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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I do not mean merle Staffys or blue Labrador Retrievers. My question is how can we help kennel club accepted and genetically possible colors become more acceptable and successful in the ring?

I grew up with an Aussie into my teens and now in my 20s I am again an owner of another. Both are/were bicolor, first was liver and white and my new pup is black and copper. My reignited interest in the breed has lead me to see that there are so many genetically possible colors in this breed and while technically acceptable by the AKC and other kennel clubs, they simply aren't preferred or successful in the ring. This is of course not specific to Australian Shepherds.

Judges will have their preferences, but what can we as dog enthusiasts and owners do to help combat this issue? I hate seeing a good dog get looked over simply for their color, and this can't be any good for the gene pool I imagine. Thoughts? Is this already a lost battle?
 

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Short answer: I think this is something that can only be accomplished from the top down. One possible way I can see is breed clubs jumping ship from AKC and UKC and crossing into lines maintained outside the system. Until then, I will be waiting on the outside.


Long answer: I'm just a dog owner who did and still does a lot of rescue. I don't have ties to confo, and I, admittedly, didn't group up with its presence. I, like you, hate to see a good dog get looked over for color, and you're right, it's not good for the gene pool. I do think a lot of the current gene pools should be widened. It is a two way street, though. People like purebred dogs for their predictable traits, and widening the gene pool would mean increased variation; variation that some purebred dog fanciers may find unacceptable. The latter is a view I have heard hanging around some confo circles. It comes down to how much variation do you think is acceptable in the breeds you like. I am personally for variation as long as important things are kept consistent. Somewhat related tangent: I almost made our shelter director choke on his coffee when I told him I thought BCs were not "all over the place" (his words). Beneath all the wildly different colors and patterns, coat textures, coat lengths, ear sets, and tail sets, was the same basic farm collie build and temperament. I think purebred dog owners are looking for a lot more consistency than the latter.

I don't blame those who think it's already a lost battle, as it is a view a lot of dog people from all stripes have. Confo dogs only make up a small percentage of even dog enthusiasts' dogs, let alone the general dog owning population's dogs. Even my dogs are indicative of this, and most people here would consider me pretty high up there on the "dog person" scale. My first dog was a type-bred Catahoula, most likely a hog hunting castoff when I lived in LA. My second dog was a random bred Ambulldog foster fail. My current dog, a Bichon, is a rehome from my SO's sister. If things went differently, I would currently be on the wait list for a German Boxer, but my plans have changed since then.

There are times where I find it hard to really feel much because the number of registered dogs has always been a lot smaller than the true population of pwned dogs within the USA. I also don't really see kennel clubs as an authority, but that's a cultural thing for me. That's all I've got for now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Do you mean crossing bloodlines outside the kennel club system? I don't see this as the solution considering that I am talking about genetically possible outcomes. In a litter of confo dogs you could have some sold to pet homes solely due to unpopular colors. Aussie for example, it is entirely possible to get bicolor pups out of a tricolor parent, but you will seldom see them in the ring. The only difference between my pup and a black tri is he does not have the white that a tri would. The consistency in a breed would also not be at stake because we are talking only about color within breed standard, not structure or other physical traits. I am still in favor of breeding within the standard. Of course there are issues with how some breeds standards are written, but that is a whole other can of worms.

Maybe the other solution rather than top down is breeders and handlers stop allowing themselves to be bullied into giving judges what they want to see, the more less popular colors that show the more likely judges are to broaden their view of the ideal dog. Judge bias as a whole needs to be addressed, maybe that is the first step.
 

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Yes, that's what I meant: crossing bloodlines outside of kennel club system. Though reading your response I see what you mean. New judges can come in with a more broader view on their ideal dog, while breeders and handlers push for that as well. Maybe handlers show a couple of good bicolored dogs that take people's breath away. Judge bias can be tackled with a multipronged approach. I initially first thought of the top down route because I assumed that, in general, both breeders and judges agreed on what was best. Of course, now that I think about it, that was not a good assumption. Are there any other Aussie people who have this same view? I'm far from an Aussie person, but I'm all for all the genetically possible colors being accepted :).
 

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There are always biases in the conformation show ring. I have AKC registered German Shepherds. I have a black dog from working lines (both sire and dam imported from Germany). He has a show rating under the German system. He got his SG rating. He would not V score under that system due to coat color and eye color.

He would be completely rejected in the AKC show ring in part because he is not a saddle black and tan and in part because he is not subject to the extreme over angulated rear end that the judges desire in AKC. He would not produce the largely unsound "flying trot" the judges want. This exaggerated movement was over developed as dogs were pinned by judges who never saw a dog work sheep and do not understand that this would never be desired by a shepherd with a flock.

The AKC conformation show ring is a beauty contest. Beauty tends to be trendy. Judges pin dogs that meet the current trend and breeders interested in conformation showing respond by trying to breed to the trend to an extreme. This includes color. You don't see black or sable or bi color working line German Shepherds in the AKC ring. You usually don't see Black and red German Show line dogs in the AKC ring either. The two lines are very different in conformation from each other (very different temperaments too). The dogs that are pinned are American lines that look nothing like either of these dogs (working lines or German Show)!!

The issue with Conformation showing in and breed or species is it is a beauty contest. The only trait bred for or shown is looks. The original purpose of the breed is entirely lost.

Border Collies were mentioned above. The American Border Collies Association will not register Border Collies that go in AKC conformation. The ABCA is dedicated to retaining the working qualities of the breed. They know that focus on beauty contests will leave the working qualities of the breed in a bad place as color, ear placement, coat length and looks become more important than moving livestock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Are there any other Aussie people who have this same view? I'm far from an Aussie person, but I'm all for all the genetically possible colors being accepted :).
There are, but I cannot speak for the majority of the Aussie community. I don't delve much into the confo Aussie community because unfortunately as with most breeds there is a rift between performance and show. I posted a picture of my puppy for structural analysis once and he is criticized for being square. He is young and is developing a more standard ideal longer body, but is a little straight in the rear and I can acknowledge that. When I stated he is off of sporting dogs it flared up the argument that the breed standard goes hand in hand for functionality, but lets be real here if a dogs drive, temperament and overall performance is stellar it should not be looked over for something that minor. Plenty of high performing Australian Shepherds in stock work and sports are square or even lack ideal angulation. A dogs shortcomings in sports and work often come from their drive rather than structure. Such faults should simply be bred to another dog who does not have the same faults. If my pup eventually proves he is capable in whatever sports I put him in and passes his health clearances then I would choose a female with great rear angulation as well as other qualifying factors.

It only makes sense to me that any breeder of any breed would like to see more of their produced pups go on to succeed in show, rather than being forced to home some as pets due to something as menial as color.

There are always biases in the conformation show ring. I have AKC registered German Shepherds. I have a black dog from working lines (both sire and dam imported from Germany). He has a show rating under the German system. He got his SG rating. He would not V score under that system due to coat color and eye color.

He would be completely rejected in the AKC show ring in part because he is not a saddle black and tan and in part because he is not subject to the extreme over angulated rear end that the judges desire in AKC.
Come to think of it I have never owned a purebred dog with common coloring. My Shepherd was black with subtle tan on his feet and when I got him is when I became aware of the color issue in conformation. His eyes were also lighter than preferred and I made the mistake as a young dog owner to post him in GSD communities who nitpicked and really deterred me from owning another due to the hostile community.

German Shepherds make my list of breeds whose standard definitely needs to be reworked in the AKC, others would be standards that require a dog to be physically limited such as severely brachycephalic, have excessive skin folds, compacted structure that limits mobility etc.
 

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There are, but I cannot speak for the majority of the Aussie community. I don't delve much into the confo Aussie community because unfortunately as with most breeds there is a rift between performance and show. I posted a picture of my puppy for structural analysis once and he is criticized for being square. He is young and is developing a more standard ideal longer body, but is a little straight in the rear and I can acknowledge that. When I stated he is off of sporting dogs it flared up the argument that the breed standard goes hand in hand for functionality, but lets be real here if a dogs drive, temperament and overall performance is stellar it should not be looked over for something that minor. Plenty of high performing Australian Shepherds in stock work and sports are square or even lack ideal angulation. A dogs shortcomings in sports and work often come from their drive rather than structure. Such faults should simply be bred to another dog who does not have the same faults. If my pup eventually proves he is capable in whatever sports I put him in and passes his health clearances then I would choose a female with great rear angulation as well as other qualifying factors.

It only makes sense to me that any breeder of any breed would like to see more of their produced pups go on to succeed in show, rather than being forced to home some as pets due to something as menial as color.



Come to think of it I have never owned a purebred dog with common coloring. My Shepherd was black with subtle tan on his feet and when I got him is when I became aware of the color issue in conformation. His eyes were also lighter than preferred and I made the mistake as a young dog owner to post him in GSD communities who nitpicked and really deterred me from owning another due to the hostile community.

German Shepherds make my list of breeds whose standard definitely needs to be reworked in the AKC, others would be standards that require a dog to be physically limited such as severely brachycephalic, have excessive skin folds, compacted structure that limits mobility etc.
And so that is why I have working line German Shepherds and why I do IGP and American Schutzhund. I have a structurally sound dog (very much so) that can go the miles. On top of that he is balanced in drives and balanced in temperament. Would he win in the Show Ring? No.. which I have stated. Does he have stamina, drives and beautiful full grips? Yes, in spades. Remember, any breed was pretty much developed to do a specific job and when the job is removed and all that is left is looks.. that can be a problem.

Linda Shaw tried to help rewrite the standard.. and was shot down (take a look at her book!!)

As Schafermieister Manfred Heyne once said to my friend (who wrote the attached articles) when presented with a West German Show Line dog that was not terribly capable working "I can do with less Beauty."

 
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