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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