My take on Glen Twiford’s article on the Sable Merle

Categories:The Sable Merle Collie

Here is a copy of Glen Twiford's article that is being used as a main reason that Sable Merles should not EVER be included in the Collie Standard. I find this article to be mostly Mr. Twiford's opinion and where he does make the effort to include facts they are outdated and incorrect. I have included my thoughts in red. This was put in the CCA Bulletin and I just reread it and well here it is……

A Little More About the Sable-merle…
Glen Twiford/Wind- Call Collies

The Collie Club of America is fine organization. We have many
beautiful quality collies bred for temperament and health. We also
have a great membership, dedicated breeders, good programs and
interesting seminars. Our club consistently handles huge national
specialty shows. But, as with all large organizations there are
problems that should be discussed. Maybe we can talk about one…

I wonder how many established breeders have noticed the casual
exhibiting of sable-merle collies in defiance of our standard of
permitted colors. ** In DEFIANCE of the AKC standard??? CCA is telling us that we can show the Sable Merle in the Sable class so there is no need to add them in the standard. It might be good to remind those exhibitors that
the collie standard is a standard for breeders. ** Dog shows are meant for showcasing breeding stock. It is a standard of
perfection. ** This standard of perfection has been changed several times…. Even to include the white and the Blue Colors. It is not a standard of how to accumulate ribbons and
wins with our collies. It is a guide for breeding as near as possible
the ideal collie in conformation and temperament. It is a standard of
perfection like you will find in other breeds of dogs, cattle,
horses, cats, poultry and in most domesticated animals whose physical
characteristics are controlled by human selection.

For the benefit of newcomers the sable-merle is a collie with both
sable and blue-merle on the same individual. ***This is not correct…. A sable merle is a diluted/modified sable and a Blue Merle is a diluted/modified Tri!!! Mr. Twiford does not have his facts correct here.  It is not a single
color, as in our sable, tri and blue-merle colors. ****A Blue Merle and a sable merle are the same in that they both carry the Merle gene. And, it varies
according to the degree of tri-factor involved in the individual dog.

In the past, in articles and discussions, I have tried, when asked,
to consider ways to exhibit sable-merles. Knowing all along it should
not be done. Now, after seeing all the confusion and disagreement
showing sable-merles has caused it is obvious that the collie club
should follow the lead of many other clubs with disqualifications, if
necessary. ** By that logic Blue Merles should be disqualified…. This would be ridiculous!!! Sable-merle collies are not, have never been, and should
not be included in the standard. And, since they cannot be in the
standard they cannot compete in the show ring. ****This is Mr. Twiford's opinion ONLY.

With thoughtful planning sable-merles can be used for breeding. In
advertising with photos you can show the quality of your dogs as
effectively as you can by exhibiting. Sable-merles can be sold for
companions and used for herding, as they are the same as your
accepted colors, except that they are not a single color as are
sables, blues and tri colors.** GT states that dog shows are for showcasing our breed stock and that we can breed sable merles but we can not show them.

I have had breeders tell me that sable-merles produce their best
quality offspring. Of course they do not. It may just seem that way
sometimes. If they have a top producing sable-merle and concentrate
their breeding on that dog then naturally they might have that
impression.*** Quality is Quality regardless of color.

Personally, I have had collies since 1930. I have never been without
them in all that time. During those many years of combining colors in
collies I occasionally would get sable-merles. Regarding
conformation, some of them were quite nice, but I never considered
showing one. **That is your choice Mr. Twiford and I respect that. The thought never entered my mind. They cannot be in the
standard. They offer nothing positive to our breed, so why would you
wish to show them? ***This absolutely is outrageous!!!! Stating that sable merles offer nothing positive to the breed… Another contradiction…. If they offer nothing and we should not show them then why in the hell would you say it's OK to BREED them????Years ago when I bred them I was not trying to
create a new color. I was simply trying to understand how our colors
really worked. ***Well it seems that those breedings you did did NOT help clear things up for you in the way of understanding color and genetics.

If your main interest in breeding collies is for exhibition then
technically these dogs are undesirables and should be thought of
accordingly. Let me say quickly that sable-merle collies are the same
loveable, wonderful dogs as are all collies. They are the same in
every way except for color. Here, in color, they are defective. ***So what he is saying is the same as saying this purple little child is the SAME in EVERY way as any other color of child BUT the purple color child is DEFECTIVE!!! That kind of thinking is archaic !!!!! A HUGE contradiction !!!!If
you don't like that word then choose another word. But the fact

If your best individual, or producing collie, is a sable-merle and
you are working toward line breeding in your kennel do not dispose of
the sable merle. Breed this collie to the best of your allowed
colors until you are getting superior quality in these colors and
producing fewer, or no sable merles. Just remember you cannot show
the sable-merles. ****Again sable merles are not good enough to show but go ahead and breed them!!!!

Dog shows are an opportunity to show other fanciers the progress we
make in our breeding program. Why would you wish to show a sable-
merle? ****Once AGAIN breed the sable merle but don't even think of showing the little darling!!!!The answer of course is to win another ribbon. Win, win, win.
Why is there this insatiable desire to win? Of course it is fun to
win with your dogs, and there is nothing wrong with that. But, to
intentionally produce sable-merles just because you have had some of
good quality is unfair to the future of our beautiful breed. *** This thought process was in use not long ago in respect to the Blue Merle….. Thank goodness for the Blue's we have moved past that!!!! Also,
thinking there is some genetic connection to sable-merles and
improved quality is false. ****To that…Thinking there is some genetic connection to sable merles and lack of quality is ALSO FALSE!!

I certainly don't mean to offend people, but it seems to me that a
little common sense is all that we need to understand why an
unacceptable color cannot be included in the standard of perfection. ****I don't mean to offend either but serious education and a better understanding of color and genetics is needed by GT and like minded people. If you don't like sable merles that is OK . Don't breed them, don't use them but at least back your points with facts and science.

Regarding the sable-merle' s unacceptable deviation of color, there is
no degree of fault. You either have a sable-merle, or you don't. At
present, honesty may be the only control. There are very few sable-
merles that cannot be identified, but for judges to have to search
for those individuals is ridiculous. Some sable-merles they will
find, and some they will not, especially if one parent was a pure for
sable collie. They simply must be kept out of the show ring.

Several of our most reputable all-breed judges have asked when are
the collie people going to make some decisions about showing sable-
merles? It is not fair to ask all-breed judges to consider placing
collies whose presence in the ring may be questionable. ***So let us make it clear and add the Sable Merle and make it a non issue.

One of the country's most respected all-breed judges recently
requested that the collie club do something about this issue for the
sake of judges, new and old. All-breed judges are more concerned
about the sable-merle issue than our members realize. AKC judge Anne
Rogers Clark wrote in Dogs in Review April 2003, "This problem (sable-
merle) in these two beautiful breeds (Collies and Shelties) must be
solved by the parent club, which will then give us, the judges, firm
footing to do our job, which is to evaluate breeding stock."

I feel our club has lost a lot of respect over the sable-merle
situation. ** I agree with this. They have also lost respect and CCA members from the dishonesty in dealing with this and other issues.

Not too long ago I heard several all-breed judges discussing sable-
merle in collies, and disqualifying colors in other breeds. One judge
said that she had a very beautiful bright orange colored sable collie
that had no competition in the group. She said she thought it might
be a sable-merle. When asked, she said she passed up the collie. ** Judges are supposed to be judging Quality not COLOR!!! CCA has made this even more less understandable with their memo sent out to judges. The original Collie standard said that color was immaterial.@

In reading about the first American imports I am not aware of any
mention of sable-merles. *** Because color was immaterial  The British have a reputation for very
intelligent breeding of livestock. At a show I attended while in
England I asked an exhibitor if they ever showed sable-merles? She
looked at me like I was a little demented. That was the only occasion
that I had to discuss the subject

We don't need to have an extensive knowledge of the genetics of color
to understand the problem of the sable-merle in our collies. The
explanation is short and quite simple. I disagree we should be making decisions based on current scientific facts not on old time breeder old wives tales. And what would the PROBLEM with Sable Merles be???? That you should have an understanding of the genetics when breeding???? Sounds about right to me.

We have two colors in collies, brown and black (sable and tri). Sable
is dominant; tri is the only recessive and we have a gene for merle.
When we breed our merle gene to tri-color we also can get the single
color, blue. We like it and it will breed true like sable and tri
color. This gives us our third single color that is in our standard.
These three colors are usually the result of breeding a dominant to a
recessive such as a sable to tri-color, or tri-color to a blue merle. *** Blue and Sable Merles are the SAME in that they both carry the Merle gene. Blue is not a single color it is a Tri with the Merle gene as is a Sable merle is a Sable with the Merle Gene.

But, when we breed our merle gene to a sable we get what you might
call a "color battle field". This is because the color sable, and the
color blue, are both dominant. *** That same "battlefield" is on the Blue too!!! It is the Merle gene that is dominant.

Breeding two dominant colors together, sable and blue, you can get
sable-merle that is not a satisfactory single color. This certainly
would not be included in a standard of perfection. *** This is not based on fact and makes no sense.@

The proceeding article refers our standard as it appears in the
Collie Club of American and the AKC listing sable, tri-color and blue-
merle as the allowable colors in collies. If at some future time a
gene pool appears that might allow breeders to develop some other
desirable and controllable color then of course the standard would
have to be amended. Such a happening is extremely unlikely. I think
you can dismiss the possibility.

We do have breeders and people that are up on the latest finding of color and genetics. I will compile a list of names and links.

One Response to My take on Glen Twiford’s article on the Sable Merle

  1. Reply Diana Hiiesalu Bain says:

    Love it Julie!!
    Even our respected AKC Judge Anne Rogers Clark (who in my newbie days once mistakened for a ring steward ~
    OMG was I in trouble!) wants our parent club to make a decision on the sable merle issue so judges know how to
    evaluate breeding stock. Right or wrong she’s saying “Good enough to show ~ Good enough to breed” Twiford
    contradicts himself constantly. His article is embarrassing to read. A good collie is a good collie. And in this
    day and age, we really need to be aware of that.
    I also would never trust advertising to judge the quality of potential breeding stock. Even before the
    advances of Photoshop people have altered photographs fairly well. That’s a ridiculous concept!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *