by CAROL BECKETT
The standard for the ACD is very clearly written. It requires the dog to be well angulated, compact, powerful and with substance, and breadth in the head, the chest and down through the entire body.
It is NOT a standard that in ambiguous, it is NOT a standard that is poorly written or unclear. Yes the finer points might need clarifying for a novice but for an experienced breeder or judge it is very clear especially when compared with other vague and lesser detailed standards that do exist for many other breeds.
If you are a novice then hopefully this post will help you to consolidate what you think you understand from reading the standard a few times, looking at photos and dogs around you. If you consider yourself to be experienced in the breed but you think you know better than the standard or that it is wrong and the above ‘essentials’ are NOT necessary then I CHALLENGE you.
I challenge you to read all the standards within the Working/herding group this weekend, not just the ACD but all working/herding breeds. If you have done this and you still think the ACD standard is written incorrectly and that ‘form does not follow function’ throughout the entire standard, then you are fooling yourself. If you accept this challenge and still believe that the BASICS (angulation, proportions, movement) not necessary then stop trying to justify
your position with comments about other breeds or trotting horses or whomever authority/author you choose to quote to give you opinion weight and get out of the breed!
The ACD is REQUIRED to be well angulated. That is; ‘well laid’ shoulders with equal length in the bones (including the upper arm) and forming an angle of 90°. The hindquarters are ‘well turned’ and should also be 90° to create a balanced animal.
There is NO ambiguity, it is written in black and white! I do not want arguments over a moderately angulated dog being balanced and able to show more endurance than a correct well angulated dog…what a crock of rubbish. Anyone who has owned moderate or straight angulated dogs and also owned well angulated dogs, knows only too well the difference in their ability to cover the ground and move. You only need to place these two dogs into an open area to free fun to see that an angulated dog with both outrun and chase down the lesser angulated one. Doing roadwork or any type of sustained exercise (as we do with our dogs) it is clearly apparent that an angulated dog has much more endurance.
As for statements that ACDs now days are over-angulated….sorry but I do not and have not seen this. Maybe I need to post a diagram of exactly what 90° actually looks like….it is actually ¼ of an entire circle, or in layman’s terms a right-angle!
It is NOT rocket science it is simple kinetics….Over a set length of ground a correctly angulated dog having a greater stride length will take say 10 steps to cover this area…a moderately angulated dog will take say 13 or more steps and a dog with straight angulation will take say 16 steps or so to cover the same piece of ground.
Equate this to a whole day working and following cattle over many kilometres. Dogs who do not have the required angulation break down quicker as they do it much harder. The ACD should move freely, flowing over the ground with minimal effort. If you can walk beside your dog in a show gait (even a puppy) then there is something very wrong and it is not displaying effortless movement with correct reach and drive.
As for the comments that current show dogs are hyped up animals who fly around the ring at an un-natural pace which is non-sustainable. Rubbish! The ACD is required in the standard to be ALERT and AGILE. They should be excited to move and willing to do so. If one is to judge by the standard they are LOOKING for an active dog not a lump of meat standing at the ring entrance that has to be encouraged to move and plods around the ring. The image the ACD must portray is one of an active working dog.
If a dog has the required angulation (and is sound) it should move freely ‘free, supple and tireless’ and at the pace described in the standard, ‘the capability of QUICK and SUDDEN movement is essential’. QUICK refers to the pace, quick to cover the ground, NOT slow, stilted or plodding. Meaning as the handler you run to keep up on your dog’s shoulder you could not ‘walk’ beside such a dog. SUDDEN, referring to the dog’s ability to both start from a standstill and change direction suddenly. Powerful hindquarters and strong SHORT loins are required for a dog to be capable of this.
Quick movement is easy to see and this is how the dog should be gaited. This is ‘breed speed’ for the ACD. I am not talking about legs flying in an uncontrolled manner going ‘ten to the dozen’ around the ring and looking like a frantic blur…this is ’busy movement’ and busy movement is NOT is what the word ‘quick’ relates to in the standard, nor is it efficient or sustainable. CORRECT Sustainable ‘quick’ movement means that the dog covers the ring quickly and easily, it swallows up the ground in an effortless manner when compared with the quick moving but ‘busy’ dog.
Sudden movement is not so easy to see/assess in the show-ring but all too apparent if your dogs free run. Although if a dog presents with short, muscled loins and powerful hindquarters you can bet it will more than likely have sudden movement and be able to explode of the mark and pivot on it’s quarters to change tack.
Yes, let’s DO talk about CORRECT proportions, we don’t need another threat to do so because as with the angulation being clearly laid down so TOO are the requirements for correct proportions….That is, if you know how to understand what is written in the standard. Correct proportions do not JUST relate to applying a simple RATIO of 10:9 there is a lot more involved and it IS explained in the standard.
PROPORTIONS are NOT just created by length of BACK…it is the sum of all the dog’s parts that give it’s proportions. It relates to; length of back, length of loin, development of fore-chest and height of the dog.
You DO NOT asses if a dog has correct proportions by simply looking at it’s length to height and by JUST measuring to see it is in fact 10 long to 9 high. A dog who accurately measures 10: 9 from the fore-chest (brest-bone/pro-sternum) to behind the buttocks when compared with height does NOT necessarily have correct proportions! There is more to it than just a measurement.
A dog which has very little pro-sternum development and a longer than required back or loin may still MEASURE with correct proportions because he lacks chest out the front (chest and shoulders contribute to the overall measurement)…Lets call him dog ‘X’
A dog who has the required developed pro-sternum (obvious from the side profile) with a correct SHORT back and SHORT LOIN will ALSO measure with the correct 10:9 proportions. Lets call him dog ‘Y’.
Both dogs measure with the correct 10:9 ratio and one could WRONGLY assume both were right…however dog ‘Y’ is the only one with the correct PROPORTIONS because all his parts are correct (assuming for argument sake that he also has correct leg length).
Therefore in the ACD much of the extra length in the 10:9 ratio does not come from length in the back it actually comes from the extra length created by correct fore-chest development ‘in-front’ of the dog. More often than not this dog also has the correct lay of shoulder and front assembly.
Leg length and depth of body is also important in creating proportions. For example, a dog that is short in leg may give the false impression of being long in back when in-fact the leg are the part that is actually incorrect.
It has been stated that the ACD is not a ‘square’ breed. Yes that is correct but with the correct body parts (short loin and back, good pro-sternum and well-laid shoulder) they are not far off being square. What the ACD is NOT is long backed. That much is clear if you read and understand the general appearance requiring a COMPACT animal.
As a judge you learn that aside from heads one of the primary considerations defining type differences between similar breeds are the differences in body proportions and how to correctly assess this. It is drummed into you from the get go and something that good judges have a natural eye for.
Proportions are a primary consideration defining breed type. Amongst my own 4 Australian breeds there are 4 different required proportions. The ACD is compact (short bodied but not square) at 10:9. The Stumpy (ASTCD) is ‘Decidedly Square’, the Aussie Terrier is ‘Long and low set’ the Silky is slightly long and low. Believe me, in a line-up you could never confuse the difference in body length between one of our ACDs and our Stumpies.
For those who believe an ACD does not have to work all day and that a GSD needs to patrol perimeters and therefore cover more ground, I say RUBBISH! The ACD was not bred to follow a few sheep around a pen. It was not breed to work human friendly tame dairy cattle or fat breeds of beef cattle in small paddocks…the ACD was developed to move and control feral beef cattle across vast areas. Cattle on huge stations that have never seen a human, who may have been mustered once to be tagged and castrated at the most or more likey, never been rounded up until being sent to market or fattening yards for a few months. Wild cattle who’s only contact with a dog has been wild dingoes or feral dogs. Cattle that have a high flight instinct, and a fear of the unknown. If you have been involved in mustering such beasts you would know if takes many days/weeks for an animal who has been wandering in the bush for years to settle and not break away from the main group or try to head for the thick scrub.
The ACD was developed before the day or road-trains, motorbikes, heli-mustering or bull catchers (open 4wd vehicle). The ACD was required to chase down these runaway animals and bring them back. Some of these cattle would also be young tenacious uncastrated bulls which are headstrong and have known no discipline.