We have a long view with breeding. Come along with us on the journey as you explore our dogs and the dogs in your pedigrees.
My program is a long game. I got into dogs at 12 and I take my time deciding what I want and what my next move is because I’ll be here for the whole trip. The only reason I continue to have an eye on breeding is that I am striving to fill a need that isn’t necessarily there – working ranch dogs for California ranchers. I’ve done my job if we start seeing working Aussies on cattle ranches again out here. The Border Collie has taken over for good reason and I’m here to show people that they have an alternate if they’re looking for differen things in a dog.
I’ve been in this breed for a while now, handling other peoples’ dogs and my own. I’ve run the gamut from showing in conformation exclusively to successfully competing in versatility competitions at Aussie Nationals to actually using my dogs in situations that call for a livestock assistant. I’ve lost dogs tragically to illness and sensitivities and I’ve had my share of behavior issues and management. I’ve also had some of the best mentors in this breed someone could ask for. And this, currently, is what I look for in a dog.
Ability – Our lines are guaranteed to demonstrate working instinct and ability or we will replace the puppy. That doesn’t mean every dog is a winner or fits what you need, but we’ll do our best to help you find the right dog for you, even if it’s not with us.
We breed for cattle dogs. And not tame, hip to the program cattle. Most of the cows here in California spend their time out on the hills and then need to be gathered. They won’t be doggy and they will be scared. Our dogs need to have bite to them to back up the bark (though we prefer quiet working dogs), ability to calm down and read their stock and give them space to make good choices, and they’ll be a bit pushy and independent compared to other lines who might be bred to win trials or work farm cattle.
We like high drive and sharper dogs – which means they can be a LOT of work. There’s a great video put out by Leerburg Training that illustrates this here. Some of the pups in our litter will be mellow. We wait before assigning pups to see what their basic temperament is turning into to ensure you get a good match. Puppies change with age, but I sincerely believe you can see a lot of the adult dog in a young puppy.
Health – Having a dog shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg, nor stress you out. If the dog doesn’t thrive on basic, quality dog kibble, that’s a problem. We expect our dogs to live more than the average for Aussies (about 10-13 is average) and do it functionally – so that you’ll have your working partner as long as possible. They should be free of drug sensitivities, sound sensitivities, and chronic diseases. Should something come up that we know is a problem in the lines, we will announce it as such in litter announcements and to our puppy buyers as it comes. In deference to people’s privacy, we cannot post it publicly here, but just ask – we’re honest and we believe (and were early adopters of) in the Ask + Tell movement.
Temperament – Good temperament means different things to different people. We strive for confident dogs that you can park in one spot and keep themselves entertained most of the time : the off-switch. They may be busy puppies, but as adults, we expect them to tolerate the general human lifestyle and that doesn’t mean needing to constantly be stimulated. They should be able to go anywhere with you, but they probably won’t be super friendly. The old-school reserve of a good cattle dog means they make friends when they make friends – sometimes its quick for the right person, sometimes never for the wrong one. They tolerate high pressure situations involving ignorant people and dogs not respecting their space, but if you do not respect that need, you should not have a Tara Aussie. Our dogs generally have feelings about how things should be and rules about how to treat them. If you respect their needs, you’ll be very happy with your dog.
Speaking of, I think my dogs do best in one of two situations: only dogs or kenneled dogs. They seems to have a weaker pack drive than they do a human bonding drive and that’s something to keep in mind.
They should be enthusiastic. We’re people that like doing big adventures, not just stock work, and a dog that doesn’t want to go for a 20 mile hike or extended day backpacking is just not right for us. They make fun performance dogs for this reason.
They will be hard-headed (as opposed to soft). We like some bravery and self-thinking. It’s cool with me if my dogs don’t robotically take commands as long as they think they’re on to something.
They should get along with other animals and will leave pet livestock alone. We don’t tolerate killers of domestic animals. The herding behaviors we look for are distinct and come in many different combinations. The kill instinct is one thing that won’t get continued in our line should it show up (it hasn’t, in case you’re wondering). We don’t mind the hunting of vermin, however, as that’s a pretty handy skill in the hills around here (or even in the cupboards of our kitchen from time to time).
Looks/Conformation – I’ll be honest, folks. I have a thing for a good looking dog. Ideally, I’d produce dogs that could kill it in the conformation ring, but that particular goal is a bottom priority (literally, see it here, at the bottom). I would rather have straighter angles and a healthy dog with the ability I want day to day than the alternative. And so far, unfortunately, it’s hard to have everything.
Our dogs might end up with high ears and pink noses. They’ll probably be straighter in their angles than your ideal show dog. But, they’re sound enough to do their job into their second decade and they’re nice looking, too – because we all like the charge of a stranger telling you you’ve got a cute dog. That’s the bonus of Aussies – rugged, useful, but cute. I won’t deny it.