Australian Shepherd Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.
Let’s Talk Breed Education!
Page 1 of 2
Official Standard of the Australian Shepherd General Appearance: The Australian Shepherd is an intelligent working dog of strong herding and guarding instincts. He is a loyal companion and has the stamina to work all day. He is well balanced, slightly longer than tall, of medium size and bone, with coloring that offers variety and individuality. He is attentive and animated, lithe and agile, solid and muscular without cloddiness. He has a coat of moderate length and coarseness. He has a docked or natural bobbed tail. Size, Proportion, Substance: 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. Proportion - Measuring from the breastbone to rear of thigh and from top of the withers to the ground the Australian Shepherd is slightly longer than tall. Substance - Solidly built with moderate bone. Structure in the male reflects masculinity without coarseness. Bitches appear feminine without being slight of bone. Head: The head is clean cut, strong and dry. Overall size should be in proportion to the body. The muzzle is equal in length or slightly shorter than the back skull. Viewed from the side the topline of the back skull and muzzle form parallel planes, divided by a moderate, well-defined stop. The muzzle tapers little from base to nose and is rounded at the tip. Expression - Showing attentiveness and intelligence, alert and eager. Gaze should be keen but friendly. Eyes are brown, blue, amber or any variation or combination thereof, including flecks and marbling. Almond shaped, not protruding nor sunken. The blue merles and blacks have black pigmentation on eye rims. The red merles and reds have liver (brown) pigmentation on eye rims. Ears are triangular, of moderate size and leather, set high on the head. At full attention they break forward and over, or to the side as a rose ear. Prick ears and hanging ears are severe faults. Skull - Top flat to slightly domed. It may show a slight occipital protuberance. Length and width are equal. Moderate well-defined stop. Muzzle tapers little from base to nose and is rounded at the tip. Nose - Blue merles and blacks have black pigmentation on the nose (and lips). Red merles and reds have liver (brown) pigmentation on the nose (and lips). On the merles it is permissible to have small pink spots; however, they should not exceed 25 percent of the nose on dogs over one year of age, which is a serious fault. Teeth - A full complement of strong white teeth should meet in a scissors bite or may meet in a level bite. Disqualifications - Undershot. Overshot greater than ⅛ inch. Loss of contact caused by short center incisors in an otherwise correct bite shall not be judged undershot. Teeth broken or missing by accident shall not be penalized. Neck, Topline, Body: Neck is strong, of moderate length, slightly arched at the crest, fitting well into the shoulders. Topline - Back is straight and strong, level and firm from withers to hip joints. The croup is moderately sloped. Body - Chest is not broad but is deep with the lowest point reaching the elbow. The ribs are well sprung and long, neither barrel chested nor slab- sided. The underline shows a moderate tuck-up. Tail is straight, docked or naturally bobbed, not to exceed four inches in length. Forequarters: Shoulders - Shoulder blades are long, flat, fairly close set at the withers and well laid back. The upper arm, which should be relatively the same length as the shoulder blade, attaches at an approximate right angle to the shoulder line with forelegs dropping straight, perpendicular to the ground. Legs straight and strong. Bone is strong, oval rather than round. Pastern is medium length and very slightly sloped. Front dewclaws may be removed. Feet are oval, compact with close knit, well arched toes. Pads are thick and resilient.
Page 2 of 2
Hindquarters: The width of the hindquarters is equal to the width of the forequarters at the shoulders. The angulation of the pelvis and upper thigh corresponds to the angulation of the shoulder blade and upper arm, forming an approximate right angle. Stifles are clearly defined, hock joints moderately bent. The hocks are short, perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other when viewed from the rear. Rear dewclaws must be removed. Feet are oval, compact with close knit, well arched toes. Pads are thick and resilient. Coat: Hair is of medium texture, straight to wavy, weather resistant and of medium length. The undercoat varies in quantity with variations in climate. Hair is short and smooth on the head, ears, front of forelegs and below the hocks. Backs of forelegs and britches are moderately feathered. There is a moderate mane and frill, more pronounced in dogs than in bitches. Non- typical coats are severe faults. Color: Blue merle, black, red merle, red-all with or without white markings and/or tan (copper) points, with no order of preference. The hairline of a white collar does not exceed the point of the withers at the skin. White is acceptable on the neck (either in part or as a full collar), chest, legs, muzzle underparts, blaze on head and white extension from underpart up to four inches, measuring from a horizontal line at the elbow. White on the head should not predominate, and the eyes must be fully surrounded by color and pigment. Merles characteristically become darker with increasing age. Disqualifications - White body splashes, which means white on body between withers and tail, on sides between elbows and back of hindquarters in all colors. Gait : The Australian Shepherd has a smooth, free and easy gait. He exhibits great agility of movement with a well-balanced, ground covering stride. Fore and hind legs move straight and parallel with the center line of the body. As speed increases, the feet (front and rear) converge toward the center line of gravity of the dog while the back remains firm and level. The Australian Shepherd must be agile and able to change direction or alter gait instantly. Temperament: The Australian Shepherd is an intelligent, active dog with an even disposition; he is good natured, seldom quarrelsome. He may be somewhat reserved in initial meetings. Faults - Any display of shyness, fear or aggression is to be severely penalized. Disqualifications: Undershot. Overshot greater than ⅛ inch. White body splashes, which means white on body between withers and tail, on sides between elbows and back of hindquarters in all colors.
Approved May 14, 1991 Effective January 1, 1993
AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD HISTORY From the United States Australian Shepherd Association (USASA) Official Breed Seminar T hese colorful dogs acquired their name as they arrived in the U.S. with the boatloads of Australian sheep and their Basque sheepherd-
ers. Th is took place in the late 1800s and early 1900s as the American wool market was blossoming. Th e English Coulie and the Smithfield Sheep Dog may have been used in their early development. Although there are many theories as to the origin of the Australian Shepherd, this breed, as we know it today, was developed exclusively in the western United States. Th e American stockman continued the development of this breed while maintain- ing the versatility, keen intelligence, strong herding instincts and eye-catching appear- ance that originally won their admiration. Each individual is unique in color and markings, and displays an unsurpassed devotion to its family. Th eir popularity began to rise throughout the western Unit- ed States as stockmen were impressed with the abilities of these capable dogs. In reality the dogs were not o ffi cially registered until the 1950s in the United States. You can find pedigrees which state, “Ashurst Ranch dog bred to Frusetta Ranch female.” Th at was the initial stage of this relatively young breed…hastily scratched
Stub, Shorty and Jay Sisler Mump rope at the 1ational :estern Stockdog Show, 'enYer, 194.
3hoto circa 19 from the /aura ShiYers collection.
notes in a rancher’s files. Th e dogs that worked were kept, bred, crossbred, prized, shared and sold. Th e precise history is fragmented, even the origins of our name merely conjecture. Our dogs were not exhibited in conformation events until the 1960s at rare breed events. Breed historian Phil Wildhagen noted (circa 1970s) that, “the Australian Shepherd breed “is rela- tively unknown here in the East.” Th e “Aussie” rapidly rose in popular- ity with the boom in Western riding after World War II. Th ey became known to the general public via rodeo performances, horse shows, movies and television appear- ances. Th eir inherent versatility and train- ability made them a useful asset on Ameri- can farms and ranches. It wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s, when Jay Sisler, a rodeo contestant and rancher from Idaho, teamed
up with Shorty, Stubby and Queenie that the Australian Shepherd gained national attention. Jay and his Aussies delighted rodeo audiences throughout the U.S. and Canada with an array of tricks that have yet to be equaled, even today. So unique and delightful were these dogs that Walt Disney Studios produced two movies fea- turing them, “Stub, Th e World’s Greatest Cow Dog,” and “RUN Appaloosa, RUN.” Because of his popularity, some of today’s Aussies still have Sisler lines in their pedigrees. Two other foundation lines include Jaunita Ely’s breeding, a major foundation for today’s herding dogs and Nick Smedra, whose dog out of Fletcher Wood’s stock, went on to produce the famous Heard/Flintridge lines, which appear in most of today’s conformation pedigrees.
THE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD TODAY A versatile stock dog with a range of working styles, Aussies continue to be the dog of choice on many ranches and farms, especially in the Western U.S. Aussies are relentless workers with great stamina and are able to handle adverse as well as extreme hot and cold environments. Although some Australian Shepherds are low-keyed and may make good apart- ment companions, the typical Australian
Shepherd is a high-energy dog that does best when it is given plenty of exercise and daily tasks. Th ose tasks can include anything from actual farm chores to training on a regular basis for competi- tive sports. For those Aussies that are 4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& + "/6"3: t
raised in pet homes, they will flourish if they can get regular exercise, whether it’s jogging with their family members or playing ball or Frisbee in their back- yards. If routine physical exercise is not feasible, they must do something that will keep them mentally stimulated, such as learning tricks. Because the Aussie is extremely intelli- gent and learns quickly, they can become destructive and take over at home if they don’t have an established exercise routine and proper leadership. Aussies are highly- devoted and loyal to their families, but because they were originally bred to work and guard ranches and farms, they can be resource protective by nature. Th e modern Australian Shepherd may be aloof around strangers, but they should not be aggressive or fearful. Th e Australian Shepherd has a reputation for being smart and versatile. Th ey are an upright, loose- eyed breed, meaning that they do not use a crouch or stare to move stock. Aussie work quick, yet are thoughtful and typically gentle with stock. Besides being an exceptional stock dog, Australian Shepherds excel in agility, obedience, rally, flyball, flying disc, and dock diving competitions. Th rough the years, dog sports in general have become extremely competitive and most perfor- mance Aussies are no longer “weekend warriors.” Th ey are trained and treated as the true athletes we have made them. Many competitive Aussies are seen on a regular basis by canine chiroprac- tors, acupuncturists, and massage thera- pists. Because of the physical demands the above-referenced sports have on the Australian Shepherd, it is imperative that they are orthopedically correct, with good hips and elbows, as well as a moderate dog that conforms to the standard to reduce the risk of fatigue and injury. And, when working stock, the better they are put together, the faster they can accelerate to cut o ff escaping livestock and/or get out of the way of a charging cow or sheep that turns back on them. Although initially a working dog, the versatile Australian Shepherd quickly found a niche as an all-around ranch/ chore dog. Th e unique coloration
combined with intelligence and an unsur- passed loyalty and willingness to please made the “little blue dog” a sought-after dog on ranches throughout the West. Th ese traits and others have allowed the Australian Shepherd to evolve and con- tinue to grow in popularity today. Th eir athleticism, stamina and agility place them as top competitors in performance events. More serious endeavors such as search and rescue, cadaver or narcotics dogs take advantage of their work ethic. What remains is an incredibly unique, individualistic, versatile breed with a worldwide attraction and popularity that is as strong today as it was on ranches a hundred years ago.
BIOS Flo McDaniel is
a Breeder-Exhibitor- Owner of Aussies since 1979. Flo has been involved with breed and all breed clubs since 1982. She has exhibited in Conforma- tion, obedience, rally events and has finished
over 35 AKC Champions, as well as having titled dogs in stock, obedience and rally. She has bred and owned Best in Show dogs as well as National Specialty winners. Flo is currently the United States Australian Shepherd Association (USASA) Education Chair and Vice-President of USASA.
Vicki Wehrle is the USASA Public Educa- tion Chair, with over thirty years of experience as a breeder-owner-han- dler of multiple perfor- mance dogs and confor- mation champions.
A loyal and dedicated companion that enMoys being with their people at all times!
Diane Bettis is the
USASA Performance chairperson. A retired executive from AT&T, she has won several major national competi- tions and has earned over 200 titles with her Australian Shepherds.
+ighly competitiYe and willing to please. Photo by GloPhoto. t4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& + "/6"3:
JUDGING THE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD: BEYOND THE BASICS
By Nannette L. Newbury Illustrations courtesy of author
This article was commissioned by and first appeared in the October-November 2013 issue of “The Working/Herding Dog Digest”. It is reprinted here with the permission of “The Working/Herding Dog Digest”. T eye color accepted with any flecks and marbling allowed; two ear sets accepted (one dog can have one of each); and—the “cryptic” merle—a dog that might look like a solid black or red in your ring, but genotypically is a merle (you may have to ask the handler where the merling is, or the merling could have been on the tail that was removed at birth). It is safe to say that the Australian Shepherd can be a challeng- ing breed to get right in the breed ring. Th e breed standard provides a basic guide for judges, clearly and simplistically describing form and function, gait, propor- tions, color, but it does not provide much enlightenment in terms of the nuances of this breed; that which we are truly looking to preserve and promote as breeders. I have had the privilege of conducting numerous judging and breeding seminars worldwide. Judges clearly state what they find particularly challenging for them in judging this breed. Th ese topics, which go beyond the basics of the breed standard, will be the focus of this article. THE BASICS he Australian Shepherd is not a cookie-cutter breed. Sixteen color combinations; individu- ality with no two ani- mals marked alike; any Our body proportions are clearly defined and support our purpose as a working dog that is lithe, agile and has the stamina to work all day. We are an extremely versatile dog whose jobs range from moving sheep in pastures to babysit- ting the kids to guarding the truck. Frank Baylis of Bayshore Kennel and Farms notes, “Judges should focus on our silhouette. Th is outline will tell you if a dog
BIS/BISS Ch. Bayshore’s Flapjack was the breed’s first number-one rated Australian Shepherd in the American Kennel Club, an honor he kept for three years (1993, 1994, and 1996).
Photo by Valerie Yates
is built with the proper proportions. We are ‘slightly’ longer than tall. Th e profile will help you find dogs with the correct legginess ratio (1:1) and avoid rewarding dogs that have incorrect proportions and movement.” Th ere is a trend in the breed for a “long and low” specimen whose profile is easily recognizable by a lack of leg length in an otherwise acceptable exhibit. Th e animals with the shorter legs may move correctly, however balance front to rear may be a ff ect- ed, incorrect foot timing (feet may not meet in the middle of the dog) and an increase in side gait can be observed (excessive or fly- ing). Suitability to original form and func- tion would be negatively impacted as this would negatively a ff ect stamina. However appealing the movement or this proportion, these are not correct for our breed. Head proportions are defined with the muzzle equal in length or slightly shorter than the back skull and the length and width of the topskull equal. MOVEMENT We have a smooth, free and easy gait, well balanced with a ground covering stride.
Primarily a ranch dog bred to work sheep and cattle in the western United States. The breed dramatically grew in popularity after WWII. Photo by Shelly Hollen.
BIS/BISS Ch. Oprah Winfree of Heatherhill pictured winning one of the first AKC best of breed competitions for Australian Shepherds, January 1993.
4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& + "/6"3: t
and perpendicular to the ground and should move in a straight line, converging to a center line as speed increases. From the front, loose or longer pasterns may give an e ff ect of paddling when the dog comes towards you and are not the ideal. Our founders determined that we are not a single tracking breed. As the speed of the dog increases the neck can/will lower to the level of the topline. Lower than the level of the topline would be considered a fault most likely related to improper structure. “A dog gait- ing with a head placed high in the air and floating around the ring like an Afghan is not correct,” notes Alan McCorkle. Th e back is straight and strong, level and firm from withers to hip joints with a moderately sloped croup. Dogs with rolling toplines, due either to lack of con- dition or improper structure are to be faulted. You may see loose, rolling toplines and dogs that are higher in the rear in the puppy classes as this occurs sometimes during their development. We do not how- ever recognize these development stages in the standard so both would be considered faults in the breed ring. Th e dogs should be moved at the correct speed for each animal, preferably on a loose lead. Excessive speed, or stringing up of dogs while gaiting should not be rewarded. BEYOND THE BASICS SIZE: With the induction of the AKC Miniature American Shepherd (smaller o ff shoots of the Australian Shepherd) there will be even more emphasis on what is the correct size for this breed. I have overheard judges state, “this breed is getting too big,” or “your bitch is too small.” Both state- ments are incorrect. While we do specify standard size variations, our founders were clear in not limiting the breed to specific sizes. Th is breed should never be measured for the simple reason that the standard states, “quality is not to be sacrificed in favor of size.” While you may personally prefer a smaller or larger animal, neither is to be faulted. When judging an animal whose size may bother you, pay attention to the proportions. If the animal is slightly longer than tall, with equidistant wither- to-elbow, elbow-to- ground measurement, then size does not matter in a specimen
Figure 1: )rom the standard, ´0easuring from the breastbone to rear of thigh and from top of the withers to the ground the Australian Shepherd is slightly longer than tall.” Our standard also calls for stamina which would indicate a legginess ratio (withers to elbow and elbow to ground) of 11 or eTuidistant.
Figure 2: An e[ample of ´long and low.µ 7he profile outline shows a more definitiYe rectangle rather than slightly longer than tall (/ines A and %). ,n addition the legginess ratio (/ines C and ') are not eTual. 7he body of the dog is noticeable longer, /ine C, than the length of the leg, /ine '.
Figure 4: :hen Yiewed from the side the gait is balanced front to rear. The legs meet under the body at the midpoint of the dog. The front paw should not reach past the nose. We do not call for a Áying trot which would detract from stamina as would tremendous reach and driYe (75A').
Figure 3: /ine % is eTual to or slightly shorter than /ine A. /ine A and /ine % should ideally form parallel planes. The length and width of the topskull are also eTual.
Black tri male side gait. Photo by Amber Aanensen.
5ed merle female side gait. Photo by Amber Aanensen.
Dogs that move this way often appear to be “kissing the ground,” light on their feet without pounding, exhibiting little or no e ff ort. Superior foot timing, location of foot fall and balance are key when judging our side gait. Long-time breeder Linda Wilson of Briarbrook Kennels states, “Balance takes forever to get and to keep.” Focusing on or giving undue attention to side gait alone is not a correct assessment of the breed. Alan McCorkle of Heather- hill Australian Shepherds adds, “We are a breed that is bred to move and work. When you are judging, give equal weight to coming and going as well as side gait. For our breed these ALL matter.” We do have examples of dogs in the breed ring that appear balanced in their
front to rear movement, but closer inspec- tion of their foot fall illustrates dogs whose feet actually meet towards the rear of the dog or feet are actually placed obliquely to accommodate the lack of balance. Good foot timing and the location of where the feet meet under the body are critical. When judging movement, focus on the animal that could move and work all day long. Cloddy, cumbersome, rolling, or pounding are not words that are associated with this lithe and agile dog. Athleticism is key. You should look for physically fit dogs in good weight and muscle tone. An over- weight, flabby dog is not acceptable. When viewed from the front and rear, the feet track to a center line as speed increases. Th e forelegs are to be straight
t4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& + "/6"3:
that needs to be able to work all day long. While they have to be extremely agile and lithe with quick bursts of speed they also have to be able to conserve their strength and work from dawn to dusk. Extremes of gait would not suit this purpose. Converse- ly gait hampered by structural deficiencies are equally detrimental. When talking about size, moderation is not a consideration. We clearly state that we have a size range (the di ff erence between an 18" and 23" animal is quite remarkable), but the term moderate should not used to determine if an animal’s size is faulty. HANDS ON: It is imperative to get your hands on these dogs and thoroughly examine them. Coat and colors can inter- fere with a correct visual assessment. Many an Australian Shepherd can “appear” to be quite di ff erent than reality due to illusions that the color and markings give. Th e color and markings can be di ff erent on each side of the dog, so it is also important to view both sides of the exhibit. While our standard calls for specific angles that are ideal to a working, agile breed that requires stamina as well, it is important to note that while emphasis can be placed on shoulder layback, if the angles in the front do not match the rear, you will not have a sound moving dog. Frank Bay- lis states, “Ideal shoulder layback does not ensure good movement. Just because a dog has the ideal shoulder angulation does not mean it can move. I have had dogs with a straighter shoulder and the same straight angles in the rear be the better moving dog. Focus on the balance front to rear.” COAT: When it comes to coat, the issue of moderation is more complex. Th e amount and length of our double coat is not only based on genetics, but greatly influenced by climate. You would not expect to see local heavily coated dogs when judging in Arizona in the summer, but you could easily see dense coats on dogs from the northern climates. Th e length of the coat should be moderate to the size of the dog. Th e texture of the coat is probably as important as it is meant to protect the animal, repel and be weather resistant. Show dogs by definition are going to be presented to you with a flu ffi er, more maintained and groomed coat than their solely working counterparts or companion
animals. Judging this breed out of coat can sometimes be easier and far more illumi- nating for judges. We would hope that you would not penalize an animal based solely on the amount or lack of coat. GROOMING: While an animal should be presented to you clean and neat, over- sculpting or over-grooming this breed are not to be rewarded. We expect that ears, feet, hocks, tail area, be neatened. We do not wish to encourage the excessive scissor- ing of the coat to give a stylistic, unnatural look to the dog. If you can see scissor marks or straight cut lines on the hair coat it is too much. You can see evidence of undesirable grooming in the current trend of severely trimming the hair of the underline; or hand plucking coats to remove longer top coat and give an impression of all hairs being the same length. Excessive use of groom- ing products or substances in the coat is not appropriate for this natural breed. We would expect you not to assume that an animal presented to you well- or overly- groomed is necessarily the best specimen. EXPRESSION: As a herding breed, the Australian Shepherd is incredibly aware of its surroundings. Th ey can be spatially and sound sensitive. While we call for a keen, alert and eager expression we do not expect the dog to give it to “you” as a judge. Be particularly aware of how you approach an animal for examination. Coming up from behind or looming over them is not desired. Squeaky toys, keys in the pocket or loose change jangled to get the dog to show you expression are not called for. You can just as easily walk down the line and see the gaze and expression of the dog without distract- ing the animal from its handler. Th e dogs can and will react to sunglasses, loose, flowing clothing, open jackets brush- ing their backs during exam, hats, or heavy hands during examination. Th is is not to o ff er an excuse for lack of training, improp- er socialization or a poor temperament. You can observe examples of spatial and sound sensitivity in the ring evidenced by the dog moving its ears. When these dogs are nervous, unsettled or experienc- ing loud or strange noises their ears can easily be pinned back to their head. Or a dog might flip their ears from front to rear. Some can even have one ear in the rose
5ed tri female stacked. Photo by Amber Aanensen.
Blue merle male stacked. Photo by Amber Aanensen.
that is otherwise correct and of quality. As breeders we require the variation. MODERATION: Th e term is used fre- quently throughout the standard. Modera- tion for our breed means an overall lack of exaggeration. Founding breed club mem- ber Georgjean Hertzwig of Gefion Austra- lian Shepherds notes, “Moderate does not mean mediocre.” When it comes to substance or bone and moderation, a 24" male dog is going to have more bone than its 18" female counterpart. What is important is if the bone is moderate and in proportion for the size of the animal. Many dogs “appear” to have more bone than called for in the standard due to their “show” coats. Th is is easy for you to check by hand. A perfect example of the a ff ect of coat would be to compare and contrast the bone of ani- mals in and out of coat. What is even more remarkable is to view these dogs when they are wet. Many are much more moderate than they may appear. It is critical for you to go over these animals with your hands to feel the actual structure and substance. Moderation when it comes to gait also refers to lack of exaggeration. Th is is a dog
4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& + "/6"3: t
markings and points, many optical illusions can be created. t $VSSFOU HSPPNJOH QSBDUJDFT GBWPS B completely level topline which hides the angle of the croup. Get your hands on the croup to feel the angle. t ɨF BOHMF PG B XIJUF DPMMBS NBZ HJWF the perception of a straight shoulder. Conversely the edge of a white collar may give a straight-shouldered dog the appearance of great shoulder layback. One white foreleg and one solidly col- ored foreleg may give an impression of incorrect movement coming towards you. From the rear, dogs with di ff erent colored hocks can be deceiving when judging rear movement. t &BDITJEFPGFWFSZEPHDBOCFNBSLFE di ff erently. Be sure to look at both sides of each animal. t 8IJMF ZPVS JOJUJBM WJFX PG UIF EPH should focus on our silhouette, we would encourage you to make your final selections based on our movement; correct, balanced, free and easy, lithe and agile, and able to work all day long. Th e Australian Shepherd is a wonderful- ly engaging, unique, individualistic breed that o ff ers variety within the standard. Th is makes judging the breed more complex and will truly test your skills as a judge. Th eir fun, dedicated and charming demeanor make this breed a favorite all over the world. Our goal is to preserve these traits and this breed for future generations.
position while the other is a triangle... and they can change these at will. If you cannot examine a dog, excuse it. Oftentimes pushing a sensitive or unset- tled animal will result in permanent dam- age to the dog. EARS: Another unique aspect to the breed is the variety of ear sets we allow. We accept a rose ear, a triangle ear and one dog can have both. I personally showed a dog that could freely change her ear set while in the ring. At any one time the left ear could be rose and the right ear could be a triangle. She easily would switch the triangle and rose ears during judging and could even end up with two rose ears or two triangle ears. Th is variety of ear set is not to be faulted. STYLES: We do have style di ff erences within the breed. I often compare our breed styles to the di ff erences between a Quarter horse and the Th oroughbred horse breeds. Some dogs are elegant, others stockier with ranges in between. Our standard does not address these variations (often these are personal preferences within breeding pro- grams). As such we allow for the variation. EYES: ANY color is acceptable. ANY marbling or flecks are fine. Th ere are no faults associated with eye color. Th ere are optical illusions that can be created by the flecks and marbling of color in the eyes. Do not be distracted by a look that is created by marbling of flecks. What is important about the eye is the almond shape and that the eyes do not protrude or are not sunken. COLOR: We have four acceptable col- ors: blue merle, black, red merle and red, all with or without white markings and/or tan (copper) points. Th is gives us potentially six- teen (16) color combinations. As a breed we celebrate the unique individuality and vari- ety that our color and markings allow us. We do not prefer or reward one color over another. We do not recognize or prefer A1< eye color, eye color combination with Áecks and marbling allowed. Photo by Valerie Yates.
a bi-colored dog over a tri-colored dog. A solid black dog (no white or copper trim) is to be judged equally against a red merle dog with white markings and copper points. A red dog with white markings and no copper points is equally acceptable (red bi). A dog with split-face markings is to be judged no di ff erently than a dog with no white on its face or a dog with symmetrical white mark- ings on the face. Some breeding programs favor symmetrical markings (white muzzle and blaze and color and/or white front legs); other breeding programs prefer minimal white trim; still others prefer asymmetrical, unique color patterns. We do not prefer, nor do we wish you to favor one color or style of markings over another. We celebrate this unique quality in our breed MERLING: We do not distinguish between the amount of merling and/or color spots on the red and blue merles. A merle with large-sized or a large number of solid color spots and little merling is equally acceptable as a heavily merled dog with little or no spots of color. WHITE: Here you will find one of our few disqualifications: white body splashes located between the withers and tail, on the sides between the elbows and back of the hindquarters. Color faults would encom- pass a white collar exceeding the point of the withers (at the base of the hair). In addi- tion white should not predominate on the head and the eye should be fully surrounded by color and pigment. White may extend up from the belly into the body. As long as it does not go past four inches above the elbow it is acceptable. You may have to lift the hair to see this fault. You may see dogs with white on their stifles. Th is is acceptable. JUDGING TIPS: t (FUZPVSIBOETPOFBDIEPH#FUXFFO the double coat and unique color patterns of the merles and variety of )our colors, si[teen color combinations no preference for white and/or copper trim or lack thereof. Photo by Valerie Yates.
BIO Nannette L. Newbury has competed and titled dogs in conformation, agility, obe- dience and stock/herding, including winning the coveted
Most Versatile Australian Shepherd title at the National Specialty (1997) having owned the breed since 1973. She is an approved AKC judge, and has served as the Judge’s Educa- tion Coordinator for the United States Aus- tralian Shepherd Association (USASA). She judges the breed (AKC and ASCA) and con- ducts seminars worldwide. In addition she was the longtime editor of the national breed club magazine, “ Th e Australian Shepherd Journal,” and breed column editor for the “American Kennel Club Gazette.”
t4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& + "/6"3:
UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES JudgiNg the auStraLiaN Shepherd & the MiNiature aMericaN Shepherd
by NaNNette L. Newbury
A s the Miniature American Shepherd (MAS) enjoys its first year of full AKC rec- ognition, it appears that the anticipated breed “split” has—and will continue to have—some interest- ing and definitely unintended conse- quences and pressures on the Austra- lian Shepherd. The first hint of this is occurring in the AKC group ring today. I received a call from a disgruntled owner whose handler had been asked to put their Australian Shepherd on the table in the group ring. The handler, upset that the judge did not know the difference between the Aussie and the MAS, was firm in her reply clearly stat- ing that this was an Australian Shep- herd and the breed was not to be judged on the table. The judge quickly realized his or her mistake and was potentially embarrassed and/or confused at the situation. Herding group judges hav- ing difficulty discerning whether it is an Aussie or a MAS being presented to them in the group ring is an issue that is
Left: Miniature american Shepherd. right: australian Shepherd.
going to persist. It should be dealt with professionally, accurately and now. It is not specifically the all-breed judge’s problem if they are confused as to the identity of these two breeds in the group ring. Ideally both breeds should look almost identical with very few differences outlined in the breed standards. The first time I saw both breeds in the group ring together, I did a double-take and it took me a moment and some quick internal processing to determine which breed was what.
It caught me by surprise. They were both blue merles and both were the same size. They are not always that easy to tell apart, even for a breed specialist. If one reads and compares both breed standards, there are some subtle differences, but none of those differ- ences would help one differentiate between the two breeds. So this new and potentially confusing situation in the group ring is not unexpected. The problem arises because the Australian Shepherd has no size disqualification,
“they are Not aLwayS that eaSy to teLL apart, eveN for a breed SpeciaLiSt.”
Left: Miniature american Shepherd. right: australian Shepherd.
t4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& % &$&.#&3
“RELYING SOLELY ON SIZE IS NOT GOING TO SOLVE THE ISSUE.”
only stated preferred sizes, that are fur- ther explained as not set in stone by the “quality is not to sacrificed in favor of size” statement. This basically implies that any size Australian Shepherd that is of quality is allowed—any size. Supposedly, the most obvious differ- ence is the size of the exhibits, but is this truly the way to determine a breed in the group ring? No! The MAS has a specific size range and size disqualifications for males and females: s 3IZE (EIGHT FOR DOGS IS INCHES UP TO AND INCLUDING INCHES AT THE top of the withers. Height for bitch- ES IS INCHES UP TO AND INCLUDING INCHES AT THE TOP OF WITHERS s $ISQUALIlCATION UNDER INCHES AND OVER INCHES FOR DOGS UNDER INCHES AND OVER 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 Australian Shepherd breed stan- dard states: s 3IZE 4HE PREFERRED HEIGHT FOR MALES IS INCHES AND FEMALES inches. Quality is not to be sacri- ficed in favor of size. At first glance one might assume that this is clearly the way to identify and distinguish between the two breeds in the group ring. The Australian Shep- herd is obviously the larger of the two, right? Not necessarily. It is entirely possible to have an Australian Shepherd in the group ring “if you are riNgSide aNd Notice that there Might be aN iSSue for the group Judge, take poSitive StepS to aSSiSt.”
are presented. If the ring steward is proactive with the table this might help determine which dog/breed should be judged on the table. As handlers there are also potential, yet subtle and creative solutions. If you think that there will be an issue for the judge determining which breed is which, agree to have the Aussie go in first in all of these instances. While it is an informal solution, if adopted and practiced, it has potential to assist in the issue. As exhibitors we can also assist, by being knowledgeable about this issue and assisting a judge whenever possible and appropriate. If you are ringside and notice that there might be an issue for the group judge, take positive steps to assist. Quietly informing the handlers and/or the ring steward ahead of time might help. If we choose other less solution- oriented and pro-active options, addi- tional unintended consequences and potentially detrimental results will be felt by the Australian Shepherd and MAS breeds in the future. about the author Breeder/owner/handler Nannette Newbury is currently approved in AKC to judge the Australian Shepherd and has provisional status in AKC to judge the Miniature American Shepherd. Nannette is the former editor of the Australian Shepherd Journal and for- mer Judge’s Education Coordinator for USASA.
that is smaller than the MAS in the same group ring. So how are Herding group judges going to be able to deter- mine which animal is the MAS (with a size disqualification and judged on the table) and which animal is the Austra- lian Shepherd with NO size disqualifica- tion and not to be judged on the table? Relying solely on size is not going to solve the issue. There is no one answer to this incredibly interesting question. I can tell you that if we do nothing as a breed to help these judges, the most obvious solution is to impose breed size ranges and disqualifications on the Australian Shepherd. The long-term and disastrous consequences of this potential solution should be avoided at all costs. Howev- er the pressure to do so will mount in years to come—an unintended and pre- dicted consequence of the breed split. What can We do? In light of the fact that an AKC judge cannot ask an exhibitor what breed they are showing in the group ring, what can we do to help ensure that this does not become an out-of-control issue between the two breeds in the group ring? A judge can check the judge’s book prior to the group entering the ring. Each exhibit is listed by breed and arm- band number. This will work up to a POINT HOWEVER WHEN BOTH THE -!3 and the Aussie have the same armband number, this solution will not work. The group ring steward can assist somewhat in helping if both exhibits
Left: Miniature american Shepherd. right: australian Shepherd.
4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& % &$&.#&3 t
The AusTrAliAn shepherd TALES ABOUT NO TAILS by nAnneTTe l. newbury
W ith the advent of tail docking bans in Europe, every docked-tail breed of dog in the United States has been dealing with the potential of a full-tailed dog exhibiting in the AKC breed ring. Breed clubs have been issuing state- ments for years on their points of view of this trend, clearly stating how they wish AKC judges to appropriately judge a tailed exhibit… the Australian Shepherd is no different. Or are they? Compared to breeds that have a known and documented history that span centuries, the Australian Shepherd is a rela- tively new member to the world of purebred dogs. Developed almost exclusively by ranchers and farmers in the western US, an accurate record of the breed development remains elu- sive and unknown. We do not even truly know how the breed became known as the “Australian” Shepherd. Suffice to say that ranchers who needed dogs to work and fill a specific chore on the ranch quickly were enamored with the eye-catching “little blue dogs.” Photographic evidence shows Aussie look-alikes throughout the 1800s, especially after the 1840s. In all likelihood, the breed developed coin- cidentally with the human immigration at the time. However the breed history was never completely captured. Ranchers mated selected superior working animals with other superior specimens, creating offspring and generations that worked, but had no official registry. Oftentimes it resulted in differ- ent breeds or even cross-bred dogs being used on each other to produce superior working stock. The focus was on an improved working dog.
Recently the United States Australian Shepherd Associa- tion (USASA) board approved a statement on the judging of tailed Australian Shepherds in the United States. The statement was clear that any exhibit with a tail longer than four inches (as called for in the breed standard) is to be faulted. It is clear that it is a judge’s job to determine how that fault should be applied to the dog as a whole. In order for a judge to be able to do justice
to this breed it is important to know the history of the breed regarding no tails. This is not a simple case of a docked-tail breed showing with a full tail… far from it. A key point is that this is NOT solely a docked-tail breed. This breed originated as a natural bob-tail. The docking option was included to maintain breed type and unifor- mity. The earliest written and approved breed standard available is from 1959. The Animal Research Foundation (ARF) standard was written by Mr. and Mrs. Don R. Breazeale, pio- neer breeders of the “Australian Shepherd Blue Heeler.” This standard was adopted and published in the 1959-1960 Winter Edition of Tom Stodghill’s Animal Research Magazine . “TAIL: Should be on level with body. Always natural bob- tail. Long tails are permissible but not desirable and should be cut off.”
t4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& % &$&.#&3
The intent of the breed founders is clear. This is a natural bob-tail breed first and foremost. It is important to note that this breed does not just come as a natural bob-tail or a full tail. In reality the breed can produce tails of varying lengths. This is different than other docked-tail breeds. It is generally considered that we started docking for uniformity and to address the tails of all varying lengths. The next and most impactful mention of the importance of the natural bob tail for the Australian Shepherd is in a subse- quent breed standard, published by ARF in the 1960s. It goes into great detail about the natural bob tail, including breed- ing advice to preserve the breed featured trait, a description devoid in modern breed standards: “Tail: The tail should always be a natural bob—the shorter the better—but not tailless. Purebred Australian Shepherds will produce a high percentage of puppies with natural bob tails. These natural bobs will vary all the way from a two-inch tail bone to about one-half the length of the normal tail length of other breeds. Aussies retained for breeding purposes should be selected for the natural bob factor—again, the shorter the better. Other things being equal, no Aussie should be used for breed- ing if it has a tail more than one-fourth the normal length. Long-tailed Aussies should never have a tail in which the bone reaches below the hock point of the rear leg. Pups’ tails over one-fourth normal length should be docked shortly after birth. Owners and breeders of good Aussie bitches should always base their breeding programs on a foundation or ‘hub’ stud which has a natural bobtail in which the bone is no longer than two or three inches. Only through this type of selective breeding can the true type of Australian Shepherd be produced. Faults: long tails, tails over one-fourth normal length, tails of any length where the bone is twisted or ‘screwed.’ the bone must be straight, with not a hint of kinking or swirling.” Never has a more clear statement about the importance of the natural bob tail trait in the Australian Shepherd been written. While this expansive statement was eliminated from later versions of the breed standards, it is important in terms of the breed’s development. It is equally important for judges (and breeders) to know in order to preserve and protect the breed and breed type going forward. It is important to note that the first official breed club, The Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) was not formed until the 1950s and one of their first formal breed standards was approved in 1968. Their wording on tails is abbreviat- ed from the detailed description of their predecessors, but their intention on the preservation of the natural bob tail remains clear. “Tail: Should be natural bob, or on long tails should be docked for working dogs.” In the 1960s the International Australian Shepherd Asso- ciation was formed on the west coast also with the intention of gaining AKC approval for the breed. Their first breed stan- dard, adopted in 1969 states, read as follows. “Tail: The tail is an extension of the spine; natural bob or docked. A tail longer than four inches at maturity shall dis- qualify in the conformation ring.” Their wording is clear on a full-tailed exhibit—it was enough of a distraction from the breed to be designated as a disqualification.
USASA: Stance on the tail
From The UniTed STaTeS aUSTralian Shepherd aSSociaTion The Australian Shepherd is a natural bob- tail/docked tail breed. At this time the USASA has no immediate plans to amend its breed standard on this issue because no ‘official’ description of the undocked Australian Shep- herd tail exists. The standard currently states under General Appearance, “He has a docked or natural bob tail.” The standard continues under the Neck, Head, Body section to state, “Tail is straight, docked or naturally bobbed, not to exceed four inches in length.” One of the unique characteristics of the Australian Shepherd is that they are not solely a docked tail breed, but also a natural bob tail breed. Dogs can be born with all varying lengths of tail…from natural bob to full tail… AND all lengths in between; hence the reason for the standard reference above regarding a tail to be less than four inches in length. We prefer the natural bob tail and we dock for uniformity and breed type. While it is understood that you as a judge have a choice, the USASA prefers that you con- sider an Australian Shepherd with a full tail to be a serious deviation from the standard and breed type and prioritize and penalize it accordingly. Any deviation from the ideal described in the standard should be penalized to the extent of the deviation. For instance, a tail that is six inches in length would be faulted over a dog with a tail that is less than four-inch inches. A full tail would be more severely faulted. The natural bob tail/docked tail is an iden- tifying breed characteristic and essential to preserving our breed type. As a judge you should place great importance in how the structure functions in movement (gaiting), but, in the final analysis, you should go back to type (the sum of them all) in determining your placements. We wish to preserve the history and heri- tage of this breed. The essence of a breed should not be forgotten. Sincerely, Terri Morgan, USASA President Flo McDaniel, USASA Judge’s Education Coordinator
4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& % &$&.#&3 t
In 1967 the Animal Research Foundation revised their standard and in conjunction with ASCA they conjoint- ly approved a 1970s version of the breed standard. It is important to note that they retained the previous long and detailed description in the tail section of earlier stan- dards, clearly stating how to breed the animals to maintain the trait. In the 1960s and 1970s the docked-tail option surfaced as there was some evidence that breeding natural bob tails to natural bob tails (NBT to NBT) might produce birth defor- mities such as spina bifida (a shortening of the spine). To this day no clear scientific evidence proves this. There are theories that NBT to NBT fetuses might be absorbed in ute- ro, but no clear evidence of birth defects other than theory. The misunderstood and unfortunate use of the term “lethal,” used by geneticists in describing the NBT gene, has caused mass hysteria overseas where the practice of NBT to NBT breeding has been banned, thus removing a key charac- teristic of the Australian Shepherd. Keep in mind that the “merle” gene, also a hallmark of this breed, is also a target for elimination overseas. Talk with modern founding breeders (all of whom have had 50 years’ experience breeding quality and consistency over time) and they all state that they have been breeding NBT to NBT for this entire time with little or no defects. Three noted that the one or two times (in 50 years!) that they had issues were with naturally very short-tailed dogs being bred to like dogs. They made note of the issue and easily bred away from it in the future. It is not until the 1975 revision that the ASCA breed stan- dard leaves out the detailed explanation of the natural bob tail in the breed. This is in keeping with ASCA’s reliance on and use of the AKC guidelines for writing breed standards and they came up with the following. “Tail is straight, not to exceed four (4) inches, natural bob- tail or docked.” The current AKC breed standard states, “Tail is straight, docked or naturally bobbed, not to exceed four inches in length.” This simplified statement on tails is what you will use when you judge the breed, but as you can see, it does not tell the entire story of the breed. Another unique aspect of the tail in the Australian Shep- herd is that this breed was developed solely in the United States. The foundation stock, the breed history and develop- ment resides here. Unlike other “docked tail” breeds (hope- fully the evidence is clear that this is not solely a docked-tail breed) in the US, our breeders do not face pressure to import bloodstock from outside of the US, thus putting pressure on the breed club to accept full-tailed exhibits in the breed ring. The popularity of the Australian Shepherd has exploded worldwide, but I see no genetic need to import full-tailed dogs from overseas. This sets this breed apart from others you may judge with full tails; breeds that need to import addi- tional foundation stock. The tale about the Australian Shepherd tail is entwined in our short breed history. The natural bob tail aspect of the breed is one of the unique and identifying breed character- istics. The parent club has made it clear that they wish to preserve and protect this aspect of the breed. We ask that you as judges and breeders assist in the preservation of the Australian Shepherd breed and breed type.
From The aUSTralian Shepherd clUb oF america The Australian Shepherd is a natural bob-tail/docked tail breed. At this time the ASCA has no immediate plans to amend its breed standard on this issue. We are aware of a trend among breeders in the United States to assume that leaving a tail on an Australian Shepherd and registering that dog with ASCA is an “option” or a “right.” You have not been granted that option from ASCA. The standard currently states under General Appearance, “An identifying characteristic is his natural or docked/bob- tail.“ An identifying characteristic in ANY breed standard is a major and unique identifying characteristic and is not to be discarded or thought of lightly. It is what makes our breed unique and different from other breeds. While our breed is an American-developed breed and while we enjoy numerous freedoms as Americans, including the choice to leave tails on Australian Shepherds, this does not inherently entitle one to register that animal with ASCA. The standard continues under the Neck and Body section to state, “Tail is straight, docked or naturally bobbed, not to exceed four inches in length.” The natural bob tail/docked tail is an identifying breed characteristic and essential to preserving our breed type. As breeders you should place great importance in the current approved breed standard and all that it contains. It is the blue- print to preserve our breed, not change it unilaterally upon a whim or personal feelings. One of the unique characteristics of the Australian Shep- herd is that they are not solely a docked tail breed, but also a natural bob-tail breed. Aussies can be born with all varying lengths of tail…from natural bob to full tail…AND all lengths in between; hence the reason for the standard reference above regarding a tail to be less than four inches in length. We choose to preserve the natural bob tail and we dock for unifor- mity and breed type (unique identifying breed characteristic). We wish to preserve the history and heritage of this breed. The essence of a breed should not be forgotten and the breed standard should command the respect that it deserves. From The aSca webSiTe The Australian Shepherd Club of America will not condone the policy of any individual, group or proposed legislation which advocates restricting the breeding, showing, training and/or exhibiting of the Australian Shepherd or any other domesti- cated animal. The Australian Shepherd Club of American also does not condone the proposed restrictions to the practice of tail docking or removal of dewclaws for cosmetic or health rea- sons. We find this policy to be a detriment to the welfare of the Australian Shepherd breed as a whole and an infringement on the rights of the owners, breeders, trainers and exhibitors of all domesticated animals. The Australian Shepherd Club of America will educate its members of any proposed legislation which may ill affect the welfare of the breed and its guardians, the breeders, owners, trainers and exhibitors. ASCA: Stance on the tail
t4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& % &$&.#&3Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29
Powered by FlippingBook