Category Archives: Breed Index

Australian Shepherd – Interview with an owner

Australian Shepherd – the owner’s view

Gemma said that she did a great deal of research before getting her first dog.  She also went to a responsible breeder, who bred her puppies with loving care and attention.  Gemma therefore followed the two key pieces of advice given by dog owners in my survey results Go Gemma!

Australian ShepherdArcher is a two year-old Australian Shepherd.   Before getting him, Gemma decided that she wanted an active, fun-loving dog who was going to cope with the lifestyle she has, with plenty of hiking and long cycle rides.  She said that Australian Shepherds are described as being good at running with bikes.  She knew that like Border Collies, they would be intelligent and easy to train.

Home Circumstances – plan ahead

Before looking at actual puppies, Gemma made sure that she had the right home circumstances to look after a dog.  She checked that she was going to be able to take her dog to work.  She walks him to work and then he has a special run, with shelter and space, so that he is safe and happy.

Gemma has put in a great deal of effort to ensure that Archer is well-trained and well behaved around people, so that her work are happy for him to be there.  He is a lovely boy and a real credit to her.

Australian ShepherdChoosing the puppy

Interestingly, Gemma said that she had wanted a girl rather than a boy.  She also said she had always wanted a merle, which is the most common colour of Australian Shepherd dogs.  She waited until a breeder had a bitch available for her, but then saw Archer and fell in love with him!

Personally, I think Gemma made a great choice there.  I have said before that I think boy dogs are easier to have on their own than girls, as they are more sociable with other dogs.   However, that is particularly true for Border Collies, less so for other breeds.

Australian ShepherdBreed Characteristics

What is the difference between the Australian Shepherd and the Border Collie?  Well the Aussie is generally broader and ‘squarer’ than the BC.  They usually have ‘tipped’ rather than ‘pricked’ ears (although BCs can have all sorts of ears!)  Aussies typically have merle or tricolour coats, which are normally thick and curly, whereas a BC’s coat might be straight.

One significant difference between the Aussie and the BC is that they have historically been docked, although this is fortunately no longer the case in the UK.  There is also a ‘bobtail’ type, where they are born with no tail.  This is part of the recognised Australian Shepherd breed standard.

Australian ShepherdChallenges of the breed

Australian Shepherd dogs, just like Border Collies, are very demanding!  They need exercise and stimulation, either training or other play activities.

Gemma mentioned that Aussies are described as being typically attached to one person in particular.  She feels that Archer loves her and her partner equally, with another friend also accepted into his pack.  My observation is that Archer is extremely well bonded to Gemma and that he may become quite guarding of her around other dogs, which needs careful handling.

Speaking to an agility friend, she observed that Aussies can be inclined towards stubbornness.  This in comparison with Border Collies, who are anxious to please, to the point of being needy and clingy.  You pays your money and takes your choice!

Many thanks to Gemma and Archer for their help.

Australian Shepherd

Ask for help?

I hope you have enjoyed my insight into the Australian Shepherd breed?  Please comment and share your views and experiences?

You are very welcome to CONTACT ME to ask for my advice?  I can help you with a variety of issues and problems around getting a dog and suggestions for tackling training issues.  Go to the What Dog? page for more information on my new service.

What breed would you like to know about?  Or do you have a breed of dog and would like to share your views on living with your dog?  Please CONTACT ME to let me know?

Remember..

Please CONTACT ME if you want to know more about me and my dogs?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.

NB: If you read my posts in an email, you may be missing out on the lovely pictures!  Please click through to my website to see the post in all its glory?

 

Survey Results – Breed recommendations

Results on recommending your dog – what did it show?

Last week I wrote about recommending your dog and decided to create a short survey to see how people rate their own dog.  I used Survey Monkey to produce the survey.  It’s quick and relatively easy to use, and free for a basic version.  Unfortunately this makes it a bit limited.  This mainly meant that I couldn’t have questions where multiple answers could be chosen.  Anyway, here are the results.

I posted the survey into the agilitynet Facebook group which has thousands of members.  I explained that I wasn’t looking for collie owners to reply and thankfully people did read that.  Within an hour I had over 100 replies to my survey.  Another limitation of the free service is that you can only see a hundred responses.  Still, it gives us a fair amount of information.

NB: This survey was completed by genuine dog lovers who actively participate in dog sports with their dogs.

surveyWhat breed of dog do you have?

Of the one hundred responses, 15 owned cocker spaniels (a good agility alternative to a collie).  There were 11 German Shepherds or Belgian Shepherds and 10 crossbreeds.  Other popular breeds were Labrador/Retrievers, Jack Russells, Lurchers (a crossbreed), Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Poodles.

There were a wide range of other breeds, including Chinese Crested Powderpuff, Tibetan Terrier, Basset Fauve de Bretagne, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Munsterlander, Pomeranian and Corgi.  Forty different breeds are represented.

How did you choose your dog?

Apparently, 57% of the respondents chose their dogs for its character.  9% chose on looks alone, 10% on size, 6% on ease of purchase and a couple of people talked about hair (non-shedding).  No-one considered cost – very interesting!

Has your dog been what you expected?

An overwhelming 69% said it had been much better than they expected – isn’t that lovely?  Only 6% said it had been much harder than they expected.   The breeds that were found to be harder were:

  • Spaniel x 2
  • Miniature American Shepherd
  • GSDxBC
  • Kelpie
  • Belgian Shepherd Tervueren

surveyHow well does your dog fit your lifestyle?

Again, the vast majority said it was easy to manage their dog and no-one said they struggled sometimes.   Breeds whose owners said they had had to make adjustments included:

  • Cocker spaniels
  • Kelpie
  • Terriers
  • Labradors
  • German Shorthaired Pointer
  • Basset
  • JRT x German Spitz
  • Rottweiler
  • Miniature American Shepherd
  • German Shepherd

The conclusion I draw from this (and my own experience) is that agility people go from Border Collies to Working Cocker Spaniels because they are smaller.  They are different dogs and can be harder work!  Demanding yet not as easy to train.  I do know many lovely Working Cockers though..

What are the best features of your dog?

Great companion 36
Easy to train (not a lurcher!)
Fun to play with 7
Laid back nature 7
Lovely to cuddle 2
Rewarding (improvement since rescue) 1
Ability to connect and communicate with me 1
All (or most) of the above 17

What are the hardest things about owning your dog?

They are very demanding!  A third of the responses put this as their answer.  Other issues included being hard to train (Working Cockers again!), barks too much, doesn’t like other dogs, sensitive, hunting instinct, guarding, can’t be let off lead, escape artist, finding care when going on holiday and so on.  Six people said there was nothing hard about owning a dog 🙂

surveyWould you buy this type of dog again?

Three quarters of the respondents said “yes definitely, already have”.  Almost everyone else said yes probably.

Who do you think would be the best home for your dog?

60% of those responding (perhaps not surprisingly) said that an experienced dog owner would be the best home for their dog.  Of course in an ideal world, we want people not to take on a dog unless they know what they are doing.  It’s a bit of a catch 22 situation though, as if you have never owned a dog, how are you supposed to learn?  ‘Any home’ was chosen for a retriever, a poodle and a lurcher.  A whippet owner thought they would be good for a novice owner – I agree with that.

How much exercise and/or training do you do with your dog each week?

A whopping 87% said they do ‘regular walks every day, with some training classes each week’.

Remember, my respondents were drawn from a group who are active with their dogs and compete in dog sports – great result!

And finally..

surveyIf you were buying a dog again, what is the best advice you would give yourself?

Look for a responsible breeder who does health checks and socialisation 9
Research the health of the breed – be prepared for health issues 9
Meet as many of the breed as possible and get to know them 3
Take note of the downsides of the breed – does it fit your lifestyle.

Pay attention to temperament, energy level, intelligence. Not all dogs are cuddly

7
Make sure you can see the mother and rest of litter, spend time talking to the breeder 4
It’s not all about the breed – dogs are individuals

There can be variation within the breed as to temperament, drive and trainability

4
Go for it/trust your instinct – or not! 5
You get out what you put in 3
Find a breeder who cares and wants to keep in touch
Make sure new dogs will fit in with existing dogs
Don’t choose on colour
Don’t choose the smallest puppy
Have a rescue 3
The first few weeks are the worst
Be patient and relax and enjoy the ride, even if everything doesn’t go to plan first time
Never compare what you had
Don’t do it! Go on holiday instead!  Are you sure? 2
Don’t end up with 8!

Hope you have found my results interesting?

Ask for help?

You are very welcome to CONTACT ME to ask for my advice.  I can help you with a variety of issues and problems around getting a dog and suggestions for tackling training issues.  Go to the What Dog? page for more information on my new service.

If you are a breeder, you can talk to me about how I vet my puppy owners, together with advice on the information I provide to my puppy homes. CONTACT ME for more information?

Please let me know if you have found this post helpful?

Remember..

Please CONTACT ME if you want to know more about me and my dogs?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.

Would you recommend your dog?

What makes your dog right for you and would you recommend it to someone else?

I’ve been mulling over what makes people choose a particular breed of dog and how to recommend the right kind of dog to the right people.  Last week I was chatting to two people; one had a Husky and the other had two King Charles spaniels.  We were remarking on how different our breeds were and laughing about their distinctive characteristics.  So this has started me thinking that I should interview owners of different breeds about what they like, or don’t like about their own dog(s).

recommend I have already written about having a Practice Dog to stay and in there I listed the ‘challenges’ you face in having a Border Collie; their obsessions, their nervousness and their endless energy to name but three.  But they are also amazing, exciting and incredibly loving dogs to own – I certainly recommend them, to the right person.  Because I am a breeder of Border Collies I also have a page about what makes them so special – Border Collie Breed Information.

Border Collies are special

Here is an example of why I love collies.  When having an agility lesson last week, our trainer was demonstrating a game to us, using two toys, where different commands and movement indicated which toy the dog should go to.  It took my girls two minutes to get the hang of the game and understand what was required.  Try doing that with your dog and see how long it takes?

You can look up breed information on the Kennel Club website of course.  The Pets4homes website has pages on many breeds, including crossbreeds.   But are these sources telling you what it is actually like to live with a dog like this?

recommendNew Dog Breeds Blog

That is why I am launching my new Dog Breeds blog, with personal accounts from my friends about life with their dogs.  This will give you great advice and recommendations on the different breeds.

ACTION REQUIRED!

Please CONTACT ME if you have a breed of dog that is not a Border Collie?  I would like to talk to you about what it is like to own that breed.

I have also done a survey to ask people about other breeds of dog.  This makes interesting reading – if you want to know more, please go the survey results?

Thanks for your help!

recommendAsk for help?

You are very welcome to CONTACT ME to ask for my advice.  I can help you with a variety of issues and problems around getting a dog and suggestions for tackling training issues.  Go to the What Dog? page for more information on my new service.

If you are a breeder, you can talk to me about how I vet my puppy owners, together with advice on the information I provide to my puppy homes. CONTACT ME for more information?

Please let me know if you have found this post helpful?

Remember..

Please CONTACT ME if you want to know more about me and my dogs?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.

Border Collie Colours

What colour should a Border Collie be?

My friends and family are tired of me telling the story of the person who had applied for a puppy from the A-Z Litter when I had the two black and white boys remaining.  They rang before they came to say that they didn’t want this one because they were looking for a ‘classic collie’.  This photo of him (taken by Bridget Davey Photography) went on to feature in a magazine article on Border Collies, as it was a great example of the breed.  Lol.

This morning I was asked if I would be charging more for Ounce’s puppies if they are lilac and white, like her.  I said I would not do that, because for me, others factors are more important in determining who has which puppy, as I have said elsewhere.

Yesterday I received an enquiry for a ‘brown’ puppy.  I very snobbishly replied that I breed chocolate and white or red and white, not brown.  Of course deciding whether a border collie should be red or chocolate is a bit of a matter of opinion.  Both Sunny and Luna are registered as red and white, because I didn’t realise chocolate was an option.  Now I know that reds are much lighter, like Charlie (who is registered as a chocolate :p).

Apart from a few reds, I have produced chocolate and whites, black and whites and four chocolate merles, here demonstrated by Nell, Lyra and Jumble.

The only other colour I have had is the gorgeous Chester – my blue boy.

The Kennel Club lists the following colours for Border Collies:

  Black & white Blue & white Chocolate/ Red & white Lilac & white
Solid yes yes yes yes
Tricolour yes yes yes yes
& Tan yes yes yes yes
Merle yes yes yes yes
Merle tricolour yes yes yes yes
Sable yes yes yes yes

Gold (otherwise known as EE red) can occur with all these variations, as can Slate.

Other colours: Cream, Seal  Source: Kennel Club BC colours

Someone on Facebook, Wonderful World of Border Collies, shared this infographic with me:

Amazing isn’t it?  I put a post into TheBorderCollieGroup which generated a huge response – lovely!  Personally, I don’t care what they look like, as long as they are healthy, happy dogs.  Of course that is easy for me to say when I own the MOST BEAUTIFUL PUPPY IN THE WORLD!

Remember..

If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.  Please CONTACT ME if you want to know more about me and my dogs?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.