By Dorothy DeLisle - website (under construction): http://islanderranch.weebly.com/
Dog makes strong and more or less continuous eye contact with the stock. Note, it is not necessarily eye-to-eye contact. For example, dog may have a fixed stare on the heels. Typical of Border Collies, McNabs and Kelpies, less typical of other breeds. As with all breed traits, exceptions frequently occur. Strong-eye is typically accompanied by a crouching stance and sometimes by a tendency to down a lot. The total image of the dog presented to the stock is that of a predator stalking them. If the dog cautiously approaches, the stock will cautiously move away to keep ahead of the presumed predator. Because of this predator stalking imitation, livestock often don't relax under strong-eye. Strong-eye works exceptionally well with light livestock. Whereas, heavy livestock may refuse to move off strong-eye.
A dog with extreme expression of strong-eye is known as being sticky-eyed or just plain "sticky." These dogs can exasperate their handlers because they will get "stuck" in a hold pattern with the livestock and it can be quite difficult to get them to stop doing a hold and to start moving the livestock. These dogs just want to stare down livestock. They are more comfortable when keeping livestock from moving, than they are when moving livestock.
A catch-all category that includes several types of eye, unfortunately including non-eye. This tends to give the dogs with other types of loose-eye a bad name as they are often all pictured as being non-eyed. I list some of them below. Folks more familiar than I with other types of loose-eye are welcome to submit definitions for additions to this page.
Dog makes good eye contact with the stock, but not on a continual basis. Contact intensity generally not as intense as in strong-eye. Dog will use eye only in certain circumstances, such as when precision work with light stock is required. Dog may alternate between eye contact and no eye contact every few seconds to relax the stock. Medium-eyed dogs may crouch a little bit, but nowhere to the extent a strong-eyed dog does. I shall collectively refer to strong- and medium-eye as direct-eye.
Dog continually sureys entire flock, watching not just every head of livestock, but every EAR for the telltale signs that an individual is thinking of breaking away from the group. Dog zooms over to that individual and warns it not to do so. Typical of German Shepherd Dogs and other tending breeds Developed for situations where individuals absolutely could not be allowed to break away from the group/prescribed area.
Deliberately looking away from the stock to reduce the pressure.
Examples of use:
Many dogs show no instinctual eye style at all. In my opinion, these should be referred to as non-eyed dogs rather than as loose-eyed.
It should be noted that a dog may have more than one type of loose-eye. he will alternate type depending on the situtation he is in. Most talented German Shepherd Dogs have medium-eye, roving-eye, and anti-eye -- all in the same dog.
Note: dogs pictured in photos are English Shepherds - Peaslee's Honey (showing varying amounts of eye) and Raven (demonstrating anti-eye).