breed standard for Australian Shepherds (AKC)
- The Australian
Shepherd probably originated in the Basque region of the Pyrenees, mountains
between Spain and France, but was dubbed the Australian Shepherd because of
its association with Basque shepherds who came into the United States from
Australia in the 1800s.
- The Australian
Shepherd was initially called by many names, including Spanish Shepherds,
Pastor Dogs, Bob-Tails, Blues, Heelers, New Mexican Shepherds and California
- In 1989, The
Australian National Kennel Club granted permission for the Australian
Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) to use the name "Australian Shepherd"
so long as it was always made clear the breed had not been developed in
- The Australian
Shepherd is an intelligent dog with strong herding and guarding instincts.
- He is an agile dog who
has the stamina to work all day.
- One distinguishing
characteristic of the Australian Shepherd is its tail, which is usually a
naturally bobbed tail or it may be docked (Note: Forbidden to dock in
- The Australian
Shepherd is an intelligent, active dog who requires regular exercise.
- He is good natured and
even tempered, although he may be initially shy with strangers. He makes a
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. He is well balanced,
slightly longer than tall, of medium size and bone, with coloring 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.
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.
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 the tip. Expression-Showing attentiveness and
intelligence, alert and eager. Gaze should be keen but friendly. Eyes 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 eye rims. Ears 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 ear. Prick ears and hanging ears are severe faults. 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. Teeth-A full
complement of strong white teeth should meet in a scissors bite or may meet in a
level bite. Disqualifications-Undershot. Overshot greater than
1/8 inch. Loss of contact caused by short center incisors in an otherwise
correct bite shall not be judged undershot. Teeth broken or missing by accident
shall not be penalized.
Neck, Topline, Body
Neck is strong, of moderate
length, slightly arched at the crest, fitting well into the shoulders. 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 nor slab-sided. The underline shows a moderate tuck-up. Tail is
straight, docked or naturally bobbed, not to exceed four inches in length (Note:
Forbidden to dock in Denmark).
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, perpendicular to the ground. Legs straight and strong. Bone
is strong, oval rather than round. Pastern is medium length and very slightly
sloped. Front dewclaws may be removed. Feet are oval, compact with close knit,
well arched toes. Pads are thick and resilient.
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 are short, perpendicular
to the ground and parallel to each other when viewed from the rear. Rear
dewclaws must be removed. Feet are oval, compact with close knit, well arched
toes. Pads are thick and resilient.
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.
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 center line of the body. As speed increases, the feet (front
and rear) converge toward the center 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.
The Australian Shepherd is
an intelligent, active dog with an even disposition; he is good natured, seldom
quarrelsome. He may be somewhat reserved in initial meetings. Faults-Any
display of shyness, fear or aggression is to be severely penalized.
Undershot. Overshot greater
than 1/8 inch. White body splashes, which means white on body between withers
and tail, on sides between elbows and back of hindquarters in all colors.
Approved May 14, 1991
Effective January 1, 1993
Copyright: American Kennel Club
Last updated 27. March 2007