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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