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The History of The Australian Shepherd Club of America

Chapter I:  ASCA During The Early Years

After ASCA's formation in 1957 a few, brief newsletters served a small, but dedicated fancy. The National Stock Dog Magazine and Stodghill's Animal Research Magazine provided the largest part of information distributed among Aussie fanciers.  The years following 1957 and until 1969 was for all practical purposes a period of inactivity for the Australian Shepherd Club of America. While the publications linked fanciers together; it was the regional clubs during the mid sixties in Arizona, California, Colorado, and in Oregon that fostered the development and promotion of the breed as a whole.

December 1969, however produced the first (Vol. 1 No. 1) but not last issue of the Aussie Times.  It was published three times a year April, August and December.

At that time, membership in ASCA cost $5.00 annually (additional members of the same household $1.50 each).  Single memberships were $3.50 annually. As a special benefit of ASCA membership at that time, a free subscription to the National Stock Dog magazine, ( a $2.00 value) was included.

The ASCA membership application queried applicants on: Main interests relative to the Breed:

1. To breed, sell and promote Australian Shepherds.

2. To help with Working Trials, Shows or Obedience Trials.

3. What type owned: Working Dogs, Watch and Companion or Other.

Lastly, When and where did you obtain your first dog of this breed?

Highlights from the editorial, written by Elsie Cotton who was then Vice President of ASCA included:

 "In recent months, we have read several articles on Hip Dysplasia in dogs.  Some of these were devoted entirely to Hip Dysplasia in the Australian Shepherd, alone.  It is our belief that some newcomers in our breed, from these articles, may feel that becoming involved in the Australian Shepherd may be asking for trouble.  We hope to dispel these feelings.  It is NOT our purpose to give a long article on what this condition is as this subject has been covered thoroughly in many articles in the Dog World Magazine; all of them scientifically and medically correct and thorough."

She went on to say:

"One of the leading Research Foundations reported that out of all the breeds that had been tested, only one breed, the RACING Greyhound had been found to be free from Hip Dysplasia.  

In our opinion, The Racing Greyhound is developed strictly for performance.  In racing, there is no room for sentiment; either the dog holds his own on the Track or he is eliminated.  Only the BEST are bred; the dogs and the bitches which set track records, which win consistently, which are sound enough to run season after season -- only these are kept and are eventually retired to the Breeding Kennels.  The others are put to death early and painlessly.

Ideally, one should buy an Australian Shepherd from some rancher who is really working his dogs and is demanding consistently hard, continuous work from his breeding stock.  Secondly, if one does decide to buy elsewhere, the buyer should demand a Certification of Soundness on both the sire and dam that is proven by X-rays."

The For Sale Section included ten listings with phrases such as:

"Both parents have good color and are good working stock"
"Parents are natural heelers"
" Pups from outstanding working Blue Merle Parents"
"The pups are partially trained"

The following reminder appeared in subsequent issues of the Aussie Times until the end of 1972:  

"Remind your buyers --- a good, working dog is well worth the price you pay for him.  It will cost much more for a hired man's board and room to do the job your dog can do.  Your dog is always faithful and willing.  He gives you his best so give him your best.  Guarantee all dogs to be in good health and see that they are."

In the 60s, it was understood that Aussies were working dogs. The issues of late 60s included learning about genetics of the breed, mainly about the white factor and the NBT (natural bob tail) in the Breed.  Australian Shepherd owners began asking questions about AKC recognition and OFA and Hip Dysplasia was introduced to the fancy.

In addition to the various club newsletters, and the Aussie Times, the DogWorld magazine and the Western Horseman were the most widely read publications by Australian Shepherd owners.

In the early days, breeders would travel between Arizona, California, Colorado and Oregon simply to participate in a Rare Breed or local Australian Shepherd Club function.  The awards consisted of a ribbon, maybe a trophy. The real motivation was to meet and fellowship with Australian Shepherd people and mainly to see the Aussies of these other areas.  

ASCA Highlights:

Once again, the Aussie Times gets a new look.  Beginning with the April issue, the new ASCA logo appears on the cover as well as the notice: BREED CLUB REGISTRY Established March 10, 1972.  This was a very significant step for the breed, which was to become the single largest Breed Registry in the country.

The Editors Note:

"The Aussie Times is a bit late in being put into circulation this time. This was due to the tremendous work - load which came from getting the Breed Club Registry set up (all of this work is completed beyond waiting for the printing to be completed on the Litter and Individual Registration Certificates)."

Aussies were being exhibited extensively in the Western United States with significant numbers of shows and large entries at the various events. Aussies competing at sanctioned matches quite often competed in the Group against AKC breeds. 

There is Interest in AKC recognition.  Phillip Wildhagen, ASCA's Eastern Representataive represents ASCA as they pursue a level of communication with officials within AKC. Phillip Wildhagen reports the fact that the Australian Shepherd breed "is relatively unknown here in the East."

~ Ernest Hartnagle & Jeanne Joy Hartnagle-Taylor
© 2004 By Ernest Hartnagle & Jeanne Joy Hartnagle-Taylor


Copyright photos provided from the Hartnagle family archives.


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Chapter I:  ASCA During The Early Years


Chapter II:  Highlights - 1970 - 1972


Chapter III:  Highlights - 1972-1976


Chapter IV:  Highlights 1977 - 1979


Chapter V:  The Original Purpose of the ASCA Stock Dog Program


Chapter VI:  The Original Stock Dog Program


Chapter VII:  The Original Stock Dog Committee

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