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An ABC of ABCs

'Other breeds' for agility

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In theory, any dog can do agility. Which breed or type you choose depends upon your personal situation and your preferences. If winning classes regularly is your goal, you'll probably want a Border Collie or Working Sheepdog. Few breeds come close to the collie's overall aptitude for competitive agility (although Kelpie and Aussie handlers may not agree!). But hey, you don't have to own the fastest dogs to be able to enjoy agility.

So much of the sport is dependent upon your relationship with your dog and meeting your own goals rather than beating the other person. Plus changes in the sport now mean that instead of having to be 'first past the post', we can accumulate points from "places" and clear rounds to progress under both Kennel Club and UK Agility rules. So owners of ABC dogs (it stands for Anything But Collies, by the way), stand tall and be proud!

If you are thinking about getting a new agility dog - be it a puppy or rescue - consider your goals. If you're not fixated on having a collie-type, here are some alternative suggestions for ABC breeds. They are listed in alphabetical order and described by the people who know them best - their owners and handlers. If you do not see your breed - teacup, mini, midi, maxi or giant - or would like to add your comments to a particular entry, just email Agilitynet. Now read on...

 

A-B-C

  ...
Afghan Hound. In a nutshell: High-speed flying beauty  Afghan Hound Beagle. In a nutshell: Active, sociable and intelligent but independent when out and about.  Beagle Boxer. In a nutshell: A fitness nut  Boxer
Australian Cattle Dog. In a nutshell: Smooth coated, medium-sized, energetic dog, easy to train with strong working instincts.  Australian Cattle Dog Bearded Collie. In a nutshell: A shaggy happy-go-lucky dog of high intelligence.  Bearded Collie Canaan Dog. In a nutshell: An agility oddball, handle at your own risk.  Canaan Dog
Australian Shepherd Dog. In a nutshell: Once you have owed one Aussie, you'll want another.  Australian Shepherd Dog Belgian Shepherd. In a nutshell: This is the start of the fun!  Belgian Shepherd Cocker Spaniel. In a nutshell: All ears 'n' enthusiasm!  Cocker Spaniel
Australian stumpy tail cattle dog. In a nutshell: Australia's first working dog - once almost extinct as a breed, still rare in Australia and almost unknown elsewhere, but making a comeback.  Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog Border Terrier. In a nutshell: A small dog with a large dog's attitude.  Border Terrier Cross Breed. In a nutshell: A one of a kind!  Cross Breed

 

  D - I

Dalmatian  Dalmatian Field Spaniel Field Spaniel Great Dane  Great Dane
Dobermann  Dobermann Flatcoated Retriever  Flatcoat Retriever Hovawart Hovawart 
English Pointer  English Pointer German Shepherd German Shepherd Hungarian Vizsla  Hungarian Vizsla
English Springer Spaniel  English Springer Spaniel Golden Retriever   Golden Retriever Irish Setter Irish Setter 

 

  I - R

Italian Spinone  Italian Spinone Large Munsterlander  Large Munsterlander Pharaoh Hound  Pharaoh Hound
Jack Russell Terrier  Jack Russell Terrier Lurcher  Lurcher Rhodesian Ridgeback  Rhodesian Ridgeback
Kelpie  Kelpie Miniature Schnauzer  Miniature Schnauzer Rottweiler  Rottweiler
Labrador Retriever   Labrador Retriever Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever  Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Rough Collie  Rough Collie

 

 S - Z

Shetland Sheepdog  Shetland Sheepdog Staffordshire Bull Terrier  Staffordshire Bull Terrier Welsh Terrier. In a nutshell: A lively and loving companion who when focused can compete against the best.  Welsh Terrier
Siberian Husky  Siberian Husky Standard Poodle  Poodle (Standard) Whippet. In a nutshell: A high-drive couch potato. A nice sized dog, competitive with the BC’s and Aussies in speed and athleticism.   Whippet
Smooth Collie  Smooth Collie Weimaraner. In a nutshell: The handsome 'silver ghost' of agility - athletic, fearless, often 'one-man' dogs.  Weimaraner Yorkshire Terrier. In a nutshell: Friendly, happy and loves attention, pretty smart and high on cute factor!  Yorkshire Terrier
Smooth Coat Fox Terrier  Smooth Coat Fox Terrier  West Highland White Terrier    

 

If you are an ABC, Mini or Midi handler with experience of a breed not listed here - and if you would like to write up your breed - email ellen.rocco@agilitynet.co.uk.

 


Feedback

From Helen Tranter (Australia)...
What a great source of info this page was! I am currently competing in Australia and at the moment we have lots of other breeds who compete. This is great because it definitely takes all sorts.
(07/08/02)

From Selina Skipper...
I loved the article, and was so impressed with the honesty of the contributors. (16/07/02)

From Liz Catt...
Great fun to read through! (01/07/02)

From Jim Webster...
Excellent article. Can we include midis as well please. (14/06/02)

From Susan Choux...
Wonderful information. Any chance of the same for Minis???
(13/06/02)

From Eric Trafford...
As a mini person, I am disappointed that you have chosen to feature only standard size breeds. Bring on the Jack Russells and Border Terriers ETC! (13/06/02)

From Paula Triggs
I thought the article on ABCs was excellent, in particular Liz Stedman's review on Hungarian Vizslas which describes them perfectly even down to the 'vocal males'! Needless to say my Ross is one of the noisy ones whose enthusiastic woofing can be heard all the way round the course! (11/06/02)

From Angela
I really enjoyed this article. Please can we now have one on Mini breeds?

I read the bit on the Standard Poodle and the standard seems much the same as a Mini. I was so pleased to read these disadvantages (There were the good points that were just as true for my Teddy).

You cannot keep repeating things over and over again as you might with a Collie. They don't like the handler getting it wrong and will switch off. I have always argued with my husband that Poodles get bored easily and not like to keep practising the same thing over and aver again. He was told by one agility person that the only way to train the weaves was to spend an hour doing it until the dog it right! I will show him this to prove that what might work with her Retrievers doesn’t work with a Poodle.  

But it was the second comment that really got me. Some time ago I wrote to the Forum asking why I either get it all right but once it goes wrong it all goes wrong. This statement 'They don't like the handler getting it wrong and will switch off.' is exactly what John Leslie said to me on Sunday. I got half way round a rather tricky open course without a fault. Then I directed him on a back push through - I don’t know the correct term - with a wave of the harm and the command 'Back.' Unfortunately Teddy was too quick off the mark and turned on the spot and back jumped. I shouted at him and tried to call him back. He stared at me looking quite confused and then started to roam around sniffing the ground. When I did get him to return to me, we completed the course with out too many hitches. The next time we went he jumped the first jump and then, as I turned to see if he was with me, he turned and jumped to the left. I couldn’t understand at the time but everyone watching from my club said that it looked as if I was gong to send him that way. This time I acted as calmly as I could and just treated the fault as if it Teddy had got it right. I made the tone of my voice seem as if he had done well and this time he came straight  round the jump back to me and we carried on tot do the rest of the course with (I think) no more faults (not that it matters as we had been eliminated in that second jump). I was thinking about this yesterday – when  was kicking myself for being so stupid, and then today I read this item that made it so plain. Teddy is not being a bad dog; he is just being a poodle! (11/06/02)