The development of the Australian Shepherd is believed to have began during the 1800’s. The Gold Rush in California & the Civil War created a great demand for mutton & wool. So large flocks of sheep were imported from Australia. The dogs accompanying these flocks, along with other breeds, would be the beginning of the development of the Australian Shepherd.
Settlers from the British Isles brought their old fashioned collie type-----often called shepherds. The collie of those days had a more upstanding style of work with a “Looser Eye” than it descendent----the Border Collie. The original collie was a strong, multipurpose working dog that was usually black with white and/or tan markings or blue merle.
Dogs arriving with shipments of sheep from Australia
were largely of British origin along with the Smithfield dog
(described as being longhaired & bobtailed), collies of various
colors including merles, and the German Tigers -----referred
to as German Koolies or German Coolies & known today as
the Australian Koolies-------which are known for their merle
color and show a striking resemblance to the Australian
Shepherd. Merino sheep were imported into Australia in the
19th century from Saxony in Germany & these German
sheepdogs were imported along with them. These dogs were
interbred with numerous workings dogs of British origin,
before eventually making their way to America. “ Welsh Heeler” was one name used in Australia to describe these resulting crosses.
As these dogs of similar type & background were imported from Australia they became known as “Australian Shepherds” in the American west & were prized for their sheep herding skills.
The qualities of strong herding & guarding instinct, exceptional intelligence, alertness & high energy that we love in the present day Aussie came directly from a practical need for these traits in working stockdogs. The Australian Shepherd was actually “American Made” by American stockmen. The Australian Shepherd’s popularity rose rapidly with the Western style horse riding after World War II due to Rodeos, horse shows, movies & television programs. Ranchers continued to develop the breed, maintaining the adaptability, keen intelegence, strong herding instinict & eye catching appearance. As a herder, the Australian Shepherd is a loose- to -med-eyed dog. It will watch an entire croup of animals, but not with an intense gaze & tends to work in an upright position versus the crouching position most observed in the Border Collie. Some dogs use more eye in situations where added power is required for stubborn or balky animals- what I tend to call tough cows.
As stockmen began replacing there sheep with cattle herds they also began breeding their Aussies to be larger scale-------- eventually leading to the known breed of Australian Shepherd. There are still many lines of smaller Aussies still around & being used by the standard Australian Shepherd breeders as well as the Miniature & Toy Australian Breeders.
In 1968, Doris Cordova, from California, began developing
the Miniature Australian Shepherd. She wanted to breed the
smaller Australian Shepherd, 17” & under, to make for better
house dogs & traveling pets to stock shows. Cordova Spike, one
of the most well known dogs from Cordova Kennels------was
placed with Bill & Sally Kennedy who continued to develop the
Mini Aussie at their B/S Kennels. Shortly after, Chas Lasater
from Valhalla Kennels also began producing the Miniature
Australian Shepherd. These breeders were instrumental in the
creation of the breed.
Today the Aussie serves as working ranch dogs, guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf, pet therapy dogs, drug detectors, search-and-rescue and of course as a beloved pet & companion.
In the early 1990’s the AKC allowed the Australian Shepherd into their registry as a breed. At the time, the standard Australian Shepherd breeders made a legal rule of not allowing another size of the Australian Shepherd to ever be allowed within the AKC. The Miniature Australian Shepherd therefore can never be recognized as a breed- earlier this year- a group of Miniature Australian Shepherd breeders decided to join the AKC renaming the mini aussie as a Miniature American Shepherd. The down fall to this being that once you register your dogs within the registry you will be limiting your gene pool, as only dogs registered as a Miniature American Shepherd will be able to be used for breeding purposes---no longer enabling the use of the standard Australian Shepherd lines, which is an integral part of the Mini Aussie as a breed. There are many registries that still recognize the Miniature Australian Shepherd as a variety of the Australian Shepherd & therefore allow the use of their bloodlines in our breeding programs. At this time, they are the registries that I will be using for my Ghost Eye Mini Aussie Kennel.