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Loose Eyed Dogs vs Border Collies

This is a discussion on Loose Eyed Dogs vs Border Collies within the Working Dogs forums, part of the Dog Shows and Performance category; Another option (and then I'll shut up lol) for real life cattle would be some of the cur breeds. Blue Lacy Dogs spring to mind. ...

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Old 05-08-2015, 11:27 AM
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Another option (and then I'll shut up lol) for real life cattle would be some of the cur breeds. Blue Lacy Dogs spring to mind. They use them a lot for cattle and also hog catching.

Another issue is that in the US a lot of herding instructors will only work with border collies. I know people with Australian koolies and Australian cattle dogs that have had a very hard time trying to find an instructor that will work with their breed.

Last edited by Laurelin; 05-08-2015 at 11:29 AM.
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Old 05-08-2015, 10:16 PM
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The biggest turn off I think I've found with BCs is all the ones I've seen, regardless of lines, seems to be a more serious, all business, "have to go" dog. No off switch, very intense. I like a dog who can be an all around farm dog rather than just a tool for herding with the border collie and kelpie seem to fall into. I also tend to prefer shorter coated dogs with more BCs having to fluffy/long of coats though I do realize there are some short coat BCs out there.
Aussies tend to be 50/50 with me with me loving to own some dogs and other ones seeming like a total nightmare, but I'm sure it can also depend of the breeding and owner. Ex: 50 year old, laidback, quiet couple with a 1 year old working line Aussie who's only outlit is doggy day care once a week lol.
I've loved all the ACDs I've worked with so they are a possibility.
I've looked into the cur breeds, but from what I've learned they more or less keep the herd at bay and then it's up to either the person or another dog like a ACD to push them from behind.
I've never met a Koolie but they seem like an interesting dog and they've interested me but seeing as they are pretty rare in the U.S. so I've never seriously considered one.
This is the first time I've ever heard of a huntaway and they kind of remind me of our curs, granted they herd in a totally different fashion. They really interest me however after a quick search I found I'd be hard pressed to find one in the U.S.
Has anyone worked with English shepherds? They seem like they may fit my bill besides being a bit on the fluffy side. We recently have had a dog who was adopted as an Aussie mix start coming to my work and upon first seeing her my mind screamed English shepherd. She seems like the type of dog I could see myself owning as well.
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Old 05-09-2015, 12:38 AM
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Originally Posted by LokiofAsgard219 View Post
The biggest turn off I think I've found with BCs is all the ones I've seen, regardless of lines, seems to be a more serious, all business, "have to go" dog. No off switch, very intense. I like a dog who can be an all around farm dog rather than just a tool for herding with the border collie and kelpie seem to fall into. I also tend to prefer shorter coated dogs with more BCs having to fluffy/long of coats though I do realize there are some short coat BCs out there.
Aussies tend to be 50/50 with me with me loving to own some dogs and other ones seeming like a total nightmare, but I'm sure it can also depend of the breeding and owner. Ex: 50 year old, laidback, quiet couple with a 1 year old working line Aussie who's only outlit is doggy day care once a week lol.
I've loved all the ACDs I've worked with so they are a possibility.
I've looked into the cur breeds, but from what I've learned they more or less keep the herd at bay and then it's up to either the person or another dog like a ACD to push them from behind.
I've never met a Koolie but they seem like an interesting dog and they've interested me but seeing as they are pretty rare in the U.S. so I've never seriously considered one.
This is the first time I've ever heard of a huntaway and they kind of remind me of our curs, granted they herd in a totally different fashion. They really interest me however after a quick search I found I'd be hard pressed to find one in the U.S.
Has anyone worked with English shepherds? They seem like they may fit my bill besides being a bit on the fluffy side. We recently have had a dog who was adopted as an Aussie mix start coming to my work and upon first seeing her my mind screamed English shepherd. She seems like the type of dog I could see myself owning as well.
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Well, in my experience, working bred BC's usually have a pretty good off switch. Or at the very least they learn one very easily. They are capable of settling. But yes I do know what you mean....They are very much workaholics. I have one that's working bred and he's very intense. We don't do herding, don't have sheep or stock, don't even live on a farm. But whatever job I do give him he takes very seriously. He's way more than just a tool to me since he's not just for herding, he's my pet and companion. But I feel ya haha. He's a nut and way too much/over the top for most people.

I think some kind of all around farm dog would probably be a good match for you. The English shepherd is a good one. Here's another one, the danish-swedish farm dog: Danish-Swedish Farmdog Detail
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Old 05-14-2015, 11:57 PM
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We have a 9month old GSD x collie who has had no training in herding at all (YET) but if she gets to my chickens and ducks in the garden will round them all up within minutes and put them in the hen house...much to the ducks dislike she hem sits by the door and wont let them out again. When my behaviourist/trainer asked about her pray drive i told her about this saying she didnt want to attack..just round them up ..but thats the collie in her she actually said maybe not because GSDs herd too..either way..once we deal with her fear issues we are going to start herding with her as she seems a natural. We have sheep at work but they are Castlemilk moorits and are not known for tolerating dogs hahahaha...they are easier to control with a feed bucket and tend to just gang up on dogs
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Old 05-15-2015, 04:39 PM
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I've looked into the cur breeds, but from what I've learned they more or less keep the herd at bay and then it's up to either the person or another dog like a ACD to push them from behind.
More true than not, but Lacys supposedly have more of a talent for driving than most of the other curs, and people have had success using all sorts of curs to drive, etc. as well. They're not going to be as refined as a BC by any means, but they're not as strictly about baying as hog- or hunting-focused breeders/owners make it seem - my Catahoula's mother is used to bring stock up out of a deep pasture. Even some Mt. Curs, which are almost exclusively bred for hunting these days, still show stock driving sense.

That said, I'll probably be better equipped to comment on cur suitability to herding after this coming Sunday, because my Catahoula will be doing his first herding lesson then. My biggest worry is that he'll be too hard on the sheep and too obnoxious around the other dogs.

It's maybe worth noting that English Shepherds and Catahoulas are known to have some genetic crossover.

Truthfully, it's a good idea to separate working ambitions from trialing ambitions if you're mostly looking into having a dog for a hobby farm. Many different breeds of dog can perform stock work to an acceptable level for a small stock operation (ACDs and Aussies are actually favored where I live, and I even know a Dobe that's used to selectively push cows through chutes/trailers/pens) - but between the level of competitiveness and the style of herding favored BCs and dogs with similar style will generally dominate trials.

Maybe look into McNabs, though? Like Border Collies, arguably Border Collies, but typically short-haired and said to be quite a bit less neurotic.

Last edited by Liminal; 05-15-2015 at 04:43 PM.
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Old 05-15-2015, 11:10 PM
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I didn't realize there was still working lines for collies! I always assumed they were a breed who was completely absorbed by the show ring. We have a rough collie at my work and she's a really sweet dog who I enjoy working with; listens to me, friendly, loves attention. But I'd probably go with the smooth collie, too much maintenance on that coat lol.

It's a shame about a lot of the herding breeds falling out of favor though. I know in Germany they still hold herding trials for the GSD and have seen some awesome videos on YouTube of these dogs herding and tending flocks of sheep, so I know they are out there.
Yes, in Germany you will see GSDs herding, and in the Netherlands you will see Dutch Shepherds herding (especially the curly coat type) same with the Belgian Shepherd in Belgium. Unfortunately, the dogs of these breeds that seem to get imported into the USA and Canada are of a police dog type/lineage.

Also, at least in germany, you are more likely to see smaller, older 'landraces' of dogs doing the herding, dogs that contributed to the creation of the GSD, but are something else entirely.

There was a split and the 'show' collie went one way and the working farm collie went another way...and the working farm collie has faded into extinction. There have been some efforts to find the last ones and revive the breed. These sometimes go by Old Time Farm Shepherd or Old Scotch Collie. If you can find one of these, they supposedly are absolutely great and spooky-smart.

Running parallel to this, maybe even caused by the increase in the interest of getting back to it's roots, people are taking AKC Rough Collies that were either show lines or pet lines and reintroducing them into the idea of herding. As with most breeds, collies are quite versatile and can learn to do many tasks, and you can selectively breed those to perform best, but it will be many generations before 'working' Collies have anything like the genetic predisposition for herding you'd find in a Border Collie, Aussie, McNab, etc.

ALSO...just as the original farm-dog type collies were imported to the USA to be used for agriculture, so too were they imported to other places. One big importer was Brazil. Now these were people who needed good herding dogs not show dogs and weren't all that concerned about purity. So these old-style collie imports mixed with local dogs, and later when border collies were being bred systematically as the top sheep herder they were imported as well...and so were Australian Cattle dogs (Blue Heeler). But of course farmers knew about animal breeding, and selectively bred the best herders to the best herders, so even though all sorts of dogs were in theory mixed in, the collie-type was very strong. This dog which looks very similar to the working collies of old as well as english shepherds and border collies of today is called the Ovelheiro Gaucho. You will see the occasional individual where the Heeler influence is strong, but most look very Collie. They also are much more vocal, willing to grip to get animals moving, and in general work standing upright and running back-and-forth behind the sheep vs the Border Collie who crouches and stares.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-OGBYZPwmM

Also, there are some dogs that look darn similar to Border Collies but herd much different which are found over in Wales area of the UK, now being called Welsh Shepherds...which is tricky because some folks have identified as many as 6 different welsh herding land-races that became extinct about 100 years ago. Probably the Welsh Sheep Dop of today is a mix of Border Collie and these now disappeared breeds into something new, blending the bits of both worlds to deliver what the sheepmen needed.


And then there are all sorts of breeds from Europe who are herders but who aren't 'collie type'

I've always been quite intrigued by the Pyrenean Shepherd, the Mudi, and the Bohemian Shepherd (who to me looks like some of the original german herding dogs, probably a linked ancestor there)

Note that here in the USA we also have a plethora of 'Curs'...dogs that were owned and bred by the poorer rural folk who couldn't afford a dog to herd, a dog to hunt with, and a dog to guard the property so the required a dog that could do all three. Although I must note that today most cur 'breeds' are more likely to have been selectively bred to be top notch hunters as opposed to herders.


ANYWAYS, if this long rambling post as a point, there are more herding breeds than you can shake a stick at. And for every 'breed' there are probably three regional 'landrace' groups of dogs that are on their way to becoming officially recognized as a breed thanks to the internet, smartphones, and the like allowing so much better communication and dispersal of information.
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Old 05-16-2015, 10:24 AM
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Although I must note that today most cur 'breeds' are more likely to have been selectively bred to be top notch hunters as opposed to herders.
Correct; Of all of the various cur breeds, Lacys, Catahoulas and BMCs are the only 3 still commonly bred and used for stock work. But they are de facto still commonly bred and used for stock work - stock-focused or stock-proven lines from those 3 breeds aren't difficult to find at all, pretty much any ranch-focused advertisement site will find you some rurally bred cur stock dogs.

The rest of the cur breeds will all be really hit or miss. Of the three often bred as stock dogs, Catahoulas in particular are frequently considered "more of a cow dog" than a hunting dog by hard hunting crowds but they are too frequently bred for flashy color over good working potential, and the focus of BMC lines varies a lot, so from what I can see it will typically be easier to find a Lacy suitable for stock work, especially driving.

I am still not going to be fast to recommend curs to someone who has a generic "herding breed" in mind because even though there are curs good for stock work, they don't exactly handle like your prototypical "herders" do in my experience. To people who want the responsiveness of something like a BC or Aussie the extra work you have to put in to get a lot of curs there will be a let down. Lacys again, though, are supposedly quicker in that regard. (I plan to buy acreage eventually and if I find I enjoy herding, my next dog is pretty likely to be a Lacy. It might be the cattle culture of the state they're from, but I've been more impressed with the quality of the examples of their stock sense and versatility as stock dogs than I have with most other curs, despite having seen other curs work stock with my own two eyes.)

I will put a voice in for not discounting working-bred herding mixes, or for that matter Smooth Collies (which are going to be easier to keep than the roughs, obviously). The former can be found in droves, the latter, if with proven herding potential, might have to be hunted for - but as the herding instructor I'm starting with actually specializes in working with Collies I think I can safely say that they exist.
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Old 06-20-2015, 12:08 PM
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I'm a farmer, and I got my first dog just over a year ago, so I've thought about this a lot. I went with an English Shepherd after hearing lots of great things about the dogs of a particular breeder. I talked to her, told her about the farm and the number of animals, and we settled on a puppy. English Shepherds have a reputation for being exactly the sort of relaxed dog you describe wanting, but my dog ended up being anything but calm, at least for the first year of his life. He is super energetic, with tons of drive, and he is completely irrepressible. This made training him really, really hard at times, and I often wondered if getting him was a mistake, at least as far as helping with farm chores goes.

But he's settling down a bit, and the qualities that made early going so difficult are huge benefits - a dog needs intensity and fearlessness to move a herd of cows or keep a hog in place. All of this is a long way of saying that within every breed, and even withing a litter, there will be lots of variation. Talk with the breeder about exactly what you are looking for and how much work you'll realistically have for the dog to do. Mine would be completely miserable in anything but a farm setting, but there are lots of English Shepherds that aren't as keyed up as him.

As far as breeds go, I think any collie type dog has a good chance at having decent instincts. BC, ES, Aussie, etc. If you want a dog that has the best chance of being a worker, I would make sure the parents are actual working dogs. An instinct test is nice, but a dog that actually regularly works with stock is better. This would be doubly true if you're thinking about a GSD any other breed that historically had some dealings with livestock but is not widely used for herding anymore. Even if you do get a dog that has working parents from such a breed, I suspect the herding genes are not as concentrated as in collie dogs, so there would be a greater chance of ending up with a dog that couldn't herd.

Finally, as other people have suggested, there will be a spectrum of working styles within any breed. If you want a lot of eye, your best bet is obviously a BC or kelpie, but there's a good bit of variation within these breeds. Once again, however, there's no way of being sure how an individual dog will work until it starts working, regardless of pedigree.
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