ShowSight Presents The Australian Shepherd

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES JudgiNg the auStraLiaN Shepherd & the MiNiature aMericaN Shepherd

by NaNNette L. Newbury

A s the Miniature American Shepherd (MAS) enjoys its first year of full AKC rec- ognition, it appears that the anticipated breed “split” has—and will continue to have—some interest- ing and definitely unintended conse- quences and pressures on the Austra- lian Shepherd. The first hint of this is occurring in the AKC group ring today. I received a call from a disgruntled owner whose handler had been asked to put their Australian Shepherd on the table in the group ring. The handler, upset that the judge did not know the difference between the Aussie and the MAS, was firm in her reply clearly stat- ing that this was an Australian Shep- herd and the breed was not to be judged on the table. The judge quickly realized his or her mistake and was potentially embarrassed and/or confused at the situation. Herding group judges hav- ing difficulty discerning whether it is an Aussie or a MAS being presented to them in the group ring is an issue that is

Left: Miniature american Shepherd. right: australian Shepherd.

going to persist. It should be dealt with professionally, accurately and now. It is not specifically the all-breed judge’s problem if they are confused as to the identity of these two breeds in the group ring. Ideally both breeds should look almost identical with very few differences outlined in the breed standards. The first time I saw both breeds in the group ring together, I did a double-take and it took me a moment and some quick internal processing to determine which breed was what.

It caught me by surprise. They were both blue merles and both were the same size. They are not always that easy to tell apart, even for a breed specialist. If one reads and compares both breed standards, there are some subtle differences, but none of those differ- ences would help one differentiate between the two breeds. So this new and potentially confusing situation in the group ring is not unexpected. The problem arises because the Australian Shepherd has no size disqualification,

“they are Not aLwayS that eaSy to teLL apart, eveN for a breed SpeciaLiSt.”

Left: Miniature american Shepherd. right: australian Shepherd.

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