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Originally posted by MaggieDog:

there might be a way to slow the division of the breed into "Barbie" and normal border collies....

The argument is not about specific looks and it wouldn't slow anything. People are still breeding to the standard of a conformation judge rather than to the standard of herding ability. That's what the argument is about.

 

Just my opinion.

 

PR

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"[T]here might be a way to slow the division of the breed into "Barbie" and normal border collies - obviously not what we all would like, but still a small blessing."

 

Why do you think slowing the split is a blessing in the first place?

 

I prefer a definitive split and hope the AKC stud book closes on schedule because a split makes it less likely that people who need border collies for work (that's for work on livestock) will be less likely to be fooled by the AKC union label and claims made by conformation breeders that their dogs are useful based on AKC titles.

 

Penny

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How about changing the name to something like "working collie" or "working border collie"?

 

The fight with the AKC to be the breed club was lost, so go on from that.

There is room for all in this world.

 

It seems that the AKC conformation people are getting more informed and so maybe they will do more for the breeds in their care, as far as moderating them.

The border collie is not the only breed that has detractors as how the conformation people go about it.

 

I would spend all I had on information, getting the word out.

 

By the way, to breed for any one trait, even herding and not permitting occasional crosses is playing russian roulette by narrowing more and more the gene pool in that breed.

Any traits taken to extremes may end up being disfunctional.

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"By the way, to breed for any one trait, even herding and not permitting occasional crosses is playing russian roulette by narrowing more and more the gene pool in that breed.

Any traits taken to extremes may end up being disfunctional."

 

Crosses with what? Doesn't bother me, though. Some people swear by crossbred working dogs.

 

However, it is incorrect to conceive of skill in working livestock as one trait when in reality working ability is a complex group of traits. For example, working ability includes but is not limited to various degrees of being a good listener, power, natural tendency in size of flanks, whether dog is hard or soft, balance, and amount of eye.

 

The border collie gene pool in this country (I don't know about elsewhere) is fairly broad-based although Wiston Cap somewhere is hard to avoid. I think it was Janet Larsen who started the misconception that all modern border collies trace back to a dog called Old Hemp. This is not true. Old Hemp was simply the first dog in the ISDS stud book.

 

Penny

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MaggieDog, you didn't upset me or anybody else. I'm glad you posted your point of view, and I hope I don't sound upset or hostile in explaining why my point of view is different.

 

>

 

We fought against AKC recognition to avoid a split in the breed. I wish we could have succeeded. But now that AKC recognition has occurred, there MUST be a split in the breed if the working border collie is to be preserved. I agree with Penny -- to save the working border collie, it must be split off from "border collies" bred to an appearance standard (or any standard other than working ability, for that matter), no matter what that appearance standard is. The more definitive that split can be made, the better for us. Therefore, the Barbie look -- which I think will inevitably become the de facto AKC breed standard no matter how the actual AKC breed standard is written, for reasons well explained by Melanie earlier in this thread -- is fine with me. It is an outward sign of an inner truth; it helps to differentiate dogs bred for show from dogs bred for work.

 

>

 

I agree, Cholla. We didn't succeed in preventing the AKC from recognizing the border collie. So now the best we can do is try to preserve the traditional working-bred border collie outside of the AKC. That will inevitably result in a split in the breed, since AKC will continue to call their dogs border collies. They want the name, they don't care about the essence.

 

>

 

I don't know what you mean by "occasional crosses." Breeding for herding ability (which as Penny points out is not a single trait but a complex balance of traits) has rarely been done by the kind of line-breeding/inbreeding that is used to fix physical traits. It's that kind of close breeding that narrows the gene pool and brings undesirable recessive traits together, causing their expression in unhealthy dogs. Border Collies have much more diversity in their gene pool than most show breeds, and there's no reason why that shouldn't continue to be so in the non-AKC breed.

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Yes, herding is not a single trait but some people have always tried to tighten their chances of getting what was necessary by breeding close if not inbreeding.

 

That was discussed here several years ago, mentioning how so many wanted to bred to the ones doing well and some trying to do so very close and I still see it today in the local herding dogs.

 

There are others here that know much more about genetics than I do but anyone breeding any animals knows the power and disadvantages of close breeding.

That is how breeds came to be and it is but one more tool.

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We can't turn back time to before AKC recognition, unfortunately.

 

No, but that doesn't mean we have to just roll over and die, either.

 

I posted so that you all might see that, if there must be people out there who insist on breeding for looks and not ability, there might be a way to slow the division of the breed into "Barbie" and normal border collies - obviously not what we all would like, but still a small blessing.

 

Judges putting up "more lithe" or "moderate" dogs will do nothing to slow this division. The problem here is that you've bought into the fallacy that one can judge the worth of a Border Collie by how it looks. There is nothing inherently better about a smooth-coated, slinky, prick-eared dog or inherently worse about a rough-coated, heavily-boned dog with perfectly tipped ears, although different handlers have their personal preferences. That smooth-coated slinky dog might still be a totally worthless herding dog, while the hairy handsome one might be dynamite on sheep.

 

I do think there comes a point in many conformation breeds that the preferred breed ring fashion becomes incompatible with function, and maybe this is the case with the hard-core Barbie Collies already. But the truth is that breeding for functional looks -- selecting for "more lithe" or "moderate" dogs -- is not the same thing as actually breeding for function, and therefore, will do nothing to remedy the situation. Barbie Collies aren't useless on sheep because they're square and fluffy. They're useless on sheep because they have no inherent skills for working sheep. This is a by-product of selection for squareness and fluffiness, but it's not because squareness and fluffiness is necessarily incompatible with working ability.

 

I highly doubt that you could take Barbie Collie lines and create a functional dog just by selecting the more "moderate" dogs for breeding.

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"Yes, herding is not a single trait but some people have always tried to tighten their chances of getting what was necessary by breeding close if not inbreeding."

 

The kind of close linebreeding that goes on in the show dog world is unheard of in breeders of livestock working border collies.

 

Do you have any specific examples? I don't know of any.

 

Penny

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Ok, you've clarified something for me. I didn't know that a split was desirable, but now that I know why it is, it makes a lot of sense. I am inclined to agree with those who say that a split is good, and that no matter what happens in the breed ring, it's not good.

 

BTW, I don't think that you can judge a dog by its looks - I didn't mean to come off like that - I know the only way to judge ability is to see the dog work.

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There are others here that know much more about genetics than I do but anyone breeding any animals knows the power and disadvantages of close breeding.

That is how breeds came to be and it is but one more tool. >>>Cholla

 

Hi,

 

Jumping in..

Eileen, Penny & Melanie have already made most of the points I would have- and just wanted to concur that the amount of "close" breeding is really minimal- especially compared to show breeding. Of my four dogs- all exclusively bred for the single (ha!) trait of "herding ability", only one has a close (if my memory is correct it was a half brother/sister) breeding , and even that was fourth generation. Any relatives they share-except for my mother/daughter pair- are extremely distant- yet they all have herding ability with varying talent. Compare that to a friend of mine that breeds show dogs (not Border Collies) who has had multiple close breedings and its exceptional when she breeds out- breeding close is what she usually does. I do know of a few people breeding cow dogs- usually Kelpies that breed close and cull hard- but they are the exception by far in the working world (in my experience).

J. Green

[email protected]

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Did anyone watch that special on Dogs on Nova a couple of weeks ago. There was a papillon breeder who explained, in the few minutes she had on the program, what she looks for in her breed and how she strives to achieve it---i.e., locking in the "type" that she wants. Her dogs were closely bred and she was getting the results she wanted. The dog she had on her lap, she explained her intentions to breed back to the grandsire & why. They appeared to be healthy & sound, but could they also be little genetic time bombs? I don't know. The breeder talked that talk because for years, she's walked that walk.

 

This interview, for those who aren't sure what judges look for in a "Westminster" dog, summed it up. She explained what she was breeding for, because (unsaid) that would be what judges look for, what wins in the show ring. How does she know? She a long time AKC conformation judge. In addition to many other "recognized" breeds which she is licensed to judge, she is also a border collie judge.

 

That about sums it up too.

 

Vicki

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I'm curious about something: For you serious working dog folks - those of you that depend on your dogs for your livelyhood, etc and those of you that seriously work your dogs as a "hobby" - do you think that anyone in your "circle" would do any sort of breeding with a dog that couldn't work?

 

I would think the answer would be no. But correct me if I'm wrong.

 

So, assuming the answer is "no" then doesn't it seem to reason that the AKC folks will continue to prance around "Ch. Fuzzles Freee Flying CD, CDX, CGC, UD" and breed little "Fuzzles" and those dogs will go to AKC homes that don't have a clue. And the "Kip, Fly, Jake and Old Hemps" of the true herding world will continue to go to true working homes? And maybe, occasionally there will be a pup that doesn't work stock well, that will go to a "sport/pet" home that may or not get spayed. And from there you might get a working line introduced into the AKC line.

 

But I doubt that any working dog breeder would take an AKC dog that can't work, or only works a little, and breed it into their lines. IF they were a true working dog breeder that bred for work.

 

Just as you would never see a working dog in the AKC conformation ring, you won't see an AKC conformation dog working for it's living. So, doesn't this seperation already exist in a quiet sort of way?

 

Please don't flame me for this - I disagree with what the AKC is doing as well as anyone does. But I think that there is - already - 2 different breeds out there. The AKC breed and the working breed. We KNOW it. THEY know it. Does naming the breed officially something else make it any better? *I* think so. But there *IS* already a split in the breed world. So does it really matter?

 

Just curious on your thoughts on this. And I think this stands for all "working" breeds. This may be a poor example but that greyhound wouldn't make it 10 feet at the track. So, you are not going to find "AKC confirmation" lines in those "true" grey hounds. But their names haven't changed. Same goes for other "true" working dogs. Not just the folks that "sort of" work their dogs.

 

Denise

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Just as you would never see a working dog in the AKC conformation ring, you won't see an AKC conformation dog working for it's living. So, doesn't this seperation already exist in a quiet sort of way? >>

 

No knowledgeable working dog breeder would breed his bitch to an AKC show dog, but there are certainly working dog people who would accept a stud fee from the owner of an AKC bitch that can't work (I'm sorry it's true, but I can't pretend it isn't), and there are owners of AKC bitches who would (and do) take their bitch to a working stud, and represent the pups as working-bred.

 

However, the point you're making -- that there has been a split in the breed, and now there are in effect two different breeds -- is certainly true. It would be less confusing if the two breeds didn't have the same name, as well as blurred edges. I think the AKC should call their dog something different, since it's their dog which is now being bred to a different standard, but of course they won't.

 

>

 

Oh yes, I think it does. Farmers and ranchers who are knowledgeable about working border collies would know better than to buy the AKC variety, but not all farmers and ranchers ARE knowledgeable. At any given time, there are those who are deciding to give a working dog a try, having heard how useful they can be. If they are misled into thinking an AKC border collie is a real border collie, and end up stuck with a dog who is useless on stock, they are burned -- and once burned, twice shy.

 

>

 

Actually, greyhounds are the best example you could have chosen, in that their situation is the most like the border collie as it has been up to now. A very tiny percentage of greyhounds registered each year are registered with the AKC (less than 200, I think); the rest (99%?) are registered with the National Greyhound Association (the racing registry). When the general public thinks of a greyhound, they do not generally think of a show dog; they think of a racing dog. Very rarely do people get pet greyhounds from show breeders; they get a rescued racing greyhound. Nobody would be dumb enough to go to the AKC for a greyhound to race, and very rarely does a show greyhound breeder breed to a racing greyhound. This is probably the best we could hope for for the border collie in the future. But the odds are against our being so lucky; in every other AKC breed I can think of, the "working" branch of the breed is no more than a withered twig; while keeping the same name, it is totally marginalized in public consciousness and barely able to hold its own. I've been told by AKC folks that in many places hunters come to AKC shows as a last resort to find a hunting dog, because they've tried and failed to find a real one.

 

The "working" greyhound has actually been saved by its unpopularity, I think. It doesn't occur to many people to want a greyhound for a pet. The same can't be said of the border collie.

 

**Edit: This is another case where a distinction probably should be drawn between the breed and the individual dogs. When I said the best that could be hoped for for the border collie was the greyhound situation, I was of course referring to preservation of the breed. Although I don't know much about the greyhound racing industry, I have a feeling that when it comes to the life and happiness of individual dogs, the working border collie is far better off than the working greyhound, and that is likely to continue for as long as border collies are useful working dogs.

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Thanks for making the distinction Eileen. Unlike the Border Collie who is a working breed, I can't help but consider the "working greyhound" more akin to a slave.

 

I won't claim to be an expert on greyhound racing either, but I've had the distinction of meeting more than a few who probably would have fared much better in a show ring.

 

Maria

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Since the subject of greyhounds has been brought up a couple of times here, I wanted to post some pictures of a working greyhound. This is Jasper, an ex-racer belonging to Mark and Renee Billadeau:

 

4e4dd47c8b15ec262b7500710b7afee8.jpg

 

1de077f2f866a429dcac130567e2de82.jpg

 

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Notice the amount of muscling Jasper has compared to the bench dog shown on the previous page. To make the comparison easier I have reposted that dog here:

 

HM86131803.jpg

 

I met Mark and Jasper when I first started trialling several years ago, so I know Jasper has been retired at least that long, and yet he is still quite bulky--thighs like a speed skater. I can vouch that this physique is typical, having known a number of ex-racing greyhounds, including my mom's.

 

I won't comment on the life of a racing greyhound because I don't really know. Apparently they live reasonably well if they are consistent winners, for what it's worth. There are number of rescue groups devoted to finding homes for retired racers and they do an admirable job of placing these dogs. And believe it or not, they make good pets--they are personable and very quiet in the house. But as Eileen said, most people don't even know they exist, which has been their "saving grace" as a working breed.

 

Mark can provide the details about Jasper.

 

Maria,

Not trying to start a fight or anything, but when you start making such comparisons, they can easily be transferred to other animals in other situations, not to mention the fact that it diminishes the plight of the people who were (and are) actually slaves. Racing greyhounds aren't the only animals exploited by humans. They, racehorses, and yes, even some working border collies, among other creatures, may be kept in conditions we would consider deplorable, but I wouldn't consider them akin to slaves even so. Just my opinion of course.

 

J.

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Julie,

 

thanks for posting the pictures. Let me restate that Jasper has lost muscle mass since he came to us (about 4 years ago). He also would be laughed out of the show ring because of his ears.

 

The Greyhound Club of America listing of the AKC Breed Standard:

 

"Ears ? Small and fine in texture, thrown back and folded, except when excited, when they are semi-pricked."

 

Mark

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You're welcome Mark. I think that my mom's greyhound Sneaker also had ears that stood straight up when she was interested in something; otherwise they folded back like they're "supposed" to.

 

J.

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Everyone truly is entitled to their opinion and for some the word "slave" may be too much or push a button which I didn't mean for it to push, but the bottom line is that the treatment of some of these animals (and of many others) is far beyond deplorable. In some cases, these dogs are brought to life, worked, and then put to death without much else in between. I have friends in Europe who brought home a rescued racing greyhound, the dog had never seen anything beyond the race track or his kennel, was afraid to step on grass, didn't know stairs, and seemed amazed at every kindness bestowed upon him. And he was one of the lucky ones.....

 

So, I can't personally make the comparison between working border collies and working greyhounds, it's beyond apples and oranges when it comes to the quality of their lives.

 

Maria

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Originally posted by Kyrasmom:

but the bottom line is that the treatment of some of these animals (and of many others) is far beyond deplorable. In some cases, these dogs are brought to life, worked, and then put to death without much else in between. I have friends in Europe who brought home a rescued racing greyhound, the dog had never seen anything beyond the race track or his kennel, was afraid to step on grass, didn't know stairs, and seemed amazed at every kindness bestowed upon him. And he was one of the lucky ones.....

Maria

Maria,

I won't drag this out beyond this, my final comment, but the first line I quoted above could certainly apply to many, many animals beyond racing greyhounds. The meat industry comes to mind for one. Pupy mills for another. As I understand it, racing greyhounds do get out of their cages other than for the track, but I imagine it's not much different for them than for the average racehorse or any other similar animal being used the same way. What do you think happens with all those horses who aren't Secretariats or Ruffians? And like any animal who has spent a life in a kennel, greyhounds certainly don't have all the regular socialization experiences of the average pet dog, but the rescue groups do point out that they are sociable with humans and with other dogs, so they must not all be unsocialized freaks. And their lives are probably better than, say, the greyhounds kept for research or in teaching hospitals or, for that matter, all the dogs used as breeders in puppy mills, so it's all relative, and that's all I was trying to say. I am quite sure there are working border collies out there who live extremely crappy lives too, but it's more difficult to find those individuals than it is to point a finger at an entire industry. And I'm not defending the greyhound racing industry, but as long as there is a demand for the races, that demand will be filled, just as the feedlots/slaughter houses, research animals, and puppy mills also fulfill a demand. I guess I just don't see the greyhound racing industry as one of the worst offenders, offensive as they may be.

 

J.

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Julie,

 

And I'm not being argumentative because I agree with much of what you've said above. For every horror, there is certainly something more horrific but my reply was limited to greyhounds as that was the "topic" at hand from the last post. I've got opinions on most everything you've mentioned and then some.

 

We can go from animal abuse to people abuse and on and on, I suppose the real bottom line is that people have a grand capacity for cruelty.

 

Anyway, should anyone want to read up on the plight of the greyhound, here is a link.

 

Greyhound.org

 

Disclaimer: I'm sure there are some racing dogs that are treated better than others, some breeders that are better than others....but some are not.

 

Maria

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Mark - But... but... I LOVE Jasper's ears. Who would laugh at him?

 

In no way a contradiction, just a general comment about greyhounds in teaching hospitals in my experience - obviously I can't speak for other places, but at CSU they were kept as blood donors, and were not only walked (and allowed to free-run when possible) several times a day, but there was also a proactive adoption program - students could adopt or sponsor dogs (at the time I was there, so far as I know all of the donor dogs had either adoptive homes or sponsors - there was one time when one dog didn't, for a while, but the women in charge of the greyhound program went "door to door" amongst the students and staff in order to remedy that.) Sponsors were allowed to check "their" hound(s) out of the hospital and take them home for a day or a weekend or longer, as well as taking them outside to play any time their schedules permitted. Adopters took the dog home to live with them, and though the dogs had to come in on a schedule to give blood (so long as they were healthy), the University paid for their food and medical expenses while the student was enrolled. On graduation, the dog went with the student wherever they moved after school, and another dog was rotated in from the track to be a blood donor. Any dog that developed health issues was of course retired from the blood donor program, but allowed to stay in his adoptive home. If he was a sponsored dog without an adoptive home, they kept him until they COULD find him an adoptive home.

 

I'm sure the sponsored dogs didn't have as much fun as the adopted ones - but one of my close friends at school sponsored one and she liked to check him out of the hospital (sometimes she'd check out two) and go up to Dixon Reservoir with a gang of other students and dogs. At the time it was an area where it was acceptable to let the dogs off leash (though Windam informs me it is no longer, alas) and we'd turn them loose and let them fly. It's a shallow bowl of a valley in between two saddle ridges and the greyhounds would soar around the edges of the bowl, racing each other for the sheer joy of it. That was something to see. The other dogs just all stared and waited - clearly they knew they were outclassed in the running department. By the time the greyhounds made their circuit - which didn't take very long - they'd be ready to settle into a nice easy walk-and-jog with us and the rest of the dogs. Granted it's not the ideal living situation - and you can't ask the dogs if they mind giving blood - but I'm reasonably sure it was better than track living. I might be wrong, but all the racing greyhounds I've ever known have been surpassingly sweet of temper, and could it be explained to them that they were giving blood to save the lives of other dogs, I seriously doubt any of them would mind. And I'd also bet most of them would consider donating blood on a schedule was a fair trade for getting a forever home - even if it WAS with a vet! (My dogs sometimes hate living with a vet - I'm all the time doing phyicals on them, looking in their ears and between their toes and checking their teeth. What's WRONG with me, anyway? Pervert.)

 

Anyway, I don't know if all teaching hospitals make the same effort to provide a decent quality of life for their blood donors, and on the fairness scale, I will say that unfortunately the donors were all male - being larger, they could donate more blood - so by and large only a few females got adopted, through other channels. But at least in my expereince there is an effort to make their lives as happy and fulfilling and comfortable as possible.

 

Anyway, I'm going to bed (on call again, 1 hour of sleep last night, 4 hours the night before) and I'm not entirely sure this makes any coherent sense because that tickle I feel is surely my brains leaking out my ears and down my neck. I have 5 hours to get them to stay IN there so I can use them again...

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