ShowSight Presents The Australian Shepherd

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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