Let’s Talk Breed Education!
A Guide to Understanding the AUSTRALIAN TERRIER HEAD
BY IDA ELLEN WEINSTOCK AND JANE TENOR
B red in Australia to be both a companion and a working Terrier, “Aussies” were first shown as rough-coated Ter- riers in 1868 in Melbourne. In 1909, the breed was offi- cially recognized as the Australian Terrier in all states of Australia. They were accepted into the American Kennel Club registry in 1960. History suggests that they developed from the Terriers of the British Isles that were available in Australia at the time. These include: the old Scotch Terrier (not to be confused with the mod- ern Scottish Terrier), the Skye Terrier, the Dandie Dinmont Ter- rier, the old Black & Tan Terrier, and the Irish Terrier. It is thought that the colors are derived from the Skye, Dandie, and Irish, with the Dandie Dinmont contributing the topknot. Early breeders developed dogs that hunted vermin (including snakes), guarded gold mines, herded sheep and cattle, and were fiercely loyal and protective companions capable of withstanding the harsh life in the Australian bush. Breeders kept no pedigrees during this time. As settlers created a small, sturdy Terrier that suited their needs, and as breed type developed, so did a standard for the breed. A breed standard is the descriptive words used to guide breeders in maintaining type, temperament, and function. They wanted: 1. A spirited, courageous worker, but also a good companion; 2. Rough-coated dogs with a harsh, outer body coat and an undercoat to withstand all weather; 3. Blue and tan, sandy or red in color; 4. A head that was long and strong, with jaws that were pun- ishing and powerful; 5. A head that was furnished with a soft, silky topknot lighter in color than the head, and a ruff that would protect the head and neck. The Australian Terrier head is distinctive, setting it apart from other small Terrier breeds.
VIEWING THE HEAD FROM THE SIDE Judging and viewing the head from the side, it is long and strong, and the muzzle is equal in length to the skull, with jaws that are strong and powerful. The punishing jaws are important to a working Terrier as they enable a dog to dispatch prey in a quick and efficient manner, lessening the chance of injury while getting the job done. The muzzle appears squared at the front, coming
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Araluen Australian Terriers! HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL FROM
© Jo Brady 2021
© Jo Brady 2021
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THANK YOU TO ALL OF THE JUDGES WHO HAVE RECOGNIZED THE BREED STANDARD IN THE DOGS WE PRESENT OR HAVE BREED.
CHERYL A. MECHALKE AND JIM L. MECHALKE, JR. BREEDERS OF MULTIPLE CHAMPIONS OF RECORD. WWW.ARALUENKENNEL.COM
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A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING THE AUSTRALIAN TERRIER HEAD
down from the nose, passing the lips to the chin. An underjaw that recedes creates a weak chin, lessening the strength of the muzzle. Moving on to the skull from the muzzle, perceive the slight but definite stop. The top of the skull is flat and covered with a soft, silky topknot. The planes of the skull and muzzle are parallel. The pointed tips of the ears will be visible above the topknot. A ruff frames the head, blending down to the apron. The topknot and the ruff are hallmarks of the Australian Terrier.
Judges should check for the flatness of skull and the slight but definite stop. One should see a muzzle that is strong and powerful, with a slight fill below the eyes. The strong jaws with large teeth meet in a scissors bite. Judges have been surprised by the size of the teeth, as Aussies are one of the smaller breeds in the Terrier Group. The large teeth and strong punishing jaws are important for catch- ing and dispensing prey efficiently and safely. The lips are framed by dark brown to black rims and are tight.
VIEWING THE HEAD FROM THE FRONT The expression is keen. There is intensity and intelligence in the gaze, an alertness to the activities going on in its surroundings as befits a working Terrier.
The eyes are set well apart and at a slightly oblique angle. The oval shape of the small, dark brown to black eyes (the darker the better) contributes to the correct expression. The rims are black. Faults: Light–colored or protruding eyes. ** Large , round, light-colored or prominent (slightly bulging) eyes are incorrect. Lack of pigmenta- tion, liver pigmentation or an excessive amount of black pigmentation give a foreign expression. * The small, erect ears are set-on high and well apart. They are free of long hair inside and out. The tips are pointed, not rounded, and the ears are not coarse or thick. There should be no tendency to flare at an oblique angle off the skull. There should be no leaning of the ears at the base inward toward each other. * If the ear has a vertical edge it must be the outer edge of the ear. Aussies are sensitive in the use of their ears. When you approach a dog on the table it may sometimes turn its ears to the side or back, which is a friendly gesture. Because they are sensitive in the way they use their ears, often dogs not willing to use them on the table will do so willingly when placed back on the ground. Sometimes they will move their ears to the side or back when gaiting. Their keen sense of hearing is one of the traits that made them a prized companion animal and guard dog.
The top skull is slightly longer than it is wide, and this is an important proportion for correct head shape. This proportion is determined by measuring the length of the skull from the occiput to the stop, and the width is measured side-to-side across the top of the skull. The sides of the skull should be clean, not cheeky or heavy, and the hair on the cheeks is kept shorter. Below and on the muzzle there will be slightly more hair.
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A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING THE AUSTRALIAN TERRIER HEAD
THE AUSTRALIAN TERRIER IS SPIRITED, ALERT, COURAGEOUS, AND SELF-CONFIDANT, WITH THE NATURAL AGGRESSIVENESS OF A RATTER AND HEDGE HUNTER; AS A COMPANION, FRIENDLY AND AFFECTIONATE.
The nose color is black. Aussies may have an inverted V-shaped area free of hair (leather) that runs up from the nose in the direc- tion of the stop. The color of the leather is black. This desirable trait is found in varying lengths in a mature dog, but not all dogs will have it. (See photo on previous page.) A ruff and topknot are hallmarks of the breed. In all colors, the topknot is lighter than the head color. It is furthered described in the standard: Topknot - Covering only the top of the skull; of finer and softer texture than the rest of the coat. ** The ruff frames the head, covers the neck, and blends into the apron. This protective ruff under the throat should not be clipped or completely stripped. The ruff protects the throat from injury and is an important feature, developed to protect the dogs as they
worked. A bare throat would leave it vulnerable to bites from the prey it hunts. The form of the head is important to the functions for which it was bred. The Australian Terrier is spirited, alert, courageous, and self-con- fidant, with the natural aggressiveness of a ratter and hedge hunter; as a companion, friendly and affectionate. ** Faults; Shyness or aggressiveness toward people. **
** The Standard for The Australian Terrier approved by the Board of Directors of the American Kennel Club.
* THE ILLUSTRATED CLARIFICATION OF THE STANDARD Copyright 1994 by The Australian Terrier Club of America, Inc. Compiled, written, and edited by I. E. Weinstock and K. Barnes.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Ida Ellen Weinstock has been involved with Australian Terriers since the early 1960s; breeding, showing, and learning the breed in Australia from two of the people (Frank Longmore and Fred Wheatland) who, together, helped to define the modern Australian Terrier and who formed the breed club. She has also made visits with the great breeders and their kennels: Tagalong, Seven Oaks, Bluebell, Tinee Town, Taralee, Benbullen, and several others. Together with her sister, Alice Ann Wight, Ida Ellen returned home from Australia with two dogs that became the foundation of their Regency Kennels. She showed their homebred, Ch. Regency Big Ben Bullen, a red, to three Group Firsts (he was the first Aussie to achieve this), as well as two BOBs at Westminster (handled by Alice Ann) and was Best of Breed at the National Specialty over the largest entry of Aussies up to that time. This record held for 16 years. Many years later, Ch. Regency Lord of Summerhill, with seven generations of Regency behind him, was the first red to go BIS. His grandmother, Ch. Regency My Gracious, was also a National Specialty winner.
Ida Ellen has served on the committee that completely revised the US standard (only recently modified to allow for undocked tails) and co-authored the ATCA’s Illustrated Clarification of the Standard. As a member of the Judges Education Committee, she worked with Jane Tenor on the PowerPoint, presented seminars, and did—and still does—ring-side mentoring. In addition, Ida Ellen has judged the A Match for the developing Great Lakes Australian Terrier Club, the first ATCA Futurity, and many sweepstakes. Ida Ellen and Alice Ann are founding members of the Raritan Valley Australian Terrier Club. Ida Ellen is currently the President of the Bucks County Kennel Club and the AKC Delegate for the Montgomery County Kennel Club.
Jane Tenor is a breeder, owner, and handler of Australian Terriers with over 40 years of experience in the breed. She handled two of the breed’s notable sires: Ch. Crestwood’s Crackerjack and Ch. Regency Lord of Summerhill (the first red Aussie to earn an all-breed Best in Show in the US). She served as President of the Australian Terrier Club (six years), on the ATCA Board of Directors, as Show Chair for National Specialties, as Moderator for the first Australian Terrier International Forum held in conjunction with the ATCA National Specialty, worked to develop the first ATCA Judges Education PowerPoint and on all subsequent versions, and worked to develop the ATCA Mentor Program. Jane has judged both the ATCA National Specialty Sweepstakes and ATCA National Futurity. She has served as ATCA Judges Education Chair and continues to co-chair ATCA Judges Education, and she is an ATCA- approved Presenter and Mentor. In 2015, Jane received the AKC Outstanding Sportsmanship Award from ATCA.
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D O C K E D & U N D O C K E D TA I L S A U S T R A L I A N T E R R I E R
BY ALEXA SAMAROTTO
T AILS, DOCKED and UNDOCKED; such a charged topic for many fanciers in so many breeds. I am writing to tell you about our journey in the Australian Terrier Club of Ameri- ca, which has resulted in a change in our Breed Standard to make judging our breed more inclusive for many in our fancy. Over the last few years, there have been a number of requests from many to modify our Standard, with equally adamant defenders of the Standard to be left unchanged. In our breed, there are also those fanciers who do not have such a strong response in either direction, but would agree with whatever the Standard described. Many mem- bers have imported and exported to countries that did not allow dock- ing, making this an issue that finally came to a head with a petition to the ATCA Board. Without boring you with the details, the Board followed the AKC Procedure to appoint a Standard Revision Commit- tee to analyze, craft, and propose new wording to the Tail Section of our Standard. The members were myself as Chair, Kerrie Bryan, Mari- lyn Harban, Caren Holtby, and Elaine Strid. Working diligently, we accomplished our goal, ending in full adoption of a revised Tail Section by the ATCA members and the AKC Board on April 7, 2021. The new Standard wording is as follows: “Tail - Set on high and carried erect at a twelve to one o’ clock position, in balance with the overall dog, a good hand-hold when mature, docked leaving slightly less than one half, or undocked from straight to curved for- ward. The tail set is of primary importance.” “Over the last few years, there have been a number of requests from many to modify our Standard, with equally adamant defenders of the Standard to be left unchanged.”
Top: Docked Tail Center: Undocked Tail—Straight Tail Bottom: Undocked Tail—Curved Forward
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AUSTRALIAN TERRIER TAILS, DOCKED & UNDOCKED
“The Standard was carefully worded to be inclusive, yet it creates a word picture with the words “straight to curved forward” which allows for future progress in breeding.”
important, as it reveals whether the dog has proper hindquar- ter structure. Too low a tail set usually indicates some dispro- portion or structural flaw in the entire hind end. In judging the Australian Terrier, what judges should keep in mind is that our breeders are in the initial steps of creating the look of the undocked tail. The Standard was carefully worded to be inclusive, yet it creates a word picture with the words “straight to curved for- ward” which allows for future progress in breeding. The hope is that judges will continue to view the entire picture of the Australian Terrier and assess those aspects of the tail that assist in allowing the dog to perform its intended functions. This means, more than length, the judge should focus on tail set, strength at the base, and the flow into the hindquarter structure. We also hope that with this inclusive wording, breeders who choose not to dock will be encouraged to explore their vision on the shape of the tail and continue to improve not just the look of the tail, but the dog’s entire structure and type. In summary, the wording allows for inclusion of the docked and undocked tail, and for future development as breeders continue to envision and improve the entire shape and propor- tion of the tail. Ideally, a high set, strong, and well-shaped tail provides a finishing touch to the picture of an Aussie.
In addition, the wording “docked” or “undocked” was a modifica- tion to the General Appearance Section, and there was a change to the Dewclaws stating, “may be removed” rather than “removed.” This provided for more inclusivity for dogs that are imported or those to be exported. But in our breed, I am going to guess that not many judges have paid attention to that phrase in the previous standard. Let’s parse some of these points out, to focus on what is important about the tail. First, set-on is high and carried at a twelve to one o’clock position. This point has always been a feature of the breed as the tail does not need to be carried fully upright, but reflecting that the tail, as part of the spinal column, should be set well, coming from the croup and as a continuation of the spine. It is easily discerned by observa- tion whether or not the tail has been docked. Another key feature is balance; the tail, no matter the length, should be balanced, i.e., the Aussie is a medium-boned breed and the tail should reflect this—not too thick nor too thin, but pleasingly in balance. The Standard has always referred to a good “hand-hold” that some think refers only to the docked length. This is not entirely the case. The docked tail should be long enough for a good handhold, but this is true whether a tail is docked or undocked. The primary criteria for a hand-hold is that the tail has a strong base and is sufficiently muscled, and can be gripped when hunting, to pull the dog from their prey’s den quickly with- out injuring the tail. Too thin a tail and the tail could be broken by too vigorous handling. The wording reiterates that the tail set is most
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Alexa Samarotto has had Australian Terriers since 1963 and will always have them. Her involvement with the ATCA has included past Presidency, Board membership and various committees, including Judges Education as well as Sweepstakes assignments in Aussies and Irish Terriers. Alexa was a founding member and is current President of the Raritan Valley Australian Terrier Club. She has been lucky to have bred and owned some winning dogs and hopes to continue to do so. Alexa feels that this breed is an unsung treasure in many ways and she is proud to be so involved with these grand little dogs, to borrow an old slogan. Alexa is always hoping to move the breed forward and educate as well.
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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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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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