Country of Development - United States of America
HISTORICAL SURVEY - While there are many
theories as to the origin of the Australian
Shepherd, the breed as we know it today, developed
exclusively in the United States. The
Australian Shepherd was given its name because of
the association with Basque Sheepherders who came
to the United States from Australia in the 1800's.
The Australian Shepherd's popularity rose steadily with the boom of western horseback riding after World War II which became known to the general public via rodeos, horse shows, movies and television shows. Their inherent versatile and trainable personality made them assets to American farms and ranches. The American stockman continued the development of the breed, maintaining its versatility, keen intelligence, strong herding instincts and eye-catching appearance that originally won their admiration.
Although each individual is unique in colour and markings, all Australian Shepherds show an unsurpassed devotion to their families. Their many attributes have guaranteed the Australian Shepherd's continued popularity.
GENERAL APPEARANCE - The Australian Shepherd is well balanced, slightly longer than tall of medium size and bone, with colouring that offers variety and individuality. He is attentive and animated, lithe and agile, solid and muscular without cloddiness. He has a coat of moderate length and coarseness. He has a docked or natural bobbed tail.
CHARACTERISTICS - The Australian Shepherd is an intelligent working dog of strong herding and guarding instincts. He is a loyal companion and has the stamina to work all day.
- The Australian Shepherd is an intelligent,
active dog with an even disposition, he is good
natured, seldom quarrelsome. They may be
somewhat reserved in initial meetings.
Faults: Any display of shyness, fear or aggression is to be severely penalised.
American Kennel Club
AND SKULL - The head is clean cut, strong and
dry. Overall size should be in proportion to
the body. The muzzle is equal in length or
slightly shorter than the back skull. Viewed
from the side the topline of the back skull and
muzzle form parallel planes, divided by a
moderate, well defined stop. The muzzle
tapers little from base to nose and is rounded at
Skull: Top flat to slightly domed, it may show a slight occipital protuberance. Length and width are equal. Moderate well-defined stop. Muzzle tapers little from base to nose and is rounded at the tip.
Nose: Blue merles and blacks have black pigmentation on the nose (and lips). Red merles and reds have liver (brown) pigmentation on the nose (and lips). On the merles it is permissible to have small pink spots, however they should not exceed 25% of the nose on dogs over one year of age which is a serious fault.
- Are brown, blue, amber or any variation or
combination thereof, including flecks and
marbling. Almond shaped, not protruding nor
sunken. The blue merles and blacks have
black pigmentation on eye rims. The red
merles and reds have liver (brown) pigmentation on
Expression: Showing attentiveness and intelligence, alert and eager. Gaze should be keen but friendly.
- Are triangular of moderate size and leather,
set high on the head. At full attention they
break forward and over, or to the side as a rose
Prick ears and hanging ears are severe faults.
- Teeth: A full complement of strong white
teeth should meet in a scissor bite or may meet in
a level bite.
Disqualification: Undershot. Overshot greater than .3 cm (1/8 in).
Loss of contact caused by short centre incisors in an otherwise correct bite shall not be judged undershot. Teeth broken or missing by accident shall not be penalised.
NECK - Is strong of moderate length, slightly arched at the crest, fitting well into the shoulders.
- Shoulders: Shoulder blades are long, flat,
fairly close set at the withers and well laid
back. The upper arm, which should be
relatively the same length as the shoulder blade,
attaches at an approximate right angle to the
shoulder line with forelegs dropping straight, on
a perpendicular to the ground.
Legs: Straight and strong. Bone is strong, oval rather than round. Pasterns are medium length and very slightly sloped. Front dew claws may be removed.
BODY - Topline: Back is straight and strong, level and firm from withers to hip joints. The croup is moderately sloped. Chest is not broad but is deep with the lowest point reaching the elbow. The ribs are well sprung and long, neither barrel chested not slab-sided. The underline shows a moderate tuck-up.
HINDQUARTERS - The width of the hindquarters is equal to the width of the forequarters at the shoulders. The angulation of the pelvis and upper thigh corresponds to the angulation of the shoulder blade and upper arm, forming an approximate right angle. Stifles are clearly defined, hock joints moderately bent. The hocks (rear pasterns) are short, perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other when viewed from the rear. Rear dew claws must be removed.
FEET - Front & Hind: Are oval, compact with close knit, well arched toes. Pads are thick and resilient.
TAIL - Is straight, docked or naturally bobbed, not to exceed four inches in length.
GAIT/MOVEMENT - The Australian Shepherd has a smooth, free and easy gait. He exhibits great agility of movement with a well-balanced, ground-covering stride. Fore and hind legs move straight, and parallel with the centre line of the body. As speed increases, the feet (front and rear) converge towards the centre line of gravity of the dog, while the back remains firm and level. The Australian Shepherd must be agile and able to change direction or alter gait instantly.
COAT - Hair is of medium texture, straight to wavy, weather resistant and of medium length. The undercoat varies in quantity with variations in climate. Hair is short and smooth on the head, ears, front of forelegs and below the hockjoints. Backs of forelegs and britches are moderately feathered. There is a moderate mane and frill, more pronounced in dogs than in bitches. Non-typical coats are severe faults.
- Blue merle, black, red merle, red - all with
or without white markings and/or tan (copper)
points, with no order of preference. The
hairline of a white collar does not exceed the
point of the withers at the skin. White is
acceptable on the neck (either in part or as a
full collar), chest, legs, muzzle underparts,
blaze on head and white extension from underpart
up to four inches measuring from a horizontal line
at the elbow. White on the head should not
predominate and the eyes must be fully surrounded
by colour and pigment. Merles
characteristically become darker with increasing
Disqualifications: White body splashes, which means white on body between withers and tail, on sides between elbows and back of hindquarters on all colours.
- The preferred height for males is
51-58.5 cm (20-23 ins) and females 45.5-53.5
cm (18-21 ins)
Quality is not to be sacrificed in favour of size.
Proportion: Measuring from the breastbone to rear of thigh and from top of the withers to the ground the Australian Shepherd is slightly longer than tall.
Substance: Solidly built with moderate bone. Structure in the male reflects masculinity without coarseness. Bitches appear feminine without being slight of bone.
Any display of shyness, fear or aggression to be severely penalised.
Pink spots on nose in dogs over one year of age which exceed 25% of nose.
Prick ears; hanging ears. Non-typical coats.
Undershot. Overshot greater than 0.3 cm (1/8 in)
White body splashes, which means white on body between withers and tail on sides between elbows and back of hindquarters on all colours.
NOTE - Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.