Australian Shepherds: show lines vs working lines

Discussion in 'The Dog Breeds' started by Cali Mae, Jun 13, 2013.

  1. Cali Mae

    Cali Mae Little dog, big voice

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    I'm starting to think that an Aussie puppy will be feasible within a couple of years, and since my mom and I both decided that Cali would be better off staying home with her, I think it'd be a good time depending on how my schedule at university is. I'd also be living in a city, likely with my dad who wouldn't mind me getting an Aussie if I had a job, and this which means I'll have access to dogs parks/training facilities and it'll be easier to start in various dog sports once the puppy gets older.

    So, I'm going to start my research early. I'm already pretty set on an Aussie, as I have been for a couple years now... but I want to learn more about different lines and how they differ in temperament/etc. I know there's a few people here who could give me some really good insight into the differences so hopefully I can get some detailed responses. As of right now, Oracle Australian Shepherds, where Merlin and Journey came from, is probably at the top of my list... but that's based on how great they both seem and my limited knowledge on the different lines.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Keechak

    Keechak Aussie Obssessed

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    Well there is quite a large overlap in the working lines and showlines in Aussies. I would say tho that when you get into the Westminster winners or National Stockdog winners is where you see the biggest split but for the average local show dog/stock trialing dog there is a lot of overlap.

    For the most popular kennels on either end of the extremes I would say
    Showline:
    Bayshore
    Propwash
    Thornapple

    Stockline:
    Twin Oaks
    Slash V
    Hangin' Tree

    The showline dogs tend to have more white and in general more "perfect" copper points, they also tend to have thicker coats in general tho not necessarily any longer coated than the stockline dogs.

    The stocklines, again in general, tend to be bred more for cattle work and less for versitility of stock, I'm not saying a stockline dog can't work ducks and chickens I'm just saying that's usually not their goal in mind.

    The showline tend to be picked from their litter based primarily on markings and typey structure first and foremost, It's not that instinct is bred "away from" it's just not a priority so you never know what kind of instinct a showline dog will have until you try it out. Genetic instinct doesn't disappear unless it is selected against, and as far as I know most showline kennels do not select for or against it.

    You are more likily to find a LOT of health testing in the bigger showline kennels but you will also find pricetags to match often not less than $1500 for a puppy. While some of the working lines may only do the recommended hips, elbows, and CERF eyes and their prices may be closer to around $600-$1000.

    Some say the stockline dogs tend to be more dog aggressive tho I can't vouch for that since I have never seen an issue with it in the stocklines myself, no more-so than the showlines at least.


    Just a random fun fact the ASCA #1 bitch 2009/2010 and ASCA #2 overall 2010/2011 is one awesome Stockdog! I have had the joy of knowing this girl and seeing her work and she hits heads and heels and will turn back any cattle without fear. She not only has her ASCA Ch and AKC GrCh but also her WTCH and several Farm and Ranch trial titles. She comes from strong showlines.
     
  3. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    The Propwash dogs are all over the place around our region, and they are absolutely lovely dogs. I actually contacted them years ago when I thought I wanted an Aussie. Definitely the show type, but I know quite a few that are successful agility/hiking dogs.
     
  4. Toller_08

    Toller_08 Active Member

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    I admittedly don't actually know a whole lot about all the different lines because while I really liked Aussies, and wanted one eventually, I didn't really plan on getting one when I did. So I didn't do a lot of research on lines... I just liked the litter, what I'd heard of the parents and relatives in their pedigree, and the values of my breeder and what she does with her puppies. Now I'm in the process of learning more, because I love this breed and want to be way more involved.

    I think there are a fair amount of good Aussie breeders out there and it's good to explore options!

    Since I can't really comment on lines specifically, here are my experiences with the two different 'types'.

    I've never met any working dogs from actual working breeders that anyone's ever heard about. The ones I've been around are just from ranchers/farmers who bred their dogs that they use for stockwork. I didn't like those dogs - they were very sharp, very reserved, serious, not very tolerant of other dogs and just honestly seemed to have a short fuse, for lack of a better word. And in a lot of ways they reminded me of Border Collies, but I wouldn't doubt that they likely have BC in their line somewhere.

    I've been around some show line dogs who were way too overdone for my taste. Dripping in coat that is not easy to care for, very laid back, slow and just kind of dopey I guess. But I wouldn't say that's the majority. Most of the dogs I've been around are much like Journey. Happy, goofy, bouncy, focused when working, driven, lots of energy but with good off switches, etc. I do notice that some are very soft, though, and give up easily/almost shut down if they do something wrong or their owner doesn't stay super excited the whole time when training. Which is not a trait I prefer in a dog.

    I think the best thing to do would just be to try contacting breeders whose dogs you think you might be interested in and just ask questions as far as the things that are most important to you go. Like...

    I wanted a very driven, high energy (with an off switch), happy, joyful, middle of the road (not hard or soft), versatile dog capable of handling anything I asked of her, hopefully wouldn't have a huge heavy coat, and had good health and longevity and stable temperaments behind her. A dog that was likely to grow up and be friendly with people and other dogs, and really, just an overall "take anywhere, do anything" dog. I was also seeking a dog that could put up with my sometimes short temper in real life (not in regard to the dogs - but like the stupid jar of pickles I got mad at last night because it wouldn't open haha. I didn't want a dog that would be scared if I got mad or frustrated with something - I need a resilient dog). So yeah, the point is all of these things and the questions I asked are what lead me to believe that a puppy from Journey's litter should suit me. And I got pretty much exactly what I wanted, more than I even imagined possible. And I got it in a show line dog, which a few people in person when they heard about my impending puppy tried to warn me would be a fluffy, useless couch ornament.

    Just talk to as many people as you can. I didn't quite do that with Aussies prior to getting one, as like I said, my timing with the breed was kind of a whim, but I did it with another breed and learned so, so much. Way more than any website or even a dog forum could tell me. Facebook is an excellent tool nowadays for getting in contact with owners of a breed you're interested in, and puppy owners of a particular breeder. And most people will brag about their dog and breed and tell you all the good things, so sometimes it's also helpful to ask about any traits they don't like or wish were different too so that you get the whole picture.
     
  5. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    I really like aussies but my main complaint is size. They are just a little bit too big.

    My old trainer had a pretty classic working line aussie bitch (lot of big name kennels in there). She was 9 when I got to know her so had mellowed out some. The lady that owned her had had aussies for a long time from show lines and kind of the inbetweener lines and said her straight up stockline bitch had been a lot more dog than she had anticipated and was a big step up in energy and drive and need to work from her past dogs. This is someone pretty heavily involved in the ASCA for a lifetime, by the way, and who had put a lot of high titles on her dogs and owned a training facility. Alice is wonderful though. A real joy of a dog, very calm to hang out with but a happy enthusiastic worker when need be. She did have a sharp edge to her though and once my trainer passed, my other trainer (confusing) housed her for a while and she was not always friendly with the other house dogs. She was a good size though < 40 lbs, more moderate coat. All in all a neat little dog.

    I've known a few other pure stock line dogs and they've been much the same. There's one merle bitch here I have a mad crush on. She's seriously intense. Probably another in the 30 lb range and just oozes work ethic and drive. She has her MACH and watching her run agility she could pass as a tail less border collie. But she's a lot of dog too. Her owner is pretty serious into performance sports and I can't see this dog ever being just a pet happily.

    Where I train now, there's a number of show line (AKC style) aussies. They're also nice dogs who are all well suited to being moderately competitive agility dogs. Overall they're a lot hairier and cleaner looking (by that I mean markings and just overall appearance). The stockline dogs that are merle that I know are very muddied almost self merles whereas the show line are very clear blue/red and lots of white and tan markings. A lot more feathering, especially on the legs and the coats are more poofy. I find the temperaments of most of them somewhat softer. And they're overall bigger. A couple of them are really big dogs for the breed, almost twice the size of the small merle bitch.

    One of the show line dogs (a tri) is a pretty hard dog though too. He is mildly dog-aggressive, I would say and likes to push buttons. He's wicked good on the agility course and has a great sense of humor. But he's hard headed and a pretty powerful dog. His brother on the other hand is super soft and sensitive. He's a lover and has a good work ethic but sometimes has a harder time focusing beyond the scary.

    So I guess what I'm saying is I can see a visual difference between them for sure and generally I see a temperamental difference too but not always. Most of the real working line dogs I wouldn't recommend unless you're really into dog sports or working or something like that. I think of show lines as being a bit easier and probably better for people that don't need quite as much dog. but you can certainly find a lot of dog in the show lines too.
     
  6. Cali Mae

    Cali Mae Little dog, big voice

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    I appreciate all the indepth replies!

    I think I'd likely go to a show breeder, seeing as how the breed generally seems very versatile and quite a few puppies from the litters go onto performance homes anyways. I really love the look of Eweturn aussies, as well as Oracle aussies... and they seem like the type of dog I'd be looking for. I admit to creeping Oracle's facebook page and looking at all the pictures/comments about each dog.

    I don't imagine I'd need a "serious" competition dog just yet, just a dog to dabble with and maybe get a few titles. I love enthusiastic, happy, bouncy, energetic dogs but an off switch is important for any dog.

    I've actually only ever met three aussies, and I don't think they were from a well-known breeder, but they were very into what they were doing (flyball) but able to settle down in their crates when waiting their turn. Cali enjoyed them too, much more than the JRT puppy. :p

    Most of the breeders I've looked at are in Ontario, so I'm thinking that perhaps I could convince my dad to take me on a road trip this summer to visit my aunt and meet some breeders and their aussies. I have no doubts that I would love owning the breed, but it doesn't hurt to spend extra time with them. I'll probably wait to contact breeders until I know for sure about when I'd be able to bring an aussie puppy home.
     
  7. JessLough

    JessLough Love My Mutt

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    Oracle.
     
  8. Cali Mae

    Cali Mae Little dog, big voice

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    They're one of my top choices as of right now, the others being breeders who work closely with Oracle... or so it appears. Oracle, TreeStarr or Eweturn all seem like great, viable options. I think it'll come down to what litters are available at the time, and the individual temperaments. I'd be thrilled to have a little Merlin or Journey though. :p
     
  9. JacksonsMom

    JacksonsMom Active Member

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    If you don't mind, I may hijack a bit. I may make my own thread, but does anyone have any info on Mini Aussies? Because they've been a breed I've been eyeing for a bit too. I thought I'd like BCs better but am not too sure actually. After meeting a few Aussies recently, I think I prefer them. Also for someone who has never had a herder before, would you suggest Aussie over BC in general?

    I do know they're somewhat controversial, and I wouldn't want a Chi-looking mini (I'd just like to keep it under 25lbs) but is there such a thing as a decent breeder for mini's? Are they forming into their own breed? How similar are they to standard Aussies?

    To be honest, the main thing keeping me from most herders is size. I have the potential to be renting in the next few years, and personally I just think everything is a bit easier with a <25lb dog. But I love most of what I've heard about Aussies but it would be nice to have it in a smaller package. I know there's Shelties but I'm not sure I really 'click' with the few I've met, and also the hair. I just don't so much dig the big poofyish hair.
     
  10. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    Most true minis (North American Shepherds vs the crossbred dogs) are going to vary in size.

    I've seen a lot of variety in them. Some are really great and others are really.... uh... Size wise I've seen dogs that are not much bigger than my shelties to dogs that are bigger than normal aussies. Most are 30+lbs. I think there'd be a good chance you;'d get a dog bigger than 25 lbs.

    Have you ever met any sports bred shelties?
     
  11. Keechak

    Keechak Aussie Obssessed

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    You may also want to look into Tucker Creek Aussies, she has some great dogs. A little more "rough" looking but fantastic longevity and health in her lines.


    As far as "Mini's", they are now AKC recognized as Miniature American Shepherds, their temperament can be a bit different and it can be harder to find good stock lines in their breed since they were created mostly for companionship in the beginning and over the last 15-20 or so years have branched out to the performance sports.

    There are some Minis that are actually larger than Aussies, whether a dog is a Mini or an Aussie is dependent primarily on bloodline and not size.
     
  12. Sekah

    Sekah The Monster.

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    Of all the Mini Aussies I've ever met, only two were sane. And both were from the same breeder. The others were dog aggressive, highly fearful or human aggressive. I run with two HA minis on my flyball team (and one fearful one). They're awesome and FAST dogs, but don't touch them, look at them, speak to them or acknowledge they exist. They'll draw blood without much thought.

    I would say they're similar to standard Aussies without the evenness of temperament. I think that mini breeders have focused too much on size and, in some cases, performance, and not enough on temperament. Fear issues seem to abound. They're not bad dogs, but I don't think they're typically dogs for the everyday owner.

    Cali, my guess is that you'll probably find what you're looking for in show lines. I think delving into working/performance lines is more than you're looking for at this point in time. Cohen is out of show lines and she's a little spitfire, but she keeps her brain about her... most of the time.
     
  13. Greenmagick

    Greenmagick New Member

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    Following this thread for sure...

    Even though its years off, I am pretty sure our next dog will be an aussie (other possibilities are random mutt or standard poodle). It was supposed to be an Wolfhound by my children both have made their case for a smaller dog and they will be at good ages to actually do some training and activities by then
     
  14. Cali Mae

    Cali Mae Little dog, big voice

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    Agreed, Sekah.

    I think show line Aussies have the amount of versatility I'm looking for. At one point, maybe I'd want what a working line offers... but since this would be my first sports dog, a show line aussie would be a safer bet. From what I've seen, the show lines don't lack anything at all and seem pretty wonderful, at least based in my limited experience of what I've read on here and on breeder websites and Facebook pages.

    Really, probably for the most part, the Aussie would just be an active companion with a lot of dabbling in sports until I found one or two that we both enjoyed. I'd like to try everything from flyball to tracking eventually, plus I always enjoy teaching Cali new tricks so that'd be something as well.
     
  15. Toller_08

    Toller_08 Active Member

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    I think it's hard to judge a dog's size based on weight. I mean, Journey's not little by small dog standards, but her head barely comes past my knee (I'm 5'2" for reference). She's pretty small and compact. She somehow weighs 40lbs, but I don't know where she keeps it haha. She just has heavy bone. I've met 'minis' who were taller or the same size... actually, most of the 'minis' I've met have been about her size, come to think of it.

    With that said, I think most of the 'minis' I've met have been very poorly bred even for a controversial breed/type, so they might not be the best to base my thoughts on... but, I've only met like two that were nice dogs. All of the others have been nervy, unstable, reactive, fear biting messes. There were a bunch in most of the Agility classes I took with Dance. 'Toys' too. So based on that alone, I'd steer clear.

    I always thought Aussies were kind of big too, and then I got to Journ's breeder's house (the only time I was ever in amongst a bunch of Aussies at once) and my first thought was how little most of them were. They sound big when I see their sizes written down, but in person I don't find them that big at all for the most part (the girls anyway).

    I do totally understand your desire for a smaller dog though. Renting is hard here regardless of size of dog, but I definitely saw more ads saying smaller dogs were ok.

    That kind of sounds like me. I wanted a dog to dabble in a bunch of different sports and stuff with until I found our niche/what I want to really get into, and I want a dog who will excel in the sports I try, but mostly at the end of the day I just want an active companion to play with, teach tricks to, hike with, etc.

    I think a show line with dogs succeeding in performance venues would be a great fit for you, too. IME they're definitely not lacking anywhere at all.
     
  16. Keechak

    Keechak Aussie Obssessed

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    Just FYI you don't have to choose from just workingline or showline. I personally stick with the Versatility lines, dogs that are neither here nor there as far as extremes. They can get their conformation championship and also go on to get their performance titles easily, tho normally aren't campaigned in anything.
     
  17. Flyinsbt

    Flyinsbt New Member

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    As others have mentioned, if you get a mini Aussie, there is no guarantee of size. Many "mini" Aussies I've met are the same size as regular Aussies. If you want a smaller herder, finding a line of Shelties you like is a safer option. Or Corgis.
     
  18. CaliTerp07

    CaliTerp07 New Member

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    I do agility with a couple super awesome, sweet, stable mini's. They came from rescues, and were adults when they were adopted, so size/temperament was stable.

    Regardless of if weight is directly correlated to size, apartment complexes generally limit it to 25 lbs (not 16" or "knee high" or anything). I had to show paperwork from the vet proving my dog was within the weight limit and up to date on vaccinations before they'd let me add her to the lease.

    think it is smart to look at weight if you are a future renter. (JM, if rescue is a route you're interested in, go on petfinder, search for young/adult aussies in the small/medium category. You'll find some in your size range).
     
  19. Pops2

    Pops2 New Member

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    By definition if the job is not the number one focus then you are NOT breeding FOR work. If you're not breeding for work then by default you are breeding away from it.
     
  20. Keechak

    Keechak Aussie Obssessed

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    You are reading more into my words than what I wrote. I never said anything about showlines being working dogs. Having instinct and being a working dog are two different things. So don't pick fights where there are no fights to be had.
     

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