Inbred Border Collies at Westminster

The two top Border Collies coming out of the Westminster Kennel Club 2014 show are the inaugural Master’s Agility Championship winner, Kelso, and the Best In Breed winner Tang Dynasty Rocky.  You might guess that a little clone-collie like Rocky would be the more inbred of the two, but you’d be mistaken.

Surprisingly, Rocky was bred in China by Tang Nan and is owned by Tang Nan and Henry Su.  I really had no idea that the Chinese were into breeding Border Collies for show, but giving a quick look over Rocky’s pedigree, it’s pretty clear that they’re very derivative in their choices.  Specifically, like much of the USA show Border Collie scene, they’ve chosen to just buy their stock from Australian and New Zealand show kennels.


GCH Tang Dynasty Rocky
Breed: Border Collie  Sex: Dog
AKC: DN 35937801  Date of Birth: May 16, 2011
Breeder: Tang Nan  Owner: Tang Nan & Henry Su
Sire: Sportingfield’s Surfs Up
Dam: Kerrybrent NZ Kiwi Ray Of Lite

Show people in Border Collies are incredibly lazy and since the Oz breeders had a few decades head start on making cute little panda collies for dog shows before the USA got in on the game about 15 years ago, and apparently China in the last few years, no one really decided to create “show worthy” stock out of our own domestic dogs, rather they simply imported a bunch of offspring from winning dogs in Australia and New Zealand. Thus, those two remote and godforsaken islands of genetic isolation have determined what a show Border Collie looks like.

The cost, distance, and rather difficult import/export laws have stifled free flow of Border Collie genetics to and from Oz, although it must be noted that Border Collies and their relatives were being exported there since the British decided to use Oz as their septic tank for unwanted humans.

Amazingly enough, looking at 11 generations of Rocky’s pedigree doesn’t reveal a great deal of inbreeding.  A public database for show dogs lists his COI(11) at just 5%.

Tang Dynasty Rocky pedigree, CHs in red

Tang Dynasty Rocky pedigree, CHs in red

You can see that there are no common ancestors on a 3 generation pedigree, although the breeding is heavily focused solely on show champions which are shown in red. It’s still notable that even with no common ancestors up close, there’s still a COI of 5% that permeates down when you look a little further back.

Surprisingly, the performance bred agility winner at Westminster shows a much higher degree of inbreeding than the show winner Border Collie.

Kelso’s full name is Bo-Tyne Red Light District and his original call name was “Stripper.”  No comment.  I’m not sure if Bo-Tyne (Lynda Verna) is still an active kennel, but they did produce quite a few flyball and agility dogs in the Ontario area over the years and their offspring can be easily found on numerous Sporter Collie pages.  They rose to prominence when Susan Garrett, who is a multi-sport trainer and successful self promoter of training materials, was highly successful with a Bo-Tyne dog named Encore.



Bo-Tyne Red Light District MX MXJ XF
Breed: Border Collie  Sex: Dog  Date of Birth: May 3, 2006
Breeder: Lynda Verna  Owner: Delaney Ratner
Sire: Bo-Tyne’s Eye’s On Me “Focus”
Dam: Bo-Tyne Skittel

While you might think that the propensity to inbreed would be highest in the show kennels, Kelso is actually much more inbred than Rocky with a COI of 12%, about the level of first-cousins mating.

The 12% level of inbreeding, like the show dog, isn’t apparent on a short pedigree.  But notice how many branches of the pedigree are Bo-Tyne dogs. Well, many of them are actually related. You can see that Bo-Tyne Copper on the top of the pedigree has the same parents as the dam, Bo-Tyne Skittel.  Not only that, but also Shep and Katy appear elsewhere on the 7 generation pedigree as well as the Rambo x Waifer pairing being behind several of the dogs.
Not only is this pedigree a good example of the sort of local incestuous breeding pools, in this case Ontario Canada, that breeder culture often finds itself in, there’s a good deal of overlap here with successful and widely-bred dogs on the sheep trial circuit.  Bo-Tyne Jimy and Bo-Tyne Sky both share Rambo ISDS 153847 x Waifer ABCA 7387 as parents.  This breeding is from Amanda Milliken, a successful sheep trialer and breeder, and represents her main bitch-line that started with Bart and Meg, to produce Waifer.  She bred Rambo to her Waifer and kept Hazel, the first dog she trained and sibling to two of the dogs on this pedigree.  From Hazel she bred Grace, and from her Ethel, and from her Roz.

While I’m sure that the sheeple will be the first to point out that the world is coming to ruin because a sporter collie breeder like Bo-Tyne or Susan Garrett (who cling to their clickers the same way sheeple cling to their whistles) have used local working stock within their sporter collie focused breeding, it’s interesting and healthy for a gene pool to breed for a diversity of causes and mix lines that otherwise would stay stagnant on their own.

Sadly, you can see that even performance based breeding is no panacea for inbreeding avoidance.  It’s sort of sad that some single-focused breeder in China using almost entirely Oz stock to pump out clone collies has managed to win with a dog that has less than half the inbreeding of a dog that actually has to have talent and training to win.  Whereas there’s not a lot of options if one is looking for a Border Collie with just the right fluffy munchkin look that seems to be what the show world is rewarding, there are plenty of options for fast and biddable Border Collies.  Shame that the Bo-Tyne breeder decided to stick with her own kennel instead of finding quality dogs that weren’t as related.

Ramping up the inbreeding to three or four times the ambient level in the breed isn’t really a recipe for genetic success even if it appears to be paying off with performance.

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About Christopher

Christopher Landauer is a fifth generation Colorado native and second generation Border Collie enthusiast. Border Collies have been the Landauer family dogs since the 1960s and Christopher got his first one as a toddler. He began his own modest breeding program with the purchase of Dublin and Celeste in 2006 and currently shares his home with their children Mercury and Gemma as well. His interest in genetics began in AP Chemistry and AP Biology and was honed at Stanford University.