The Australian Shepherd is a natural bob-tail/docked tail breed. At this time ASCA does not plan to change its breed standard as no official description of the undocked Australian Shepherd tail exists.
The breed standard states in General Appearance: “An identifying characteristic is his natural or docked bobtail.” The standard continues in the Neck and Body section: “The Tail is straight, not to exceed four (4) inches, natural bobtail or docked.” One of the unique characteristics of the Australian Shepherd is that they are not solely a docked tail breed, but also a natural bob tail breed. Dogs can be born with varying lengths of tail…from natural bob to full tail… and all lengths in between, hence the reason for the standard reference above regarding a tail to be less than four inches in length. ASCA prefers the natural bob tail employing docking for uniformity and breed type.
While it is understood that judges have a choice, ASCA prefers considering an Australian Shepherd with a full tail a serious deviation from the standard and breed type and to prioritize and penalize it accordingly. Any deviation from the ideal described in the standard should be penalized to the extent of the deviation. For instance, a tail that is six inches in length would be faulted over a dog with a tail that is less than four inches. A full tail would be more severely faulted.
The natural bob tail/docked tail is an identifying breed characteristic and essential to preserving breed type. Judges should place great importance on how Australian Shepherd structure functions in movement (gaiting) but in the final analysis, should revert to type (the sum of all characteristics) in determining placements.
ASCA wishes to preserve the history and heritage of this breed. The essence of a breed should not be forgotten.
Judging Australian Shepherds with Tails (In Countries with Tail Docking Bans)
At this time ASCA has no immediate plans to amend its breed standard on this issue because no ‘official’ description of the undocked Australian Shepherd tail exists.
In countries where tail docking bans exist an Australian Shepherd being shown with a tail longer than 4 inches shall not be faulted and/or penalized.