There are several theories about the origin of the
Australian Shepherd, but this one is the most common.]
Despite its name, the Australian Shepherd as we know it today was
developed completely within the United States. In the late 1800's
and early 1900's the forerunners of today's "Aussies"
came to the western and north-western states as stockdogs for the
Basque shepherds that accompanied the vast numbers of sheep then
being imported from Australia. These hard-working, medium-sized,
"little blue dogs" impressed the American ranchers and
farmers, who began using them as well. Breeding was done for working
ability rather than appearance, and occasionally dogs of other herding
breeds were bred into the lines. However, today's Aussie still resembles
the dogs that came from Europe via Australia, and great numbers
of Aussies are still working stock on ranches and farms in the United
States and beyond.
The Australian Shepherd Club of America
(ASCA) was formed in 1957 to promote the breed, and several clubs
kept breed registries. A unified standard was adopted in 1976, and
the registries combined in 1980. The National Stock Dog Registry
(NSDR) keeps a separate Australian Shepherd registry.
In 1992 the American Kennel Club (AKC)
granted recognition to the Australian Shepherd, although ASCA did
not become the affiliate parent club. The United States Australian
Shepherd Association was formed to be the AKC parent breed club.
AKC allowed open registration for two years before closing the registry,
so now many Aussies are dual or even triple registered.
Size--The preferred height for males is 20-23 inches, females 18-21
inches. Quality is not to be sacrificed in favor 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
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 hocks. 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 color and pigment. Merles characteristically
become darker with increasing age. Disqualifications White body
splashes, which means white on body between withers and tail, on
sides between elbows and back of hindquarters in all colors