Author Topic: Border Collie / Associated Breeds  (Read 525 times)

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Offline Skipping

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Border Collie / Associated Breeds
« on: October 04, 2017, 01:28:29 PM »
Does anyone have breed recommendations that fall in the 40-50lb range? I'm looking for 1) smart, 2) calm, 3) visually oriented in order to pick up on visual cues and on hand signals, 4) tall enough to spatially block, 5) small enough to fit under a bus seat easily. I've seen information on miniature labs and other breeds, but I know sometimes the breeding focus on mini takes away from natural intelligence and working ability.

I have a dog I got from a shelter and have had for eight years as a pet who has morphed into a "I'll do it because it needs to be done-ESA-SD-Idontknow" situation. His breed has always been a mystery, but he may be border collie / beagle (that is, very smart and slightly ADHD...). Particularly, he lies across my lap or on my chest on command to apply deep pressure to decrease anxiety. This isn't a task I want an 80lb lab offering... My dog is 45lbs, just heavy/light enough, tall enough, and small enough to do what I need at home, but he doesn't have the personality to do public access. My therapist wants me to try a full-time dog since many of my anxiety triggers are in the community, not at home.

No matter how many hours of training you have or what complex tasks you do, you will always get the most compliments for the appearance of your fur and ability to sit on command.

Offline Kirsten

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Re: Border Collie / Associated Breeds
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2017, 02:15:28 PM »
If a border collie cross has worked for you in the past, you might as well go with that again.  It's a popular combo for hearing dogs especially.  Most of the working dogs in that size range are going to be herding dogs, ie border collies and Australian shepherds.

Labs don't have to be 80 pounds.  That's actually big for a lab so you're probably thinking show dogs.  Field labs tend to be smaller but also more active.  About 60 pounds should be commonly available for labs and goldens.  Females will tend to be a bit smaller than males.  So maybe a lab or golden crossed with something smaller.

Mini poodle.  That's the medium size, between toy and standard.  Maybe closer to 30 pounds though.  They tend to be quite biddable and trainable.  In the top three breeds for trainability.

Goldens and labs will be in the top ten.  Border collie is the top breed.  (For training intelligence and biddability aka willingness to do as they are asked).

But you're best off hiring a pro to find the candidate for you and you're going to need some help from a pro at some point anyway, so you might as well find the pro first, before the candidate.
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Offline Ashany

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Re: Border Collie / Associated Breeds
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2017, 05:04:24 PM »
I have a Smooth Fox Terrier, she fits that description perfectly.
1) Smart, picks up on new training and commands quickly.
2) Calm, but you definitely need to give the dog a really good play session everyday. I'm a runner so that wears off the energy really good. After I burn off the energy every morning, she's solid for the rest of the day and very calm. 
3) Visually oriented in order to pick up on visual cues and on hand signals. This is something SFT does quickly, it is a hunting breed and she's naturally inclined to learn things quickly.
4) Tall enough to spatially block. My SFT is almost tall enough to reach my knee caps. She's about 14" tall. One of the first things she was trained to do was spatially block me. I tend to wander about after a seizure, so she blocks me from leaving a room or standing up. I'm 5'6 and the dog weighs about 22 pounds. She is also strong enough to roll me on my side after a seizure.
5) Small enough to fit under a bus seat easily. This was really important for me too. I needed a dog that could travel on airlines, fit comfortable under my desk at work, and would not take up room in cabs, on trains and in buses. I live in the city and have a small apartment, so having a big dog wouldn't have worked for me.

The only things I want to warn you about is this.
1) Energetic, Smooth Fox Terrier's have a lot of energy, be sure you have a good outlet for that. For me, the extra energy is a motivational tool. It helps me get up, stay active and keep moving forward. Before I got my dog I was almost becoming a shut in. The dog has really turned this around for me. It's definitely not for everyone.
2) Squirrels! I almost didn't use her as an SD because SFT's are a type of hunting dogs. I didn't think she would ever get over that impulse to charge small animals. I was very lucky she stopped doing this by the time we finished puppy star training. During Adult 1, she learned a to ignore them completely with a couple finger snaps and a verbal correction. It took over a year but it was something we were able to train her to ignore.
3) Very people friendly breed. Again, this is something that will require a lot of extra work during training. To this day, she will still wag her tail a lot of people confront her. She won't break heal, she doesn't jump around or bark inappropriately ever. But, she will wag her tail and on occasion do a little dance with her back paws if someone I personally know calls her towards them. (My college aged children *cough cough* ) So I have to correct and remind her to stop. She's very smart and wants to please me all the time. So it's very easy to get her to overcome.
Everyone is different and I think that's why important to do a lot of research before you select a dog. I got my dog through a rescue and it took over a year to find just the right dog. When I finally found Mila, it was a magic moment I'll never forget. She's four years old now and we have gone through a lot together. The training never ends in my mind. She's a great dog, but I am always working to make her better. We're a team, but she's also my best furr friend.

I don't a lot of people suggesting terrier breeds for service work. In my opinion, I think they make great seizure service dog's. The bond they make with their owners, the level of alertness and their ability to learn quickly are a few positives with the breed.

Offline Kirsten

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Re: Border Collie / Associated Breeds
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2017, 05:24:09 PM »
The smooth fox terrier standard lists them at under 20 pounds.  OP asked for breeds between 40 and 50 pounds.
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Offline Summertime.and.Azkaban

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Re: Border Collie / Associated Breeds
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2017, 07:00:08 PM »
Terriers that are not overly "domesticated" don't make good SD prospects or housedogs. I'm talking squirrel dog vs. westie or yorkie.

They need a job. A hard, mentally stimulating job. And a handler who is unflappably firm and can manage them.

JRTs, fox terriers, fiests and the like should be avoided unless one has the resources to manage them properly. They should not be the first option when looking for a SD prospect. 

You have suggested a very difficult breed to manage. Terriers aren't suggested commonly for a very specific reason. The same as hounds and most livestock guardians. Terriers are so, so hard headed. Is this your first SFT?

I am a lover of terriers. JRT are my favorite. My current dog is a JRT/Corgi. But I don't suggest them as prospects.
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Offline Ashany

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Re: Border Collie / Associated Breeds
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2017, 07:05:48 PM »
The smooth fox terrier standard lists them at under 20 pounds.  OP asked for breeds between 40 and 50 pounds.
What about a Saluki ? I have a friend who has PTSD and her PSD is a Saluki. It's a great dog too. Very sensitive to her moods, always looking to please her, gets along with her cat's, very intelligent too. It can easily ball itself up into a compact position and probably weighs around 40 pounds.

Offline Summertime.and.Azkaban

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Re: Border Collie / Associated Breeds
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2017, 07:21:40 PM »
Going with a standard breed gives you the best possibility of success possible. It is against one's interest to decide on breeds that are not usually suited for SD work. Just because one individual within the breed is fit for SD work does not mean the breed in general is.

Also, having a dog that notices and responds to a handler's emotions is undesirable in a dog who is working with a handler who experiences psych symptoms: http://servicedogcentral.org/forum/index.php?topic=32386.0
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Offline Ashany

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Re: Border Collie / Associated Breeds
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2017, 07:22:04 PM »
Terriers that are not overly "domesticated" don't make good SD prospects or housedogs. I'm talking squirrel dog vs. westie or yorkie.

They need a job. A hard, mentally stimulating job. And a handler who is unflappably firm and can manage them.

JRTs, fox terriers, fiests and the like should be avoided unless one has the resources to manage them properly. They should not be the first option when looking for a SD prospect. 

You have suggested a very difficult breed to manage. Terriers aren't suggested commonly for a very specific reason. The same as hounds and most livestock guardians. Terriers are so, so hard headed. Is this your first SFT?

I am a lover of terriers. JRT are my favorite. My current dog is a JRT/Corgi. But I don't suggest them as prospects.

I think I just got really lucky with my dog. You're right, she does need a firm hand and I am unflappingly firm with her. The first two years were very rough. At the time I went through training with her, I had all the time in the world.  I was never a dog owner before this. It's probably one of the reasons I took a year to get a dog after we first started looking. The more I learn about SFT's the more I realize how lucky I am. She has a bubbly personality like a regular SFT, but behaves more Lab. Maybe it's just because we started working with when she was really young and four years later  this is all she's known.

Offline Ashany

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Re: Border Collie / Associated Breeds
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2017, 07:25:34 PM »
Going with a standard breed gives you the best possibility of success possible. It is against one's interest to decide on breeds that are not usually suited for SD work. Just because one individual within the breed is fit for SD work does not mean the breed in general is.

Also, having a dog that notices and responds to a handler's emotions is undesirable in a dog who is working with a handler who experiences psych symptoms: http://servicedogcentral.org/forum/index.php?topic=32386.0

I don't really know much about PSD's. I'm not a trainer and I should probably just keep to myself on this topic. You're right, just because one dog worked for one person, it doesn't mean the breed will be good. Sorry about that.

Offline Kirsten

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Re: Border Collie / Associated Breeds
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2017, 07:42:56 PM »
I think about any breed that doesn't have some sort of weird eye placement or hair hanging down in the eyes will have good enough vision to notice any tells the handler may have.  A solid bond, including a desire to please (biddability), should be sufficient to cause a non-couch potato dog to pay attention so as to notice.  So I don't think those are things you need to seek breed-wise.  Or rather I think the list of compatible breeds would be rather large.

I think the limiting factors in your description are going to be size, trainability and biddability.

This Wikipedia article ranks dogs according to training intelligence:  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Intelligence_of_Dogs

The article says "intelligence" but in actuality there are different kinds of intelligence so it's important to understand how the breeds were evaluated for intelligence.  Basically, they're being ranked on two factors:
1.  How many repetitions it takes for a typical representative of that breed to learn a new behavior
2.  How many times the command has to be repeated before the dog complies

In effect, what they are calling intelligence is basically trainability and biddability (how cooperative the dog is).

So in very broad terms dogs closer to the top of that list are going to tend to do better at service work than dogs lower on the list.  Of course there are other characteristics needed as well, including genetic and physical health, mental stability, moderate energy and low to moderate drive.  The dog also needs to be an appropriate size to do the anticipated tasks.

So why isn't the Border collie, which is number one on this list the most popular choice for service work?  Because they tend not to have a good "off" button.  They need a lot of exercise and mental engagement to meet their needs, more than the typical service dog partner is going to be able to supply.  This is why half border collies and not full border collies are preferred for hearing dogs.

Generally speaking, and this is not the case across the board but just generally, herding type dogs are going to tend to be too highly strung for PSD work.  They're going to tend to be too sensitive.  That's why I made the comment that in that size range all I was coming up with were border collies and aussies.  I've thought of a few more, but they aren't necessarily high on the intelligence scale.  I'm thinking now of springer spaniels and duck tolling retrievers.

But I still think a lab mix would probably be a better choice.  A lab is generally going to be the number one pick for PSD work.  They match high for trainability, biddability, unflappable cheerful world view, resistant to worry or stress in their human partner, generally healthy if well bred, generally not difficult to handle (ie not too much drive), and so on.  The only thing they're missing on is the OP's desired size.  Which is not surprising since they are the number one choice for service work generally.

Kirsten and Tardis
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"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest

Offline Skipping

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Re: Border Collie / Associated Breeds
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2017, 01:24:21 PM »
Thank you all! These are some great suggestions! I agree that the border collie tendency doesn't have an "off" switch, so the Lab or mini Poodle are moving up the list.

I know terriers are occasionally wonderful dogs. Unfortunately, in my experience, they're also sometimes extremely stubborn little dogs, so I'm not sure I'm up to trying to train or constantly manage one of those. When I'm in the mental murk, I need the dog to manage for me, not the other way around.
No matter how many hours of training you have or what complex tasks you do, you will always get the most compliments for the appearance of your fur and ability to sit on command.

Offline Kirsten

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Re: Border Collie / Associated Breeds
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2017, 02:59:17 PM »
Poodles are actually all one breed, appearing from toy sized up to standard.  It is theoretically possible to have individuals in a single litter turn out to be mini's while others turn out to be standards.  The standard is written by height, not weight.  So I'm not entirely sure whether the size you seek would be more likely to appear in a mini litter or a standard litter.

We do know that poodles are highly trainable and biddable.  They can be a little airheaded especially when young and boingy when young, much like labs (I mean the energetic/active part, not the airheaded part as labs are more likely to be goofy rather than airheaded when young).

So what about looking at adult rescues?  You'd know the size and you'd know the temperament.  The unknown is going to be physical health which is a higher risk going with a mix than with a well bred dog.  A higher risk of CHD, vision problems and EIC.  You can screen for CHD (OFA) and eye (CERF) and hearing (BAER) problems but I don't think there's good screening yet for EIC.  So $300 to $500 in screening costs, maybe, to know what you're dealing with.  Get a dog not more than half lab to improve your odds on EIC unless it is a well bred lab from a good breeder.  Biggest risk with a shelter dog is about a 75% failure rate on the OFA, so do that one first and be willing to accept "fair" or even "boarderline" in a smaller dog who isn't going to be doing mobility work (bracing, pulling), then be very diligent about the dog's nutrition and weight.  It's one option.
Kirsten and Tardis
In loving memory of Cole (1/11/99 - 6/26/12)  He gave me back my life.

"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest

Offline Kirsten

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Re: Border Collie / Associated Breeds
« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2017, 03:02:32 PM »
So another thought on the poodle option.  Suppose you find a good breeder, one who titles her dogs and does genetic screening on her breeding stock and they breed standard poodles.  You'd like at least some of their dogs to have obedience titles or to be working water retrievers.  And suppose that breeder has kept back some dogs for breeding or competition purposes and as the dog grew up it didn't achieve the desired height so they're rehoming it.  That might be an ideal situation.  Not a common situation, but an ideal one for you. 
Kirsten and Tardis
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"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest

Offline Suse

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Re: Border Collie / Associated Breeds
« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2017, 10:05:09 PM »
I too recommend poodles. Have one and love it, plus if you have any allergies or hate to vacuum that's another plus.   

I have seen several Aussies that have made good SD's too.

Offline Skipping

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Re: Border Collie / Associated Breeds
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2017, 02:27:17 PM »
Thank you all for the feedback. So there's an update on this... I started browsing shelters for a smaller lab. (I seriously considered a bordoodle, which is a border collie/poodle mix, but I was just browsing local options first--the bordoodle breeder is in UTAH!). There's a wonderful shelter here that I adopted from before, where they tend to get to know their dogs. I described what I was looking for and why and met with a ridiculously still-a-puppy-in-the-head Labrador. Then they showed me a lovely little mystery mutt who had been adopted from them as a puppy, trained for two years and AKC good-citizen certified, and then returned to the shelter due to owner problems. SHE'S PERFECT! (So far...but calm and smart and community bomb-proof it seems). I feel absolutely blessed to have "randomly" found a dog that met so many of my specifications and was already obedience trained.

And, now the long-haul of task training and community socialization starts, but it's worth the journey.
No matter how many hours of training you have or what complex tasks you do, you will always get the most compliments for the appearance of your fur and ability to sit on command.