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Old 07-04-2011, 03:20 AM   #1
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Default What do performance handlers look for in future pups including crosses and mixes?

I tried to make the topic as broad as possible so we can take this thread where it may wander, but what does someone who is looking to purchase a performance puppy look for? And by performance, I mean basically any dog sport.

For me, my social life is heavily wrapped up in dogs. Anyone with access to my Facebook page can tell the number of "dog" friends I have. It's a lifestyle, and the absence of a dog to show would mean my absence from my friends and lifestyle. It would be a personal blow.

Yet, I live in a city that allows only four dogs per household. Knowing I will always have one or two retired performance dogs and dogs that cannot compete in the sport due to the inability to handle the stress of the ring or because of structure issues, I'm well aware that my dog slots really need to be handed out carefully to dogs who can help me keep involved with my friends. Agility (my preferred sport) is also keeping me healthy and active in the face of some physical challenges, and my doctors don't want me to quit.

So, when I go looking for my next performance dogs, I'm looking for dogs that will fulfill my purposes. I'm looking for proven agility lines and dogs with reasonable structure. I'm looking for parents and ancestors that have proven themselves over and over in the performance rings - agility, herding, obedience, etc. I'm looking for a dog that also will be my house hold pet, because this is first and foremost his ob. I'm looking for durability on the part of the lines. Do the dogs hold up to the rigors of canine sport over time, if handled safely? And of course I'm looking for no aggression, but drive, speed, enthusiasm and a huge zest for life. And it would be nice if the dog were a cuddle bunny too.

Color doesn't matter to me. Looks are only important as they affect structure and health, in my personal opinion. I'm looking for a breeder who is above responsible, who will stand behind her dogs and who insists the dog be returned to her/him if something happens to me. I love this clause as I know my dogs will always have great homes and someone watching out for them.

When I chose a pup, I want to see the relatives of the pup in the ring running like fire and bringing home ribbons. I want to see great relationships between the dogs and their owners. I want to see happy, healthy, sparkling personalities.

I chose my newest sheltie - now 3 years old - because I knew his line well. I was thrilled to get in on the litter and wound up getting pick of the males. My research paid off, and I have exactly what I 'ordered."

I know even the best breeder can't guarantee this result, but a good breeder will get it right more than not. Apparently, my breeder gets it right a lot.

IMO, lines with well handled genes over generations are hard to come by, but when you find them, they pay huge in results. I'm looking for results that are produced over and over again in litter after litter. That genetic stability is a huge draw to me. Because of this, I do go with the purebred, but understand why someone would prefer the mix. I do not see any advantages to paying huge bucks for crosses or "Designer" dogs when it comes to canine sport (or really anything, imo), as has been briefly discussed in another thread.

Personally, I'm also looking for the EXTREME wild child as I do agility, and the more wild the faster they run. These are the dogs that wind up in shelters because they are too "hyper." Of course, hyper is what agility folks are looking for!! No calm genes wanted!!! I want the dog that pet homes would deem untrainable.

I know other agility folks want fast but maybe not extreme. They're looking for the biddable, moderate working dog with plenty of drive and hype - no calm genes either - but not the extreme handful that I love to work with.

However, I'm aging now and am starting to look again at agility lines for my next performance pup. I'm wondering if I want that EXTREME wild child or a more moderate yet wonderfully drivey boy that's fun to run and nicely biddable. I must say, the faster they run the more fun it is to handle. But there's a lot to be said for the easier to train and handle drivey but not extreme dog. With this in mind, I'm looking at three to four lines and deciding which line to go with. Right now, I'm thinking I'll probably end up with the EXTREME wild child line for my next pup. BTW, the parents and relatives of this breeding are so proven that you truly cannot imagine a higher agility honor or title that they haven't earned.

I have barely scratched the surface of this topic. What do those of you who do any dog sports - or even therapy work (as that would be a different kettle of fish all together) - look for in your performance prospects? How do you feel about the potential emergence of new breeds to fit the new canine sports evolving - such as agility, flyball or Nose Work? How big of a concern is it that we're breeding faster and faster and crazier and crazier dogs to meet the ever growing need for speed in some of the speed sports? how much is too much?

These are all important questions and very controversial in canine sports today.
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Old 07-04-2011, 04:18 AM   #2
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I'm looking for a good work ethic and a good brain in a good body. In my breed, I think my best shot is working lines. Alice is pretty close to my ideal, except she tends to get out of alignment too easily, and I wish I'd gotten her in my 30s or 40s instead of my 50s, as I think I would have been able to do her more justice. Still, we haven't done TOO bad!

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Old 07-04-2011, 07:51 AM   #3
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I have two kind of dogs I look for.. Normally I have two dogs as well...
When looking for the full on competing pure breed, which my fav breed is rottweiler I first look at health and results... I would rather take a dog that has slightly lesser good merits but healthier lines with no dysplacia, no blindness, longer living dogs, a tad thinner frame so they aren't so heavy to suit a long term work, than the one who has better merits but might have more issues... I have found my dream line in spokane and when time is right that is where I will go to pick up my future pup.. Mind you that I am prepared to travel with car cross country to get this dog.. These dogs has perfect comformation with the rotties sturdiness and nice rectangular bodies, block headed without being too heavy, they have good engine on and off as rotties should have, no dysplacia and a tad longer lifespan than your average run of the mill rottie and even better yet no cancer (rotties are prone to that)..

Then for the second dog of the household, this is often a rescue.. I don't care there if they are people friendy more often than not I end up with a non housebroken aggressive dog.. What I do look for there is at least the will to work.. I try them with toys and treat.. If I get a response then I know Im good... I even had the shift manager of the shelter in Brooklyn's jaw on the floor when I took the rottie everyone was scared of and started working her right there and she listened.. What an awesome dog she was...

I do wish I had picked up a puppy a few years ago from north shore...

he was a rottie/shep mix.. totally fearless, when the other people working there punished him when he was gnawing on yuor fingers, he didn't take it as a punishment he thought they were playing with him... He was very smart, very responsive, learned sit on three attempts.. if I would rescue a puppy I think that is what I would go for again... There was nothing phasing this dog, he was hard, outgoing, smart, and totally fearless... He would be a handfull, and not sure he had an off button but I think I could of worked with that... He was spectacular...

So that is what I am looking for... I want the drive, and if I decide to go with genetics unknown, then it will be a rescue... But the drive has to be there...
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Old 07-04-2011, 09:08 AM   #4
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agilityk9trainer.... great post! I don't show dogs or do agility, but I can say it's important to do your homework, and find the right breeder. My Husband and I have lost dogs at an early age, from purchasing from less than stellar breeders. So for me, health is number one, and personality is number two. I want my pets to be around for a long time.

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Old 07-04-2011, 10:46 AM   #5
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I have found the perfect breed for my lifestyle so I won't stray from the Aussie (maybe a BC someday). I look for proven lines, I'll watch the parents/grandparents perform and how they act on and off the course. Good structure (hips and elbows good to excellent) and I watch for their jumping style too. At our last ASCA trial Myka had a brother and sister from his litter, a brother from a earlier litter and a sister from a later litter all at the same trial. He has earlier litter mates win MVA at the Canadian Nationals and winning NADAC Nationals. I want proven results, a history of performance in his blood lines. This will not guaranty I'll get the same results but it does tip the scales in our favor. Myka had been attacked a couple of times when he was young and is nervous around other dogs, something we are working through, so it hasn’t been the picture perfect trip I had imagined but we are working together and that is what’s most important. Maddie was the runt of her litter, started as a pet until we got into agility. She doesn’t have the structural soundness if Myka but she has the heart of a lion and loves to run. To sum it up:
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Old 07-04-2011, 10:56 AM   #6
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Great thread for ones that want to do this!
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:54 PM   #7
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I have a wide array that I'm working in... my 3 boys do Rally and Agility and my current boy is also working towards Therapy. So in MY case (knowing my goals) I wanted a stable dog with an on and off switch. Something I could bring out that fire to run and yet also focus on quieter control when desired. I already co-own Parker from the line, so when his breeder (co-owner) bred a wonderful litter I popped over out of interest to help and learn about whelping and soon found the little tike constantly on my heels. I had been chatting with his breeder about my training goals, like AgilityK9Trainer dog shows have become a big part of my life as well as working at a pet resort as an asst. manager. She knew what I was after and we'd discussed what her lines have produced: dogs doing just about everything from conformation champs, agility, herding, tracking, therapy... they were all around balanced lines. She let me watch as she assessed the litter for picks and Ion was turning out to be a drivey little thing with the frame that would suit performance well. Soon enough he was my first dog selected for that purpose and I've been tailoring his on/off switch ever since, training in modes and cues for the different 'sports'. Ion is smart and very athletic, but he can also be a snuggle bunny. His breeder sees him weekly where I work when she comes out to teach conformation classes, so we're in constant contact and of course if anything ever happened she would take both Parker and Ion back in heartbeat... of course chances are that won't happen. They are woven into my life. She told me just last weekend I brought Ion over for a playdate with his sisters and father that I am doing a wonderful job raising him.

I also did not look at markings or coat color... it was purely for the build and personality I required. I knew from working closely with his breeder what I would likely see as she has been breeding Collies for ages. Out at her household I was able to see dogs from several generations and knew others from classes at work who had her dogs. I knew the boys would be biddable, a quality I desired. For me I did not want the all out on the edge dog because I am not ashamed to admit I'm not ready for it yet. For agility at this level I wanted something that would run well with me give me a little time to think on course. After more experience I may very well run a 'firey dog'.

The heart of the matter is when I pick out for performance it is an investment in a life long relationship with goals in mind. I want to have the best shot at those skills lining up. Genetics in lines give us better odds. A mixed breed pup regardless of careful pairing may or may not turn out that way, there is no 'straight' line that gives that supporting record which makes the odds more a long shot. And with limited slots in my household for dogs I have to pick and choose carefully. Yes, this means I would not turn to a purposefully breed mix because I know the genes won't line up with any reliability. Even Ashenpaw my Border Collie came from purebred lines, he is from farm stock (working). He was a pet for a long time until I stumbled on Rally and Agility now he does both. Without sport goals in mind I chose him for stability in form and temperament. For me purebreds are the way to go in general.
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Old 07-04-2011, 03:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Draco View Post
The heart of the matter is when I pick out for performance it is an investment in a life long relationship with goals in mind. I want to have the best shot at those skills lining up. Genetics in lines give us better odds.
Excellently said.

For me, I doubt I would ever choose a mixed breed puppy simply because I would not know for sure how the structure would grow out. I would consider a mixed older puppy if I already had my agility dog "slots" filled. Then I would have an idea of structure in that mix, but I would lose the all important early training stage from 10 weeks to about six months. With a mix, determining structure, anglation, bone strength, etc. would be near to impossible at 10 weeks - although you can begin to determine temperament and extreme drive at that age. For instance, my mom has two mixes. One is a sturdy, well built terrier mix that aside from lacking early socialization would have made a great agility dog. So when my mom got it at a year old, I could see great structure, but because she didn't have it as a pup, it has fear issues now, making it not an ideal agility choice. The other is a dog she got as a pup, and it looked fine structure wise as a youngster. But as it aged, it's back grew and grew. It has a super long roach back that not only may not hold up to it's daily life as a lap dog, but would never hold up to agility.

An issue that disturbs me greatly are the rumors I'm hearing of a cross someone is trying to turn into a high drive speed breed for agility and flyball. It's a cross between a border collie and a ack Russell Terrier. Ideally, if genetics worked that way, the BC work ethic with a ack's extreme drive and hyperness could create the ideal small agility dog. How this breeding program is progressing, I do not know. I've heard the crosses are going like hotcakes, but I've never seen or heard of one.

I do expect over time we will see new breeds "created" only for the speed sports. I'm not sure where I stand on this. My main concern would be all of the pups bred during this decades long process who don't match up to what the breeder is looking for to meet the "breed standard" that breeder has in mind. Where do these pet home pups go? Are they placed in proper homes and indeed, how many pet homes out there can even begin to stand a bc/ack russell mix in their house? Talk about no off switch!! There would be a ton of "excess" pups in such a process as the genes are refined.

Another issue for the speed sports are that breeders of the most popular breeds like Border Collies and Shelties (two name a few) are breeding fastest dogs to fastest dogs. But, are they paying close attention to structure? There is a concern on the coasts especially that dogs are beginning to break down early in their lives because breeders are focusing on extreme drive and speed over structure. Another concern is that dogs who because this extreme drive has taken them over have lost the ability to use common sense to protect themselves. For instance, a smart dog who knows to protect himself will slow down dramatically on an agility surface that is slippery (say wet grass). This is self preservation that you WANT to see in your dog to avoid inury even if it means winning 8th place. Dogs without this self protection will run full out on such surfaces. These extreme dogs lack the self preservation instinct. They'll run over a dog walk at top speed, take a bad fall, go back on the dog walk at that extreme speed again, fall, and do it all over again!! A dog with self preservation will go on the dog walk at extreme speed, fall, but next time take that dog walk slower to be sure to keep himself safe.

Some breeders are seeing dollar signs and using these dogs that lack self preservation instincts in their breeding program. Because of Asher's extreme speed, I was worried about it, and actually trained some safety measures into his training program. I taught him how to safely ump off a dog walk, that it was OK to slow down for questionable surfaces. He got rewarded for slowing down if footing was bad or if he felt uncomfortable with a situation. He has great self preservation instincts that I reward.

I read an article years ago about the same thing happening in horse racing. Years ago a famous horse was bred over and over again as it was producing such great children with the all out desire to RUN. However, it was also apparently passing on some poor structure that wasn't being caught by the breeders and it was passing on the lack of self preservation genes. This horse is all throughout the genes of the racing horses now, and many feel it is why you see so many more horses break down than you used to.

We can't let this happen in dogs in our ever ending search for that extra .01 of a second faster.
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Old 07-04-2011, 07:12 PM   #9
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I love that you've started this thread. Its funny you mention it because in the next year or two ill be getting a pup. Now I do not compete in sports for titles (yet) however as some of you know I do train dogs for a living. Or rather their people. My current dog Dyno works around 10 hours a week with me. Sometimes more. He's priceless when it comes to evals puppy disapline demonstations and oodles more. The pup I need has huge shoes to fill that's for sure. It may not be a sport to come to work but its still work.


As I think about what I not only want in a dog but need I find myself compiling a list similiar to what you all have mentioned thus far. I've always been partial to getting rescues. Dyno was R4 or 5 when I got him. I do plan on a pup that of course dyno shall help train (I hope). But Id like medium energy (dyno is lower and slower than a snail most days) I would also like a large dog. I've found too often people afraid of large dogs just because they are larger and would like to help bring them around to realize nkt all large dogs are what they assune. Id also like a fairly intuative dog... Dyno and I have been able to read each other very when it comes to most things. Almost like he can read my mind. Now I know this comes more with a bond but I cannot have a super independent dog. On the other hand not a velcro dog either. There's a fine line I suppose. Id also like a braver pup. Dyno gets used to new things very quickly. He nearly mastered the wobbled and teeter in 2 days. Basically.. I want my syno only bigger with more energy and oh would play! Dyno doesn't play :[


I plan on watching a few breed specific rescues and local shelters for a new pup. Even with the lure of responsible breeders I cannot bring myself to buy a dog. Especially after the success I've had with Dyno.

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Old 07-04-2011, 07:47 PM   #10
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Not everyone needs to purchase a pup from a breeder. IMO if you don't really need a specific purpose dog, it's best to rescue. It sounds to me like you need a well rounded dog that isn't extreme in any one area. An emotionally sound pup with a willingness to work. If I were you, I'd be looking into rescue and even mutts. You aren't going to ask for athletic demands on the dog's structure, so you while you'll want a sound dog, you don't have to pay huge attention to structure.

I think doing some personality tests on rescues and maybe even doing a foster on rescues you are interested in until you find your right dog will be a great option for you.

If a dog isn't bound for canine sport, it's still important to really narrow down what you are looking for in a future companion and going out with that list in mind (or preferably on paper) to find the right breed/mix for you.
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