The mini aussies around here are really a lot sharper and drivier than the show line aussies. Most aussies (not minis) are show lines around here and they're really big and floofy and not that intense at all.
I guess it's worth noting that every time I say "fear-aggression" like in Lancer, I definitely don't mean just reactivity... ha... ha... ha..
Jess, thanks for the rec. If I end up going with a Canadian breeder (only because I love Oracle... I'm sure there are great breeders in the states too though), I'll have to do some actual looking into how imports from Canada work. <_<
Rara is also one of the good Mini Aussies out there, temperament-wise (not health-wise). She actually was pretty much a "perfect" dog, until she leeched off some of Lancer's fear during that period. :s
She's also very sharp, fast, extremely handler-focused, and drivey. But she focuses so hard for short bursts, so wears out mentally faster than Lancer.
I guess my experience in a highly urban area is a little different, the mini Aussies here are usually bred as apartment pets, and even the little sporters seem watered down compared to the full size Aussies (although that could be the fact they're in more experienced homes with more stimulation).
I think you can certainly find an aussie to fit your needs that isn't going to develop severe/aggressive reactivity because of your apartment situation. It seems like you're looking in the right places, and if you're expecting a certain amount of reactivity and know how to manage it, I don't think a showline or pet-focused breeder puppy is going to become an unmanageable dog just because of apartment life. Dogs from good breeders do come out crazy, but it's pretty rare.
What breeder did Fran's Merlin and Toller's Journey come from? That might be worth looking into (if it isn't Oracle which I think it might be)
From my observation, the Mini Aussies instinctive attraction to working with stock in particular is often watered down, but not necessarily their handler-focus, moderate sharpness, mental speed/immediate willingness to work.
Both Journey and Everest are from Oracle. Journey from Sojourner x Hustle's litter in 2012.
Most of the ones from Timeless that I know live in either apartments or crowded suburbs. We don't have a lot of space up here and it's impossible to go on a walk without encountering a ton of people and dogs, so they have to be pretty solid. I've met a number of other minis and toys, and most have fear or anxiety issues. They don't even feel like the same breed. Most of the full-size Aussies are pretty mellow and watered down, though we get a few really sharp intense ones.
That said, I know that Lancer isnâ€™t from any breeder breeder. Heâ€™s from pure work-on-a-farm breeding by some rancher with a very simple intent- a once on a few years litter for more legit farm dogs, solely to focus on stock, and however the dogs acts towards other people/other dogs/new situation is really out of consideration.
I think I get and agree with the distinction you were trying to make here between farm bred herders and those brought into this world by a "breeder breeder." It's something I've been noticing myself a lot lately as well, in everything from Catahoulas to BCs. Yes, all herding and for that matter a majority of pastoral breeds can have a tendency toward reactivity, and drive is more noticeable in working line dogs of all flavors... but the potential for overstimulation or fear reactivity seems much higher in straight farm or ranch bred dogs than it is even in "working line" dogs bred by professional breeders. Professional breeders, even of working dogs, are more likely to be conscious of breeding for a well-rounded temperament than is your old livestock farmer whose animals are only required to prove their worth in fairly isolated places. Breeding for dogs that place well in trials alone can help guide a line toward a more stable temperament, because it does take a certain amount of adaptability for a dog to stay calm enough in the bustle to work at its best, and a lot of farmers/ranchers couldn't care less about winning trials as long as the dog does what it needs to at home.
I think some of the trouble I have with my dog and overstimulation can be attributed to the fact that he's farm-bred working line rather than professionally bred working line, even though he's not as severe a case as Lancer sounds to be by any means. I've pretty well gotten him through his overt reactivity so it wasn't so deep rooted; his issue is more that, when confronted with anything unfamiliar, he 100% HAS to go and confront it or check it out and reassure himself that things are in rights before he will settle down.
(On the flip side, at least in some breeds professional "working line" breeders have their downsides too. With Catahoulas, many professional breeders are waaaaaay more tolerant of dog aggression in the temperament than it makes any sense to me to be, probably due to overinterpretation of historical breed descriptions and fixation on "alpha dog" toughness. They're supposed to be more dog selective than hounds, but some professional breeders act as if they have a yard full of dogs that would rip each other to shreds at the slightest provocation (and sometimes do) and it seems like that kind of touchiness would have gotten a dog culled historically. I guess I'm not the only one that sees it that way... I've spoken to a few hunters recently that gave up on Cats from some of the big name "reputable breeders" because the males were incorrigible dog fighters and were costing them too much money in vet bills.)
I'd say more about your conundrum but I think everyone else has addressed it pretty well.
What does Lancer do when he is scared? Does he spook and then stop? Does he nope himself out of there no matter what?
Schen is spooky. But he bounces back like a champ. First time in agility he saw that the wobble board was evil and would kill him. He refused to interact with it. In obedience we were to teach our dogs to go around a plunger. He decided it was the plunger of DOOOOM and noped himself as far as the leash would allow and wanted nothing to do with it.
Next time he saw the wobble board he was all over it. Took a couple of cookies at home to get him near the plunger of doom. However at the next class he was going around it like we had been practicing (we hadn't)
So I guess my point is how reactive to things is he? Does he stay freaked out? Reactivity is pretty common. And IME most of the really great sport dogs are reactive to something.
I don't think I would worry about you don't something to mess a dog up. Good solid genetics are hard to beat. Schen lives in an apt in a very large metropolitan area. He didn't really get socialized much but because he comes from such good stock he has a great mind.
And hey I live in Ontario and I went to Connecticut to get Schen. Cross boarder puppy shopping isn't too bad
Pinkspore, Timeless sounds like a good choice for the minis! Out of breeder puppy choices, I'd still prefer to go with standard Aussie showlines, if the possibilities of being solid in both are even about equal. Devan just recommended TreeStarr in Missouri, produced the foundation dog of Oracle, so hopefully I can get some insight about the situation with Becky!
Liminal, that's interesting to know about the Catahoula working lines, and unfortunate imo... That's exactly what I mean, and it's apparently very much the same vein with Aussie farm-bred stocklines (if they're even appropriately referred to as lines LOL). When I picked out Lancer's litter randomly, I really didn't have an idea of the differentiation between working lines from "breeder breeders" and stocklines from straight up ranchers/farmers... (amongst many other aspects of how genetics affects a dog that I had no idea how important LOL.)
All I was thinking at the time was to have an Aussie who is drivey and athletic enough to do agility with me (actually 3 years ago already), I had no idea that anything past that really mattered that much, and I was uneducated about the complexities of breeding beyond that. So I saw, "Oh, ranch dogs = "working lines" = must be perfect!" Nahh.. :hail:
Aaaand Lancer history!
So during his fear period (around 7 months~1.5 years old) when he was most severe, his innate reaction to any source of fear was charging to attack: snarling and hackles and lips and saliva and DOG HIMSELF flying practically in the air towards the object of his fear at its worst. He had an extremely, extremely low threshold to other dogs in particular. If they're 100 meters away, he was put over threshold into aggression mode. I can say with confidence that his issues were uniquely severe ha ha ha. <_<
We've also had a particularly terrible experience with an idiotic dog owner (stranger) while Lancer was in training, who literally TRAPPED us in a corner of a park, so we can't flee, and he apparently thought that he knew our issues and could fix Lancer on the spot with his "stern gaze" and TWO DOGS next to him, and bull*** advice.... AFTER I told him that we are in training and he and his dogs need to stay back. He replied thinking that I just don't know how to train dogs, and insisted that Lancer MEET HIS **** DOGS. Obviously Lancer was completely and utterly flipping his **** shiz like the most terrifying exotic animal you've ever seen, and the man refused to leave for about 3 minutes while this happened lmao. They were standing only about 6 feet from us. I'm 100% sure that this experience exacerbated his fears x100. During that time, Lancer was also hyper-sensitive to negative experiences and does not bounce back well from even a minor experience at all.
The only reason why I know that it's based in fear is that if we both see them first (before they see us) from VERY far away, his first response is to whimper/yelp/bark/try to tug off the leash in the opposite direction, and display normal fearful body language.
So currently, he's really improved quite significantly after some unconventional but simple training (who the 2 dog trainers we've worked with did not think of). He's now learned to pretend that the presence of other dogs doesn't exist, even if they're within 20 feet from us, which is completely amazing (again... relatively). 1% of the time, usually when we're trapped between 2 dogs and Lancer is put a bit over treshold, Lancer will bark a few times/snarl if they're too close, but it's totally fine in comparison.
(I wrote a novel, God forbid anyone bothers to read this LOL)
Sisci and Brisbane are both from working ranch lines, and both born on rural properties. When Brisbane first began displaying reactivity at around 10 weeks I was shocked and horrified. Ten years later, barking and lunging at scary new things seems perfectly normal and only after reading this thread did it occur to me that Sisci counts as reactive.
Well, I emailed Becky from TreeStarr to talk about her pups. I browsed her site before, but totally didn't realize that she produced the foundation dog of Oracle until I talked with Devan about it on facebook, but this is good news for me! 8__8
I asked her about the whole city-Aussie-fear-genetics thing going on my side. I'm kind of surprised (but also partially not), but Becky agreed that even with the way she socializes her pups/all the things to prepare puppies for their future life in their new homes, it's a chance that she would hate to take for living in LA (at least with the extent of activity and ambulances and buses every few minutes where I live). Especially if they happen to be spooked during their puppy fear periods... which I feel like spook potential is everywhere around here. She said that she's lived in Van Nuys (a city nearby) and worked in LA, and that nothing can compare to the hustle and bustle here... so I can only assume that she's making her best judgement from experience. :s
I think if she believes that it's an iffy chance, then I'll definitely avoid an Aussie breeder pup for now, until I can move somewhere a bit more quiet. Which is almost anywhere but on this particular SPOT. Even just 1 mile away is more quiet than here.
(^ in case anyone wanted to know her thoughts asldkfsj)
Yeah, I was still surprised. It's helpful answers for me at this very moment.
I just realized I totally missed your post on the first/second page about whippets! Yeah, I've considered them in the past... even great for flyball in particular. But I highly value the handler-focus and emotional intelligence in Aussies, their temperament as a whole, and some of the other herding breeds. They're just a breed group that I'm passionate about and I'd prefer to stick with. So I'd even rather wait a few years until I'm capable of bringing in an Aussie pup properly, rather than "settle" for a different breed now.
I occasionally mention totally different breeds to myself, but then I need to bring myself back down to earth and stick to my original goal ;;