Line of beauty or work: what are the differences in purebred dogs?

What are the characteristics of purebred dogs from working lines compared to those from working lines?

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The different lines of dogs

The lineage represents the descent of an individual.

In dogs, we distinguish as follows:

  • individuals who are not from a selected lineage. These are typically mutts or even crossbred dogs.
  • individuals from selected lines, in other words so-called "purebred" dogs. In France, it is their registration in the French Book of Origins (or LOF) that guarantees their origins and genealogy.

Within dogs from selected lines, it is customary to distinguish dogs from beauty lines from dogs from working lines. But what exactly are we talking about?

Beauty lines

Beauty line breed dogs were selected primarily on physical criteria. They are also mainly judged on these criteria during a confirmation examination. These "competition beasts" must meet a specific standard based on weight, height, length and color of hair, color and shape of eyes, etc.

By dint of excessive inbreeding in order to fix the physical characteristics sought by the breeder, this type of selection has resulted in a deleterious reduction of the genetic heritage in certain breeds of dogs and, very often, in he alth problems or even behavioral problems.

But, fortunately, the canine world is now trying to stop falling into these extremes by prohibiting close inbreeding and introducing the consideration of behavioral traits during confirmation exams.

Serious breeders no longer rely solely on the criteria of compliance with the standard of beauty of the breed. They also take into account the he alth and behavior criteria of their breeding dogs to "produce" dogs that will make beautiful but also pleasant companion dogs.

Dogs from a working line

All breeds of dogs were originally selected for a particular use and to render service to Man: hunting, pulling sleds, guarding, fighting, driving and herding etc.

These days, most dogs are no longer just "simple companion dogs" who are no longer asked to fulfill these roles. However, all these dogs still have what are called motor patterns specific to their origins and their breed.

What is a motor boss?

A motor pattern is an innate behavioral sequence (which does not require any learning) and is based on genetics. The pursuit of an object, the pointing or even the report are examples of motor patterns in dogs.

If dogs from the beauty line continue to present some of the motor patterns specific to their breed, their intensity is generally quite low so that the "instinct" of these dogs has been considerably attenuated by a selection based almost exclusively on physical criteria. A Border Collie from a beauty line will therefore be less inclined to work well with the herd, unlike a Border Collie from a working line. In the latter, selection has been made for generations based almost exclusively on the ability of the dogs to perform the mission for which the breed was developed. Their confirmation also includes a work test to ensure that they have the desired behavioral skills and that they can pass them on to their offspring.

But, this also implies that so-called working dogs are not intended solely for companionship purposes and that they have the visceral need to accomplish what they are made for.In other words, if you adopt a border collie selected to be a sheepdog, you should not be surprised if he runs behind cars or bicycles if he does not have the opportunity to lead a herd. of sheep on a daily basis or if care is not taken to redirect this behavior by offering him the opportunity to play treibball for example.

A working dog that is locked in a garden all day or left at home all day will be unhappy and will have every chance of developing behaviors that are undesirable for its owner!

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