An Agility-Ace Dog

Several dog breeds excel at agility and make fun yet laidback companions.

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Q. My daughter is very involved in agility and fly ball, and is looking at getting a Border Collie to train for such shows. I’m concerned we’re too busy to keep this breed of dog happy. She attends school and has a busy sports life, but goes to two or three dog events each month. Can you recommend a puppy for her to train, keeping in mind he will have an average of 60 minutes or more of outdoor play a day? My daughter is really passionate and I welcome that, but want to be sure we are making the right dog choice.

A. I am impressed both by your daughter’s enthusiasm for dog sports and your research skills and desire to choose the most suitable breed for your family. You are quite right in wanting to make the most appropriate choice. After all, even with your daughter attending agility and flyball events two to three weekends a month, that’s still a fraction of the time the dog will be home, serving as a loving pet and companion.

Border Collies are great performers in these activities, but they are busy, high-energy dogs. There are other breeds to consider that perform very well at these events, but would be more laidback and mellow at home, and content with an hour of outdoor play daily. Papillons are wonderful little dogs, and outstanding performers in both agility and flyball. This is a hardy breed, very athletic, a handy size, and not much grooming required for a long-haired dog. Border Terriers are another great breed we are seeing occasionally on the agility course, and well worth investigating. The coat must be hand stripped for the show ring but many pet owners learn to do it quite well. They’re a sturdy, fun breed, with a distinctive, otter-like face and make great cuddlers when the performance day is done.


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Maggie   Lancaster, PA

10/20/2009 5:58:10 AM

To those wanting agility information try cleanrun.com or akc.org or ukcdogs.com


To the person who mentioned mixed breeds I have to say I welcome the plugs on purebreds! These days purebreds are getting the short end of the stick with all the plugs for adoption which are usually geared towards mixed breeds. (although there are plenty of purebreds who need homes too) I personally would not reccomend a mixed breed or rescue puppy for performance events as evaluating health and structure would be nearly impossible. You want a sound/healthy dog for the physical demands of agility. Weak knees, long backs, short upper arms, straight shoulders and other structural flaws can lead to injury and soundness issues in the future if the dog is jumping a lot such as in frisbee, agility, flyball. With a purebred you can evaluate the structure of parents/relatives and most likely have access to evaluating the puppy itself at 7 weeks of age to help assure avoidance of structural issues that could cause problems.


Of course some people will jump their dog without care or concern for the dogs structure and long term soundness.

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Maggie   Lancaster, PA

10/20/2009 5:50:42 AM

I totally disagree. Border Terriers are high energy little dogs! I have lived with Border Collies and Papillons, and the Border Collies are far easier to live with, quieter, less active in the house!


The right Border Collie, from a breeder who is producing balanced dogs with good on/off switches will do just fine. They aren't supposed to be a go all day breed...they are supposed to be able to relax in the barn or in the field while the sheep graze. Short bursts of energy, followed by rest periods...just as most house dogs need to live.

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mandy   forest, OH

11/26/2008 8:41:55 AM

Fly ball sounds like
fun
God Bless

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kaye   springtown, TX

9/23/2008 6:19:07 AM

i have a border collie,where can we go to learn more about flyball i live in ft worth texas area

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