ASCA Working Description

Below is the Working Description created by the Stock Dog Committee of ASCA

Please comment on whether you think that the Working  Description should be voted on by the ASCA Membership.  I welcome your input and would like to see a civil discussion on this matter with your comments.  The Board has approved it, but I think that there is good reason to ask the Membership to vote to affirm it.  I personally like this description, and I include it because I think it is a good description of our breed.  I urge you to read it before you comment.

Thanks, Ann



The Australian Shepherd was developed in the 19th and 20th centuries as a general purpose ranch and farm dog in the American West, where a tough, enduring, versatile stockdog with an honest work ethic was required. His usual work included moving very large herds of sheep and cattle from summer to winter grazing grounds and back, flushing range cattle out of heavy brush, and moving livestock in tight quarters such as chutes and alleys. These kinds of jobs are still where Australian Shepherds excel and are most valued.

The Australian Shepherd is categorized as one of the Loose-Eyed breeds of stockdogs. He is a confident, authoritative worker with a unique style that differs from Strong-Eyed breeds. He is agile, upright and close-working, and exhibits these distinctive traits while maintaining the ability and versatility to control all types of livestock in an efficient and deliberate manner. The Australian Shepherd excels at controlling large and/or slow-moving flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, and is highly regarded for his superior ability to effectively manage livestock in tightly confined spaces. The Australian Shepherd is powerful and intense by nature, easily learning the appropriate force and distance needed for the type of livestock being worked. Using a loose-eyed approach to stock, a working Australian Shepherd will often display wear, grip, and/or an authoritative bark, as well as eye when necessary, to handle his stock.


The Australian Shepherds wear in smooth, balanced, and ground-covering as the dog moves easily from side to side at the back of the stock, keeping his herd or flock together and moving forward. This is a very natural movement for an Australian Shepherd, and one that he can continue doing for hours at a time.


The Australian Shepherd will only use grip to move reluctant or challenging stock. The ideal Australian Shepherd naturally grips at both the head and heel, coming in low and hard on the heels to move cattle, or going to the head and gripping the nose or poll to turn an animal back to the herd.


The Australian Shepherd may bark to move stock or to face a challenge. His bark is conservative and should be authoritative when used. While the Australian Shepherds grip typically affects a single animal, his bark can influence a whole herd, and is most effective when stock has come to a standstill such as in crowded alleyways. The Australian Shepherds bark is particularly useful when gathering cattle from thick brush.


Since the Australian Shepherd is a loose-eyed working dog, he prefers to use his authority and presence to move livestock. However, if challenged, he may use eye in a direct and deliberate way until the challenge is over.

4 Responses to “ASCA Working Description”

  1. Karen Shanley Says:

    I’ve been taking herding lessons with my Aussie for a couple of years. This description is certainly accurate of the way she works.

    Karen Shanley
    author, Dogs of Dreamtime (A story about my Aussies and Eng. Shepherd mix)

  2. Ann DeChant Says:

    Karen thanks for the feedback. My dogs work like this, too.


  3. Marie Murphy Says:

    Hi Ann – I think the working description that the SDC came up with covers all aspects of the way our dogs work. I don’t understand why so many people are upset by it.
    Over the years I have been asked many times ” does an aussie work different then a border collie, sheltie, kelpie, turv? “- it was easy , basically I told them what the working description discribes.
    If the membership of ASCA feels it should be voted on by them, so be it.
    As a stockdog judge I don’t feel my judging is affected by the working description.

    Marie Murphy

  4. anndechant Says:

    That is very valuable feedback Marie. Thanks so much!

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