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Old 06-13-2013, 01:37 PM
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Default Australian Shepherds: show lines vs working lines

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!
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Old 06-13-2013, 04:10 PM
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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.
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Old 06-13-2013, 04:34 PM
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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.
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Old 06-13-2013, 06:36 PM
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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.
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Old 06-13-2013, 07:24 PM
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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.
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Old 06-13-2013, 07:49 PM
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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.

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.
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Old 06-14-2013, 10:45 PM
Pops2 Pops2 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keechak View Post
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.
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.
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Old 06-15-2013, 09:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pops2 View Post
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.
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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Old 06-15-2013, 10:09 AM
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Sorry, I don't know much about lines other than the lines I looked into when Merlin's litter was bred.
I liked versatility.. I know his breeder is mainly show, which I was perfectly happy with (come at me, bro) but I loved that there was a few other things dappled in (http://www.oracleaussies.com/sojourn...le-litter.html)

Frankly, to echo Toller's statement, I wanted a do everything, trainable, healthy dog..and I couldn't be happier with my experience with the breeder or the product (Merlin lol)
I would recommend Oracle to just about anyone looking for an aussie, I couldn't be happier with my experience.

But if you are in the area, I would suggest heading down to go meet the dogs they are awesome! and wiggly!

Merlin has a working attitude, he knows how to work perfectly with me and stay focused and driven.. and that's what I wanted. Regardless of lines or breed politics I wanted a go everywhere, do everything dog who came from healthy parents with great temperaments who knew how to work well with people and work til the cows came home.
and that's what I got

But again, the perfect breeder to me might not be the same for everyone. I would suggest contacting a few and if possible meeting a few dogs!
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