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THE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD

COLOURS & TAILS

The Australian Shepherd is widely known for the variation in colours.

This variation in colours creates a unique dog, and is half the charm of the breed. 

There are 2 main coat colours for the Australian Shepherd, Black and Red. The breed also has the merle gene which may act on the base color, giving us the Blue Merle and Red Merle. Dogs may or may not also have white and/or tan trim. Trim is only allowed in certain areas. This gives us the possibility of 16 colour combinations. When a dog has 2 colour combinations it is referred to as a Bi-colour. If it has all 3 it is a Tri-Colour. 

The colour combinations are:

Solid Black / Black with White / Black with Tan / Black with White and Tan

Solid Red / Red with White / Red with Tan / Red with White and Tan

Blue Merle / Blue Merle with White / Blue Merle with Tan / Blue Merle with White and Tan

Red Merle / Red Merle with White / Red Merle with Tan / Red Merle with White and Tan

All colour combinations are correct for the breed, and acceptable for the show ring. Breeders should not charge a price difference between the colours. The only exception being if the dog is considered to be a 'mis-mark' and have too much white trim. In these cases some breeders may reduce the price of such puppies. White should not dominate on the head, and may appear on the muzzle and as a blaze. Eyes and ears should be surrounded by colour. White is also acceptable as a full or part collar, not to exceed past the point of withers at the hair root. On the Chest, front legs, and back legs, not extending above the hock joint. 

Aussies typically have either Brown, Amber or Blue eyes. They may have a mixture of Blue and Brown/Amber in one eye, they can also have different coloured eyes. . All of which are acceptable. Breeders should not charge a price difference according to eye colour. 

The Australian Shepherd has always been a breed known for its bobbed tail. The breed has always carried the gene for a naturally bobbed tail, however traditionally the tails have been docked to provide a uniformed tail length under 4 inches long. Docking was banned in the UK in April 2007. 

A naturally short tail is often referred to as 'NBT' or natural bob tail. 

The gene for shortening tails in the Australian Shepherd, is a dominant trait, which means a dog only needs to have 1 copy of the gene to have a shortened tail. However the gene does not shorten the tail at a specific point. This means a dog could be 1 vertebrae short of a full tail, down to having no obvious tail at all. Where shortened tails appear in a litter you will get a wide variety of tail lengths within the litter. It is rare for a litter of bobbed tails to be all the same length. 

Where both parents are genetically a full tail all puppies in a litter will have full tails. 

Where 1 or both parents carry the NBT gene you will have a mixture of various length bobbed tails and full tails. This can vary from the majority (or all)of pups having a bobbed tail, with only the odd tail. To the majority of the pups having full tails with only the odd bobbed tail. 

Because Docking in the UK is banned, all tail lengths are acceptable in the breed. And when showing in the UK a dog should not be penalised for having a tail or longer NBT. Breeders should not be inflating their prices for dogs who have a naturally very short tail. 

If you aren't sure whether your dog has the NBT gene, there is a DNA test available which will identify the gene, although it cant give the length of the bobbed tail. Most labs in the UK are able to test for the gene. 

Black

Red

Blue Merle

Red Merle