Let’s Talk Breed Education!
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 col lection.
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
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OH BEST IN SHOW WINNING MULTIPLE OH GROUP WINNING MULTIPLE GROUP PLACING GROUP WINNING
ALWAYS OWNER HANDLED BY NICKI WILLI AMS BRED BY FLO MCDANIEL REBECCA MCDANIEL V ICKI WEHRLE *AKC NOHS STATS AS OF 6/30/21
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, AUGUST 2021 | 189
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 AustralianShepherds, January 1993.
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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
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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
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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 &BDI TJEF PG FWFSZ EPH DBO CFNBSLFE 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, includingwinning 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.”
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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.
S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M AY 2017 • 251
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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