AKC BREED STANDARD
Approved May 14, 1991
Effective January 1, 1993
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.
Size, Proportion, Substance, 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.
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
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.
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, 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
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
Disqualifications 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.