nothing yet....LOL...this has been a VERY tame discussion.

 

-Laura

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Sapphire,

 

Unfortunately Laura has a point. Although I haven't been a member of this board that long, I have read some really nasty posts between some of the members. Don't let it bother you in the least.... just keep on asking your questions and we'll all learn something valuable.

 

Mia's mom, Gimmie Sue

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A dog's personality when not working livestock does not correlate to its performance when it is working livestock. An unsocialized or shy dog can be a powerful dog on livestock. An aggressive dog can be a wimp on livestock.
I agree that you were to harsh, but as for this statment I have to agree, happy is extremly shy, and VERY submissive, however when it comes to herding she has instict, she has never seen sheep before no, and she does not "herd" toys, I do have a whole bunch critters, though, and she can get my rabbit into her pen, in seconds, np problem whatsoever, if our naighbors little dog takes off happy has him back home in no time, and maxx is by no means a well behaved dog. then there is my dominant to the extremes border collie, she took over top dog spot beating out the "queen" shadow, before she was a year old, shadow was the first dog, and every single one of the newer dogs tried to beat her, they failed everytime. now happy can herd the critters without any problems when she is herding they KNOW who is boss, misty would make a horrable herding dog, she came straight off a farm and has several agribition stock dog winners in her lines, but as soon as misty is with another animal, my 4.5 pound rabbit is in charge of my 30 pound dog :eek:

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