MASCA Club Information


 

The Parent Club

The parent club for the Miniature Australian Shepherd, the Miniature Australian Shepherd Club of America (MASCA) was formed in 1996 by a dedicated group of enthusiasts in response to the need for a central organization running a straightforward registry and providing fair and consistent management of the Miniature Australian Shepherd. All members sign and abide by a rather strict Code of Ethics designed to protect the mini Aussie and ensure its continued genetic health and quality. The club invites all suggestions concerning the Miniature Australian Shepherd.

There were several objectives set by the founders of the MASCA:

  • To have a completely documented and clearly honest registry.
     
  • To sponsor and support shows and trials, providing the opportunity for fans to see the dogs and for Miniature Australian Shepherd owners to showcase their own dogs.
     
  • · To have a breed standard that accurately reflects the Miniature Australian Shepherd as a size variety of the Australian Shepherd.
     
  • To manage a fair process to educate judges regarding the breed standard.
     
  • To provide information to people interested in the Miniature Australian Shepherd.
     
  • To pursue further recognition when the variety becomes populous enough and when breeders have proven that they are breeding sound, consistently typey dogs of the correct temperament and instinct.

The first challenge was the establishment of a sound registry and registration process. MASCA uses a computer-based registry and supporting procedures. This allows the registrar to produce consistent and correct information for every registered dog. There can be no case where separate requests for information about the same dog result in different outputs. Because it was felt that every owner had the right to all information available about his or her dog, the MASCA registration certificate automatically includes a computer-generated four-generation pedigree. In this we are unique in the world of the Miniature Australian Shepherd.

Mini Aussie adult and puppy

Current Recognition

MASCA has recently started holding its own events, including conformation shows, instinct tests and Fun Days. In addition, the Miniature Australian Shepherd is recognized by the States Kennel Club, currently implementing an International Championship in addition to its Grand Championship program, as well as holding herding and obedience events. The International All Breed Canine Association of America, which also offers an International Championship program as well as an exclusive Bred By Exhibitor Best in Show competition recognizes the Miniature Australian Shepherd. The Canadian Rarities, the Eastern Rare Breed Dog Club, Rare Heirs, Rare Breed Club of Southwest Ontario, Canine Kennel Club and Yes We Can Dog Shows all welcome the Miniature Australian Shepherd and new show clubs and venues are being added regularly, as well as MASCA hosted events.

Mini Aussies participate in AKC Matches (MASCA points awarded when using the MASCA Winsheet Program) and Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) Stockdog Committee has included the Miniature Australian Shepherd as a herding breed. Mini Aussies also participate in ASCA obedience and agility competitions. The American Herding Breed Association (AHBA) invites the mini Aussie to enter herding trials and mini Aussies are welcome in flyball, Frisbee® and NADAC and USDAA agility.

Recognition Benefits

Wider recognition grants the Miniature Australian Shepherd greater exposure to the public and judges, more frequent opportunities to achieve Championships and International Championships, the chance to compete in herding, obedience and agility competitions, and finally, greater credibility and stability. Each individual rare breed club has a limited event schedule and most people are not in a position to travel extensively. Recognition with other clubs permits a far greater opportunity to "rub shoulders" with others in the dog world.

 

Member Services

In order to best serve our members and encourage the responsible development of the Miniature Australian Shepherd, MASCA developed a variety of services:

  • Microchip Database, helping to return lost Aussie's to their home.Database Info Page
     
  • Computerized, consistent and clear registration.
     
  • A semi-monthly newsletter, Herd the News, including articles covering diverse topics of interest to the mini Aussie enthusiast, like training, showing, choosing a puppy or even finding the appropriate sire for your litter, as well as breeder advertising.
     
  • Free internet advertising for Blue Ribbon Breeders.
     
  • Junior Showmanship and Altered Classes held at Miniature Australian Shepherd specialties.
     
  • Hall of Fame recognition.
     
  • Greater knowledge and research on the health of the Miniature Australian Shepherd:
     
    • Eye Database. In order to minimize eye defects (see "Health - Eye Disorders"), MASCA strongly encourages, and may soon require, that all breeding stock be certified by a canine ophthalmologist before breeding, and that all puppies be cleared prior to registration. Litter registration fees are reduced for puppies from certified stock.
       
      Hip Database. Congenital Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) has been verified in certain lines of the Miniature Australian Shepherd. (see "Health - Orthopedic Disorders"). MASCA strongly recommends that all breeding stock be radiographed (x-rayed) and the results submitted to a recognized canine orthopedic organization for certification prior to breeding. Litter registration fees are reduced for puppies from certified stock.
       
      DNA Verification. MASCA recommends that every litter be DNA typed and recorded with MASCA. Not only does this enable MASCA to verify parentage in breeding disputes, but the database will be vital once genetic disease markers are identified.
       
  • Pedigree research, including a database to assist pet owners and breeders in the research and verification of non-MASCA Miniature Australian Shepherd pedigrees.
     
  • Miniature Australian Shepherd breeding advice.
     
  • Blue Ribbon Breeders program, providing registration and advertising discounts for breeders who certify eyes and hips on breeding stock, as well as "puppy & breeder packets".
     
  • Local canine ophthalmologist and radiograph (x-ray) specialist references.
     
  • Up-to-date show listings of clubs recognizing the Miniature Australian Shepherd.
     
  • Sample puppy (pet and show) and stud contracts
     
  • MASCA is researching a volunteer program cooperating with Dogs for the Deaf, as the mini Aussie has been identified as an ideal dog for service for the hearing impaired. Please contact MASCA for more information.
     
  • A place to meet and correspond with other mini Aussie enthusiasts.

Becoming a Member

You can either download a membership application, email MASCA at MASCA@mascaonline.org or contact the MASCA Registrar for an application at:

MASCA
PO Box 1692
Winter Park, Fl. 32790-1692

Why MASCA Should Pursue Further Recognition

The Miniature Australian Shepherd has not been granted its deserved status as a unique size variety of Australian Shepherd in the United States. It is regarded as just one more dog relegated to the ranks of non-AKC. Unfortunately, this implies that it is no more significant or legitimate than any mixed-bred canine. The only way the Miniature Australian Shepherd can achieve its proper status in this country and in the rest of the world is through recognition by ASCA and the AKC. Below are some of the reasons MASCA should work with these clubs toward this goal.

For Trained and Qualified Judges

People complain that AKC judges sometimes do an unsatisfactory job of judging mini Aussies at rare breed shows. But instead of blaming this on the fact that the judge is affiliated with the AKC, one must realize that this is often because the rare breed show organizers cannot secure a judge trained in our specific breed, and they can no longer bring in FCI judges who might otherwise be knowledgeable about the breed as the FCI has now ruled that FCI judges only judge at shows in the USA sanctioned by the AKC.

The AKC judge volunteering at a rare breed show in the United States is often given a binder of 400+ standards, usually with no photographs or illustrations. The judge is expected to read and learn all of these. And while the judge may be recognized in the AKC world as an expert in toys, or hounds, or terriers, the same judge is expected to "know" and to judge all breeds in virtually all groups during a typical weekend of four rare breed shows.

Is it any surprise if a judge doesn't understand the finer nuances of a single breed’s conformation?

If we were under ASCA and the AKC, we could have knowledgeable AKC, FCI and ASCA judges. Furthermore, under ASCA or the AKC the Mini Aussie would be judged only by trained herding breed judges -- not by toy, terrier, hound, or sporting judges. MASCA will be able to attend judges workshops and bring dogs to educate and train these AKC judges.

At rare breed shows in this country there is no assurance that most judges can or will be properly trained. Only with further recognition can we consistently have trained judges, ASCA, AKC or FCI, necessary for the proper assessment of our breed.

To Access More Shows and Trials Across the United States

The reasons for showing are:

  1. to make sure our dogs are adhering to the standard,
  2. to show off with pride something accomplished, and
  3. to engage in camaraderie with others of the same interests.

As long as we're relegated to the ranks of a rare breed, many Miniature Australian Shepherd owners will not have access to shows and will not be able to enjoy the recreation of the sport as they deserve.

For a Standard, Honest Registry Available to Everyone and Every Dog

A rare breed registry is subject to the whims of those running the club and the integrity of the individual doing the paperwork. The AKC is an objective, unbiased, international organization that runs a fair and business-like registry. It won't disappear as we all have seen can happen in the rare breed club world. If you follow the rules, you get your accurate paperwork quickly, and at bargain prices. Period. End of story.

To Prevent An Even Bigger Surge in Popularity

Yes, a surge in popularity will result in people "jumping on the bandwagon" to make money and they will breed unsound, non-typey dogs. Opponents of the movement toward further recognition often use this as their reason for opposition. And they use as "evidence" documented problems experienced in breeds such as the Cocker Spaniel, the Rottweiler and the Chinese Shar-Pei: all AKC breeds.

Fact: From the late 1940’s until the early 1960’s the Cocker Spaniel breed increased in numbers at an alarming rate. For over 20 years, the Cocker Spaniel was the most popular AKC breed. There were enormous problems in type, soundness and temperament. But the Cocker Spaniel had been AKC for over 60 years before this happened. The cause of the problem was not that the Cocker Spaniel was an AKC breed, but due to the sudden surge caused when a Cocker Spaniel appeared on the cover of Life magazine celebrating his second successive BIS win at Westminster. The breed captivated public, and was recognized as an extremely appealing and sweet, gentle, family dog, exactly suitable to the post-war economy and mentality.

Fact: In the 1970's Rottweiler breeding increased in numbers at an alarming rate. There were many problems in type, soundness, and temperament. But the Rottweiler has been AKC for over 30 years before this happened. The cause of the problem was not due to the breed being AKC recognized, but because a group of Rottweilers appeared in a popular movie. The breed caught the public fancy and was seen as a strong, agile dog that could be both a guard dog and a family companion -- extremely appealing in a society beginning to be concerned about increasingly violence.

Fact: The Chinese Shar-Pei grew from 7 to over 20,000 dogs in less than 10 years. There were huge problems in soundness and temperament. The Cause: a marvelous marketing appeal to the American public to "save the rarest breed in the world". The Shar-Pei caught the public fancy as a small, adorably wrinkled puppy which grew to an average-sized family dog that was attractive because it was unusual. All of this happened before AKC recognition. After AKC recognition, the numbers began to decline, as the opportunity for a quick buck vanished, and the breed finally began to recover.

Fact: The Jack Russell Terrier has recently experienced an alarming boom in popularity, resulting in an exponential increase of unsound, non-typey dogs with poor temperaments flooding neighborhood households and shelters throughout the US. Hardly a pet store can be passed without spying a litter of Jack Russells in the window. Is this surprising, considering the Jack Russell Terrier was NOT yet an AKC recognized breed? Instead, the Jack Russell has the media to thank for its popularity, appearing in a popular children’s show and in a long list of blockbuster movies and sitcoms. And yet the Jack Russell Terrier was accepted by the AKC only AFTER his popularity had begun to subside somewhat.

Fact: If AKC recognition truly results in an automatic surge in popularity in a breed, we should be able to name the last ten breeds recognized by the AKC because those would be the ones you would be seeing in pet stores, and would be seeing advertised. Can you name the last ten breeds recognized by the AKC?

Fact: It is only with the support of a central registry, and a central information organization, and a central recognized standard that a breed can recover from the problems caused by an increase in popularity, by ignorance and carelessness and by overbreeding.

Fact: The Miniature Australian Shepherd is not AKC recognized and interest is already exploding.

Some will say that the push toward AKC recognition is because "breeders" want to make more money.

Fact: As long as the mini Aussie has the appeal of a "rare breed" it will be attractive to those only out for a dollar. In fact, further recognition will likely result in a stabilization of prices. The worst of those motivated principally by money go away when a breed is under the protection of AKC's regulations and they can no longer make up their own rules.

To Protect the Breed From the Unscrupulous

The AKC and ASCA have an aggressive and growing program of surprise, on-site inspections of premises and paperwork of anyone who registers more than 5 litters a year. If you do not meet strict criteria for housing or record-keeping, you can instantly be banned from the AKC, be reported to the local authorities or worse. No individual club can provide that policing alone! The AKC is now starting to provide free DNA screening during on-site visits: a boon for the honest breeder, a bane for the disreputable. In addition, even if an individual club does ban a breeder or owner, that breeder or owner simply transfers to another of the numerous registries available to him or her.

To Have a Single Standard, Correctly Reflecting the Australian Shepherd Standard, Against Which All Miniature Australian Shepherds Will Be Measured

As long as there are multiple club-run registries, each club and each organization will write its own standard. Breeders whose dogs may not measure up to one standard can always claim to be breeding according to a "different" standard. As long as this is true, there will be no true consistency to Aussie type and temperament.

If we were ASCA or AKC recognized, that standard would be recognized as the legitimate standard in this country against which to measure Miniature Australian Shepherds. Breeders across the country would be striving toward the same goals.

© 1997 - 2001 The Miniature Australian Shepherd Club of America, Inc.