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Old 04-25-2008, 02:42 AM
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mrose_s mrose_s is offline
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Default Breeding for Performance Sports

I've seen this raised a few times, and I've been thinking about it a lot. It's more just a post of my thoughts a queries, not a preach or a lecture because I don't enough about it but I thought it might be an interesting discussion.

Firstly, i was thinking about horses. A lot of breeding for horses is for performance horses. I know dogs probably differ but thats where my thoughts begun, breeding performance horses.

I totally undersand wanting to keep the lines in breeds that reflect their original purpose (ie: herding BC's) but do wonder if therecould be a third ethical breeding pathway (the other 2 being conformation and work/original purpose)

As performance sports gain popularity in society, would it make more sense to have specific performace lines. Dog's with speed, agility, willingness to learn, wanting to work in close with their handler, with an off switch, etc. In other word "instincts" that would help.

I woudl say no, this is not a good idea, except then it comes back to conformation comps. Those dogs are bred forlooks, as opposed to working ability. Many working breeds in the show ring don't reflect what a good worker would be imagined to look like and may have little to no working instinct left.

Like I said, not an argument. Thought it could be an interesting discussion.
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Old 04-25-2008, 02:55 AM
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If you don't mind me expanding on this a bit I was actually wondering what everyone also thought of crossbreeding specifically for sport purposes. Like flyball breeders who cross border collies with JRT's. If their being a bred for a specific purpose does that make them better then the usual designer breeds?
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Old 04-25-2008, 06:03 AM
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I don't see anything wrong with breeding for performance sports, as long as it's done responsibly and for the full package. I'd rather see dogs bred for a purpose than just bred for the conformation ring.
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Old 04-25-2008, 06:29 AM
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The way I see it, both venues have a purpose.

I personally sway towards to breeding for performance. A well bred comformation dog may be lovely to look at, but if it cannot perform the task for what it was orginally intended, what is the point? we are seeing more and more hunting/retrieving/HPR breeds that have NO natural desire to hunt, point or retrieve. Herding dogs that have no desire to herd. Breeds which should be bold, confident and fearless riddled with weak nerves. Breeding for conformation should be about producing the all-round dog, but more often than not breeders who breed solely for conformation neglect the perfomance aspect. I know SOME breeders are striving to produce dual purpose dogs but they are from I have seen few and far between, which is a shame.

In fairness, there are also performance breeders who are producing dogs that are too "hot" to handle. Dogs that resemble nothing their breed and are just working machines. Then when (or if) those dogs get sold to pet homes, their owners cannot handle them and the shelters start filling up.

So it is a no win situation. I guess the ideal is a dog that can do both. But as I said, there are not many breeders competing with serious sucess in both venues. Enough to make a positive, large-scale impact on their breed, anyway.

It is hard to make up that middle ground. Breed a comformation dog to a perfomance dog of the same breed and you are going to end up with a dog that doesn't have enough of the qualities (substance, bone, coat) needed for the ring, and that doesn't have quite enough drive and desire to excell at perfomance. Again, it is difficult, and I honestly don't think we will ever see much middle ground.
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Old 04-25-2008, 06:46 AM
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Why can't we have both? To me performance will always be more important than conformation. But from what I understand, it is not possible in Europe to win a conformation title unless the dog has already won some kind of performance title. Someone who knows the details might be able to elaborate better and I would be interested in learning more about how this works.
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Old 04-25-2008, 07:34 AM
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IMO, breeding for obedience or agility or flyball is no different from breeding for the "original purpose" of the breed.

It varies from one breed to the next, but in corgis a dog who has herding instinct and is athletic enough for agility and is has the trainability for obedience often makes for one very nice sport/working dog.

So I think it comes down more to selecting a dog on the buyer end as well as the breeder selecting a dog for the buyer rather than isolating each sport into a line of its own. Example ~ if I'm looking for a dog specifically for agility, I'm going to look for agility titles in the lines.

If a breeder wants to market to one sport over another, they should be out there titling in that sport, but just because that's where the breeder marketed and titled doesn't mean that's the only sport those dogs can do.

Also, the ideal would be to have the working qualities and the conformation (after all, if the dog isn't structurally correct, his ability to work will be compromised).

There certainly can be pet quality dogs out of working lines as well (lower drive, lower energy).
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Old 04-25-2008, 07:47 AM
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I agree with CorgiPower. I breed for both. Conformation/performance/herding instinct. In *my* opinion, the ACD that is sound and solid enough to work all day should finish in the conformation ring, and the conformation dog who can finish in the conformation ring will have the body to work all day. A good majority of ACD breeders still do both. I personally don't have access to livestock or a good trainer, but my dogs have been evaluated be other breeders/trainers/judges who do.

My dogs both did the HIC at nationals in 2006 and while I realize that's not a testament to true working ability, or really anything of the sort, there were dogs there who didn't pass. My girls are both biddable enough to do agility, obedience, rally and that also plays into the want to please people part. One day, when I save up enough money, I will make the 5 hour trip to the herding trainer and really learn how to do this, I just refuse to send my dog out with a trainer/handler because I love trialing with my dogs.

I'm a very firm believer in the all around dog, and conformation is part of that. You can go to the pound and rescue a dog thats a great herding/farm dog, but that doesn't make it an ACD.
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Old 04-25-2008, 07:50 AM
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I think wise breeders insist on both.

A dog who looks like it should who can also perform.

When breeders begin to select for one thing, such as performance (or conformation), then large splits can happen between working dogs and show dogs. (Labrador Retrievers or Border Collies might be good examples of this)

JMO as always.

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Old 04-25-2008, 08:01 AM
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Also, German Shepherds have been split down the middle as well. And then coming off THAT split is the White Shepherd. So, yah.

Personally, I'd prefer a solid dog that can do a hard days work, every day, to a dog that would be a stunner in the ring. In the breeds that I know, and am familiar with, that doesn't happen. It's unfortunate, but its the truth. If all breeders had to make sure their dogs that went into the ring could still work, it might be different.

Unfortunately, we would then have some tests, like the SV rated GSDs in Europe, that are scraping by with the minimum. There is even a difference in a show European/German line and a working line over there. The tests for those dogs are easier. If you were to put the ones who are getting the higher SV ratings into the real competitions, I highly doubt the majority of them would make it.

The SV dogs have to pass a test for their litters to get papers, but the working dogs do not have to rate highly in the ring to be bred. Of course, it goes without saying that their hips/elbows etc have to be acceptable as well. But, the show ring doesn't always play a factor in that.

Sorry, I'm rambling.
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Old 04-25-2008, 08:20 AM
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I totally disagree with breeding for sport, it serves only, at least in the world of bc's, to produce dogs that are neurotic, hyper, have no ability to settle, and more often than not end up in rescue because the family that bought the pup in the first place can't handle the dog and turns it over to rescue...which is exactly what happend to my pup Whim at 10 wks of age! Although he is not neurotic, he is very high drive, and can settle in the house only because I've taught him how to.

There are without a doubt some very very nice agility bc's out there, and I know a few very experienced handlers that have gone to sport breeders for their next pup and ended up with temperment problems out the whazzzoo, not that it cant happen from a working breeding but is in my opinion less likely. Working breeders breed because they either need or want another working/trial dog. Sport breeders not so much, where as most working bred pups end up in either working or sport homes with the rarer pet home, the sport breed is more likely to end up in a sport or an unsuspecting pet home. Fortunately at least here in the Mid Atlantic area agility people are turning more and more to the working breeder for their dogs.

Let's consider the Border Jack - originally bred to be a height dog with speed for flyball ---EEEEKKKKK--Cute? YES. Blazingly Fast? YES. Neurotic? YES OCD? Definately. Good family pet? In most cases definately not. Take the terrier temperment, drive and the work they are to train, and the border collie drive, speed, and ocd combine them and stir in a little SMACK for good measure and you have a border jack. Plus just how many border jacks does a flyball team need? What happens to the pups that dont go to knowledgeable families?
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