Let’s Talk Breed Education!
A SURVEY ON THE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD
REGI BRYANT I live in Galt, California. My kennel name is Catori Aussies. I have 3 kids: 2 boys who are 10 and 7 and a baby girl who is 10 months. The boys keep me busy with sports and school activities and I am the President of the Parent Club at their school. I love spending time with my friends and family and going camping! JUDY HARRINGTON I live in Monson, Massachusetts, in the western part of the state. My kennel is Propwash Australian Shepherds. I do a bit of everything; gardening, travel, design, enjoy good books, movies, auto racing, horse racing and golf as spectator sports. JEFF MARGESON I live in Taylorstown, Virigina. I am the President of the United States Australian Shepherd Association. I am in the Banking/Finance industry and my husband is the Hospital Manager for a large Veterinary practice. Outside of dogs, we love spending time around our historic mountain cabin home and all the associated outdoor activities—hiking, biking, kayaking, etc. FLO MCDANIEL I live with my husband of 35 years in Lebanon, Illinois (23 miles outside of St. Louis, Missouri). My kennel is McMatt Aussies. I work part time in a Manufacturing Company with the Cost Accountant. SUSAN MOOREHEAD I live in North Carolina. Outside of dogs, I am a caretaker for a family member.
JOYCE SIDDALL I live in Colorado, just south of Denver. My kennel is Cata- lina Australian Shepherds. I work for a law firm in an IT posi- tion. I am also an AKC and an ASCA judge and travel quite a bit, which I love! JULI WISEMAN I reside in North Carolina. I love a good book and enjoy cooking. I love to teach and especially enjoy mentoring those new to Aussies. 1. What is your opinion of the current quality of pure- bred dogs in general and your breed in particular? RB: I feel that so many newbies in our breed lack mentor- ship and with a little success become instant experts which has been detrimental to our breed. In addition, our breed should be able to work stock all day and most of what is seen today would not be able to do that as they’re not functional. I feel we need to be more critical of the dogs that are placed in show homes. JH: In my opinion the current quality of purebred dogs is mediocre. There are very good examples of all breeds that can be found but I think they are fewer than in the past history of dogs shows. I feel the same way about the Australian Shepherd as well. There are very good ones to be found, for sure, but often there are many compro- mises to be made when selecting placements in classes. Many breeds today are faced with the fact that there are more compromises to be made than in the past when making showing and breeding decisions. That is just my opinion. JM: This is a tough question, and I believe the answer will vary greatly based on an individual’s tenure in the breed. As in any breed, there is an evolution over time as popular-stud-syndrome and show ring trends shape many directions. Between breeders today, there are certainly variances in style of dogs, but for the most part I believe fit within the parameters of our breed standard. The most visible concern to me relates to the proportions of our breed. With our standard clearly stating “slightly longer than tall”, we are seeing more dogs lower stationed and longer in body than in previous years.
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WITH REGI BRYANT, JUDY HARRINGTON, JEFF MARGESON, FLO MCDANIEL, SUSAN MOOREHEAD, JOYCE SIDDALL & JULI WISEMAN
FM: As I watch groups at AKC Shows and see other breeds, many times I am in awe of how well structured some of the breeds are for their standard. Living close and attend- ing many shows at the Purina Event Center in Gray Sum- mit, Missouri, I get to see many National Specialties of various breeds. My most enjoyable time is attending our National Specialty held at Purina in Gray Summit every year. I love seeing the amazing Australian Shepherds that our breeders of today are producing. I feel that there are many breeders paying attention to the standard and really trying to breed to it. Many of the dogs are well structured and properly conditioned. SM: In general average, but lacking in Australian Shepherds. JS: I think the quality of purebred dogs in general is quite good. I think the type and style vary a bit from region to region within some breeds. Overall I think the Australian Shepherd quality is quite good. It is always fun to travel to new areas and see dogs that I have only seen in pictures. JW: Overall, the quality of purebred dogs that I see is high with a lot of focus on preservation of breed type and their purpose in their individual breed. I see the resurrection in some breeds of an older style that improves on structure. I see many devoted breeders in Aussies, and feel that overall, the quality in Australian Shepherds has improved in several areas such as struc- ture, while also staying the course by maintaining breed type and instinct. 2. What is the biggest concern you have about your breed? RB: They are overdone and too long and low. I am also con- cerned about the lack of overall structure. JH: I would say that my biggest concern would be that the foundation and socializing would be consistent and struc- tured so that the energy of this breed would be focused in the correct direction. They are brilliant herding dogs and can learn bad habits just as easily as good ones. They can get a “bad review” when it was an owner issue more than a dog issue. We are seeing very large ears and heavy leather in the ring more frequently than in the past. JM: I believe the Australian Shepherd overall is a compara- tively healthy breed. And with breeders continued focus on standard health and genetic testing, we are more educated about our breeding decisions than ever before. We are seeing more dogs with proportion issues (struc- ture). I believe breeders are doing a very good job of making temperament a critical priority in their breeding program, with early-age socialization playing a key role as well. FM: As a breeder, all of my dogs are tested for all of the genetic diseases that we can test for. We have to continue to use these as tools in making our breeding plans for the future. We have to be pro-active in fighting genetic diseases in our dogs. I do think that we must remember what the temperament of our breed is supposed to have. I think that so many people want them to be very happy- go-lucky dogs. I am okay with my dogs being somewhat
reserved initially with strangers. I do not want them to just go off with strangers. I want to see more judges be aware of how they approach our breed and examine them. I see way too often judges try to stare our dogs down which causes undo anxiety. I would like to see more judges pay attention to our moderation of sidegait, and the down and back movement. I realize judging is a very difficult task. Judges are often presented with exhib- its that are not structurally sound and are lacking in ease of movement. SM: Lack of dedication to the actual dogs and the breed stan- dard. Temperament, over grooming, epilepsy. JS: I would like to educate people interested in Aussies and remind them this is a Herding breed. Aussies need to continue to be socialized. They are great family dogs but they need to go out with the family and not just be at home. Aussies want to be family members and can become very protective. Take them to sporting events, to the park, hiking and biking. They love to go! JW: My predominate concern is health. There needs to be a focus on breeding for health—look at the longevity/free of diseases such as cancer and epilepsy of those within the pedigree—not just focusing on producing the next winner. Focus on what will keep the breed healthy in the years to come when they will be producing. My first Aussies lived to 17, now the average seems to be 11 to 13 with cancers taking many way too soon. Research your pedigrees and know the problems within the line. Keep the breed healthy! 3. What is the biggest problem facing you as a breeder? RB: Finding stud dogs to breed to that compliment my bitches both in pedigree and structure. Also, educating buyers when it comes to vaccine protocols and veterinary procedures such as spaying/neutering later, medications not to use mainly because of MDR1, etc. JH: The lack of time to do all of the things I would like to do. We are fortunate to have several great friends who work in various venues of the sport—herding, agility, obedience, barn hunt (placed over a terrier!), etc. with our dogs. JM: I think without fail, a consistent issue we see as breed- ers today is the challenge of how to fully engage the next generation. Digital and social media trends have created an era of instant gratification and armchair experts. To excel in any endeavor, but especially so in the world of purebred dogs, it takes time, commitment, an extraordi- nary amount of effort and often results in more disap- pointment than glory. To that end, it takes perseverance and an unwavering drive to be a student for life, con- stantly learning and growing. FM: Trying to mentor new upcoming people that want to be breeders. They don’t want to put in the time it takes to learn the standard, study structure and the hard work it takes. So many think they have read this or that on the internet and are instant experts. They haven’t traveled
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out of their own city to see different bloodlines or sit with mentors and study movement. In the years that I was involved with Judges’ Education, I saw very few new people attend the presentation to learn about the breed, yet they are producing litter after litter. It gets very frustrating. SM: Finding the quality dog you want to breed and knowl- edgeable caring homes. JS: I try to raise sound healthy dogs and do a lot of health testing. I wish we had a database like the Bernese Moun- tain Dogs do with health information on dogs. Their database is very in-depth. It takes a long time to build the information, but it is a great help for breeders to know more about the dogs in their pedigrees. I think being more open about health in any breed will help the breed in the future. JW: A global problem facing all breeders is the Animal Rights movement. Education of the public about the benefits of purebred dogs is greatly outpaced by the advertising of groups like HSUS and PETA. Your average pet owner believes the hype and they continue to donate to the coffers of those that would like to see the end of not only purebreds, but all dogs. Support the National Purebred Dog day and educate the public on the benefits of owning a purebred. 4. What is your advice to a new breeder? RB: Never, ever stop learning and continue to be mentored. Breed with the intention of keeping something for your- self to improve the breed. Don’t breed to something just because it is winning. Research pedigrees and breed to dogs that compliment your bitch both in structure and in pedigree. FM: Learn the breed standard inside and out. Be able to understand and apply it to the dogs. Don’t take criticism of your dogs so personal. You will never ever know it all. Keep an open mind, keep your mouth shut and your ears open. SM: Know and understand your standard in depth, qual- ity over quantity, always put the dogs best interest first. Listen and watch to learn, mentor under a knowledgeable person with a history of more than five years knowing and being involved in the breed. JS: For a new breeder or a new judge, go to a herding trial— better yet, go to several. Watch the Aussies work and you will see the importance of their soundness. I see dogs win in the show ring that would have a hard time doing the job they were bred to do. “...THE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD SHOULD BE ABLE TO GO FROM THE SHOW RING TO WORKING STOCK TO FAMILY PET.”
JW: All new breeders need a non-judgmental mentor to help guide them in their breeding decisions. To help keep them from the heartache of poorly bred litters, guide them in raising the puppies to fulfill their potential, teaching about issues in whelping, and to assist in all aspects of keeping the attributes of an Aussie strong. 5. What is your advice to a new judge in the breed? RB: Remember that Aussies were bred to work stock all day, so they should be able to move effortlessly. Aussies should not be overly groomed or sculpted. JH: My advice to a new judge in the breed would be to not get lost in the glamour, coat and flashy markings—it’s not what we are about. Make them all the same solid color in your mind and select the best one. It might be very plainly marked and not be dripping in coat, but if it is, that’s okay too, just as long as it’s the best one. Don’t allow them to be raced around the ring as well. The Australian Shepherd should be sound coming and going with a balanced side gait and I want to see it at a moder- ate speed, preferably on a loose lead. FM: Try and look for type: Does this dog look like an Austra- lian Shepherd? Look for a strong back, moderate bone, body, ease of movement. SM: Know structure, learn how to see the actual dog without letting your eye be distracted, by the markings or colors, from what the breed standard calls for. In Australian Shepherds, balance, moderation are extremely important to maintain the versatility. This breed should hold a solid level top line while on the move showing a balance side gait without wasted motion and clean V shape coming and going. Know the disqualifications and why faults are mentioned so you will know to the extent of importance for it being listed. Quality should never be sacrificed due to size. Color and style vary in this breed so educate yourself to understand the variations. Never stop trying to learn all you can, talk to breeders and men- tors to know that the Australian Shepherd should be able to go from the show ring to working stock to family pet. It is a versatile breed that should not be divided by show, performance, and working. Always approach from the side for exam. JW: Know your standard and judge to it. The main complaint I hear from owner- handlers is there appears to be too much awarding of familiar faces regardless of the quality of the dog. Work closely with a mentor to understand the nuances of the breed across different lines and styles. Award the Aussie that best fits the standard regardless of the handler, color or size. One of my favorite articles is by Katie Gammill and I urge every new judge to read it, “Why the Stand-Out Best Dog Can Be A Loser”. A quote from the article reads, “It is a ‘Judas Kiss’ to any breed when a judge puts up a dog simply because it looks like the majority in the ring.” 6. Anything else you’d like to share? RB: Just because a judge breeds and/or owns a particular style of dog, doesn’t necessarily mean that is the style
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WITH REGI BRYANT, JUDY HARRINGTON, JEFF MARGESON, FLO MCDANIEL, SUSAN MOOREHEAD, JOYCE SIDDALL & JULI WISEMAN
of dog they will choose when judging. A judge can only judge what is presented to them on that day. You can never stop learning. Discuss with fellow breeders, critique, etc. JH: My comment would be as a judge; I check the bite on puppy classes last. I find it to be far more efficient and easier on the puppy and exhibitor. Often they are set up and start moving around when having their mouth checked. They will usually hold the stack while being examined and then I don’t care if they sit or move after, I’ve gotten a good and efficient exam done! JM: Last year, I wrote a post on social media that received an extraordinary positive response. It related to an inquiry I received from a young man who had a litany of questions about our breed, ending with, “What does it take to be a successful breeder and exhibitor?” As I started to put thoughts to paper for my response, something quite interesting occurred to me. Had I been asked this question 15 years ago, my list of requirements to attain success in the world of purebred dogs would have included foundational items such as researching pedigrees, ensuring you have safe housing, understand- ing animal husbandry, and making friends with a good Veterinarian, among others. While all of these are abso- lutely critical, after many years of honestly analyzing my own personal journey as well as watching many others, I would add a few other less obvious components to obtain success not only “in dogs”, but in a life with dogs. • Get your priorities straight. The world of dogs can quickly become a singular all-consuming focus. Force yourself to find balance. If you don’t have family and friends to share your successes, it’s going to be a long, lonely journey. • Don’t use the world of dogs to boost your self-esteem. If you want to show dogs to bolster your ego, you are setting yourself up for a short-term high. At the moment you are handed that ribbon, it’s easy to have an inflated sense of accomplishment. But every week- end of every year, people are handed lots of ribbons. Statistics will come, and statistics will go. Records will be broken. • Strive to make a difference, inside and outside of the show ring. Teach a Junior Handling class, become part of a therapy dog program, volunteer with your local dog club, get involved with your local kennel club and your parent club. • Be a nice person. Be a good person. The dog show world is not for the faint of heart. Competition can bring out the very best, and unfortunately the very worst in people. Regardless of the hurdles you will encounter, and despite how challenging it is to remain positive when staring down adversity, put a smile on your face, take a deep breath, and remember why what got you here… the relationship between you and your dog. FM: I have had a passion for dogs my entire life. I’m 61 years old now and I’ve loved this breed for 36 years. I will always love the Australian Shepherd and I hope to
see it thrive, continue to get healthier and allow it to be enjoyed for many years to come. I have witnessed several breeds to almost become extinct in my years with show- ing dogs. I hope that does not happen to my breed, yet I hope that it does not become so popular that we suffer. SM: Every dog entered has paid its entry so be courteous as fellow exhibitor or judge. Exhibitors train your dogs before showing not only what is expected of them but also of strangers approaching (even incorrectly) and touching them. Never stop learning if your interest/dedi- cation truly lies in the breed. Don’t expect it to be easy, as all things worthwhile take effort and hard work. JS: Never stop learning. I think it is important to have other breeders and judges “talk dogs”. There is a group of us that meet regularly and talk about different items each time. We do litter evaluations and have other people come and talk to their specialty. I go to every dog event I can squeeze in, even in breeds I may never judge. I think the more we learn the better breeders, exhibitors and judges we become. JW: Be helpful to all. Be honest without being hurtful. Sup- port each other. Everyone was new at one point—don’t forget what that felt like and teach like you wanted to be taught or were taught. Never be afraid to learn and never be afraid to admit you do not know something. Always remain humble. 7. And for a bit of humor, what’s the funniest thing that you ever experienced at a dog show? JM: If I had a dime for every time an overzealous young male dog mistook his handler’s leg for a fire hydrant (inevitably as they were about to walk into the ring), I’d be a wealthy man. FM: The funniest thing I ever saw was at a show many years ago. There was a very popular longtime breeder showing her dog and while she was showing, her slip was falling down around her ankles. She very nonchalantly stopped, stepped out of the slip and threw it outside of the ring, but it got caught on the ring gait and hung like a flag, fly- ing in the wind. It was hysterical! JS: A few years ago, I was judging an ACSA show in Utah. I had a peewee handler enter the ring. She presented her dog for me to go over. I asked her to show me teeth. She looked at me, looked at the dog and showed me her teeth in a very big grin! I smiled and said, “Take your dog in a small circle.” She said, “Big circle,” and took off! It taught me to be more specific. I now ask if I may see the dog’s teeth! JW: So that I can laugh at myself, I was new and at an outdoor show in the pouring rain. The rings were at the bottom of a slope with the red clay mud puddling at the rings making it impossible to keep a dog clean. My dog was groomed and carried to the ring to keep her as clean as possible. I set her down as we were to go in the ring and the first thing she did was lie down in the wet and mud. I was horrified to be presenting a “dirty dog” and very apologetic. The judge was very nice and said they all get dirty when herding to try and put me at ease.
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AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD Questions & Answers
SULIE GREENDALE- PAVEZA
My activities outside of the dog show world are truly a little bit of everything! I am licensed to judge all Sporting and Working breeds, as well as breeds in Hound, Toy, Herding and Best in Show. GAIL KARAMALEGOS
I have co-owned several Australian Shepherds with clients and have finished approximately 40-50 as a handler. I’ve been judging the breed since 1998. I grew up in and handled out of northern Illinois (near Chicago), so I still consider myself a “Midwesterner”; however, we moved to Hamden, Connecticut nine years ago for husband’s job. He is the Dean of two
I purchased my first Aussie in 1988, from a local rancher outside Bryan, Texas. I paid $50 for her, and she was the most intelligent dog I’d ever had in my entire life. As it turns out—and unbeknownst to me—her pedigree had some of the most prestigious foundation working bloodlines in the breed. She was not bred for confor- mation, nor was I interested in showing
colleges at Southern CT State University.
dogs at that time. When she was about a year old, I took her to an ASCA event for her first obedience trial, and it was there that I met a breeder who was to become my best friend and Aussie mentor. Tragically, she died suddenly in 1996 of a heart attack, but by then I had several conformation-bred dogs from her, which I had shown to their ASCA and AKC champion- ships. A few years later, I applied for my ASCA breeder judge approval, and in 2005 I was approved as an AKC provisional judge for Australian Shepherds and Junior Showmanship. I’ve had the privilege of judging both AKC and ASCA shows all over the US, and at the national specialties for USASA and ASCA. Since I’m one of only a handful of Aussie breed specialists approved by AKC, I’ve also had wonderful judging assignments overseas for FCI events in Finland, Germany, France, Switzer- land, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Australia. My lifelong profession has been as an Occupational Therapist for 40 years, working in many different healthcare settings. For the past 3 years, I’ve been working in home health, vis- iting patients in their homes. My knowledge of anatomy and kinesiology has helped me tremendously as a breeder and a judge. I’ve lived in Bryan, Texas for the past 30 years, and for the past 20 years, I’ve lived in a house I designed, on 5 wooded acres several miles outside the city limits. I find great pleasure in my Aussies and cats, and love all kinds of arts/crafts—for the past few years, I’ve been very involved in crochet primarily, and enjoy making afghans and throws to give away.
My very first and best exposure to the Australian Shepherd breed was through a Great Dane client and friend. We met at a place that was convenient for both of us traveling from different areas and that place was Propwash Farm. She was a long time friend of Leslie Frank. From the moment I saw the breed I was taken with everything about them. I did show at
some ASCA events early on for Leslie prior to the breed being AKC Registered. At that time I had the privilege of showing BIS, BISS Propwash Elmo—a dog dear to my heart to this day. Time passed, life changed and after many years of working together we were in sync with our passion for the breed and after I retired from handling have gone on to co-breed under the Propwash prefix with Leslie Frank. I have been honored to judge the breed at Westminster KC and Best of Breed at the National Specialty as well as specialties in France and Den- mark. I look forward to an upcoming assignment in England of a much anticipated anniversary specialty show. I decline judging the breed in the US at all breed shows due to my con- tinued activity as a breeder and owner handler.
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austTalKan sJeRJeT˩ Q&A
LESLIE SORENSEN Colorado Australian Shepherds
I no longer show or breed Aussies, but I’m extremely proud of what I accomplished with my Aussies—one ASCA Hall of Fame Sire, that also achieved USASA ROMX-I, 2 ASCA Hall of Fame Dams and ASCA Hall of Fame Kennel. LINDA MORE
I married Dick Sorensen in 1969 and the Australian Shep- herd became another part of my life. Dick is a founding breed- er and I had just lost my German Shepherd, a breed that my mother cherished since her involvement with them in WWII. I am an ASCA Senior Breeder Judge and did my first assign- ment in 1976. I am also AKC approved for Jr. Showmanship, Shiba Inu, Brittanys and Australian Shepherds. I love to ride horses, fish and we raise White Dorper and Dorper sheep. SUSAN LANDRY WH ITICAR
I grew up in the northeast, but now live in North Carolina. The first time I exhibited a dog was in 1954 as a kid. My original breed is Shelties. I’ve nev- er owned an Aussie, but have judged the breed since it first came in to AKC conformation competition.
NANNETTE L. NEWBURY Stonepine Australian Shepherds
I am an AKC and ASCA Senior Breeder Judge of Australian Shepherds and USASA Parent Club approved Mentor/Presenter, living in northern Florida, but born in Stuart, FL. I acquired my first Australian Shepherd forty years ago. At that time the breed was very rare. Aussies were introduced in AKC Herding Group in 1992. Their popularity has increased at
I acquired my first Australian Shep- herd in Colorado in 1973. This was a Los Rococsa-bred dog, a handsome blue merle named Traveler. This ignit- ed my passion and was the start of my participation in the breed. After liv- ing overseas I returned to California and asked to mentor with Kathy and
an alarming rate and they are currently a high-entry breed. This troubles me because they can out smart their owners! This ability to think lands them into mischief if they are not given a job to do. They are a high-energy breed, perfect for performance due to their agility, intelligence and willingness to please. Aussies are extremely affectionate and protective of their family. They are not for everyone, much like the Bor- der Collie. I have judged for the Australian Shepherd Club of America for nearly twenty-five years and have judged for AKC since 2012. I have judged in Europe and across the US for both Clubs and at regional and national specialties. 1. What five traits do you look for, in order, when judging Aussies? What do you consider the ultimate hallmark of the breed? SGP: Moderation, medium bone, foot timing, animation, bite. The hallmarks are the five listed. JH: My first traits that I give priority to would be the correct body profile and balance that says, ‘I’m an Australian Shepherd’. This is always seen from a distance looking at the exhibits. Equally important to me is to see athletic, efficient movement of a sound dog that could do the job. I want this evaluated on a loose lead and not racing. It is the only way to evaluate movement correctly, in my opin- ion. Next I want to evaluate for the correct head type. I want to see the proper proportion of muzzle to top skull as well as the breadth to the top skull and fill of the muzzle. Looking down on the head, it is very easy to see, as well as the correct ear set and size. The bite is checked front and sides with a standard that calls for full denti- tion. I can honestly say that a missing tooth has never made my decision, but I do want to factor that in as part
Alan McCorkle of Heatherhill Australian Shepherds. In 1990 I was asked to participate in the fledgling AKC parent club, USASA and wore many hats for years including editor of the Australian Shepherd Journal, membership chair and subscrip- tion chair. After studying under the founding Judge’s Educa- tion Coordinator and AKC judge, Pamela Levin, I was selected as the JEC for the club and served in that position for many years. As a perquisite for this position I obtained my approval to judge the breed in AKC. I am also a breeder judge in the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA). I am a member of both parent clubs and also Del Monte Kennel Club (Pebble Beach, CA). I breed under the kennel name of Stonepine, which is located just off the coastline of Monterey, California. I am an international business consultant specializing in emerging market solutions. I studied pre-veterinary medi- cine, graphic arts, journalism and business training and development at university.
In the late 70s I started judging Aus- tralian Shepherds in ASCA. I’ve been judging them at AKC shows since 1998. I live in High Ridge, Missouri, which is about 20 miles outside of St. Louis. I am retired from Southwestern Bell Telephone/AT&T.
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austTalKan sJeRJeT˩ Q&A
LS: When I enter the show ring, I am looking at type and color, then when it’s time, movement. Decisions made for placement, if I have more dogs that qualify in those three areas, will include ear placement and size of ear, head shape, topline/ character, etc. A correct head combined with correct ears is the hallmark of this breed! If the Aus- tralian Shepherd is not beautiful, it is wrong. Pam Levin once told me that she thought, “If any part of an Aussie reminded you of another breed, it’s wrong!” That quote rings in my ears when I am looking at the dogs. SLW: 1) Moderation is paramount in the breed: substance, bone and coat. Although size is not faulted in either extreme, bigger is not better. 2) Type varies but must be such that the stop is moderate, muzzle slightly tapered and top skull sand muzzle are on parallel planes. Eyes must be almond shaped. Ears may break forward and over or to side as a rose ear. Ear set (placement) is high on head and ears are triangular in shape. 3) Proportions must be correct, body is slightly longer than tall. 4) Move- ment is effortless and ground covering. Dogs should be in top physical condition. 5) Balanced angle to angle with dead level top line, no lateral movement. The ultimate hallmark of the breed is animation, attentiveness and intelligence. In addition are many variations of color and markings and the bobbed tail. 2. How has the breed changed since you became involved with it? Do you see any trends you think are moving the breed in the wrong direction? Any traits becoming exaggerated? SGP: Temperaments have gotten much better. When Aussies first came into AKC, there were a lot of shy ones. I see a trend toward larger, heavier-boned dogs, some almost to the point where they could be described as blue merle Bernese Mountain Dogs! The breed standard says, “medium size”, “lithe and agile” and “without cloddiness”. JH: I think the breed has changed little since I became involved with Aussies. Since ASCA was, and is, a very active organization of breeders, it has remained in place and most of the Australian Shepherds are AKC and ASCA registered. There was very good and consistent quality prior to AKC acceptance. A trend or not, I find that the heavily-coated glamour coats can frequently win over the shorter and very correct coats. This is fine when the quality is equal, but that isn’t always the case. A trait I am seeing more frequently is very large ears. LM: The breed is much more consistent now than when it first arrived on the AKC scene, though there is still a vari- ety of styles. In this breed, as in too many others, long and/or low is too often seen and in my opinion, breeders need to guard against that. And as in other breeds, too many exhibitors seem to think that faster is better—it’s not a race. I do not like the over grooming with heavily chalked legs with every hair sticking out, nor body coat so puffed up that the shape of the dog is lost. Also, too many of those puffy coats are not of good texture. NN: The popularity of the breed is undeniable with breed- ers and owners all over the world now. This of course has put pressure on the breed, unfortunately in many respects not for the betterment of the breed. Overall I see less of a reliance on mentors and mentorship, also to
of the exam. Who knows, maybe one day I would have two dogs so evenly matched that a missing tooth might be the tiebreaker; but so far that hasn’t happened! I then want hands-on to confirm that what I saw at a distance in the body outline and proportion is actually what they have. We have some talented groomers who can sculpt a coated dog very well and that makes your hands the confirming tool for evaluation. The ultimate hallmark of the breed is their mind. The “can do” attitude and desire to be with you and a part of your life, loyalty and always aware of where you are. GK: When judging Aussies, the traits that are most impor- tant to me are correct, sound movement, a solid front, a correct rear in balance with the front, a level topline with a strong back and balanced proportions. I honestly believe that the ultimate hallmark of the breed is its char- acter and intelligence. I feel that only people who have owned Aussies, and lived with them will understand this, but it was the first thing that popped into my mind when I read the question! LM: 1) Overall make and shapeliness, medium size, slightly longer than tall. 2) Good bone, but not too much. 3) Bal- anced, smooth, effortless movement. 4) Stable tempera- ment. 5) And hopefully an attractive head and eye—oh, and a nice weather-resistant coat to top it off. NN: The first thing I look at is the profile and proportions of the breed when initially stacked in the ring. I actually spend some time looking at how the pieces go together, head into neck into body as well as our “slightly longer than tall” ratio. I also look at the wither-to-elbow and elbow-to-ground measurement, which should be equi- distant. I next look at movement; side gait, coming and going. They all matter in equal measure to me. I also look at the topline. I am looking for firm and level. No rolling. Breed type is hugely important for me. Not only do I want them moving correctly, with the correct propor- tions, I want them to look like and Australian Shepherd. I wish to be able to tell the difference between and male and a female. I also focus on physical condition. The form and function of this breed calls for a great deal of physicality. When I put my hands on a dog I am looking for a dog in incredible physical condition; well-muscled, no excess weight. I look for a dog that possesses the stamina and agility required for the breed. I think the breed has several unique characteristics. The first being our natural bob tail. The second being our color—four accepted colors (Black, Blue, Red Merle and Red) with or without copper and/or white trim allows for 16 color combinations. No two dogs are marked alike with the color offering individuality and variety. Although difficult to judge in the breed ring, the breed temperament and character is charming and engaging. A loyal dedicated companion, often referred to as the Velcro ® dog, it is easy to get hooked on this breed. LR: I look for the correct profile and movement, maintain- ing that profile when moving. I look at the head, includ- ing the ears and eyes, plus the proper proportions. Coat texture is important in a Herding dog. I think the entire standard is important in defining the breed, but the pro- file (which tells us the structure) and movement are the hallmarks for me.
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the detriment of the breed. The Australian Shepherd is a relatively newly developed breed in the world of canines. Yet we are no different than other breeds that have developed centuries, generations or years before us. The breed has/is changing, as all dog breeds do. Some of the changes, especially those in terms of health, are wel- comed. Other traits that appear to have become popular due to “winning records,” are not; overly angulated rears, long and low body proportions are several that we as breeders need to be aware of. When we first came into AKC in 1991 we were a predominately a breeder/owner/ handler breed. There has been a significant change over time and I would say that now we have become a handler breed. LR: The breed is in very good shape. There are many won- derful examples, which is why I love judging them. One problem I have seen is some are getting longer, more nar- row muzzles. For me it throws the whole head off; I hope breeders are watching this. LS: The overall beauty of the breed has improved. Sound- ness has improved. Temperament, balance and head type have improved. Color has not improved. Full dentition is becoming rare! Type is more set. Trends leaning toward excessive grooming need to be nipped! These are not Collies. Remember Pam Levin’s quote! Long, low profiles and toplines running uphill towards the wither is a no no. Large ears placed at the side of the head are killing the expression. This breed is alert, intelligent looking and attentive. Slap some Retriever ears on this head and that all goes away. Head type is getting exaggerated. Back skulls are too blocky, muzzles are too short, stops are too abrupt! Remember Pam! Is this a Rottweiler? No! SLW: The breed has changed with popularity. I do not believe the breed is as sound as it once was. Front assembly lacks depth of chest and proper shoulder lay back. Croups are often too steep. I see a lot of crossing over, coming and going. I also think the dogs are moved too fast.
in or out, and rear legs straight from the hips to the paws, with no turning in or out of the hocks or paws. LM: Balanced, smooth, effortless easy movement with adequate (does not have to be tremendous) reach and drive. It should be clean coming and going. In short, the traits that support an athletic, “can do” dog. NN: I think our breed standard describes it well: “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.” Some of the movement issues one might see in the breed ring is a dog that “pounds” the ground. I am looking for a dog that is “kind” to ground. This is a dog that can hold up to work and have the stamina to work all day. Rolling toplines due to incorrect structure (not hair coat) are not desired. In our breed the coming and going are important and all movement should be clean, not just a focus on side gait. We converge towards a center line as the speed increases, however in many AKC breed rings, the down and back does not allow adequate space to do so. On side gait, I am not looking for extreme speed and tremendous reach and stride (TRAD); I am looking for front and rear balance and foot timing. I look where the feet meet under the body to see that a dog is not over reaching or undercutting. The dog’s head should move towards level with the topline as speed increases and not be carried up either naturally or pulled up with a lead. Some dogs will exhibit a “flipping” movement from the front pasterns. It can be caused by moving the animal too fast, or be structural in nature. This is not uncommon in the breed as our founders discussed the issue in our in first breed standard annotations as not a desirable trait. The front movement should be free and easy and come from the shoulder, not the elbow (due to a foreshortened forearm). LR: I look for a very balance movement with correct foot timing. Not too fast; just an efficient movement. A dog that works all day should not be extreme. I watch the topline to see if it holds it shape. I also look at the way the feet hit the ground. I want to see good feet, as the dog has to work all day on them. LS: I love our Standard when it comes to describing move- ment. “Well balanced, ground covering gait”. I examine every dog to look for the bone structure that allows that, then the correct body proportion that allows that and finally body fitness that promotes that! The fine points of the down and back are necessary too; also allowing for agility and stamina. 4. Is there anything Aussie handlers do you wish they would not? Any grooming practices you see that bother you? SGP: It is not necessary to race around the ring. Grooming seems to be under control in this breed, for the most part. JH: Slow down! Also, avoid overgrooming and sculpting.
3. Describe what you look for in Aussie movement.
SGP: I am looking for correct foot timing on side gait. Right front and left rear should hit ground at the same time. On the down and back, single tracking, no wasted motion kicking up or out. JH: I want a dog that moves with power and athleticism. A good, sound driving rear that can easily move the dog forward without the look of labor and a front with angles in the shoulder. You should never see stilted or choppy movement. The head carriage drops down and forward when moved on a loose lead. GK: Correct Aussie movement should, most of all, look effortless and efficient. Sometimes the dog moving the smoothest is not the one everyone outside the ring is looking at! Proper gait involves: 1) Front to rear balance when viewed from the side, maintaining a level topline with no rolling of the body; 2) Front/rear convergence increases with speed; 3) Legs on each side of the body move in the same plane when viewed coming/going; 4) Feet remain close to the ground; 5) Front legs remain straight from the shoulders to the paws, with no turning
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austTalKan sJeRJeT˩ Q&A
GK: Aussies should always be shown on a loose lead, and allowed to move naturally at a moderate speed. Han- dlers should not be stringing them up on tight leads. The Australian Shepherd is a Working breed with a natural tendency to drop the head as speed increases. Many handlers are moving their dogs too fast, especially on the down and back. As far as grooming goes, there are several fads that I, and many other breeder judges, don’t like at all. The most distasteful is a more recent fad of sculpting the coat. I do not like to see dogs that are chalked either—it needs to be completely removed before entering the ring, if it’s used at all. And I, like most breeder judges, do not like to see whiskers trimmed off; however, I’ll not fault a dog for it. NN: Generally breeders, owners and handlers do a great job in the ring with the breed. The one exception would be in moving the dogs too fast. They are to be shown on a loose lead with a natural stride. While they are built for bursts of speed and the ability to rapidly change direc- tions, I wish to see the dog moving at a natural trot. This breed is a natural Working ranch/farm dog developed primarily in the west. We expect the dog to be presented naturally; however, with the protective double-coat there is a tendency to over-groom and over-sculpt the dogs. This is a huge distraction from the original form and function of the breed. LR: Most Aussie handlers do a great job. I do not like exam- ining a damp or wet dog. I don’t like to see the coats with product in it or fluffed up. LS: I wish all Aussie Handlers would stand up with their dogs. Free stacking is the best for me to see them. It’s okay to step to the head to steady the dog for exam. SLW: The current grooming fads of back brushing the neck (like Shelties and Collies) and trimming the entire under line of the dog are of concern. 5. Do you find a difference between AKC and ASCA Aussies? GK: I don’t show any more, and since I’m not approved for additional breeds, I don’t judge AKC shows very often and don’t have the opportunity to see the Aussies being shown on a regular basis. I do know that most dogs compete in both ASCA and AKC shows in Texas, for the most part. However, most AKC judges miss out on having the oppor- tunity to judge a segment of the Aussie population due to their owners not showing them because they are smaller, or plainly marked, or have higher set ears, or less coat. These are dogs that achieved ASCA championships under ASCA breeder judges, many of whom have had working dogs. Almost all of my dogs achieved championships in both ASCA and AKC. NN: No. For the most part those that exhibit in ASCA also participate in AKC. They are the same dogs and the same breeders, owners and/or handlers. With little exception the breed standards mirror each other and do not call for or promote two different looking dogs. LS: There should not be a difference in the breed because of where they are registered. Breeders have two very simi- lar Standards to go by. The differences are minimal. As a judge of long standing, I am occasionally plagued with
the question as to whether breeders read the Standard. It is our blueprint and we leave all our personal fetishes about our own dogs at home! When I enter the show ring, all I do is mentally refer to the Standard and apply it. SW: I do not find any real difference between the AKC and ASCA entries. Many dogs are shown in both venues. We are fortunate to have many knowledgeable and dedicated breeders that understand structure and movement. Aus- sie temperament is of great importance in finding the balance between a herding dog and a family pet. As in all breeds, the “instant experts” are hard at work sharing misinformation. It is our job as guardians of the breed, to offer mentoring and share knowledge with anyone that seeks it. Our parent clubs, the United States Australian Shepherd Association and the Australian Shepherd Club of America, have websites that offer more information and contacts for all interested in Aussies! 6. If you have attended trials or worked with Aussies herding, how has that affected what you look for? SGP: I have attended herding trials, earth digs and hunt trials. To me, it is necessary to see what they were really bred to do before one can judge them. All herding dogs do not herd the same. JH: I have and it has affected me very little since I want to see in the conformation ring what I see in the herding arena as they work. GK: I have attended many herding trials over the years, and I’ve produced dogs with herding titles, including an ASCA Working Trial Champion, which is the highest stockdog title. (To say that I’m proud would be an under- statement!) I’ve not trialed dogs myself, but have a strong belief in the importance of maintaining the historical purpose of the breed, as well as functional breed type. When I’m judging, one of the most important consid- erations is whether I feel the dog I’m examining could physically meet the challenges of working livestock. LM: I have not worked with Aussies, but have watched them work stock, and that certainly enhances an appreciation of their athleticism and biddability. For that matter, so does seeing them in the agility ring. NN: I trained and trialed Aussies and Border Collies in ASCA and in AKC for years studying under George
(Photo courtesy of nannette L. newbury)
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Costa. I am proud of the fact that when I first exhibited at Westminster Kennel Club, “Bodie,” Ch. Peachcreeks Simply Sterling, was the first Australian Shepherd at this prestigious and historical show with advanced herding titles after his name. He was also on the cover of the AKC Herding magazine and the featured (as a conformation champion with herding titles) demonstration dog for the AKC Advanced Herding Institute. Bodie also went on to win Most Versatile Aussie in the early days of USASA. This experience has greatly affected how I look at and judge dogs in the breed ring. I know what attributes are required and look for those when judging. LR: I have not, but I have herding dogs myself so have attended many events. I think that is why I highly value the balanced movement and good feet, with nothing to excess overall. LS: Watching Aussies in the herding arena confirms why our Standard is written as it is. This is a moderate breed and anything that loads it one way or the other detracts from the ultimate goal of freedom of movement, a handy size and beauty all rolled into an eager to please, brilliantly colored package that will follow you through fire and always be in your space. 7. How do you view undocked tails? SGP: Many of the standards were written long before we had the capability to fly to Crufts, or have foreign dogs fly to Westminster, Eukanuba, etc. Tail set is more important than length. However, I must judge to the AKC standard, so in some breeds, given two dogs that are absolutely equal, one with a tail and one without, depending on whether it is a DQ, severe fault or minor fault, I would judge it accordingly. But it would be a rare, if not improbable scenario! JH: I have judged in countries that have undocked tails and I can honestly say that it was fine and didn’t influence my decisions. That said, I prefer the look of the docked tail. GK: As I stated previously, I’ve judged many times overseas in countries where undocked tails are the norm. I’ve also sold tailed pups to a few people in countries where docking and the importation of dogs with docked tails is forbidden. Because of this, it doesn’t bother me to see natural tails. However, when judging here in the US, I have to fault the presence of any tail over 4 long. Both USASA and ASCA have made official statements regarding the judging of Aussies with tails, and I am obligated to abide by their statements. I strongly believe in having the right to dock tails and would never be in favor of having that right prohibited. LM: I don’t care for the way it changes the dog’s appearance, and I gather from the working stock dog people that the tail might be in danger of injury when working livestock. Interestingly, when I judged a large entry in Sydney, Australia a couple years ago, not one Aussie had a full tail nor even anything appearing to be a natural bob—this in a country where docking is mostly banned. Checking the catalog showed that most were born in Australia, after the docking ban went into effect. How do they do it? Search me! But there were many very nice Aussies pres- ent, and in fact I ended up giving my BB winner, a lovely blue merle bitch, the Group on the finals day. She would
win a lot here in the US as would some of the others I saw. LR: I have not seen an Aussie with an undocked tail. I judge the Sporting and Working dogs and in general I consider the docking of the tail a man-made item. I try to follow what the parent club wants. But the bottom line for me is the structure and proper type of the dog. LS: The naturally bobbed or docked tail has a huge influence on type and distinguishes the Aussie from other similar breeds. The tails, when presented at birth, can be from one joint long to a full tail. Docking them gives unifor- mity where tails are concerned. SLW: Undocked tails are considered a fault. I would like to see a “foreign bred” class offered for dogs whelped in countries with a ban on docking. 8. And, for a bit of humor: What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? SGP: There are so many! I guess the time my half-slip’s elastic gave out as I was running around the group ring. I stepped out of it, neither breaking my stride nor the dogs. As I recall, I got a piece of the group! JH: Wow! I can’t think of anything funny, but I do know we laugh a lot and have a great time at the shows with friends and our “fly by the seat of your pants” attitude! GK: Gosh, I’ve had a lot of humorous dog show experiences, but the funniest thing I’ve seen happened to a friend of mine years ago at an ASCA national specialty in the Best of Breed ring. I had finished presenting my special to the judge and gone to the end of the line. The judge exam- ined my friend’s dog and sent her down and back. When my friend stopped her dog in front of the judge, a bit of folded paper money fell out of her bra onto the ground in front of the judge, who then said something to the effect of, “Is this for me?” The crowd and everyone in the ring burst out laughing and clapping! LM: There have been many funny moments, but the one that comes to mind just now—perhaps because I have blue merle in mind—was when I took a young blue Sheltie bitch of my own into the ring for her first time. She was leash trained and usually eager to please—or so I thought. Around we went. Then the time came for the down and back, and about half way out she lay down, rolled on her back and stuck her paws in the air. And that was that… not another step. I told her she would never have to go to another show, and she never did. LR: I am pretty relaxed when I judge and the exhibitors and I have good time. So really too many to mention. I did get a good laugh when a Siberian Husky slipped out of its lead in the show ring and enjoyed running around the ring for 5 minutes before the handler could catch it. Everyone got a good laugh. LS: One of some funny stories: Vicki Lembcke and I travel occasionally to shows. One year in Washington, at the nationals, our exercise time for the dogs came rather late. We looked out into the moonless night at some very black earth with little vegetation. I was concerned about not being able to see our dog’s poop or others left behind. I looked at Vicki and expressed my concerns. She said, “I know what you mean! It will be like trying to separate fly s--- from pepper!” I laughed until I cried!
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