Suggestions for future sport/performance dog?

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The Monster
Barked: Mon Nov 19, '12 8:25am PST 
I'd like some input on a potential future performance dog. A new dog is still quite a few years in the future, and would require me convincing my husband that getting a new performance pup won't be THAT bad (though, as we all know, it totally will be THAT bad).

There are a few characteristics that I know I want, but I'm not sure which breed I'll eventually end up choosing. So I was hoping to crowd source a bit on Dogster to see what other people have to say.

As I've stated, the dog will be a performance dog. That is, it will probably participate in agility, obedience, flyball and other sports -- and I would require that we at least be competitive at the high end of these sports but I don't require to be at the top by any means. I will require the dog be very trustworthy off leash and very responsive to cues.

Cohen is my current (and first) sport dog, and she's been a fabulous introduction into dog sports. I love how well rounded she is, and she is VERY forgiving of my mistakes. She'll repeat something ad infinitum if I ask her to, and always with a smile on her face. My biggest issue with her is that while she's very high energy and willing, she's not quite as "snappy" as I would like. I wish she was a little faster responding to cues. She'll down as soon as I say "down" but I get envious of the dogs who shake the floor hitting the ground they respond so fast. She'll run quickly in agility, but I know she's not running top speed. I know some of this lack of snappiness is an issue with training, but some of it is drive.

I also like how calm Cohen can be, and she has great self control. A lot of this has been training, but I can trust her to behave herself with strangers. She's mildly reactive to strange dogs in her face, but if I'm watching her she'll control herself marvelously and a casual observer would be none the wiser. It's important for me for my dog to be at least dog tolerant while working in high energy environments.

Size-wise, I'd probably be looking for a dog between 25 and 50 pounds, but this is negotiable. I require the dog to be lean, fast and driven.

I would ideally like a balance of toy vs food drive. I've fallen into the trap of training with food too often with Cohen, and would like to balance it all out a bit better.

I know that some of the small issues I have with Cohen being not snappy enough have an inverse relationship with her tolerance for working around distraction and self control. I'm sure it's probably just about impossible to get the best of both worlds, but I'd love to try.

Energy-wise, I can cope with a high energy dog. However I'll not lie - it's been nice now that Cohen has relaxed a bit (she's 3 yrs now) and doesn't need to be exercised 5+ hrs a day.

I like a dog who will stick to me like glue, and I like to be the centre of the dog's world.

The breeds I've been considering are Border Collies, Malinois (maybe a Terv) or another Aussie. I'm hesitant to get another Aussie since I think I lucked out a great deal with Cohen - she's more BC-like than any other Aussie I've met. She's slight, lithe and drivier than most. It's not often that I see another Aussie I like, and finding reliable sport lines hasn't been easy. Border Collies are Handler Mistake Amplifiers, so it's possible that one will be frustrating to deal with. Plus, a lot of the ones I like to watch work are reactive -- but I think that I might be able to find a nice dog out of low-DA type lines. Malinois are just awesome dogs, but I don't know much about them. They may be too much dog for me.

I've toyed with other breeds/crosses, like a Pyr Shep, Border Collie purpose-bred crosses, etc. I'm also considering a GSD out of working/sport lines, but I'm on the fence.

Does anyone have any other suggestions for me? Any insight into what might work best for me going forward? Anything I've left out?


Barked: Mon Nov 19, '12 9:04am PST 
I don't believe I've ever suggested this to anyone else here before, and I have no idea if you'd ever be interested in considering, but Brittany Spaniel fits to a T here....

Barked: Mon Nov 19, '12 9:33am PST 
The softer belgians, well relatively, like the teuveren do very well in sports.

What about a portugese water dog, they're capable of most things and seem to do them pretty well.

Shiver Me- Timbers- "Charlie"

My Little Dog, a- heartbeat at my- feet.<3
Barked: Mon Nov 19, '12 2:55pm PST 
You said you've toyed with Border Collie purpose-bred mixes and I can quite honestly say that my Lab/Border mix fits all of your criteria to a T.

She's incredibly drivey, intelligent, forgiving, and super snappy. She's one of the hit-the-ground-hard on a down dogs. She's both food and toy driven, and has the better traits of both breeds.

The great part is that she can go-go-go, but also has an off-switch in the house and can settle very easily. She's on the smaller side of both breeds, being barely bigger than my Beagle at 8 months old, but she's absolutely everything you're looking for.

In fact, I was going to be talking to my fiance about putting her into agility because she'd be amazing at it. Both her parents were working farm dogs and she was an oops litter that they just wanted to find good homes for.

The Lab really balances out the intensity of the Border in her, making her easier to handle and more forgiving.

I'm not saying go look for a person purpose-breeding this mix, but they're pretty common, not hard to find and crop up in rescues quite a bit too.

Whippy- The- Whipador
Barked: Mon Nov 19, '12 3:58pm PST 
I thought of a Kelpie, but not sure you'd find them more work than an Aussie. I know they do super well in agility and obedience and fall within the weight/size range you're looking for.
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Mon Nov 19, '12 4:56pm PST 
First....smart cookie award for saying not another Aussie. Cohen has fit you so well, that anything will be a disappointment. Just.....don't.

A Border Collie best, but if you want to lessen your concern areas then I would say look into an English Shepherd, who are a lot more stable and have more versatility....not that BC's don't have, but they are crackheads while ES's are more hard workers without going off the deep end.

The Monster
Barked: Mon Nov 19, '12 6:01pm PST 
Trigger, I've seen a few Brittany Spaniels doing obedience, and they've been absolutely awesome to watch. I admit that for a brief second or two I considered one for a potential future dog. But unfortunately retrievers & spaniels don't really turn my crank the same way herders do. I'll adore them from afar however.

PWDs don't really fit my bill. I need a dog with more drive and intensity than what I've seen (and I've seen quite a few). I'm also not partial to their personalities - I think I need my potential future dog to have a more serious personality and not feel that all the world is a joke. Plus, I'm not down for the kind of grooming it would require.

Labs aren't my cup of tea for the reasons I've stated above, so I'd probably avoid any sort of Lab-X.

Of the birding dogs, the only one I've ever really considered was a Toller, but I think a BC is better suited to me than a Toller.

A Kelpie or a Koolie may fit the bill, going forward. My guess is that I'll probably find myself with a Border Collie out of working/sport lines. I'm not very familiar with English Shepherds -- how do they compare to Aussies? I've always thought of them as roughly equatable.

I'm worried about falling into the trap I see a lot of trainers fall into where I get myself a hotshot new sport dog and end up biting off more than I can chew. I'd like to think that I have the requisite skills to handle a more challenging dog/breed, but I also know that I'm still relatively inexperienced.

Thanks guys. I'm all ears for more suggestions. I'd also love to hear people's thoughts on the lines present within some herding breeds - like, how would you go about finding a performance dog in English Shepherds? How do working bred BCs compare to sport bred ones?

The Muddy- Princess
Barked: Mon Nov 19, '12 6:33pm PST 
It really seems to me that you want a BC, everything you mention is just that. I don't think BCs are necessarily more intense than Aussies. My advice is to find a BC that you love and work backward to the breeder.
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Mon Nov 19, '12 6:35pm PST 
A really good person to contact would be Dogster Chandler, who is very entrenched in the breed. But tight lipped publicly. That's very per this breed. The English Shepherd people can be a little politically divided, but the all told persona is that they are hell bent to protect this breed from getting ruined by popularity, show dog fluff and so on. They want this is to be a TRUE farm dog.

You will find this breed harder and more stable. They are more balanced. Aussies can be a bit weak nerved and sensitive, BC's can be a bit sharp. English Shepherds have what I would call a tougher personality, but stronger nerves/less reactivity. A little more apt to test, but also more stable and with the higher nerves. These are dogs that arrived here and were utilized across more of a broad spectrum....herded, hunted, protected. Whatever they needed to be. Some will find them to have a little more scope. You sometimes need to work a little harder to get the flow going with them as they aren't the crackheads that BCs can at times be, but done right there is one heck of a lot of balance in this breed, which tends to be more precarious than those more popularized.

A bit of a better choice than a Mal, who may end up going in directions you simply don't want to deal with. They can be awfully tough. Whereas something like the Terv may be "too little" if you want to highend it. ES's, aka farmcollies, may hit the balance you are seeking.

Code name:- Farmcollie
Barked: Mon Nov 19, '12 6:56pm PST 
Yep, tell me if you're interested and I can give you the good links to research and hook you up with agility people who have ES so you can talk to them.

A few cautions. ES have historically been bred for farmwork. They can be quite variable in temperament and appearance. (Including ranging from 30 to 90 lbs.) While in general I believe they tend to be more stable and work oriented than a lot of Aussies I've seen, there are *some* that are too tuned in to possible threats to live in the 'burbs. Make sure you work with an experienced breeder who can find the correct pup for you, and check out the parent's temperaments. NESR is also a very good option; they're great at evaluating the dogs that come into rescue and placing them in the correct homes.

Oh, they're also not into repetitive drilling. Once they "get it" they tend to get bored if you keep asking them to repeat the same exercise.