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  #101  
Old 01-05-2013, 11:32 AM
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AllieMackie AllieMackie is offline
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On the subject of herding - IMHO, in the US at least, herding has become a "sport" (ie. herding trials) for a great many people and an actual means to a livelihood for very few. It is incredibly important to me to find a sheltie breeder with a dog who can move sheep, but the number of breeders who own their own sheep to test this is very slim and seems to be getting smaller all the time. I do think it's incredibly important to find a test outlet of some kind even if it's "just" a herding trial (I'm not saying instinct test, I'm talking further along) but we've talked quite a bit about the changing faces of breeds in modern times - for example, testing the gameness of dogs who were bred to fight - and I have no fancy that herding dogs are somehow exempt from that.
Would I prefer a breeder who has a farm and works the dogs on the sheep every day? Absolutely.
Would I turn up my nose at a breeder who lives in the middle of the city but has multiple dogs (of her own and dogs owned by other people) with herding titles and agility titles? Nope.

I would pass up a breeder who didn't have any dogs in her lines at ALL doing at least herding trials - there is a breeder who is technically on my short list because although she doesn't do herding herself (she does agility, flyball, and confo), several of her puppies go on to do so. Since the ability to trial sheep is there in her dogs, she is on my list. I would prefer the breeder to be proving the ability herself rather than having the puppy buyer proving it but, as Aleron said, I can understand from the perspective of how much time and money she is already putting into her dogs... it's not like she's sitting on her duff doing nothing but churning out dogs and the puppy buyers are the ones doing all the legwork to title pups.

Cliffs Notes, of course it would be ideal if Linds and Sara were working the dogs on a flippin' ranch, but in the world we live in now, I feel like there are other solutions out there as well.
I have to agree with this.

In the BC world, scouting for a working breeder isn't too difficult. However, it's hard to find a working breeder that will work with you on selling a dog to a sport or active companion home. At least when dealing with the ranchers. I can name 5 or 6 breeders off the top of my head that refused me because I was not a farm home. These are people who are highly respected members of the CBCA and highly regarded at trials. These breeders tend to send pups to one another (and other ranchers) instead of outward to sport/pet homes. It's a very inward process.

Finn's breeder, who many here know is also well-regarded in the herding world, trials heavily year-round and has a small flock of sheep at her country home for practice. She does not have a full ranch, just a small barn and flock of sheep for her dogs. Despite this, she is considered a working breeder because her dogs herd and don't do sports. Theoretically though, she trials all year and has only a "practice field" at home. How then, is she not considered a sport breeder? Many working BC breeders have the same setups as her as opposed to an actual ranch. Like her, they want to preserve the instincts and abilities that the breed they love has been bred for. It's a bit amusing really, because while yes, they're doing what they were bred for, it's still a sport, with few exceptions.

That said, I do agree with Lizmo that a herding instinct test is a bit of a joke TBH. Finn got his HCT in his second visit to our trainer at seven months. It's only figuring out if your dog has that Light Bulb, not the ins and outs of their herding style and how good or bad they are at the various aspects.

It's entirely up to you guys, of course, if you want to train your dogs in herding or not - it's not a sport for everyone, no sport is - but I think at least trialing them to a degree in herding would be a good move, both for proving your dogs and for showing yourselves as being invested in your breed's history (which we all know you are, I mean more to the public face.)
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  #102  
Old 01-05-2013, 11:34 AM
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I think even if it's just the two of you, starting something is better than hoping someone else starts something you can live with. I look at the doodle club website, they go on and on about health testing, but then their breeders listing it's OPTIONAL to do them! Do you really want something like that? It doesn't have to be a club with catty crap, it can be you two and 'like it or leave it' for most things. I'm part of a very small group, same thing, big odds against us and there's been some snarking but overall it's been really neat to see things work out and ideas come forward.

I agree with getting a standard and learning about conformation. With the goldens there are a whole line of obedience goldens out there, nice, flashy, hot dogs, but many with shoulder/elbow issues, surgeries to repair puppies and so on. The straight shoulder they like for the flashy heelwork apparently means they break down, many don't do agility with their dogs because of concerns and they are 'sport' goldens. So knowing conformation and getting a standard, much as you may not like it, will help direct things in the long run.

With my border collies, I hope to get them on stock, Ticket has been so not worried but interested to see what Kilt thinks of it. Not that I have time to do much but mucking around and having that information is important to me too. At the same time I can't see selling to any of the stock dog handlers that would do a lot of herding, simply because I don't want one of my dogs living in a kennel situation or chained, and that's the norm along with breeding with no clearances and often. I may consider sending a pup down the road for more training and maybe trialing, I'll see. Ticket's dad's owner did this and I'd be comfortable with him, but he's now in the US.

If not conformation, then putting some sort of other qualifications in place perhaps, like a herding test..... just ideas.

I'm in the same boat building a breeding program and contracts and such so feel free to bug me too.
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  #103  
Old 01-05-2013, 11:39 AM
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Also I think it's important to keep things in perspective. All breeds are constantly changing due to the people involved, needs, culture and ideas. In most breeds, there are lines that excel at some things but not others. I think it was mentioned that the work Koolies are needed for varies a great deal, so I suspect many breeders already have their own idea of what a great example of a Koolie is. Perhaps this person needs a dog who excels at working in tight spaces while another needs a dog who's better working sheep out in the open. Even if Koolies in the US are never bred for herding and many generations from now, US Koolies are only so-so in the herding department it isn't going to have a great impact on the breed as a whole. I doubt Australian ranchers are going to be bringing in US bred Koolies and I suspect the population there will remain largely working bred unless or until there is no need for them for work. In the US, the breed is more likely going to be known and proven for their ability as sport dogs than herding. If that would ruin the breed, there probably isn't a place for the breed in the US. I just don't see a ton of real working dog people suddenly developing a strong Koolie-want and spending the money to import dogs most in this country know little about to give them a try as real working dogs.

From a purist and idealist stand point, I totally understand the idea that you shouldn't be involved in breeding a working breed if you don't have a need for the work. From a practical standpoint though, there are so many breeds and dogs and so relatively little need for real work for these dogs to be proven in. And so many new, modern "jobs" for these dogs to excel at. If people love a breed, should they have to settle on something else because they don't have a "need" for that breed? Or keep them only as pets bought from working bred parents? Should these working dogs never be sold to sport homes for fear that sport people might like them and want them for purposes other than work? It's easy to be a purist from the sidelines but it's hard when you're involved. With my own breed, should my breeding dogs be able to herd? Of course they should! I know they have the instinct but beyond that, they've admittedly not been tested. What I do know though is that they are capable agility, obedience, lure coursing and trick dogs who have fun dabbling in flyball, scentwork or what ever else I try with them. I know they are versatile and for me, that sort of versatility is ideal and very in line with the character of the breed.
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  #104  
Old 01-05-2013, 12:21 PM
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I am not a breeder. I do not know much about titling, health testing and all that jazz, so my posts may mean nothing to you, but I'll say it anyway.

I feel you two are already doing great things by constantly learning about the breed. You CARE. You actually CARE about the dogs and the breed. You listen to what people tell you. You are already steps ahead of many breeders. That is a huge accomplishment, in my eyes. I don't care if your dogs herd sheep or compete in flyball, although I know people purchasing them probably will. You want to do as much as possible with the breed and that is admirable, but as you and others have stated, you can't do everything. People are always going to find something wrong with the way you do things. If herding isn't as important to you as...something else (my lack of knowledge is obvious here) then don't focus on it. People might complain about that.

I could very well be wrong, but I would think you aren't wanting to market towards ranchers. It seems that the rancher niche is pretty well filled. Training in herding (other than to prove that the dog has the ability to herd) might not be worth it.

(I would love for Gwen to get some experience herding, and even though I live in the south with plenty of livestock, farmers don't really want untrained, random dogs around their animals. Hard to blame them. So I can see how training herding can be difficult. Not to mention the amount of time it would take.)

Feel free to educate me (anyone, really) if I'm horribly wrong on any of this. I admit I don't know much, but I thought it might be interesting to know what a newbie thinks about all of this. I wish you both good luck. You have definitely piqued my interest in Koolies. I like (so far) where you're headed. (Still partial to your crazy black and white merle thing. I'm also curious as to how/if/in what ways they're similar to Kelpies.)
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  #105  
Old 01-05-2013, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Beanie View Post
I would pass up a breeder who didn't have any dogs in her lines at ALL doing at least herding trials - there is a breeder who is technically on my short list because although she doesn't do herding herself (she does agility, flyball, and confo), several of her puppies go on to do so. Since the ability to trial sheep is there in her dogs, she is on my list. I would prefer the breeder to be proving the ability herself rather than having the puppy buyer proving it but, as Aleron said, I can understand from the perspective of how much time and money she is already putting into her dogs... it's not like she's sitting on her duff doing nothing but churning out dogs and the puppy buyers are the ones doing all the legwork to title pups.

Sums up most of my thoughts, so I'll just quote you Beanie!

This line of topic does bring up questions in my mind, though. And I'm not pointing out anyone with these questions, just my thoughts from reading the past few posts. If you have a dog that was bred for herding abilities, then you go on to breed said dog, without ever *trying* these herding abilities out, what is your goal in breeding? It would have to be some other sport, right? Because if you say the dog being bred comes from working parents, but you don't put the time into shaping the natural ability that's there, isn't that a pretty big gamble on how the pups will turn out, working wise? I mean, the parents of said dog being bred could be stellar, but that dog could posses very little natural ability, and therefore pass it on to his/her pups. That's quite a gamble, if you ask me.


On the subject of having time/place to work, I don't think Sara or Linds have to go out and buy a farm tomorrow. Even working once a week, you still learn alot out your dog and their abilities. And you don't have to train like you're training to trial. I know the places I have worked before my trainers are always giving advice about how different things apply to daily work. Someone mentioned when you don't own stock, it takes the dog time to settle down when they first arrive for each lesson. IMO and IME, that's just a matter of training and making the dog feel at ease when in that situation. The more the dog learns, the more confident he/she will become.

Another option is always sending the dog off to training for a month or two. The dog works daily, and gets a solid foundation from an experienced handler.
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  #106  
Old 01-05-2013, 12:51 PM
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What are you two looking for the breed to look like? I love how your three look alike.
I know ya said the lines will be close so they should all look alike. But is this look the look
You are going for? Color aside , I mean head piece and there structure look very simimiar.
Curious is all, because I like a good looking dog. Lol
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  #107  
Old 01-05-2013, 01:07 PM
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This line of topic does bring up questions in my mind, though. And I'm not pointing out anyone with these questions, just my thoughts from reading the past few posts. If you have a dog that was bred for herding abilities, then you go on to breed said dog, without ever *trying* these herding abilities out, what is your goal in breeding? It would have to be some other sport, right? Because if you say the dog being bred comes from working parents, but you don't put the time into shaping the natural ability that's there, isn't that a pretty big gamble on how the pups will turn out, working wise? I mean, the parents of said dog being bred could be stellar, but that dog could posses very little natural ability, and therefore pass it on to his/her pups. That's quite a gamble, if you ask me.
IMO yes and no. The truth is that breeding is not as simple as saying "this dog has it and therefore the pups will have it" or "this dog doesn't have it therefore the pups won't have it either." Breeding is always a gamble. It's the job of a breeder to stack the deck as much as possible, find dogs who compliment where another dog is weak, so on and so forth - but as much as we try to play God, we are not, and things still happen. And of course where the breeder chooses to stack the deck will depend on their breed issues and their individual breeding program.
I would not necessarily say breeding a healthy dog of lineage from working dogs who excels in sports and yet has never been tested is a high gamble of not being able to pass on instinct. Hypothetically, if I had two bitches who were equally great matches for Payton except one plays on her hobby farm every day, has her HSAs, et cetera et cetera, and the other has never even seen sheep, would I pick the farm dog? Oh yes. But my pool to fish from is larger.
If we replace "proven herding ability" with "health testing" that flips the situation around to the other issue being dealt with in koolies here. Hypothetically again, let's say there are two potential male mates for Zing, one being Zip and the other being a ranch dog back from AU. For our hypothetical let's say Zip has been in a pen with sheep and turned on but that's the only measurement of his ability anybody has ever seen. However he's a stellar sport dog and displays a lot of drive in various other ways, his health tests have all come back the best possible results, and of course he's really really ridiculously good looking. Our ranch dog in AU is identical in all ways (though he has never seen an agility course or played any other sport), is an equally good match from a structural standpoint, tears it up on the ranch, BUT he has no health testing whatsoever and the breeder doesn't want to bother with the health testing, so it's take it or leave it.
You are making a gamble either way.
So which dog do you pick?
And even though you may have one answer, other people might have the opposite. And is either answer really wrong? Not IMO. It's simply a matter of different goals and stacking the deck in a different location.


I think that's what Sara and Linds are looking at here. How do they stack the deck appropriately, WHERE are they stacking the deck? Their breeding program (if you can even call it that yet!) is in it's infant stages so these are all things they are still discovering and deciding. Not much different than what many breeders go through. Koolies have their own unique challenges and many other breeds do as well. Some breeds in the US are so afflicted with health problems people choose to breed the LEAST afflicted dogs possible because finding an entirely unafflicted dog is ridiculously hard if not impossible... we should all be celebrating there is no such overwhelming mountain to climb in koolies, because otherwise this story would just make me sad instead of excited to look at the cute photo of Zip smiling haha.
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  #108  
Old 01-05-2013, 01:07 PM
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I fully plan to get them both exposed to stock, have someone help me work them or work them themselves enough times to get a good idea of their ability, type of working, clear headedness etc
I'm just quoting myself again to reiterate I really wasn't talking about just getting a herding instinct test done. I would like it to be lessons, more exposure and enough to get a real feel. Believe me, I know a HCT is pretty much nothing in the sense of any kind of working ability.

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Originally Posted by AllieMackie View Post
It's a bit amusing really, because while yes, they're doing what they were bred for, it's still a sport, with few exceptions.
This is what gets me. I don't consider it anything but sport really and a sport Koolies were NOT bred for. I've heard time and time again from people in Australia that a lot of Koolies just don't rock the stock dog trial world.

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Originally Posted by Lizmo View Post
On the subject of having time/place to work, I don't think Sara or Linds have to go out and buy a farm tomorrow. Even working once a week, you still learn alot out your dog and their abilities. And you don't have to train like you're training to trial. I know the places I have worked before my trainers are always giving advice about how different things apply to daily work. Someone mentioned when you don't own stock, it takes the dog time to settle down when they first arrive for each lesson. IMO and IME, that's just a matter of training and making the dog feel at ease when in that situation. The more the dog learns, the more confident he/she will become.

Another option is always sending the dog off to training for a month or two. The dog works daily, and gets a solid foundation from an experienced handler.
Once a week would be a dream, one that just isn't going to happen at this time unless things change drastically. I've yet to be able to find someone I trust who is willing to work with a dog that not only isn't a Border Collie but also a breed they don't know anything about. A clinic once or twice a year at a place a few hours away is so far been the best I've found. I just don't have the time or money to dedicate what it takes for it. And I'm not willing to send my dogs off to be trained.

Believe me, I get where you are coming from and I understand it completely. But I'm also trying to be realistic about what I will be able to do while still having a life, job and training in other sports. Maybe if I'm lucky one day I'll live closer to a place to train or live on my dream ranch with my sporter working Koolies.

And maybe one day we'll be in a position to import a breeding pair who have proven themselves on stock already in Australia.

A lot to be fleshed out and I'm in my head a lot trying to figure out what to do.

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Originally Posted by Airn View Post
I feel you two are already doing great things by constantly learning about the breed. You CARE. You actually CARE about the dogs and the breed. You listen to what people tell you. You are already steps ahead of many breeders. That is a huge accomplishment, in my eyes. I don't care if your dogs herd sheep or compete in flyball, although I know people purchasing them probably will. You want to do as much as possible with the breed and that is admirable, but as you and others have stated, you can't do everything. People are always going to find something wrong with the way you do things. If herding isn't as important to you as...something else (my lack of knowledge is obvious here) then don't focus on it. People might complain about that.

I could very well be wrong, but I would think you aren't wanting to market towards ranchers. It seems that the rancher niche is pretty well filled. Training in herding (other than to prove that the dog has the ability to herd) might not be worth it.
Thank you a ton! I'm glad you see it that way!

And yes, you are pretty spot on in all that you said about the herding, in my opinion.

ETA: Nice post Beanie and you really did capture the inner struggle perfectly!

I love you guys on Chaz, and I love that this thread has been so civil with great points to think about being brought up!
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  #109  
Old 01-05-2013, 01:16 PM
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Is there such a thing in herding breeds as dogs that are both successful herding trial dogs and successful at "real life" ranch type work, does it tend to be one or the other?
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  #110  
Old 01-05-2013, 01:31 PM
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Is there such a thing in herding breeds as dogs that are both successful herding trial dogs and successful at "real life" ranch type work, does it tend to be one or the other?
In the BC world, it can very much be both. A good number of everyday ranchers also trial heavily and title.
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