Friday, October 10, 2008

Introducing the world's most efficient ankle-biter

Sorry for the delay! You might have noticed that Blogger temporarily locked MoT. Apparently they were just checking that we're not a spam blog, and I don't think I helped our image by failing the 'prove you're not a bot' test when I requested to be unlocked the first time... Anyway, I got it in the end, so we're back up now and raring to bash this latest 'breed'!

I decided not to rag on poodle hybrids this week. This mix caught my eye and, frankly, I find it much more deserving of my ire, disgust etc than an -oodle/-poo. It's finally happened... The desecration of the breed closest to my heart.

Yes, the Border Jack. Offspring of a Border collie and a Jack Russell. People are actually breeding these terrors. Together. Intentionally.

[deep breath]

Now, I know these dogs aren't exactly in vogue (yet), but there are quite a few floating around. I can't figure out why anybody would be breeding Jack Russell mutts when they can't even seem to get their breed straight. (Jack Russell? Parson Russell? Parson Jack Russell? Whatever. I'd be working on a breed distinction if I were a breeder and the dispute mattered to me - ie purebred Jacks and Parsons.)

So you take a pot and toss in some fun traits like 'working dog', 'easily bored' and 'not good with children'. Add a busy mind and a destructive streak. Stir well. Throw in a sprig of joint problems for flavour. Mix in some hyperactivity, and ... mmm. Smells like a super-fun family dog!

THE PROS: Not much to speak of. Really. I thought about it, and I looked around, but they really are scarce.

If I may go off on a tangent, I was once watching a mock agility competition at an annual pet convention in Toronto, with Border collies dominating the scene. After matching off the final pair (collies both), they pitted the victor against their reigning champ... A Jack Russell. And boy, did she blow away the competition! She didn't put a foot wrong - and those little legs could seriously motor. She flew through the course and finished with time to spare. I almost couldn't believe my eyes.

Now if somebody watching that competition had thought, "If I put that Border collie and that Jack Russell together, I'd have a SUPER agility dog!" ....they'd be a dumbass. Really. Don't do that. But at least they'd have a purpose. Sadly, I suspect the prowess both breeds show in agility and flyball is just a coincidence when it comes to their offspring. Still ... I guess it's a quasi-pro ... the pups might be useful agility dogs as well? ...I'm sorry, I can't do it. You don't know what you'll get with muttpuppies! They could be great but they could end up all wrong.

I'm certain that a Border Jack owner would tell me how smart their dog is. Okay. Borders and Jacks are both smart dogs, I'm sure their babies are smart too. This is a pro, of course; except how many dogs like Border collies end up in rescues because their owners can't handle them? So many people make the mistake of thinking smart = trainable. NOT TRUE! The smarter the dog, the more of a moron he thinks YOU are, and the more trouble you'll have convincing him to stay near you off-leash when there's something awesome he could be rolling in over there. Good job breeders, you just cut your target buyers in half. Now you're aiming to sell to people who know what they want in a dog and how to get it ... and unfortunately, most of them already have a more predictable breed in mind. Wish your puppies luck with the clueless people and young families they'll wind up with.

And the last - real - pro. Now listen up, because this may be the only time I ever say this. Are you listening? I don't want to have to raise my voice. Okay. Here it comes.

Hybrid vigour may work for this dog.

I'm no scientist so don't take my word for it! But for once, we get to see two breeds who don't share a lot of health problems in common. Jacks have a number of eye disorders going on, whereas the big one for Borders is Collie eye anomaly, which doesn't occur in Jacks. Borders tend to suffer from hip dysplasia more than anything, but this isn't common in Jacks either. They still share epilepsy and some joint problems, and some other less common things like deafness, but I had to do some digging. Huh. Looks like ... these may be ... pretty healthy dogs.

THE CONS: Oh, boy, where to start?

Well, I mentioned how adorable the Maltipoos and Goldendoodles were. I like aesthetics, so it's worth mentioning that I think Border Jacks are pretty funny-looking. Let's just say when it comes to looks, there is a SERIOUS lack of predictability.

Incidentally, the two most neurotic dogs I can think of off the top of my head are my own Border collie and my friend's Jack Russell. I'm still having trouble imagining anybody putting these two breeds together on purpose. You're not getting a more manageable Border, and you're not getting a less caffeinated Jack. You might even end up with something WORSE.


I don't even know if I can go on. Your muttpuppy may be fairly physically sound, but good luck surviving puppyhood (and onward. Border collies mature slow). That's the best I can come up with, apart from look for something more manageable and less neurotic. Otherwise, I think I've covered most of the cons of this breed. They're smart (bad for owners who aren't hardcore working-dog savvy), they're probably a little crazy, odds on they won't like your kids, and they look weird.

They don't have a function. If it were agility or flyball, well, you're better off with a breed that's already solid in the field. If you want a smart dog, pick one or the other. Just stop breeding these monsters!

Because really. What did Border collies and Jacks ever do to you?


water_bearer said...

OH MY GOD. If EVER there were a candidate to top the list of The Most Surendered Dog to Shelters, THIS cross would be it. Maybe THAT'S what they're going for. Because if these things become popular, that’s what they will be. No, no, no, no, no. I cannot believe that someone even thought this was a good idea.
Don't get me wrong... I like Border Collies, and I can see the appeal for Parson Russels, but BOTH breeds have a VERY narrow field of potential owners that can handle them and give them the life they deserve. I mean, assuming all things are equal... that you shop from a pool of the most reputable, responsible, knowledgeable breeders, and you know what you're getting into, and have real experience with dogs...
then I'd say just about anyone could handle a Lab. About a tenth of those people could handle a JR or a BC, and less than that will, and even less than that should even try it.
I'm sure there's a Border Jack out there that is the world's best friend to somebody and they're wonderful in the house, and with the kids, and with the cat, and blah, blah, blah.
But the potential of what you could get with this cross??? I'd like to know who the first asshole was who thought this up, so I could go whack them upside the head with a dead sheep.

Mel, Foxtail Farm said...

This sounds like a dog that could herd sheep all day and then spend all night hunting rodents. Actually, a dog that could really do that would be great for a large farm with sheep. There aren't too many available homes like that, though.

muttpuppiesontrial said...

WB: My sentiments exactly... I can't believe someone EVER thought this would be a good idea!

Mel: Considering Jacks are hunting dogs, I'm not sure I'd trust a Border Jack around my sheep. It took a lot of generations of breeding to develop the instinct to herd and not hunt... You're right about a Border Jack doing well on a farm, though. At least then it could tire itself out running around rather than driving its owners crazy!

PBurns said...

Just found your blog and it looks interesting!

I hunt with terriers and a border TERRIER X Jack Russell cross is done sometimes for no particular reason, and the dogs work pretty well.

The Border COLLIE and JRT cross however, is only done, intentioanally, as far as I can tell, by folks looking to put together a theoretical "super dog" for fly ball competitions where OCD in a dog combined with speed and a mid size is a strength for some particular teams.

Aside from that niche flyball market, this cross would be a disaster for 99.98 percent of all owners, I think.

As for what is the difference between a Parson and a JRT, it's pretty simple: A Parson is show ring dog defined by a narrow size standard and bred in a closed registry, and which probably does not hunt. A JRT is a dog that has a much wider standard for size, is not bred in a closed registry, and is far more likely to actually be worked. Like most working dogs, the Jack Russell was made in the field and will be killed in the show ring (as a Parson Russell). The Kennel Club already wrecked the dog once with the Fox Terrier. The JRT is simply the working fox terrier that was not pulled into the show ring. See >>


muttpuppiesontrial said...

Thanks! I didn't know that about the Russell family. Very informative link too. :) I guess it's a bit like the distinction between English and American cockers, albeit subtle enough that it went over this blogger's head.
Thanks for commenting. :)

Scott said...

As a proud owner of a border collie / jack russell terrier mix I would like to disagree with the original poster in the strongest possible terms. I did not seek out this breed, I adopted my dog at a shelter and would not trade him for anything. He's currently 1.5 years old, and I have had him for 6 months now. Here's what I have observed with my "border jack": He is the most friendly, curious, energetic, and loving dog I have ever owned. He is GREAT with children and other dogs. He spends over an hour a day in the dog park since I adopted him and has never shown any aggression whatsoever towards other dogs or people. He is willful, but if he wants something he will never resort to aggression to get it.. He will beg, whine, bark, do tricks, etc.. But never has he tried to use aggression to get his way, or shown food aggression, or aggression over his toys. He loves to play tug of war constantly, but respects you when you tell him you need a break to focus on other things. At the dog park he steals the show.. He gets the other dogs chasing him or playing tug of war with him, and again not a single sign of aggression.. I've had other dog owners thank me because my dog tired out their dog.. I took this dog to a new years eve party with tons of people and he was absolutely perfect even with all the people and excitement, he socialized with everyone and had a great time. He was a hit actually! I had people asking me more about this breed and thinking about adopting one! Additionally, and I have to credit the previous owners for this, this dog came to me 100% housebroken and has not had one incident since then. He also realizes the difference between chew toys and furniture or electronics. He has not destroyed a single item in my house aside from dog toys that were given to him. This dog is also great with cats! He chases them and they tease each other, but he has never caused any harm to them. If anyone reading this blog has encountered this mixed breed and is hesitant to adopt, I encourage you to give the dog a chance. Based on my experience here I will definitely be looking to adopt more of these in the future.. Possibly as a sibling to my current dog.

Judy said...

I also adopted my border jack from the human society. I do agility and was not looking for another dog, but agreed to take the dog and train it for my daughter. Within one week I was in love with Minnie. I have raised rat terriers, german shepards, yorkies, lasas', etc. but never have I had a smarter dog. No agression problems and Minnie will veg along with my rats. I do agility with her and her speed is awsome. I do exercise her every day. I agree that this type of dog is not for most families. However, I wouldn't trade my Minnie for any other dog.

Amanda said...

I am definitely in agreement with muttsontrial in the sense that breeding these two together is a disaster waiting to happen. That being said, i'm pretty sure my shelter dog I got a mere week ago is a borderjack and I look forward to challenging my skills as a trainer. I got him for my dog training business I just started so that I could have a demo dog. He's smart alright, but he's also destructive, even though I spend quite a bit of time with him. Part of that is that he's almost 3 months and still has maturing to do, but even if he were perfect otherwise, I would not suggest two of the most hyperactive, destructive when not satisfied breeds in one dog to pretty much anyone. Because I believe in my training skills and think my dog will be fantastic doesn't mean i'll recommend the breed. Period. However, mine looks more like a border, so fortunately he got those genes in appearance.

Fran said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jossb said...

Sigh...if only we put as much thought and passion into our own species breeding...

We happily share our home with three border collies and one abjectly pernicious jrt. Everything about these magically intense canine entities is a huge WIN for our family. That being said, I'd never recommend either breed to anyone about whom I possess an iota of care. We love these dogs primarily because they're much smarter than we are. I think most people are naturally intimidated by this and prefer to spend their time with more sanguine breeds.

Breeding a bc with a jrt....intentionally? I say, why the heck not? If you can think of a breed of dog that you admire, that's pretty much how it came into being. Life is a journey, and you can't expect it to stop at certain points simply because you want it to. Just think positive thoughts about all these odd little mutts and pray that they all find loving homes.