ShowSight Presents The Australian Shepherd

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

252 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M AY 2017

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