Let’s Talk Breed Education!
JUDGING THE AUSTRALIAN TERRIER by JANE TENOR & IDA ELLEN WEINSTOCK
F orm ever follows function. 1 Th is principle is important today in evaluating an Australian Ter- rier because to understand the form one must understand the functions for which the breed was used. FUNCTIONS As they expanded the frontiers of their country, the early settlers of Australia devel- oped a small, sturdy terrier with a weather resistant coat, which was able to work a full day outside in rough terrain. Th ey were used to help control rodents and snakes on the home front, waterfronts, farms, sheep and cattle stations in the outback. Th ese terriers had to be courageous, agile enough to leap out of harms way and determined enough to finish the task when hunting snakes and rodents or while fend- ing o ff intruders. Aussies were also used to tend livestock. Th ese tireless little work- ers had to cover great distances e ffi ciently to work with the livestock. Th eir harsh double coat protected them in Australia’s varied climate. When guarding the mines, or when intruders appeared the ability to recognize danger and sound the alarm was prized. As companions in the home to relive the loneliness of the vast empty out- back, their loyalty, intelligence and will- ingness to please were invaluable. When judging Australian Terriers their form must reflect these uses and functions. Th ey are not exotic, extreme or exagger- ated. Th eir naturalness is an important breed characteristic. THE FORM When observed in the ring, you should see an alert, spirited and self-assured ter- rier. It is small, sturdy, medium boned and blue & tan, red or sandy in color. “Faults: Shyness or aggressiveness toward people.” 2
Head: side profile.
Th e height is 10-11 inches at the with- ers. While the Australian Terrier is listed among the short-legged terriers, in actual fact the length of leg from the elbow to the ground is at least 50% of its height mea- sured from the withers to the ground. Th e term low set is used to describe the Aussie chest, which should drop below the elbow approximately 1 inch. Th is is not a refer- ence to short legs but to the chest in rela- tion to the ground; it doesn’t translate into shortness of leg. Th e body is long in comparison to the back: the additional length is formed by correct angles of the front with promi- nent forechest and the rear, which extends
behind the tail forming a well rounded butt. Th e length of back measured from the withers to the front of the tail is approximately 1-1 ½ inches longer than from withers to the ground. Substance is determined by good working condition, correct body proportions, medium bone, symmetry and balance. HEAD Th e head is long, strong and covered with a lighter colored soft, silky topknot. A distinctive characteristic of the Aussie it covers the skull and is silver or a lighter shade than the rest of the head. Muzzle is of equal length to the skull with a slight stop.
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“IN MATURE DOGS THERE IS AN AREA FREE OF HAIR, WHICH RUNS UP THE BRIDGE OF THE NOSE FORMING AN INVERTED V. THE NOSE LEATHER IS A DESIRABLE
BREED CHARACTERISTIC OF THE MATURE AUSTRALIAN TERRIER.”
Head: front view.
(too wide) black rims. “Faults: Light-col- ored or protruding eyes.” 2 Th e nose is black. In mature dogs there is an area free of hair, which runs up the bridge of the nose forming an inverted v. Th e nose leather is a desirable breed char- acteristic of the mature Australian Terrier. NECK, BODY AND TOPLINE Neck is long, slightly arched, with a protective ru ff blending into the apron. Th e distinctive ru ff and apron serve as pro- tection for the throat and forechest and are distinguishing characteristics of the Aus- tralian Terrier. Th e neck flows smoothly into well laid back shoulders. Th e body is described as sturdy and should never be stocky or weedy. Th e ribs are well sprung, but not round, and extend well behind the elbows. Th e chest drops about an inch below the elbow with a distinct keel. Th e loin is strong and fairly short (no more than 4 fingers in width) with slight tuck-up. Backline is level and firm; tail is docked, set on high and carried at a 12 to 1 o’clock position. “Faults: Cob- biness, too long in loin.” 2 FOREQUARTERS Looking at the forequarters in profile, you should see the distinctive keel and prominent forechest. Th ese are distinguish- ing structural features of the breed. Th e forechest and keel protect the heart and lungs, give more support to the muscles of the long slightly arched neck and those holding the front together, providing bal- ance to the forequarters. Th ese features are important to the form and functions of the Aussie and elements of correct breed type. Th e shoulder blade and upper arm are of equal length and form a 90° angle.
Th e front legs are set well under the body and the elbows fall beneath the with- ers and lie close to the chest. Th e front legs are straight, round and with medi- um bone. “Faults: Straight, loose and loaded shoulders.” 2 Front pasterns are strong with only a slight slope. “Faults: Down on pasterns.” 2 HINDQUARTERS Correct length and angle of bones give width and substance to hindquarters. Legs should be strong and well angulat- ed at stifle and hock, rear pasterns short and perpendicular from the hocks to the ground. Upper and lower thighs are well muscled. Viewed from behind the rear legs are straight from hip joint to the ground and in the same plane as the fore- legs. “Faults: Lack of muscular develop- ment or excessive muscularity.” 2 GAIT Aussies should move freely with a ground-covering stride as befits their heri- tage as tireless workers. Th e front leg reaches well in front of the body, the rear leg drives forward and steps into the spot just left by the front foot. Th ere should be no gap between. Th e motion is forward and not up; the backline stays firm and level without bounce. Viewed from the front or the rear the legs move parallel or towards a single track. Th ey are light on their feet, able to twist and turn e ff ortlessly. Th is athletic abil- ity is as important today as it was in the past. COAT AND COLOR Aussies are double coated with a short, soft undercoat and harsh 2 ½ " outer coat. Th e furnishings are softer than the body coat. Covering only the top of the skull,
Th e flat clean-sided skull is slightly longer than it is wide. Jaws are powerful, teeth are large, and bite is scissors. Incorrect: a too wide skull, a domed skull, a week, snipey muzzle, a muzzle lacking a chin and a too short muzzle. Lips are tight with a narrow black or brown rim. Th e expression is keen and intelligent. Th e small pointed ears are set on high and well apart. Th e ears should not flair o ff to the side or be set too close together. Aussies are sensitive in the use of their ears. A confident, alert Aussie may lay his ears back when you approach, this is a friendly gesture. Th e eyes are oval shaped and dark brown to black. Th ey should be set at a slightly oblique angle, well apart, with fill between and below them. Narrow black rims surround the eyes. Th e follow- ing are incorrect: lack of pigmentation, liver colored pigmentation, and excessive
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the topknot is of finer and softer texture than the rest of the coat. Correct colors are blue & tan, solid sandy and solid red. Th e color of the blue and tans can range from dark blue, steel blue, dark grey blue, to silver blue. Tan should be rich in color but not red. Any shade of solid red or solid sandy is correct. “Faults: All black body coat in the adult dog. Tan smut in the blue portion of the coat, or dark smut in sandy/red coated dogs. In any color, white markings on chest or feet are to be penalized.” 2 THINGS TO REMEMBER AND CHECK FOR Use you hands to check for arch of the neck, the prominent forechest and keel. Artful grooming could mask a lack of correct structure. Proper length of body must come from the correct angles of both front and rear and there should be something to fill the hand both in front and at the buttocks. Th e Aussie does not present a square out- line. Remember the length of back is 1-1 ½ " longer than height at withers. Remember the muzzle should be long and strong and equal in length to the flat, clean-sided skull. Th e proportion of the shoulder and upper arm is 1:1 and form a 90° angle. Th e expression is keen and intelligent. Th e new 2014 ATCA Judging Th e Aus- tralian Terrier Power Point can be seen at www.australianterrier.org. REFERENCES 1. Sullivan, Louis H. (1896). “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered”. Lippin- cott’s Magazine (March 1896): 403–409. 2. Australian Terrier Standard, approved by the American Kennel Club 8/9/88. ABOUT THE AUTHORS Ida Ellen Weinstock has been involved with Australian Terriers 1963. A fi rst trip to Australia in 1966 was a 21-day in-depth course in the breed, conducted by Fred Wheatland and Frank Longmore, credited as two of those responsible for reviving the
Australian Terrier and de fi ning the mod- ern Australian Terrier. Watching judging of dogs important to the breed with their in depth comments, trips to the kennels of many of the great breeders of the time, learning from them, and bringing home a few outstanding dogs was the foundation upon which she and her sister based their Regency line. Th e dogs bred by them include the fi rst Aussie to win 3 Group Firsts, which also held the record for 16 years for BoB over largest entry of Aussies (National Specialty in Bellingham WA), four Westminster BoB winners, several Montgomery Co. BoB win- ners including 3 that did it from the classes. Th ey also bred the dam of one of the breed’s earliest Best in Show winners, which to date is the only Aussie to place in Montgomery County KC’s group, and the fi rst to place in the Westminster group. Th e only red to date to win Best in Show in US, Ch. Regen- cy Lord of Summerhill, handled by Jane Tenor, was sired by the homebred Ch. son of the National Specialty winning bitch, Ch. Regency My Gracious. His descendents are still successfully competing in the US, Europe and Australia. She was a member of the committee that wrote the current stan- dard, and is co-author and editor of Illus- trated Clarification of the Standard , has presented several sanctioned judges semi- nars and workshops. She is a member of the ATCA Judges Education Committee. Jane Tenor is the current chairman of the Australian Terrier Club of America’s Judges Education Committee, past president of the ATCA serving 6 years, and has been involved with the breed since 1969. She has successfully bred and shown her own Auss- ies on a limited scale while fi nishing many champions for others. She started handling Aussies for others in the early 1980s. Among the dogs she handled were two of the breeds few Best in Show winners including Ch. Crestwood’s Crackerjack, who in 1983 won three National Specialties and three all breed BiS’s and Ch. Regency Lord of Summerhill the fi rst red Aussie to win an all breed Best in Show. A great educator, she always has time to help novices and experienced exhibitors with presenting their
dogs to the dog’s best advantage. Among the awards she has won is the Good Sportsman- ship Award from the Greater Chicago Area Australian Terrier Club. She is an ATCA approved presenter and has done ATCA sanctioned judges seminars and ringside mentoring with judges. She served as mod- erator for the fi rst International Australian Terrier Forum held in conjunction with the ATCA National Specialty in 2003. In 2005 she entered obedience ring with her bred by dog Ch. Ridgepark’s Crowned in Honor and they went on to earn a UD and RAE title. He became the fi rst Aussie to obtain the rally AKC RAE title and in 2007 he went High in Trial at the National specialty and received the ATCA Versatility Excellent title.
“IN ANY COLOR, WHITE MARKINGS ON CHEST OR FEET ARE TO BE PENALIZED.”
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THE AUSTRALIAN TERRIER AS A PERFORMANCE DOG by HEATHER RIFE, DVM
I n order to fully appreciate the abili- ties of the performance Australian Terrier (AT), one must consider the history and development of the breed which began when farmers in the outback needed a dog to match the di ffi cult condi- tions of the Australian environment. Hot weather combined with dry barren condi- tions required a tough small dog with ver- satility—one able to do many jobs. From the farmers perspective, the more tasks that a dog could perform, the more valu- able the dog. Clearing the farms of disease carrying rodents, as well as removing other
animals competing for resources was a necessary requirement , and one at which the AT excelled. Warning of intruders and dispatching larger predators was also a necessary requirement. However, of para- mount importance was the need to clear the farms of venomous snakes. In order to achieve this, the dog needed to be fast, agile, fearless, and self-confident and pos- sess the ability to work within a pack to achieve a common goal. Without coop- eration and teamwork, the result could be fatal. Th eir value in killing snakes was so great that children were taught to send the
dogs into the bush after their toys instead of reaching into the shade where snakes were likely to be. Schoolteachers also were known to have several Aussies. Th e dogs were sent into the schoolhouse to clear the room of snakes and rodents. Th is ability to bond closely with his humans, as well as his small size and weather resistant coat led to these little dogs being allowed into the house to sleep on the hearth at night. Today we find in the Australian Terrier an agile, quick, intelligent self-confident dog with a great desire to work with his humans to achieve a common goal.
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“THE AT, HOWEVER, IS NOT A DOG THAT CAN BE PUSHED AROUND. HIS WORK ETHIC IS EXCELLENT IF YOU USE PROPER TRAINING TECHNIQUES.”
Th e AT, however, is not a dog that can be pushed around. His work ethic is excellent if you use proper training tech- niques. Positive reinforcement is a must and you must convince him that your desires are really his, or, at the very least, in his best interest before beginning structured training. A puppy founda- tion class is an excellent way to connect with your dog while he learns to inter- act appropriately with other dogs and people. He should learn such commands (or suggestions!) as “leave it”, “come with me”, “hold still”, “quiet”, “not ok to uri- nate”, “watch me”, “no sni ff ”, “okay to meet another dog”, or “let’s go on”, “wait”, “release”, “settle”. Equally impor- tant are the fun commands, “sni ff ”, “go play”, “release”, “dig”, “what is it?”, “okay to urinate”, “ok to jump”, “tug and growl”, “find the cookie”, “speak”.
Once you have your connection, you can begin to strengthen the Aussies desire to work for you. Once your dog has mastered the foun- dation class, you may want to train him in structured performance venues. Agil- ity is an excellent area for the Aussies to showcase their abilities. It requires jumping, climbing, and weaving on a course that o ff ers 16-20 obstacles to be performed in a specific order. It requires an athletic, fast dog that takes direc- tion well. It requires months to years of training, so the owner must be able to continually motivate the dog to perform many repetitions of an obstacle. Positive reinforcement must be used and moti- vators should be varied and novel. An unexpected toss of a favorite toy after a successful weave pole performance is as important as a cookie after the run.
Keeping your Aussie guessing will keep him happy in his work. Obedience and rally are excellent for the Aussie and his owner. Again, the rep- etitious nature of practice requires novel, frequent and unexpected rewards. Obe- dience is more structured than rally and therefore requires more practice. Rally is a form of obedience which allows a more relaxed approach to the performance. It allows the owner to talk to the dog and encourage his performance.
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Tracking is also a performance event that Aussies can compete in. Th is requires a dog that understands his job is to follow the scent and not the critters. Aussies seem to be able to follow direction and concentrate on the job at hand, as long as the reward equals the job. So a good reward is to take him out hunting as soon as the glove has been located. Earthdog is the venue most Aussies are suited for. Following a rat scent down a hole and locating a rat at the end of the tunnel can be the ideal exercise an Aussie needs. In addition lure coursing for those that prefer above ground chase fits the Aussie to a T.
For those for whom competition is not interesting, Th e Australian Terrier is par- ticularly suited to therapy work. Th e typ- ical Aussie loves children. Th ey are study enough to interact with boisterous kids and small enough not to intimidate cau- tious children. Th ey are also very good with the elderly, intuitively knowing how active or quiet to be. Th ey are great in nursing homes. All in all, the Australian Terrier is a cheerful willing terrier, one that values working with his human. If you foster a good working relationship with your Aussie he or she will reward you with any silliness
you choose to impose on them. Th ey do want to work closely in concert with their people, sleeping at night in bed with you and working during the day, side by side. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Heather Rife, DVM has shown dogs in performance and conformation since the age of 9. She has titled dogs in tracking, agility, obedience, earthdog, rally, coursing and barn hunt. Currently she is owned by two Aus- tralian Terriers, Ch. Redwing Its All About Me, MJ, MX, TD, aka Martha, and Gr CH Merrigangs Wild N Crazy Guy, EE4, ME, MJ, MX, RN RATO.
“AUSSIES SEEM TO BE ABLE TO FOLLOW DIRECTION AND CONCENTRATE ON THE JOB AT HAND, AS LONG AS THE REWARD EQUALS THE JOB.”
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THE AUSTRALIAN TERRIER
1. What are your thoughts on your breed’s current sustainability issues? 2. Your opinion of the current quality of purebred dogs in general, and your breed in particular. 3. The biggest concern you have about your breed, be it medical, structural, temperament-wise, or what. 4. The biggest problem facing you as a breeder. 5. Advice to a new breeder? Advice to a new judge of your breed? 6. What’s the most common fault you see when travel- ing around the country? 7. Anything else you’d like to share—something you’ve learned as a breeder, exhibitor or judge or a par- ticular point you’d like to make. 8. And for a bit of humor, what’s the funniest thing that you ever experienced at a dog show? KERRIE BRYAN Kerrie Bryan owned her first Australian Terrier as a pet in australia in 1950. In 1991, in the America, she joined the Wis- miss Kennel established in 1970 by Carol Sazama. She contin- ues to breed and co-own with Carol Sazama and shows as an owner, breeder and handler. I live in Colorado. Outside of dogs, I am very involved in the sustainability of the natural environment in Colorado, specifically Boulder County. I monitor raptors for the County and work with a number of nature organizations. I have an extensive garden and spend many hours with the dogs there. Australian Terriers are not alone in facing decreasing litter registrations. I do not believe that the decreasing litter regis- trations are caused only by a lack of pet owners interested in Australian Terriers as to the best of my knowledge, breeders have not had a problem placing their puppies recently. In a changing society, many interests (and breeds and novel cross breeds) vie for people’s attention and demands on their spare time. Breeding purebred dogs is a serious and sometimes arduous hobby and demands an apprenticeship on not only the actual breeding process but on the nature of pedigrees and how best to preserve the structure and temperament of Australian Terriers through a planned breeding program. The traditional role of dog shows was as a vehicle for choosing the dogs that best portrayed the innate traits of
the breed. To some extent that remains a subsidiary object of dogs shows but the overall nature of shows has changed, and the competitive nature of shows is in the ascendency. That can be daunting for new owners and would-be breeders. A small number of dedicated breeders are committed to breeding Australian Terriers exhibiting the structure and temperament innate in those terriers. Before Australian Ter- rier were show dogs, they were working dogs. Uniquely, because of the topography of Australia they were also bred as a companion to the far-flung homesteaders. Australian Terri- ers are well suited to being companion dogs and performance dogs. They love a job. I do believe that most of our breeders ai for well-rounded dogs. The biggest concern I have about the breed is a decreasing gene pool. The biggest problem facing me as a breeder is finding the time to devote to a long-term serious breeding program as one ages. A new breeder should discuss the breed with a number of experienced breeders. Mentoring is so important for new breeders. Take the time to observe not only your breed but other breeds, movement and structure. Go over a lot of dogs with experienced breeders who will be honest about their dogs- both Australian Terriers and other breeds. Judges should reward the innate qualities of the breed and above all terrier temperament. Terriers were not meant to be judged only as a pretty picture. What are the characteristics that make an Australian Terrier essentially and Australian Terrier rather than a generic dog ? There is a point to that topknot and ruff.- defense against the snakes they were bred to kill. The most common fault I see when traveling around the country: if you mean in Australian Terriers, I would say that it would be too long in loin, lack of keel and length of jaw—all qualities essential to this working terrier. Often grooming has depleted the topknot and ruff which are the essential charac- teristics of an Australian Terrier. Another point I’d like to make is that breeding happy, well- structured Australian Terriers is a serious task and that one must aim for a well- =rounded dog as well as for a winning dog in the show ring. My young male had won Winners Dog and was competing in Breed. We were all lined up in front of the judge when his sister (held—or not held—by a friend), dashed into the ring
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and went straight to her brother. I was mortified. The judge laughed and said, “Good choice. He is my Best of Winners.” GRACE MASSEY My name is Dr. Grace Massey and my kennel is Firewalker Australian Terriers. I have been involved in Australian Ter- riers for over 16 years as owner/handler and over ten years as a breeder. This is my second year as Vice President of the Australian Terrier Club of America, and I served on the Board of Directors previously for 7 years. I contribute to the ATCA as the columnist for the AKC Gazette Australian Terrier Breed column (since 2007) and as the editor of the ATCA Calendar (since 2014). I am currently the chairman of the ATCA Schol- arship Fund Committee and serve on the Australian Terrier Breed Sustainability committee. I live in Gloucester, Virginia. I am a Marine Research Sci- entist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science/ College of William & Mary, studying hydrodynamics and sediment dynamics in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. I am also a Motorcycle Safety Federation RiderCoach at Thomas Nelson Community College, teaching basic and safe riding motorcycle skills. As a member of the Australian Terrier Club of America’s sustainability committee, I would have to say I am most con- cerned about the decrease in the number of litters registered each year with AKC. The committee is currently conducting a study of the 2008-2017 global number of Australian Terriers to find out if this trend holds true worldwide. We are also looking at the number of Aussies that are imported/exported between countries as well as the average number of pup- pies born per litter each year as an indicator of the health of the breed. My biggest fear, as we move forward in addressing the sus- tainability of our breed, is that we begin to breed for quantity and breed diversity at the sacrifice of quality. We still need to breed to the standard while choosing for temperament and health. It will be a fine line that our future breeders will have to walk. I believe that one of the biggest problems facing Austra- lian Terrier breeders today is the limited recognition of our breed as a wonderful pet by the general population. We need to advertise our breed so it is better recognized. Most of the people that contact me about puppies for a pet have previous- ly owned or presently own an Australian Terrier. By no means do I want the Australian Terrier to become one of most popu- lar pet breeds. However, I would like to have people who have never owned an Aussie to call and visit so I can have the opportunity to further educate them about our wonderful breed and give them a chance to experience them firsthand. My advice to a new breeder or new judge would be: “Breed to the Standard” and “Judge to the Standard”. We have a Stan- dard to describe the ideal Australian Terrier. Read it often! As a new breeder, one should, as often as possible, be going over other breeders’ dogs and asking them to explain what they see as their dogs’ attributes and faults. The more hands-on experi- ence you have, the better you will get at seeing the structure that should underlie our beautiful Aussies. Once you feel the
structure, watch them move. You will see how the structure affects the movement. An Aussie is a working terrier, and the Standard describes him as more than a pretty face or profile when standing still. Of course, even if an Aussie moves well but doesn’t have type, i.e., doesn’t “look” like how the Aus- tralian Terrier as described in our Standard, then he isn’t any better than the one that looks good but can’t move. Both, however, can be useful with careful planning in a breeding program: one to help improve structure and the other to help improve type. To judges I would ask: Please don’t judge only faults, but look at the overall quality of the Aussie. No Aussie is perfect, but we should be working toward it! Breed for temperament and health. Our Aussies are pets first and foremost. No matter how close to the standard they are, if they cannot live long healthy lives as members of the family then we are doing a disservice to our breed! I was walking my Aussie Flame, BISS CH Aussome Chero- kee Firewalker, into the building at a show site after taking him out to relieve himself, and as we got in the door a very little, very fluffy Pomeranian puppy came bouncing out in front of us, making cute little squeaky noises. This puppy was so fluffy you couldn’t tell which end was the front! My big bad Australian Terrier male, who was not afraid of anything, took one look at the little Pom, jumped back and tried to climb my legs to get away from him. I could not stop laughing at his reaction! From that day, till the day he died at 14 and-a-half years old, he would RUN from fluffy squeaky toys! CHERYL MECHALKE I live in Colorado. I am a Data and Configuration Manager for an Aerospace Company. This is a real concern in our
breed and our National Club has created a committee to address the issue. I personally believe that getting Australian Terriers out and about in the general public eye is one of the best ways to generate interest in the breed. I am always happy to see
Australian Terriers doing many things and I am always willing to stop and visit with people who come to shows and want to learn about the breed. I have been fortunate to meet some wonderful people and they now have Aussies living in their home, even if their puppies are not of my breeding. I don’t feel qualified to answer regarding the quality of other breeds. Regarding Australian Terriers, I have noticed that the over- all quality of the dogs is improving and the breeders that I associate with are striving to breed dogs that are sound of body and mind. The biggest concern I have about your breed: this is a dif- ficult question to answer as it is complex. I am concerned about the overall dog, as a complete package. I firmly believe
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australian terrier Q&A WITH KERRIE BRYAN, GRACE MASSEY, CHERYL MECHALKE, KIM OCCHIUTI, ALEXA SAMAROTTO, TERESA SCHREEDER AND JULIE SEATON
in a lack of consistency in breed type across the country fur- ther limiting choices for breeding partners. My advice to a new breeder is to travel and see Aussies beyond your breeder’s stock and to study the breed standard from an impartial source, for instance, with breed mentors or long-standing parent club members active and inactive. With- out consulting those “inactive” breeders one loses the history and depth of knowledge regarding the breed. In addition, “inactive” breeders have no skin in the game and will offer unbiased opinions on anyone’s dogs or breeding practices. As far as judges go, I wish that they would judge the breed as if it were their own and to really evaluate for breeding. Because this breed is not common, it is easier to fault judge versus judging the entire dog. The mediocre Aussie often wins the most because the faults, while many, are not dramatic. As a breeder, I would breed to an overall excellent dog with some obvious fault (e.g. size, eye color, pigment, etc.) over a medio- cre dog any day. Most common fault is breed type, but if we are talking breed standard faults, I’d have to say straight shoulders. Integrity and patience are key. The people I respect the most have ethics which they have adhered to through slow winning and big winning times. The wins will come and go, so persevering and sticking with what is best for the breed is best for the sustainability and longevity of you and your breeding program. The funniest moments for me are not publicly shareable, but a favorite moment was a Tarheel circuit about 20 years ago when my then 4 year old daughter was big on listening to ABBA and had us all singing to the hits of ABBA, we all think of that circuit when we hear ABBA to this day. ALEXA SAMAROTTO I live in Staten Island, a suburban part of New York City. This is a breed that should be more well known and desired as the best features of the breed really suit the way we live today. We want a dog with an easy care coat, easy going personality, good size and activity level often for apartment living and with few health issues and frankly, the Australian Terrier meets those requirements. To some extent, those fea- tures do not meet a certain modern taste for “exotic” looking breeds that are in fashion. This is unfortunate in that when a pet person discovers the Aussie, they often say they would never change breeds again. I have heard this so many times in my many years (over 50) in the breed. The problem is often access to puppies from good quality breeders. So many poten- tial buyers who sound like the homes we want for our pup- pies can’t find a puppy in any viable time frame so they end up with another breed. This was considered heresy years ago, but in today’s climate with regard to purebred dogs, I believe we need to produce more, good quality puppies rather than fewer. More puppies sold to good homes are the public rela- tions ambassadors we need to show the public how great a breed we have. More Aussies out there are our best advertis- ing for the breed ultimately adding to the potential pool of
that one must strive to breed sound dogs by doing research and selecting dogs to breed to that compliments, enhanc- es or offers improvements to the faults of the the dam you are breeding. The biggest problem facing me as a breeder is ensur- ing that the puppies that have been bred are placed in wonderful homes. Advice to a new breeder and to a new judge: read and understand the Standard for the breed. Then find breeders at shows or online, and visit with them to learn about the breed and put your hands on the dogs to feel the structure. Much can be done with grooming to distract from faults that all dogs have, but your hands can feel much more than the eye can see. It is better to feel the dog and know the “whole pack- age”, as a really good dog may not have an owner who grooms really well, or is new to the breed and needs some practice/ advice regarding grooming. I have been blessed to have met other breeders, handlers and judges who offered me groom- ing tips! This is much appreciated! The most common fault I see when traveling around the country is Australian Terriers that lack bone/forechest, round eyes/lack of pigmentation, have poor toplines Love your dogs! Strive to breed to the Standard! And ignore the bullies! The funniest thing that happened to me at a show was I lost my half slip in a show ring and threw it out of the show ring and it landed on the ring fencing! KIM OCCHIUTI I live outside of Boston. I work a full-time job and a part time job. I am more active with my family and friends than I am with my dogs, though dogs are a major part of my life. I’m very concerned, all counts are down dramatically from when I started, breeders, litters, puppies, Regional Aus- sie clubs and parent club membership. We have always been a less popular breed, but I feel that we are heading toward being rare. The quality of dogs overall has not changed dramatically over the years. There are a few quality dogs and many aver- age dogs, the best dogs are not necessarily the top winners. I’m guessing that Australian Terriers are no different in this than any breed. Being so passionate about this breed, I see problems in every area mentioned (structure, temperament, health), but I believe our biggest issue is breed type. There are so many fac- tors that are important to our breed type, the outline of this breed from head to tail, is unique to the short legged terriers. Our heads should be long and strong, the neck should slope and blend beautifully into the laid back shoulder and there should be structure beyond the tail. I see all three of these things lacking, yes the front and rear are ultimately about structure, but without them the dogs lack true breed type. My biggest problem as a breeder is the lack of quality stud dogs. Breeders tend to keep bitches as they are easier to run together. Aussie breeders also tend to limit their breeding programs to their region and their friends which has resulted
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australian terrier Q&A WITH KERRIE BRYAN, GRACE MASSEY, CHERYL MECHALKE, KIM OCCHIUTI, ALEXA SAMAROTTO, TERESA SCHREEDER AND JULIE SEATON
new exhibitors and breeders if we explore that interest with our puppy buyers and encourage them. Even as pets, our Aus- sies speak for themselves as purebred quality dogs and that is the asset. In Aussies, the quality has increased nicely overall in more than fifty years but that said, some of the truly great Auss- ies from the past would still be outstanding today. On the other hand, bar has raised enough to make the breed more competitive against other breeds which is very good for the future of the breed. What I have seen overall in pure- bred dogs is a very nice level of presentation which I feel makes the sport look more professional, in the good sense of the word. Temperament is one of the strong features of the breed and should be bred for and maintained. This will ensure the breed’s future and when I see doubtful temperament, I feel strongly it should not be bred from or perpetuated; remem- ber most puppies no matter whether primarily show or pets, are pets as well and must be able to function in a home envi- ronment. Type is also a concern; we all need to keep the breed’s image in mind. The biggest problem facing me as a breeder is trying to find the right sire to breed to is more challenging in a rarer breed for sure. The gene pool is small and even when dogs are imported, care must be taken to examine the pedigree. I try to linebreed with the right outcrosses and I am not alone in finding this such a challenge. My advice to a new breeder reflects my experience when I was new: learn from the standard and view with skepticism any information you get from other breeders. Let me explain before you jump to conclusions! When I started I was a kid and in those days, very little was available to read about the breed nor were the older breeders as helpful because I had not bought a dog from them. Sound familiar now? My mother and I were actually freer to read the standard and watch dogs in the ring and learn without biased advice coming our way. I learned more and faster because we read general books on structure and movement, watched not just Aussie judging but watched judging all day, especially the older great judges of that era. I feel I learned to evaluate dogs better that way than I see from some newcomers who are being led in all directions by those touting their own breeding. This advice applies to new judges: read the standard and apply it. If something someone tells you is contrary to the standard, re-read it and come to your own conclusion. We need to keep our eyes on proper front and rear struc- ture to create proper movement. This is a breed that needed to cover more ground in their environment, needed to be athletic, agile to be able to hunt. Hunting snakes as they did requires the ability to jump up and away when they needed to. We need to keep the long, strong head in mind as well which adds to their functionality. I have had the breed since 1963 and started showing in 1965 and still love every minute of being in and around the dog show world. The friends you make are the truest supporters in any time of need, or success, based on our mutual love of our breed and dogs. It is that aspect that is the most important message we need to spread: love of dogs conquers all.
I live in Northern California close to many shows. I work as a Physical Therapist. I co-breed Aussie’s with Susan Bachman under the moniker of Ryba Australian Terriers. I am an Australian Terrier Club of Amer- ica Board member, the Health Chairman as well as a board member of the Australian Terrier Trust. I participate as part of the judges education for the parent club for local shows, meet the breed and at National specialties.
Thoughts on the breed’s current sustainability issues: Aus- tralian Terriers in the last five years have reduced in the num- bers of litters produced and lower registered dogs. The issue is multi-factorial one being the age of the breeders; many are no longer breeding and only showing dogs occasionally. New people interested in the breed are more interested in show- ing and performance events and not breeding. Another issue could be external pressure from the county to limit the num- ber of dogs in the households, pressure from people to rescue and not breed. In order to change the problems one option could be co-breeding with older breeders or with your breed mentor. Leasing a female to have a litter is also an option, once the puppies are gone mom goes home. We all still have to deal with external pressures of family, work, and finan- cial. Taking the time to have a litter and enjoy the process from start to finish and end with a wonderful dog at the end is amazing. In general I have found dogs seen in the ring very nice, there are always a few that you shake your head and ask why. In my area owner handlers are very conscientious about breeding to the standard for their breed. Australian Terriers these days are overall better than five years ago. The dogs being presented are identifiable as an Aussie. We have a dis- tinctive outline and are able to keep the look of number of dogs with issues is less each National. Breeders are working hard to correct fronts and body length. Biggest health concerns of the breed: front structure is an issue, getting the correct keel, depth of rib cage and cor- rect upper arm length is challenging. When we achieve all of these factors and all other things are equal ,movement is a thing of beauty. Advice to a new judge of the breed: get your hands on as many dogs as possible. The more dogs you have your hands on the better sense of how the dogs will feel. Understanding structure is a must. Ask questions when you are mentoring. Aussies are a low entry breed; check the Australian Terrier Club of America breeder referral to find someone with dogs in your area. Attend a National the ATCA has a strong judge’s education, with hands on and education for many days. As a new judge do not go through the motions just to add
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another breed. Breeders know when you are not interested in the breed and the Aussie will be an even lower entry for you. Advice to a new breeder: develop friendships with oth- er Aussie people, look for a mentor to help you understand pedigrees and dog breeding. Your mentor can assist you with issues that come up with puppies or issues with dogs. In my area we are all interactive, new people are included in puppy grading and show set ups. We are all competitive but still very supportive of all Aussie accomplishments. The most common fault I see when traveling around the country: short upper arm is the most common issue, resulting in a short striding front. The same issue all over the country, despite effort by breeders it is a tough fix. JULIE SEATON I live in Muskego, Wisconsin
him, but I know he is doing good over there, is loved and cherished and adding to the breed gene pool as well. That was more important to me, as his breeder, that I did the right thing not only for myself and my kennel, but for the breed. Advice to a new breeder, slow down! Know what you are doing before you dive into breeding. A breeding program is built on good bitches, not flashy stud dogs. Get the best bitch you can and start your breeding program with that bitch. Don’t settle for second best. Also, get a breeder/mentor that will guide you to make the best decisions you can about your breeding program. Advice to new Judges, know the standard, judge to the standard. It is there for a reason. Read it the night before you judge and have it on hand in case you need to reference it while judging. Don’t award a dog with points if they do not meet the standard. Remember, they may be used in that exhibitors breeding program! You are not helping the breed when you do this! You are judging breeding stock! Points are not man- datory to award, nor are ribbons! I hear too many times that if the dog has points or an AKC Championsip that must mean it is worthy to be bred. When points are awarded to inferior dogs, you are, for that exhibitor, confirming to them, that you feel the dog is worthy of being used to reproduce. The most common fault you I when traveling around the country: dogs that have no bone and are high in leg. This breed is longer in body then they are in leg length and should have some substance to them, they are not Silkys! The bal- ance is off when you look at a dog with no bone and is high in leg, you should see balance. As a breeder, I have learned that the most important thing you can do for the breed is make sure you breed happy, healthy, well-rounded puppies and that you screen prospec- tive buyers carefully no matter what they are buying the dog/ puppy for. You brought them into the world and started them on their journey, so it is up to you to make sure that they go into homes to continue that journey. A happy, healthy well- rounded puppy will turn into a happy-healthy well-rounded adult. The new owners will love and cherish them as much as you do. In the end, that is a win-win for everyone involved. When I was fairly new in the breed I was to show under a judge that a friend knew. She said to say hello. So while on the table, I said hello to the judge by name and said my friend said to say hello. (I was the only entry). The judge said she would pass the message along. I had the wrong judge! “DON’T AWARD A DOG WITH POINTS IF THEY DO NOT MEET THE STANDARD.”
and outside of dogs I am involved in photography and having fun with the grandkids which are up to four now with another one on its way! I have been a Breeder of Aus- tralian Terriers for 25 years and have been dedicated to the breed since that time. I am a member of the Australian Terrier Club of America and am currently on the
Board and have been the Newsletter Editor for the club since 2011. I am also involved and serve on the board for Australian Terrier Rescue. Thoughts on the breeds current sustainability issues: our breed is in trouble and luckily our parent club developed a breed sustainability committee in 2018 to tackle the issue. We want to see the breed thrive and I hope that every repu- table breeder takes what needs to be done to heart and helps whether they are a member of the ATCA or not! We need to band together to make sure our breed survives! I think the quality of the Australian Terrier is really good at the moment. Yes, you will see some in the ring that are not- so-good and do not conform to the standard, but they are few and far between. Honestly one of our biggest health issues is the fact our breeders are aging out and the breed is dwindling in num- bers. We need to promote the breed and breeders need to put differences aside and work together to secure our breeds future! The biggest problem facing me as a breeder is making sure I always do the right thing. I have worked really hard on my breeding program over the last 25 years. I have people want- ing dogs from me all over the world. One breeder from Aus- tralia wanted a dog and knowing the money she was spend- ing, she had to wait almost three years until I made sure she got the right dog. I wanted to send the best I could breed to her, not the second or third best. That dog within three months of arriving at the age of a year and a half won the Australian National Specialty and last year was the top Aussie in the country. I tell myself all the time I should have kept
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THE NEED FOR AUSTRALIAN TERRIER SUSTAINABILITY
by VICKI MCKEE ATCA Breed Sustainability Chair
2 008 is considered a pivotal year with the AKC registra- tion statistics for purebred dogs. A noticeable contraction in litters and registrations across the AKC purebred dog industry was docu- mented in 2008. It is believed that this contraction coincided with the reces- sion which was at least partially a root cause. Since then some breeds have fully recovered, some partially recov- ered, and yet others have been in steady decline since 2008. Australian terriers have declined in dog registration, litter numbers, and number of puppies since 2008. A 52% decline in registration numbers, a 34% decline in the number of litters, and a 36% decline in the num- ber of puppies.
Some people may believe that AKC registration is too time consuming and do not register their dogs, which has led to the decline, others may believe that there is no problem because Aus- tralian Terriers are not for everybody. Still others point to limited registrations as a problem inherited from the 1980s. I personally get this question a lot, do you really believe our beloved Austra- lian Terriers could face extinction like the double horned rhino? My answer is maybe, yeah more than a chance. I, along with the ATCA (Australian Terrier Club of America) want to understand the why and work to change the course before it’s too late. If the trend contin- ues, by 2028 we would be down to 52 dogs registered a year, 21 litters a year,
and 101 puppies. The situation maybe too late by then. We want to try to make a difference because to me and the rest of the Aussie community as a whole, a world without healthy Australian Terri- ers is just simply not an option. What is breed sustainability and why is it needed to preserve the Australian Terrier? Sustainability has many definitions in modern society. It is often used when discussing the science around global warming or the fight to perse- vere endangered species. Sustainable fisheries often refer to catch limits or season limitations. AKC refers to sustainability simply as any activities which would preserve, protect and promote the breed.
Australian Terrier AKC Registration Statistics 2008 & 2017
Number of Puppies
Number of Litters
NUMBER OF LITTERS
NUMBER OF PUPPIES
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While I understand they are not the right dog for everyone, those that own or are owned by the little dog called an Aussie have the attitude that they will never have anything but an Australian Terrier ever again. They take control of your life and you can’t not help but be a minion to their every whim. Of the 193 recognized AKC canine breeds, the Australian Terrier ranks 136. The top 10 AKC dog breeds actu- ally account for 50% of the AKC regis- trations. Together, the rarest 50 AKC breeds made up just 1.2% of the regis- tered AKC dogs. (Stanely Coren, PHD Psychology today 2013.) If we were requesting entry in 2019 into the AKC would we meet the criteria? Does the public know about ATs? Some breeds fall out of favor as the purpose of their breeding diminishes in need. But this isn’t the case for the AT. The companionship of a terrier is still a cherished trait today. What is the reason this lovable, companion ter- rier with a brave heart has such low breeding numbers? What can be done about it? Other parent clubs facing similar or worse statistics have also formed sus- tainability committees. Both the Scot- tish Terrier and the Otterhound clubs have well established committees. The Otterhound club, with significantly low breed numbers has founded a club and AKC endorsed semen bank. Long term the ATCA sustainabil- ity committee will focus on Austra- lian Terrier breed awareness, quality line conservation, promoting sustain- able breeding and health check prac- tices, encouraging new member- ship to the ATCA and also mentoring new breeders. The sustainability committee is also focused on getting people that love the breed talking about improving the future outlook. We are focused on developing data on global Australian Terrier population, to understand just how endangered the species is. Austra- lian Terrier breeders and clubs around the world have been contacted to help in this endeavor. This is NOT an issue in just the USA, this is a global concern! We will be involved in spread- ing awareness about the breed to the canine public, through publications, social media and more meet the breed type avenues. We need to encourage people to join us in securing the future of Australian Terriers. If you are interested to learn more about the committee, our purpose and interests, please feel free to reach out and contact the ATCA sustainability committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2018 The Australian Terrier Club of America formed a sustainability com- mittee. Our mission is simple: to work to secure a sustainable future for the Australian Terrier. We do not believe that the decline of popularity of the Australian Ter- rier is a US specific issue. While more research needs to be gathered, initial data received globally indicates that Australian Terriers are being born in low numbers around the world. It’s not just a US problem. One of the goals of the ATCA sustainability committee is to quantify the global situation. We are happy to report that today’s Australian Terrier is genetically diverse. During the 2018 education day at the ATCA National Convention, Jerold S. Bell, DVM from Tufts University gave a wonderful seminar on the genetic diver- sity of the Australian Terrier. The full lecture is available on Youtube. Dr. Bell discussed the importance of genetic diversity, gene diversity, and the impor- tance of maintaining healthy breed- ing lines and not losing these lines.
He reported that the Australian Terrier has a diverse gene pool. Indeed, the AT has a better 10 generation inbreeding coefficient than breeds with genetic diversity concerns (such as popular sire syndrome). With the decreasing numbers of lit- ters and also the retirement of many long time quality lines, the Australian Terrier is more susceptible to long term health concerns. Breeding decisions today can affect the breed both posi- tively or negatively in the future. Every breeding decision that is made matters at these low numbers. Health, genetic diversity, maintaining successful lines after breeder retirement, selection deci- sions on litters all matter to the future of the Australian Terrier. These dogs were originally bred as a working dog in the bush of Australia that was also a companion. Traits that abound in the breed today. The Austra- lian Terrier is a loyal companion that loves to be a couch potato with you after the work of the day is complete. They are fun and devoted family pets.
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