AMERICAN SHEPHERD MINIATURE
Let’s Talk Breed Education!
Miniature American Shep herd
BACKSTORY OF THE BREED
BY KAREN KELLER-ROSS
I n May of 2011, the American Kennel Club approved the split of the Australian Shepherd by phenotype (the phenotype being size) into two breeds now known as the Australian Shepherd and the Miniature American Shepherd. In May of 2011, the AKC also approved MAS- CUSA as the Parent Club to represent the Miniature American Shepherd. The model that was used to split the Australian Shepherd breed was the Norfolk and Norwich Terrier. The phenotype that split these Terriers into two breeds was their ear set. Initially, AKC recognized these two breeds as one breed (the Norwich Terrier) until 1979, when division by ear carriage became official. The drop ears are now recognized as the Norfolk, whereas the prick ears remain Norwich in AKC. Prior to AKC recognition, the Miniature American Shepherds were known as Miniature Australian Shepherds, North American Shepherds or Mini Aus- sies. MASCUSA, the AKC Parent Club, has been around since 1990 with the sole purpose to promote and advance those Australian Shepherds [that are] smaller than the preferred height of 18 inches. MASCUSA was originally formed in 1990 and incorporated in 1993. Per Article II of our first Bylaws, MASCUSA’s objectives and purpose was to aid and encourage the breeding and raising of purebred Miniature Australian Shepherds as a smaller mirror-image of the Australian Shepherd dog; more specifically defined in our breed standard.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR KAREN KELLER-ROSS • MASCUSA Board Member from 1998-2002 • MASCUSA President 2002-2020 • Current Vice-President of MASCUSA • AKC Breeder of Merit • Approved MAS Presenter (Judges Education) and Mentor • First MASCA HOF Kennel • TIMELESS Kennel
OFFICIAL AKC HISTORY OF THE MINIATURE AMERICAN SHEPHERD The Miniature American Shepherd was developed in California during the late 1960’s with the breeding of small, unregistered dogs that were thought to be Australian Shepherds. These dogs were bred with a goal of maintaining their small size, active character, and intelligence. The breed was first registered with the National Stock Dog Registry in 1980 and was originally called the Miniature Australian Shep- herd. By the early 1990’s, they had attained nationwide popularity. Several clubs promoted these small dogs, as they were registered and shown with various rare breed organizations. The first parent club and registry, MASCUSA, was formed in 1990 and incorporated in 1993. The breed entered the AKC Foundation Stock Service as the Miniature American Shepherd in May 2011. The Miniature American Shepherd Club of the USA (MASCUSA) is the designated national parent club of the American Kennel Club. The breed has been used for herding smaller stock such as sheep and goats, although they have the heart to tackle larger stock as well. Their small size was looked upon with favor, as they could more easily double as a household pet. They became especially popular with equestrians traveling to horse shows, as their intelligence, loyalty, and size made them an excellent travel companion. In this way, their popularity spread across the country. Today, the Miniature American Shepherd is established across the US and internationally. It is a breed with a unique identity—an eye-catching, versatile little herding dog, equally at home on a ranch or in the city. The Miniature American Shepherd is a herding dog and has been designated to the Herding Group in the American Kennel Club. www.mascusa.org
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MINIATURE AMERICAN SHEPHERD: BACKSTORY OF THE BREED
BREED STANDARDS AND BREED DIVISION AGREEMENTS BREED STANDARDS Breed Standards are vital in order to define breeds. MASCUSA has a Breed Standard that was voted and approved by its membership, is in line with our long history and objectives, and has been approved by the Board of Directors of the American Kennel Club. BREED DIVISION AGREEMENT Although the Australian Shepherd has a pre- ferred size, the Miniature American Shepherd was split-off from the Australian Shepherd with very specific requirements. One of these was the allow- ance of Australian Shepherds to move from the Australian Shepherd stud book over to the Min- iature American Shepherds stud book for a period of time. The Breed Division Agreement was very clear; to have a Disqualification in the Breed Standard for Miniature American Shepherds over 17 inches tall at the shoulder for females and over 18 inches tall at the shoulder for males. AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD SIZE: http: //www.australianshepherds.org/about-aus- sies /breed-standard Size: The preferred height for males is 20 to 23 inches, females 18 to 21 inches. Quality is not to be sacrificed in favor of size. MINIATURE AMERICAN SHEPHERD SIZE: http://mascusa.org/breed/standard.html Size: Height for dogs is 14 inches up to and including 18 inches at the top of the withers. Height for bitches is 13 inches up to and includ- ing 17 inches at the top of withers. Disqualifi- cation —under 14 inches and over 18 inches for dogs; under 13 inches and over 17 inches for bitches. The minimum heights set forth in this breed standard shall not apply to dogs or bitches under six months of age. The responsibility to uphold the Breed Stan- dard as well as the agreements of Breed Division first rests with the Breeders . Breeders should know the Breed Standard and History of the breed, and understand the disqualifications of the breed that they are advancing in the Sport of Dogs. Dogs with disqualifications should not be in the breed ring, but may (at the discretion of the breeder) continue to be used in breeding programs. The last line of defense to uphold the Breed Standard falls on the Judge —if exhibitors are too afraid to call for a wicket. Judges must not consider dogs over or under the Breed Standard sizes, as they would then violate a member-voted Breed Standard and, in our case, a Breed Divi- sion Agreement. MASCUSA’s Breed Standard is clearly stated, defined, and measurable, with no room for interpretation regarding size.
MAS on left: GCHG BISS Timeless Slice Of Life, “Chloe” Aussie on right: BISS GCHS CH Empyreans Blurred Lines At Copperridge RN CGCA TKN, “Marcus”
Judges must not consider dogs over or under the Breed Standard sizes, as they would then violate a member-voted Breed Standard and, in our case, a Breed Division Agreement. MASCUSA’s Breed Standard is clearly stated, defined, and measurable, with no room for interpretation regarding size. ATTENTION JUDGES
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THE BACK STORY:
BY KAREN KELLER-ROSS PRESIDENT, MINIATURE AMERICAN SHEPHERD CLUB OF THE USA;TIMELESS MINIATURE AMERICAN SHEPHERDS MINIATURE AMERICAN SHEPHERDS
Left: Australian Shepherd, Right: Miniature American Shephard
KC approved the split of the Australian Shepherd by pheno- type into two breeds
in May of 2011, now known as the Australian Shepherd and the Min- iature American Shepherd. The phenotype being size. In May of 2011, the American Kennel Club also approved MAS- CUSA as the parent breed club to represent the Miniature Ameri- can Shepherd. The model that was used to split the Australian Shepherd breed was the Norfolk and Norwich Terrier. The phenotype that split these Ter- riers into two breeds was their ear set. Initially, AKC recognized these two breeds as one breed, the Nor- wich Terrier, until 1979, when divi- sion by ear carriage became official. The drop ears are now recognized as the Norfolk, while the prick ears remain Norwich in AKC. Prior to AKC recognition, the Miniature American Shepherds were known as Miniature Austra- lian Shepherds, North American Shepherds or Mini Aussies. MAS- CUSA, the AKC parent breed club, has been around since 1990 with the sole purpose to promote and advance the Australian Shepherds smaller than the preferred height of 18 inches. MASCUSA was originally formed in 1990 and incorporated
PRIOR TO AKC RECOGNITION, THE MINIATURE AMERICAN SHEPHERDS WERE KNOWN AS MINIATURE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERDS, NORTH AMERICAN SHEPHERDS OR MINI AUSSIES.”
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STANDARDS ARE VITAL IN ORDER TO DEFINE BREEDS.
Rebranded by size, the Miniature American Shepherd is holding its own in show rings, performance events and in the eyes of an ever-growing fan base.
larity spread across the country. Today, the Miniature American Shepherd is estab- lished across the US and internationally. It is a breed with a unique identity--an eye catching, versatile little Herding dog, equally at home on a ranch or in the city. Th e Miniature American Shep- herd is a Herding dog and has been des- ignated to the Herding Group in the American Kennel Club. (courtesy of www.mascusa.org ) BREED STANDARDS & BREED DIVISION AGREEMENTS Breed Standards are vital in order to define breeds. MASCUSA has a breed stan- dard that was voted and approved by its membership, it is in line with our long his- tory and objectives and has been approved by the Board of Directors of American Ken- nel Club. Breed Division Agreement. Although the Australian Shepherd has a preferred size, the Miniature American Shepherd was split off of the Australian Shepherd with very specific requirements. One of which was the allowance of Australian Shepherds to move from the Australian Shepherd stud book over to the Miniature American Shepherds stud book for a period of time. The Breed Division Agreement was very clear to have a disqualification in the breed standard for Miniature American Shep- herds over 17 inches tall at the shoulder for females and over 18 inches tall at the shoulder for males. AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD SIZE The Australian Shepherd’s breed stan- dard, including size, can be viewed at www.australianshepherds.org/about-aussies/ breed-standard .
in 1993. Per Article II of our first bylaws, MASCUSA’s objectives and purpose was to aid and encourage the breeding and raising of purebred Miniature Australian Shep- herds as a small mirror-image of the Austra- lian Shepherd dog, more specifically defined in our breed standard. OFFICIAL AKC HISTORY OF THE MINIATURE AMERICAN SHEPHERD Th e Miniature American Shepherd was developed in California during the late 1960s with the breeding of small, unregistered dogs that were thought to be Australian Shepherds. Th ese dogs were bred with a goal of maintaining their small size, active character and intelligence. Th e breed was fi rst registered with the National Stock Dog Registry in 1980 and was originally called the Miniature Australian Shepherd. By the early 1990s, they had attained nationwide popular- ity. Several clubs promoted these small dogs, as they were registered and shown with various rare-breed organizations. Th e fi rst parent breed club and registry, MASCUSA, was formed in 1990 and incorporated in 1993. Th e breed entered the AKC Foundation Stock Service as the Miniature American Shepherd in May 2011. Th e Miniature American Shep- herd Club of the USA (MASCUSA) is the designated national parent club of the American Kennel Club. Th e breed has been used for herd- ing smaller stock such as sheep and goats, although they have the heart to tackle larg- er stock as well. Th eir small size was looked upon with favor, as they could more easily double as a household pet. Th ey became especially popular with equestrians trav- eling to horse shows, as their intelligence, loyalty, and size made them an excellent travel companion. In this way their popu-
“Size: The preferred height for males is 20-23 inches, females 18-21 inches. Quality is not to be sacrificed in favor of size.” MINIATURE AMERICAN SHEPHERD SIZE The Miniature Australian Shepherd’s breed standard can be viewed at mascusa.org/breed/standard.html . “Size: Height for dogs is 14 inches up to and including 18 inches at the top of the withers. Height for bitches is 13 inches up to and including 17 inches at the top of withers. Disqualification: under 14 inches and over 18 inches for dogs; under 13 inches and over 17 inches for bitches. The mini- mum heights set forth in this breed stan- dard shall not apply to dogs or bitches under six months of age.” UPHOLDING THE STANDARD The responsibility to uphold the Breed Standard as well as agreements in Breed Division first rests on the breeders. Breeders should know the breed standard and history of the breed and understand the disquali- fications of the breed they advance in the sport of dogs. Dogs with disqualifications should not be in the breed ring, but may at the discretion of the breeder, continue to be used in breeding programs. The last line of defense to uphold the breed standard falls on the judge if exhibi- tors are too afraid to call for a wicket. Judges must not consider dogs over or under the breed standard sizes as they would then violate a member voted Breed standard, and in our case a Breed Division Agreement. MASCUSA’s breed standard is clearly stat- ed, defined and measurable with no room for interpretation regarding size.
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Miniature American Shepherd
by FRAN WITHERS
T he Miniature American Shep- herd was developed by breeding smaller Australian Shepherds in order to produce a downsized version of the breed. It takes many decades to downsize a breed properly and retain all the original qualities in shape and form. Throughout the process, especially early on, most planned and well researched crosses will be just one step in the right direction. If the goal of the breeder is quality over size, which is of utmost importance, it takes many generations to cement the body type and proportions needed. Being an AKC Breeder Judge, the Min- iature American Shepherd Club’s Judges Education Coordinator, approved presenter of educational seminars as well as ringside and long term mentor of judges looking to be approved to judge our breed, I am often asked what are the problems we face as a breed, what do we need to improve upon? That is a difficult question as it is changing year by year. I have been breeding Mini American Shepherds for 25 years and still as a breed we continue to work on consistency in shape and form. Some crosses will produce smaller size but the price you pay may be short upper arms and lack of loin since all body parts do not downsize equally. Others will produce shorter legs on an otherwise comparatively larger body resulting in a look of dwarfism. Of course this is not what we are looking for in our breed.
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The breed standard states that their upper arms (humerus) is equal in length to the shoulder blade. The loin—strong and broad when viewed from the top. They are equidistant in height, measuring 50% from ground to elbow and 50% from elbow to the withers. Other problem areas are length of body vs. height, which when measuring from the point of the shoulder blade to the point of the buttocks and from the highest point of the shoulder blade to the ground should be slightly longer than tall. Meaning about a 9-10 ratio. Downsizing can often result in a boxy or cobby body type which is usually due to lack of loin. I like to see 2/3 rib cage to 1/3 loin. So, each generation requires an honest evaluation of both the dam and sire. Know what you need to improve upon and breed accordingly. You must have both short and long term goals clearly established in your breeding program. Always comparing your plan to the Breed Standard. The short term goals are what you expect to get out of any specific cross. Long term goals include how you expect to cement a body type and temperament as close to the Breed Standard as possible.
Even though any given breeding program has used only Aus- tralian Shepherd bloodlines, they can still experience toy features during the downsizing process. Domed skulls, round and or protruding eyes, prick ears and slight bone are all things to be strongly avoided. We are looking for length of muzzle that is equal to the length and width of the crown, almond shaped eyes, neither protruding nor sunken and the ears at full attention should break forward and over or to the side as a rose ear. It is important to note that this breed is to be shown in a natural presentation leaving whiskers on and minimal scissoring. We do not want our breed to be shown sculpted. A good breeder should start to see that they are more consistently producing males that are between 14 and 18 inches and bitches between 13 and 17 inches at the top of the withers with moderate bone in proportion to body height and size. They should have a full and deep chest reaching the elbow with well sprung ribs. Possessing compact feet with well arched toes. The angulation of the pelvis and upper thigh (femur) should mirror the angulation of the shoulder blade and upper arm. They need short hocks, (short hocks being 1/3 of the total height) and acceptable coat colors, along with all of the afore mentioned qualities. That is when you know you have achieved a correct and solid breeding program.
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A GUIDE TO JUDGING THE MINIATURE AMERICAN SHEPHERD by FRAN WITHERS
W ith your first look at a Miniature American Shepherd entering the ring, the word MODERATE should come to mind. A small-sized herding dog, he should not be overdone with bone or underdone without enough bone. He should be slightly longer than tall at about a 9:10 ratio with equal distance from withers to elbow and elbow to the ground. Structure in the dog should reflect masculinity without coarseness or extra bulk. Bitches appear feminine without being slight of bone. You can also look to the head for evidence of masculinity or femininity. The movement should be effort- less and well-balanced exhibiting a ground-covering stride although not to be confused with the type of ground
covering stride of a German Shepherd. The purpose is to use the stride as an energy saving tool in order for him to work all day at the task at hand, not to get to his destination quickly. He will converge toward the center line of grav- ity as his speed increases at the trot, while the back remains firm and level. When traveling at a trot the head is car- ried in a natural position with the neck extended forward and head nearly level or slightly above the topline. He is to be presented on a somewhat loose lead so he can display his natural movement without being strung up. You should see a smooth topline with the back firm and level from the withers to the hip joint when standing or moving. The head is clean-cut, dry and in proportion to the body. Viewed from the side, the muzzle and the top line of
the crown are slightly oblique to each other, with the front of the crown on a slight angle downward toward the nose. The male should have a stronger head than the female, demonstrating some distinction between a male and female head so when you look at them you can easily tell what gender they are. The eyes must be almond in shape. We do not want round or bulging eyes. Height for dogs is 14 inches up to and including 18 inches at the top of the withers. Height for bitches is 13 inches up to and including 17 inches at the top of withers. The minimum heights do not apply to dogs or bitches under six months of age. When in doubt please wicket. We would rather you measure to be sure of any questionable height rather than not put a dog up due to it. This breed is to be judged on the table.
“YOU SHOULD SEE A SMOOTH TOPLINE WITH THE BACK FIRM AND LEVEL FROM THE WITHERS TO THE HIP JOINT WHEN STANDING OR MOVING.”
Substance: Solidly built with moderate bone; males - masculinity without coarseness; bitches - feminine without slight of bone.
General Appearance: Well balanced; slightly longer than tall; medium size and bone without extreme; versatile and agile; attentive, biddable and loyal; coat moderate length; coloring offers variety and individuality; traditional docked or natural bob tail
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Ears: acceptable styles. Illustrations courtesy of Vicky Mistretta.
“MODERATION IS THE OVERALL IMPRESSION OF THE COAT.”
Do not take the “Miniature” in our name to mean that they must be quite small or close to toy size. As you can see the males can be up to 18 inches. This can be a challenge to compare this wide of a range in the ring. Try to judge each on their own merit rather than com- paring them to each other. Can the 14 inch dog move with a stride described in the standard with respect to his size? One of the problems we run across in downsizing is lack of loin, this in turn drastically reduces the ability to reach up underneath themselves and drive from behind. If the smaller dog has suf- ficient loin and angulation, therefore drive and has a good front and lay back of shoulder to help ensure reach then he should mirror a larger dog with the same assets when moving. They should cover ground correctly and at the speed that best suits that particular dog. We don’t want the smaller dogs rac- ing around the ring trying to compete with the speed of the larger dogs who can cover more linear feet in a shorter amount of time. Moderation is the overall impres- sion of the coat. Hair is of medium texture, from straight to wavy and of medium length. Hair may be trimmed on the ears, feet, back of hocks, pas- terns and tail, otherwise he is to be shown in a natural coat. Untrimmed
whiskers are preferred. We do not want a sculpted presentation. The Miniature American Shepherd comes in 4 colors Blue Merle, Red Mer- le, Black Tri and Red Tri with or with- out white and or tan points. A solid colored dog is just as acceptable as a flashy tri colored dog. The emphasis should always be on the structure and movement since color does not get the job done. Some merleing patterns can easily deceive the eye, a critique of the bone structure without considering the color can be challenging. As you assess a Miniature American Shepherd, the chest should be full and deep, reaching to the elbow, with well sprung ribs and the underline shows a moderate tuck-up. The shoulder blades (scapula) are long, flat, fairly close set at the withers and well laid back. The hocks are short, approximately ⅓ the total height of the dog. Perpen- dicular to the ground and parallel to each other when viewed from the rear at the stand. The loin should be strong and broad when viewed from the top and the croup is moderately sloped. The angulation of the pelvis and upper thigh (femur) should mirror the angulation of the shoulder blade and upper arm.
A docked tail is, not to exceed three (3) inches. The undocked tail when at rest may hang in a slight curve. When excited or in motion the tail may be car- ried raised with the curve accentuated. A docked tail is preferred but a full tail is accepted. This breed is extremely devoted to their owners/handlers and it is reflect- ed in their focus towards them. Do not expect him to look at you with a little cock of the head if you make some kind of noise to get a reaction from him. He will likely keep focused on his handler. DISQUALIFICATIONS • Under 14 inches and over 18 inches for dogs; under 13 inches and over 17 inches for bitches. • Over 50% un-pigmented nose leather. • Undershot or overshot bite. • Other than recognized colors. White body splashes, which means any conspicuous, isolated spot or patch of white on the area between withers and tail, on back, or sides between elbows and back of hindquarters. For more information please go to www.namascusa.com/judges.php where you will find a breed Power- Point. For the Breed Standard, go to www.namascusa.com/standard.php
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Notes oN the MINIATURE AMERICAN SHEPHERD
EDY DYKSTRA- BLUM
BOB SMITH I live in St. Stephens Church, Virginia, which is about 35 miles northeast of Richmond with my wife, Polly. Prior to my retirement in 1996, I ran a small business development agen- cy for the state of Virginia. Polly and I have been in dogs since 1960 breeding and showing American Foxhounds and, later Welsh Terriers. I judged my first show in 1970 and became an all breed judge in 1996. PAT TAYLOR I have been in dogs for 42 years, showing for 40 years. I have been judging the Mini American Shepherd for 26 years, having started with the international shows before AKC rec- ognition of the breed.
I live in Ocala, Florida. I have been in dogs coming up on 41 years and showing for 40 years. I became a judge in 2001. PAT HASTINGS
I live in Aloha, Oregon (outside Portland) and have a very busy life. In addition to judging, I am also the author of 3 books, a very popular DVD, present seminars worldwide and eval- uate enormous numbers of 8-week-old puppies. Whenever I am home, I love gardening and spending time with family and friends. I got my first dog in 1959, which was a Toy Poodle. I started showing in 1960 and started judging in 1991.
I live in Phoenix, Arizona. My favorite pastime outside of dogs and dog shows is vacationing in Hawaii and Palau islands. I’ve been in the dog game for 40 years and have been an AKC-approved judge since the 1980s. I breeder/owner/ handled many to their championships and over the course of 18 years was many times awarded top honors from my breed club.
I live in the desert outside of Tuc- son. I enjoy photography, gardening and built my own house out of straw bales. I have been in dogs since 1963, and started showing seriously in con- formation in 1969. I was licensed by AKC as a handler and showed all breeds, gave handling classes and started judging in 2000.
1. Describe the breed in three words. EDB: Moderate, agile and balance. PH: That’s easy—small Australian Shepherd. GK: Off-square, balanced and moderate.
BS: When I picture a Miniature American Shepherd, I see a small, agile working dog capable of and willing to go
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PH: So far no, but it is very important that the breeders pay attention to head type as the breed should never look like a Mini American, it should look like an small Australian Shepherd. There are way too many Mini Americans that do not have correct heads. There are some differences between the standards, but they are very slight. The Auss- ie standard calls for equal length of muzzle and back skull or slightly shorter muzzle while the Mini America call for equal proportions. The Aussies want parallel planes and the Mini Americans want slightly oblique planes. GK: Not at this time. BS: I wouldn’t say that any traits of the Miniature American Shepherd have been exaggerated at this point in time. I would worry more that one or more traits are being neglected. Specifically, I think breeders, owners and/or handlers are failing to keep their dogs in proper condi- tion. Having said that, I do think this breed has been improved significantly since they were recognized for full participation in AKC dog shows. PT: Not yet. SW: Perhaps size. This is Miniature Australian Shepherd— dogs, 14" to 18"; bitches, 13" to 17". When you see a dog at the maximum height in the ring, it seems belong to another breed and not an MAS. (I do use the wicket often.) I would like to see them around size of 16" for dog and 15" for bitches. 4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? EDB: I started to judge this breed a long time ago (at rare breed shows) when they were still called different names, since the creation of the American Shepherd (name change) this breed has improved so much. It is more uniform, with moderation, stronger bone than “there Are wAy too MANy MiNi AMericANs thAt DO NOT HAVE CORRECT HEADS.”
tirelessly for hours in pursuit of the profession for which he was bred. When I say small, I do not mean petite. He must have the bone and structure to work hard and long in the field. PT: Australian Shepherd in Miniature. (Sorry, one word “...the MAs Must be slightly loNger thAN tAll, ANd the depth of body ANd leNgth of leg Must be iN PROPER PROPORTION.”
extra!) I refer to the original here. SW: Intelligent, loyal and companion.
2. What are your "must have" traits in this breed? EDB: Absolute must haves: moderate bone, balanced movement and type. If any of these are lacking, there is no MAS. PH: This breed should never look like a different breed. It should be an Australian Shepherd in a smaller size. So the must have traits in an Aussie are that they must be iden- tifiable by their silhouette, identifiable by their head and capable of doing the job for which they were created. GK: My must have traits in this breed are correct outline and proportion, intelligent expression, moderate bone and good sound temperament. BS: While there are many similarities between the MAS and the Australian Shepherd, the MAS is not a replica of the Australian Shepherd. I consider the outline to be very important in every breed and the MAS must be slightly longer than tall, and the depth of body and length of leg must be in proper proportion. I also think that condition- ing is extremely important. Every gun dog, Hound, Work- ing dog, Herding dog or Terrier must be conditioned to do his job. PT: Good bone, the correct head and movement. SW: Stamina, endurance and agile. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? EDB: If breeders are not careful, the breed might become too big and heavy, loosing its function and type
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many before and very nice heads. They turned out to become a lovely breed and a joy to judge. PH: That is very difficult to say as they have not been in the AKC rings for that long. I did judge them many times before they became an AKC breed and the over- all improvement in both type and quality has greatly improved, along with much more consistency of size. GK: I believe the breeders are improving the breed. From the time I started judging I have seen better heads, better movement, improvement in overall quality and more athletic dogs. PT: Yes—much better! The breeders are doing a lovely job. SW: I must say qualities of dogs are good here on west coast. I’ve been judging the breed since prior to AKC recogni- tion and I’ve judged Australian Shepherds for 17 years. I have had a great love for the Aussies ever since I first encountered the breed. 5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? EDB: The standard says it all and is very clear. It should not be compared with Australian Shepherds; it is a breed on its own. PH: That it is a different breed, not almost the same breed in a smaller size. GK: New judges need to keep in mind that these are Herd- ing dogs and they need to be athletes. BS: As for new judges, I’m afraid some mistakenly consider this breed to be a miniature version of the Australian Shepherd. And I should say this mistake is not limited to new judges. SW: I’m very proud of the Aussies developed in US. One thing to always remember: The most common descrip- tive word for the breed is “moderate.” The standard states the word “moderate” nine times and “medium” twice; the only time “short” is used is with pasterns and hocks. This is very easy to remember for new judges. 6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? EDB: In my opinion this breed is a joy to judge, friendly, outgoing, playful very agile. PH: I love the breed and as much as breeders of both sizes argue, Australian Shepherds have always been around in an assortment of sizes so how about we all get back to the importance of the dogs and forget the pettiness. GK: The breed standard sizes should be kept in mind when judging these dogs, smaller is not better. PT: Keep the nice temperament please. And keep in your mind that you need to stick with the type you have now that you have developed it.
“iN My opiNioN this breed is A JOY TO JUDGE,
frieNdly, outgoiNg, plAyful very Agile.”
SW: As a whole, I feel that size problems and coarseness are minimal concerns in this breed. Across the board I think the breed’s temperament is wonderful. 7. And, for a bit of humor: What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? BS: With regard to funny incidents at dog shows, at the risk of being accused of having a sick sense of humor I must recall an incident that didn’t, fortunately, happen to me but remains the funniest thing I have ever seen anywhere. A judge was concentrating intently while examining a class of dogs and doing a very thorough job. Nearing completion of the examination of one specimen, the judge reached under the dog to check the necessary parts when the dog decided to “do his business.” The judge had to rush out to the nearest facility to clean up. While feeling very sorry for the judge, those of us who saw what happened could not stop laughing. PT: There are so many to choose from, but one is there about an Afghan handler running around the ring and her shoe flew off across the ring, and she just kept going and showing her dog. SW: The funniest thing I ever saw at a dog show didn’t happen in my ring, it happened in the ring next door to mine. A lady was concentrating so hard on gaiting her Toy dog that she didn’t know her slip was coming down. I tried to let her know, but it was too late. The slip dropped to her ankles and almost tripped her. She stopped and tried to put it back up, but that proved too difficult with one hand on the dog and one on the slip, so she yanked it off, walked up to the judge and asked if she could try again. She then gaited her dog perfectly (with the slip still in her hand) and went on to win the Breed. Bless her heart—and the judge, too. They’re both in heaven. But I can still see the entire incident as clearly as it happened today.
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HOW TO CHOOSE & PREPARE A MINIATURE AMERICAN SHEPHERD FOR THE SHOW RING by FRAN WITHERS Breed Standard & Education Committee Chair
T he process through which I choose and train a show pros- pect starts at birth. I do a great deal of desensitization, social- ization, and preparatory work for all of my puppies so that the ones that turn out to be show/breed quality at 8 weeks old already have the benefit of this work and the ones that are going to companion homes also have the best upbringing they can possibly have to be a treasured family member. From the day they are born I hold them upright, in the air, on their backs, and then close to me. It may be a little uncomfortable for them at first, but it is a great exercise for them to be handled and comforted by a per- son. Before long, they just take the exercises in stride and have total confidence in me. Th ey equate my touch with a comforting sensation since they are cuddled at the end. I touch their ears, play with their paws with a cotton swab, put them on a cool towel one at a time for 30 seconds and then cuddle them again. Th ese exercises teach them that they can recover easily from strange or di ff erent sensations and that humans are a good source of comfort. When they are 5-6 weeks old, I start taking them one at a time into an unfamil- iar area to watch TV and hang out with me. I watch to see how they react to new stimuli on their own with no litter mates to influence their behavior. Is this puppy inquisitive running around sni ffi ng or is he low to the ground and hesitant? I turn the volume up when there is clapping and laughing and then note if he runs up to the TV wanting to know where that noise is coming from or if he runs the other way to hide. In the show ring, a dog should become invigorated with the clapping and attention of the spectators. If he gets frightened, he will need to recover quickly relying on his owner’s support. Th ese basic
“SINCE HE WAS 7 WEEKS OLD, I HAVE BEEN TEACHING HIM TO STACK...”
exercises should help a dog learn to seek out their owner for a quick dose of self- confidence and an easy recovery. At 6 weeks I start crate training, slowly and with a littermate at first. His crate should represent a den, not a jail. I ship puppies all over the world and I want them to be happy and confident when they reach their destination. For his safety, a show dog spends a lot of time crated while at shows and traveling, so he should see a crate as a positive place—a den to call his own. At 8 weeks old I do my puppy puzzle and temperament testing. I check how well a puppy conforms to the breed standard, if he is overwhelmed in a show-like atmo-
sphere, if he recover quickly from stress, and if he is forgiving. All of these qualities can be detected through these tests. If you are not raising the litter, do your homework to find a good breeder that incorporates all of these things in their puppy raising. So, I have the puppy that is best suit- ed for the show ring. He conforms to the breed standard quite nicely, I have prepared him well. Now, we start show training. Since he was 7 weeks old, I have been teaching him to stack on tables and flat-sided stilts that have good gripping surface and are secured with magnets on the bottom, so they won’t move. Th ey are a great tool to teach a dog to place their
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“OUR FIRST SHOW AT 6 MONTHS OF AGE IS JUST FOR FUN. I DO NOT EXPECT
ANYTHING FROM HIM WHICH ELIMINATES PRESSURE.”
legs where they need to be creating muscle memory. At first he will stand there only for a short time, but as he grows older, I will increase the time. All of my dogs like this exercise, they can’t wait to get on the stilts because they know they get treats there. Th is is the beginning of creating a free stack which will help you greatly in the ring. As you return from your down and back to the judge, your dog should be able to stop with all 4 legs placed properly standing there proudly. Also, anytime you send them out on the lead ahead of you a few feet and then call them back to you, they should be able to walk directly in front of you and free stack. Creating and maintaining muscle memory at an early age is crucial for training the free stack. As soon as the puppy has finished his series of shots at about 12 weeks old, I take him weekly to my local kennel club classes. Here he will learn to use all the tools he has so far. He will stay in his crate quietly when it is not his turn to play. He learns about all the noises in a big building with the barking of the dogs, the laughing and talking of many people, loud banging doors slamming, and crates hitting the ground. He also experiences being on the table with strangers going over him. Th ese experiences help him gain confidence in a dog show type environment. While he watches me having fun with other dogs, his desire to be the one to work with me increases, but at this age, I keep training
sessions short and fun. In addition, we go on trips just for fun, visiting stores that allow dogs, parks, going for walks where there are cars or in small downtown shop- ping areas where we can window shop and greet people. We attend matches so he can gain more confidence and experience. Our first show at 6 months of age is just for fun. I do not expect anything from him which eliminates pressure. We walk all over the grounds, do a little shop- ping with the vendors and visit friends. Now that he is in a real show situation, all that training can seem fruitless for the weekend. He may not want to focus because of all the new things happening around him and may forget what he is supposed to be doing all together. Th at’s okay, he will remember and do better next time if I don’t make a big deal out of it now. Remember, the Miniature American Shepherd is a herding breed and are sup- posed to be aware of their environment, so he needs time to acclimate. In the meantime I continue to train weekly at the club as well as at home. By now he has maintained pretty good muscle memory so his free stack is consistent and looks awesome. Th at always helps to impress the judges. Since he was a puppy, he has been bathed and blown dried, had his tail, ears and feet trimmed and his nails clipped on regularly. He likes it because I have taken my time through every process.
With dogs patience and treats are the key to progress. Now, doing these at the show site does not add stress to the show atmo- sphere. For the MAS we leave the whis- kers on and do not sculpt the coat to get a more natural presentation. Th e MAS is a table breed, so I have had many people go over him on a table over the past months. When I remove him from the table, my back is to the judge so I can quickly fix any out of place hair and set his lead all the way up behind his ears. Th is way I will not have a sloppy transition from the table to the start of the down and back. I do not need speed on my down and back allowing my dog what I want is to converge properly. On my go around, I want to show the foot timing, reach and drive that my dog possesses. I will have him travel on a somewhat loose lead so he can move in a natural way. When I have a dog that is at the small end of the height range of 14-18 inches for dogs and 13-17 inches for bitch- es, I will move him in a way that best suits his size, not try to keep up with the larger dogs or allowing more room if behind a smaller dog. Th e MAS gait is balanced and conserves energy so the dog can work all day, so he should not race around the ring. Th e MAS is a wonderful, devoted breed that wants to please their people. Given patience, time, and training, they learn quickly and are engaging. With training, they work well as a team with their human counterparts at any task.
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THE MINIATURE AMERICAN SHEPHERD AS A SHOW DOG by SUE RITTER
T he Miniature American Shep- herd makes an impressive Show Dog. Th e breed standard is clear. Finding a balanced, well- put-together dog or bitch that is close to the Miniature American Breed Standard to exhibit in the conformation ring is an obvious, but very important task. How- ever, turning that beautifully built, super moving Mini into a brilliant show dog takes care and work. A show prospect must be exposed to many new people and show experiences in the formative months prior to show age. Th e special trust they have with their owners must be expanded to all humans, especially those who may handle or examine them. Sure, it takes time for the young dog to mature, to develop balance
with all those parts growing at di ff erent rates, and to grow a nice adult coat, but the comfort and safety they feel at home in known situations must be extended to many places. Th ese super intelligent herding dogs, capable of figuring out how to move mul- tiple animals 10 to 100 times their size in unity, quickly and safely, are predisposed to think first in new situations. However, the more they are exposed to new experi- ences and new people, the quicker they adapt. So with bait training, dog classes, fun days at dog shows, walking around flea markets, asking people to go over your dog, and participating in conformation events prior to regular shows, these won- derful dogs quickly learn that life as a show dog is fun and full of rewards!
“A SHOW PROSPECT MUST BE EXPOSED TO MANY NEW PEOPLE AND SHOW EXPERIENCES...”
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THE MINIATURE AMERICAN SHEPHERD
by MASCUSA BREED STANDARD EVALUATION & EDUCATION COMMITTEE
A lthough new in its breed name, the Miniature Ameri- can Shepherd is no stranger across this Nation as well as into Canada and Europe. It was formerly known as the Miniature Australian Shep- herd and also called the North American Shepherd. In 1990, MASCUSA, Min- iature Australian Shepherd Club of the USA, was formed as the parent club to preserve, promote and protect this lovely breed, eventually bringing them into the fold of the American Kennel Club. Since we were entering into AKC as a new breed, what better time to give our dogs an honest name. Th e club
membership as a whole selected the name Miniature American Shepherd for a breed that truly originated in the United States. So, often you will see the phrase, “Proud to be an American” used to express the pride we have in the accomplishments of this breed. Th e first impression is that of a small sized herding dog that is slightly longer than tall. Th e word moderate seems to be a key word no matter what individual piece of the dog is being evaluated. Our dogs need to have strength and stamina to do their jobs but the word strength is never to be confused with a bulky, heavy muscled body style. Th is highly versatile, energetic
dog makes an excellent athlete. He has superior intelligence and a willingness to please those to whom he is devoted. Th e size range for dogs is 14 inches up to and including 18 inches at the top of the withers. Bitches are slightly smaller at 13 inches up to and including 17 inches. Although there is a consider- able variance between the bottom and top measurements, the prime consider- ation should be given to the exhibit that most closely meets the breed standard. Th ere is NO preference in size within the allowed range. Th e breed is neither exaggerated nor extreme in any way, exhibiting
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Ears: acceptable styles. Illustrations courtesy of Vicky Mistretta.
moderate bone proportionate to their size. Th e structure of a male reflects masculin- ity without coarseness. Th e females will appear feminine without being slight of bone. Th ickness of coat goes a long way in adding to or detracting from the amount of bone/substance that an animal appears to have. It is what is under the hair that should carry the most weight. Moderation is the overall impression of the coat. Hair is of a medium texture, may be straight to wavy, weather resistant and of medium length. Again, the amount of undercoat will vary depending on the seasons and the climate. Hair is short and smooth on the head and front of the legs. Th e backs of forelegs and breeches are moderately feathered. Th ere is a moderate mane and frill more pronounced in dogs than bitches. Keeping the breed “natural” is a priority, therefore, care was taken to include in the standard that hair may be trimmed only on the ears, feet, back of hocks, pasterns and tail. Also, untrimmed whiskers are preferred. Th e head is clean-cut, dry and in pro- portion to the body. Th e eyes are almond shaped, set obliquely, neither protrud- ing nor sunken and in proportion to the head. Eye colors come in a wide range and may have di ff erent color eyes on the same dog. Brown, blue, hazel, amber, including flecks and marbling are acceptable in all
coat colors. Eye rims and nose leather cor- responds to the base color, i.e., Black base color has black pigmentation and red base color has liver pigmentation. Ears are triangular, moderate size, set high on the head and may break for- ward and over or to the side as a rose ear. Th ere is no preference to style, however,
prick ears or ears hanging with no lift is a severe fault. Th e width and length of the crown are equal. Th e length of the muzzle is equal to the length of the crown. When viewed from the side, the muzzle and top line of the crown are slightly oblique to each oth- er with the front of the crown on a slight
“EYE COLORS COME IN A WIDE RANGE AND MAY HAVE DIFFERENT COLOR EYES ON THE SAME DOG.”
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“A GREAT DEAL OF IMPORTANCE HAS BEEN GIVEN TO THE DESCRIPTION OF THE HEAD, NOT FOR AESTHETICS BUT FOR THE SAFETY AND FUNCTION OF THE DOGS STILL DOING THE JOB THEY WERE BRED TO DO.“
angle downward toward the nose. Th ere is a moderate but defined stop. Th e teeth meet in a scissor bite but bro- ken, missing or discolored by accident are not penalized. A great deal of importance has been given to the description of the head, not for aesthetics but for the safety and func- tion of the dogs still doing the job they were bred to do. Bulging eyes can be sub- ject to injury while working stock. Eyes too small could impair vision. Proper muzzle length is necessary in order to grip stock. Th e slightly oblique planes would help to allow a kick to glance o ff the head. Dogs in the field are subject to sunburn without proper pigmentation on the nose
and around the eyes. Lack of color on the nose should be faulted to the extent of deviation up to 50% at which time it becomes a disqualification. Th e Miniature American Shepherd is examined on the table. Th e overall struc- ture should give the impression of depth and strength without bulkiness. Th e loin is strong and broad when viewed from the top. Th e chest is full and deep, reaching to the elbow, with only a moderate tuck-up. As a breed with height disqualifications, it is important that we maintain balance with the elbow joint being equidistant from the ground to the withers. Measur- ing from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttocks and from the highest
13 inch & 17 inch. Both within size range.
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“THE MINIATURE AMERICAN SHEPHERD IS AN INTELLIGENT, VERSATILE WORKING DOG OF STRONG HERDING AND GUARDIAN INSTINCTS.”
point of the shoulder blade, he is slightly longer than tall. Judges should keep this in mind and award correct balance. Th e recognized coat colors are black, blue merle, red, red merle with NO order of preference. Asymmetrical markings or lack of markings are not to be faulted. Th e standard lists exactly where and what shades in great detail. What is important to remember is that structure comes first and color is secondary with the exception of faults and disqualifications. We are looking for a smooth and e ff ort- less side gait with the head carried in a nat- ural position; the neck extended forward and the head nearly level or slightly above the top line. We do not want to put too much emphasis on side gait alone. Equally important is that the fore and hind legs move straight and parallel converging toward the center line of gravity. Traveling with the head held high is not an e ffi cient gait for the work expected of these dogs.
Th e Miniature American Shep- herd is an intelligent, versatile work- ing dog of strong herding and guardian instincts. An exceptional companion, he is easily trained, performing his assigned tasks with great style and enthusiasm. Although reserved with strangers, he does not exhibit shyness. As a herding breed, it is natural for our dogs to be watchful of their surroundings. Th ey may be attentive to their handler, though seemingly not interested in other people. Being watch- ful does not indicate being fearful, just a pause while sizing up the stranger. Considering the above we would ask judges not to expect statuette style bait- ing. Assess alertness by the interest in their handler and the surroundings. Please do not throw items to get expres- sion. Allow the dog to see you coming and try to avoid staring directly into their eyes. All of that said, we fully expect the dogs to be approachable and confident in
the ring. Do not be afraid to excuse a dog or to keep it out of the points because of poor temperament! Th e following are considered to be of such importance that it warrants a Disqualification: • Under 14 inches and over 18 inches for dogs; under 13 inches and over 17 inch- es for bitches. Th e minimum heights set forth in this breed standard shall not apply to dogs or bitches under six months of age. • Over 50% un-pigmented nose leather. • Undershot or overshot bite. • Other than recognized colors. White body splashes, which means any con- spicuous, isolated spot or patch of white on the area between withers and tail, on back, or sides between elbows and back of hindquarters. Th e Miniature American Shepherd is truly a breed where one dog can do it all.
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