Australia’s Aussie Shepherds & ANKC Breeders
Discussions held on social media can often bring up the question about how many new breeders seem to be coming out of the woodwork and how many Aussie puppies there seems to be at times.
ANKC Breeders often worry about how the public are oblivious to the difference between Registered Breeders as there are ANKC Breeders, Backyard Breeders or Commercial Breeders. To add more confusion we have also sees the introduction of new Associations that provide pedigree paperwork however these groups are NOT recognised by any Australian Government nor are they Internationally recognised.
Many of the ANKC members can be quick to judge outside groups or BYB for this growth in numbers, but should we actually question whether it is the ANKC breeders themselves who might be one of the issue?
It is important for all breeders to take a look in their own backyard (so to speak) before pointing the finger at any others. This article is written as a summary to track some idea of where we started and where we currently stand as far as ANKC registrations of our breed.
Notes relating to this paper.
- No reference is made to the names of any breeder/prefix in this Summary – the objective is to assess the overall development and growth of the breed within the ANKC world. This paper is not intended to admonish or condone any particular individuals contribution .
- This article is compiled as just one tool to analyse the development of the Australian Shepherd within Australia. This is not directed towards any particular individuals contribution nor a judgement of any breeding practices.
- As Litters can still be registered up to 18 months of age there may still be litters yet to be registered for the end of 2017 and have not been included into these figures.
- A few litters had limited details and hence an average was used to determine puppy numbers.
- Every attempt has been made to provide accurate figures however mistakes can always occur. Should errors be found please send an email via the website, with the details to allow for corrections.
- This is a working article, information will be added to this paper as it becomes available.
Litters Registered Over 25 Years
As registration of Aussies in the ANKC go back to about 1992, as of 2017 we now have 25 years of statistics to start to produce some ideas of how the numbers are stacking up …. This may help to give some indication of where we are heading with this breed. At least within the ANKC world.
There were only a small number of breeders in the early years so have grouped breeding records into 5 year blocks. This allows us to track what changes, if any, are happening over the 25 year time frame…
Table – ANKC Litter Registrations
|Litter Numbers||Pup Numbers||Average litter size||No of Prefixes Used||Inactive Prefix for 5 years or more|
Consider the following when reading information from these tables.
- It is preferable to think of a Prefix as an Entity – rather than using the name of individual breeders.
- Some Prefixes may have been used in joint ownership between different individuals. Thus a single breeder may have used different Prefixes over time.
- Prefixes can also be used in a mentorship manner or under Breeders Terms which allows for prospective breeders to gain experience under an existing breeder prior to applying for their own prefix.
- Remember that Prefixes may also appear for a few years and then become inactive. Perhaps these Prefixes reappear, perhaps they retire completely.
- For practical reasons in this paper the term Active Prefix is a way to describe a Breeder who has registered any litter activity in the past 5 years
- Whereas an Inactive Prefix has not registered in the past 5 years or more.
How Many Prefixes – Active or Inactive
Registrations commenced for Australian Shepherds in 1992 and that by the end of the first 5 years, there were approximately 18 Prefixes, however we have seen a steady growth of approx. 8-9 new Breeding Prefixes added each year over the next 10 years till 2007. (Approx. 7 of these original 18 Prefixes are still considered Active Prefixes in 2017).
The 10 year period 2008-2017 have seen approximately 120 new prefixes having 1-3 registered litters over that period. Some of these may continue but then many other older Prefixes have become inactive. Hence, it is important to realise we do have a floating population of Prefixes so our numbers can be hard to determine with a strong accuracy. This influx of new Prefixes is a great Indication of the support given by these early breeders to broaden the breeds diversity by allowing new enthusiasts to purchase breeding stock. It would also be interesting to be able to include the statistics of new imports into the country but that would be another paper just on its own.
At the end of 2017 we have had a total of 211 seperate prefixes used to register litters.
This might sound like a huge growth in the number of breeders involved but the reality is that 80+ are now Inactive Prefixes (have not registered a litter for the last 5 years or more).
Plus there are a further 27 prefixes used in the period 2012-2017 for their first and only litter. Thus until there is further activity of these prefixes it is undetermined whether they should be classed as Active Prefixes. Thus the likely number at the end of 2017 for Active Prefixes may sit somewhere between 100-130.
Litters Registered by State
Next we can review the number of litters State by State. However we have to remember that there have been breeders who may have moved interstate over the timeframe. To the best of our knowledge we have included these into the figures of where they have registered most of their litters. This may have some small effect on the current figures for state by state but in the next summary in 2018-2022 we can address this factor.
During the initial 15 year period the breed was still in development. Many breeders may have swapped over from other breeds and new people where getting involved. However, over the last 10 years we can see establishment of breeders within each state and a steady increase in litter production within that period.
Table : Litters Bred by State
|Prefix% by State||State||2008||2009||2010||2011||2012||2013||2014||2015||2016||2017||Total|
% of Total
Increase by State over the last 10 years
Victoria 2008-2012 120 litters – 2013-2017 186 litters increase of 55%
New South 2008-2012 98 litters – 2013-2017 188 litters increase of 95%
Queensland 2008-2012 73 litters – 2013-2017 113 litters Increase of 55%
Tasmania 2008-2012 24 litters – 2013-2017 39 litters Increase of 60%
West Aust 2008-2012 27 litters – 2013-2017 79 litters Increase of 195%
TAS – With only 7 Prefixes the statistics can alter easily. However the figures are dominated by two Prefixes.
WA – Starting out with 7 prefixes in 2012 and then more than doubled to 15. However there has also been a big jump in production by 2 of the Prefixes to really increase the production % overall.
SA – shows a minor but steady % increase which is expected from a smaller population base.
VIC – show a steady increase and with a larger ANKC population base this is a percentage that would be expected as more enthusiasts have now become involved into the breeding as well as sport/show.
NSW did start off the period with lower numbers but have shown a very large increase to actually double their production In the second 5 year period which now brings them in line with Victoria.
QLD has shown a steady increase over time but as there are less Prefixes we may need to review reasons for this further.
ANKC 2017 Breeding Study
In 2016 – 6,525 ANKC Ltd Breeders produced 14,091 Litters
As an interesting side note : ANKC conducted a study of the number of litters being produced by each Registered Breeder covering ALL BREEDS of dogs to determine how many litters per year where being bred by individual breeders. These figures give us a chance to actually consider the difference between the hobby breeder and the ‘semi-professional’ breeder.
- 3,583 Breeders (55%) 0nly had 1 Litter
- 1,406 Breeders (21%) had 2 Litters
- 659 Breeders (10%) had 3 Litters
- 338 Breeders (5%) had 4 Litters
- 539 Breeders (8%) had 5 to 10 Litters
- Only 86 Breeders (1.3%) had more than 10 Litters
Litters by Prefix – (Over 10 year period)
To see why some States have such high percentage increase, it is worth looking at the spread of litter numbers by Prefix. As this is purely for statistics there is no benefit in using the Breeders Name instead will just use a Prefix Ref Number to clarify each individual Prefix.
Table : Major Prefixes per State.
|Active Prefixes||Prefix 1||Prefix 2||Prefix 3||Prefix 4||Prefix 5||Prefix 6||Balance of litters||Total Litters State|
State by State Summary
VIC : More than half of the litters have been produced by 4 Prefixes. This is disproportionate to the number of active Prefixes within the state. The most productive State Prefix has averaged nearly 6 litters per year followed by the 2nd and 3rd have 3-4 litters a year. From the 4th Prefix close to 3 litters per year, with the remaining breeders drop down to the National ANKC average of 1-2 litters per year.
NSW : An even spread of litters are showing over the 6 Major Prefixes which have produced less than half the numbers of litters over the time frame. The 6 breeders have produced 2-3 litters per year which has then falling into the ANKC national average.
QLD: Although there are a medium number of Active Prefixes within the State. It should be noted that one Prefix with a 44% litter production, is a disproportionate amount for the State. This Prefix has registered 8 litters per year which puts then into one of the highest brackets for ANKC National Statistics.
WA : One Prefix is again showing a disproportionate role however with 3 litters per year is still within mid range of ANKC Stats. Others have perhaps 1-2 litter – although now with other Prefixes starting to become more active within the State, this may change in the next 5-10 years.
SA : With a low number involved in breeding there is still one Prefix that stands out as having a high percentage but yet still remains at a little over the 3 litters per year.
TAS : Difficult to assess due to the limited number of Prefixes in the state. However it is worth noting that Prefix 1 has produced a proportionate number of litters to many major Prefixes on the mainland at having close to 3 litters per year.
Ethics of Breeding ?
There is often discussion as to what makes an ‘ethical’ breeder. Is it someone who shows? Involved with dog sport? Active in educational programs? Only breed a litter when they want to get a pup themselves? etc. etc..
As ANKC members it is accepted that we must aim to breed to the ANKC code of practice. The Code states:
Rule 20.1.11 “A member shall breed primarily for the purpose of improving the quality and / or working ability of the breed in accordance with the breed standard, and not specifically or predominantly for the pet or commercial market”
But this can be open to interpretation. What is “the pet or commercial market” – If we go back a few years this would mean selling thru pet shops or at markets. But regulations change and it has been illegal to sell pets at markets or garage sales or the side of the road for many years. Recently some States have banned the sale of puppies thru pet stores. The pet ‘market’ has changed perhaps we need to change with it?
The reality is that even for the most enthusiastic Show Breeder who aim to breed “the perfect dog”, must accepts that they will have 90-95% of their pups being sold to families as pets. Some of these families may even become more involved into the world of pedigree dogs as their interest evolves. Perhaps into dog sports, education programs or perhaps even be mentored into breeding. Regardless of their future potential, their initial motivation is to source a great pet.
Remember the ANKC ethic, The primary reason to breed is to improve quality and/or working ability… which perhaps we should also clarify that should include – to preserve the breed for the future.
Regardless to what activities a breeder is involved – as long as their objective is to try to improve the breed then HOW can anyone really pass judgement ?
We have already seen a downward trend in membership of the ANKC… and this will likely continue.
In 1995 our membership stood at 54,590 by 2001 membership had dropped to 42,749 – nearly 12,000 members had ‘left the building’. In 2017 our membership is now down to 32,872 which is a loss of 617 members a year, which might not sound like many, however consider if this continues then in 2027 we are likely to have less than 27,000 members and that is Australia Wide.
Government bodies look at numbers – they consider the population by voting power. The more our numbers slip the less power we have. Watch then how our breeds and breeders will be legislated out of existence.
Conclusions / Warning !
All breeds require diversity in their bloodlines to be able to continue to develop healthy dogs both mentally and physically, hence we need to keep learning and this means that breeding is trial and error. We need to ensure that we breed with a variety of dogs and bitches… not just those with the Champion on their certificate. This might mean we need to encourage families with quality ‘pet’ dogs to become involved in our breeding programs, thus build the diversity within the breeds.
Learning from our mistakes or rejoice when there is success is a constant motivation for all breeders, but regardless of our success or failures, we must share and encourage people for the future of the breed.
As breeders we must remember that pedigree dogs – of many different breeds – need to be out and about where they can be seen by the public. Otherwise in only 10-15 years from now we could be swimming in a pool of ‘oodles’ or worse yet with the way local council regulations are heading , we may not even have dogs to replace the existing family pets….