The Cutest Thing Ever Is…

A pipsqueak Shiba Inu herding pipsqueak Babydoll Southdown Sheep. It’s like a (very small) match made in heaven.

I had wanted at some point to get some Babydoll Sheep. They always seemed very “charming” with their faint little smiles, small size, and gentle nature. Now I can get my fill by visiting them at Ewetopia!

Shiba Inu are not what can be considered a herding breed, as in, they have not been specifically bred to specialize in that task, in contrast to Border Collies. There is no native herding dog in Japan. I like to consider this breed, however, as more of a jack of all trades dog. For me, this describes a dog that is not a specialist, but a generalist, a multipurpose dog who has many potential uses, such as pest control, hunting (baying, pointing, flushing, retrieving), companionship, watch dogging and alerting, and garbage disposal.

The term “proto-collie” seems very apt in describing the behavior I observe in my Shibas, and I have had a lot of opportunity to compare and contrast as my dogs have competed and been successful in traditional Collie/Cattle Dog/Shepherd/Sight Hound events. All the instinct is there for herding, hunting, guarding, etc, but it just has not been heavily selected for and is often buried (in some cases deeply) due to stronger selection for conformation, with more focus on selecting for an “easier” companion temperament.

So, while I can’t title or compete with any of my dogs in Herding Trials, I can certainly give them the chance to explore their primitive instincts in between dog shows, and marvel at how versatile this breed truly is.

5 thoughts on “The Cutest Thing Ever Is…

  1. With dogs, everything is context.Actually I have a segment in a series about breed relations to the concept of landrace; one of the case studies in the series how the corgis became agriculturally obsolete.To be fair, the Border Collie was an enterprise breed. They existed only to cater to the protoype of battery-farms; humongous flocks of sheep were kept under the gentry's agribusiness. Nowhere else in the world where one would see such large number of livestock on limited land; at least until cattle ranching in western North America and Australia came along. But even then the Australians developed their own breed which could easy contend the Borders: the Queensland Heelers.It is not really fair to compare the collies to other part of the world because well… the economy is very much different. Hell, in feudal Japan, only hogs were meant for consumption: horses and cattle only exist as a means to division of labour.

  2. Misaki herds us all the time. When it's dinner time, she herds us towards the kitchen to get her food. Then she herds us towards the door so she can go outside. She herds us to the couch when it's relaxing time. Then at bedtime she herds us that way. And if we don't move fast enough, she puts her nose square in the middle of my calf (when I'm wearing shorts this is more effective for her…). It's quite entertaining. 🙂

  3. There are lots of them out there not similar to Border Collies with very different working style.Continental Shepherds: Belgian, Dutch, Old Germa (not the German Sehpherd we know of today– those were bred for "protection") and so on. They had to be big enough to ward off wolves, but still retain enough herding instinct not to become a default Livestock Guardians.Reindeer Herders: Finnish and Swedish Lapphund, Lapponian Herder, Samoyed, Nenets Herding Laika, Yakut Laika and a few others.The reindeer people used their dogs for everything from herding reindeer to holding bears and baying moose.Curs: Catahoula Cur, Blue Lacy, Mountain, Blackmouth.Early American settlers depended extensively on their curs for everything from catching hogs (both feral and domestic) to hunting squirrels and flushing coveys, and herding cattle.Then one can't forget the baiting breeds like the Old English Bulldog, Pitbull Terrier and the other good ol' hawgdawgs who can herd, but were meant to hold semi-feral cattle. Australians depended on these types of dogs too back in the early days when they would let the cows run free.

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