I have a team of basically Australian bred border collies that are a combination of bloodlines that have suited my wants and needs. They need to be smooth to medium coat, good framed and traditional marked black and white. I’m not a fan of border collies with a lot of white as they tend to draw stock onto themselves. This is okay for cattle and 3 sheep trialing but when it comes to yard work and working mobs of sheep, it can cause difficulties.
The dogs need to be strong and forward. They need to be able to cope in tight to the sheep and not go to bite. I prefer them to lift for a bark, rather than go in for a nip/bite.
I am now one of the few border collie breeders in the country that is breeding a nice, strong, sound border collie that will perform in the sheep yards and compete at a reasonable level, while still having the ability to do a genuine day in the paddock under most conditions.
My competition team can complete and compete well at yard, utility and 3 sheep trials and they can also work cattle when required.
With my Border Collies, I have decided to work on breeding a truly general purpose border collie. Over the years I have seen a split in the selection process for border collies depending on the field they are to work in. There is 3 different fields right now, as I see it. Cattle, three sheep and in recent times people are breeding from imported collies and starting to look at ISDS style course and dogs.
What I tend to find is that each selection process, while being targeted to a specific field, often loses other traits that have been the foundation of the border collie breed for a very long time.
My thoughts are that you are better off working on getting the basics right to maintain the border collie traits, rather than later rushing around looking for a miracle when the foundations have been lost.
The most powerful tool anyone has when working and breeding dogs is the power of selection. To learn this it takes time to achieve a build up of knowledge about dogs and bloodlines.
Things to consider:
- what you are breeding and what dog will suit each situation.
- the experience of the handler
- the stock to be worked
Not everyone needs the biggest hammer in the box for the job they are trying to do. A lot of stock work can be done with a correct, easy going dog and working as a team to achieve a common goal. Working stock should be an enjoyable experience and with all jobs having the right tools are half the battle.