Showsight Presents The Border Collie

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When using their eye to move live- stock, Border Collies lower at least their heads, and often the entire front portion of their bodies, into a creeping or crouch- ing position. Border Collies have the abil- ity to drop to the ground instantaneously, which is called “clapping”. Additionally, the amazing stopping, turning and general agility of the breed is unsurpassed. It is only after the dog can meet the physical standards required for its job should other, non-functional traits be con- sidered. But, some of the things that may be thought of as “cosmetic” actually have a working purpose. Pigmentation is one example—a well-pigmented dog is less likely to su ff er sunburn. Whiskers should remain untrimmed because whiskers help pick up the scent of sheep that are out of sight. Even the white tip on the end of a tail carried in an upward swirl has a purpose. It is known as the “shepherd’s lantern” because many times the tip of a tail would be all that would lead the shepherd home in the dark after a long day’s work. Herding instinct and ability can- not be assessed in the conformation ring, but the physical qualities that

enhance the dog’s ability to work can. For instance, only a dog with a well- angulated, sound front will be able to crouch in true Border Collie fashion. This posture also requires the scapula to be further apart when the dog is stand- ing than many other breeds. Because of the need for agile, fast turns, the Border Collie’s length of body should be pri- marily in the ribcage; not in a long loin which might be susceptible to injury. Border Collies must have moderate, oval bone—light enough for speed, but sub- stantial enough for stamina. Border Collies historically come in four distinct styles. In her classic treatise, Key Dogs from the Border Col- lie Family , Sheila Grew identified four individual types within the Border Col- lie breed. The types are divided by phys- ical looks, but general working style and temperament also seem related to type. She called them: 1) Northumbrian type; 2) Wiston Cap type; 3) Nap type; and 4) Herdman’s Tommy type. The AKC breed standard was purposely written to be broad enough to include all four. No one style is preferred over the others.

This can be confusing to those who are unfamiliar with the development of the breed. Regardless of its particu- lar style, it is the judge’s job to pick the best representative in the ring that day. A final lineup that includes a variety of styles does not mean the judge doesn’t know what he or she is doing. Instead, it reflects judging that respects the range of variety acceptable in this breed. Only when two dogs are of equal quality should a judge choose based upon any personal preference for one style over another. Having four historically distinct styles does not mean that breed type should be ignored. When a judge is standing in the middle of the ring looking at a lineup that has just come in, there should be no question that the dogs are Border Collies. If one has to look for a tail to determine whether a dog is an Austra- lian Shepherd or a Border Collie, breed type is lacking. In addition to head and body shape, one of the most important aspects of breed type is movement. Some dogs manage to look great on the stack, but fall apart when moved.

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214 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J UNE 2014

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