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My husband and I are ready to get a new puppy. We have an old blind blue heeler that we dearly love but I am afraid he will not be with us much longer. We have thought we might like to get a collie, it is one breed we have never had and I think they are just beautiful dogs. I wonder how they would be around alot of poultry? We are looking for a good all around farm dog, protective and a good watchdog but not aggressive at all. I have alot of people coming on the farm to buy poultry and I can't have a dog that is aggressive. We have had a Great Pyreness before and although they are good dogs we do not want another one right now. I would consider another breed but I am really wanting a collie. They also seem very hard to find here in Tn. Anybody around Tn. raise them?
 

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I have collies, I breed about once a year. To answer your questions...they CAN be good with poultry, but some are not. My pups are introduced and taught how to behave with them at an early age. Now if they have not been taught early or have a high prey drive, they will kill them. For instance, I ahve a rescue that will snatch any bird out the the air....she is not allowed off leash. I had a roo that loved one of my collies...he would fly into that dogs run every night and go inside the building to sleep with the dog. I would find then snuggled up each early morning. Come day break, the roo would fly out and go about his day, but would go back each night to his buddy. One night he made the mistake of going into the wrong run in with a collie that had high prey drive...found the feathers the next morning. I now only have the rescue left that has high prey drive as the ones I had that were high prey drive passed away or were placed in pet homes. I have several with great herding instict, those I use to herd the poultry and catch birds I need to get a hold of. My one boy I had was wonderful with catching even baby birds. He instictively knew how much force was needed. He would find the baby chicks and cradle them in his paws with his chin on them until I came and got it. The hens he would be a bit harder with and hold them down with his paws. The roos, he would snatch from the air by thier tail feathers and hold them with a gentle mouth. never ever injured a bird, but could be counted on to locate, catch and herd my flock with just a word or a hand signal. I really miss that dog! I have another who is close, we are working on it. But my point is the instict has to be bred into them and trained.
Collies will bark when people come by...they will also bark at other times if not trained what "enough" means. They are a barky breed but also very responsive to training. Many people are too lazy to train and will instead get thier collie debarked....which makes it even harder to train not to bark...just dulls the noise.
Collies are a very sensitive breed...not for everyone. If your used to barking out commands and are the type of handler that is agressive in your training and body language...a collie is not the breed for you. Collies are one of the easiest to train and work with if treated fairly and calmly. They do not respond to anything over the top and will either over submit or firmly refuse or run (depending on the temerament). Collie temperment has really taken a hit with backyard breeders and even show breeders. Many are shy and fearful or agressive. So in your search, you will want to be sure to get a collie from someone who does temperment testing on all thier dogs and pups. Ones with herding background are a plus, but no guarantee that the pup from the herders will be herders nor have the temperament that you want. Ideally you want something from lines that have herded and score in the 18-27 range - in outgoing to slightly dominant range (a bit higher or lower is fine- with lower end of scale being ideal if you are not such a consistent trainer). If you get into 34-38 range, your looking at a dog that lacks some confidence...you want confidence for your purpose, though this pup would be a great pet. If you go higher, your looking at a really submissive dog. If you go much lower than the ideal range (below 15ish) you have a dog that that is too agressive. The temperament test will tell you the level of the pups prey drive. Ideally you would want a 2 for herding and 3 or 4 for getting along. 1 would require training to not bite the prey and may not be able to be trained out. 5 and 6 would have me concerned about fearfulness/shyness and the rest of the test would tell.

You also want to be sure the dog can see well. Collies have a very high rate of CEA which can affect vision (over 95% affected). Therefore you want to make sure the puppy has a CERF done (exam by an opthomologist) by the breeder before you buy. Just because the puppy is affected does not take it out of your choices if you plan to alter...it depends on degrees. A mildly affected dog will still be able to see just fine. Even a pinpoint coloboma will not knock it out for your purpose. My best herding dog (never bred him) had a small coloboma. You will not want something that is severly affected though...medium to large coloboma and partially or fully detached retina. PRA (wich causes blindness later on) is also a concern, so the CERFis imperative to detect that.
You will also want to ask about hip dysplasia testing on the parents/ grandparents. Though HD is not as common in collies as it once was (especially in show lines), it does still exist- especially in non-show lines. Because it so low in show lines, many show breeders do not OFA anymore, but the smart ones do at least xray thier breeding stock before breeding to check for it so they can be confident that it has not cropped up.
You should also request a guarantee for genetic issues for at least 2 yrs. It takes 2 yrs before the pup can be xrayed for HD and thyroid will be able to be tested at that time as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
My goodness, Thank you so much for the excellent information. The vision part worries me, I did not know that. As I mentioned my dog Jake is blind and has been for around 2 yrs. now. It is just heartbreaking, even though he does quite well getting around. I will have to consider this and if I find a pup I will have his eyes checked.
 

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YOU should not be having his eyes checked...you should expect the breeder to do this before you purchase it. They can be checked at 6-8 weeks old. It has to be done by an opthomologist as General practioners lack the equipment and drops needed (not to mention the training) to be able to get a good look at the back of the eyeball. Do not ask about eye checks...ask about CERF...otherwise the person may say, oh yes- my vet checked the eyes...the pup can see fine. When the exam is done by an opthomologist there is a form that the opth. fills out for each pup...the CERF registration paper that will show the puppies registration number (if they have one then), DOB, color, sex, etc. You should expect to see a copy of this before purchasing and have the original given to you when you purchase the puppy. If you send it in with the fee, they will add the puppy to the database and it will be given a CERF number. You do not need to send it in if you do not want to, but that paper verifies what the puppy has (or is normal) and the opth will usually make a note as to the severity. For instance, mine will put pin-point coloboma if it is a pin-point or if there is something severe, she will note if the eye is still visual and how much. If non- visual, she will put that too. If you see a condition listed like coloboma or microthalmia, you can use the number on the paper (if you have seen it before purchasing) and call the opth to ask about visuality of the pup.

Check out my website for more information about the collie, I have put quite a bit of info in there on health, grooming, training, etc.

Just click Willowynd Collies in my sig.
 

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On Animal Planet's Dogs 101 they featured the collie and a wonderful farm Quaker Hill - I think in MI? - that appears to raise terrific herding stock. I have wanted a collie all my life after having a wide assortment of breeds and hope to find the pup of my dreams this year. Thanks Willow for all your invaluable info.
 
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