Last updated December 2018

A breed standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance including the correct colour of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed.

From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Breed Watch information related to this breed for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure. However, if a dog possesses a feature, characteristic or colour described as highly undesirable, it must not be rewarded in the show ring.

General appearance

Large and solid. Unexaggerated, powerful, muscular build, without heaviness.


Versatile, working/sheep herding dog.


Bold, fearless, intelligent.

Head and skull

In proportion to body. Skull flat or slightly rounded from side to side, slight furrow between eyes. Occiput well defined. Moderate stop set midway between tip of nose and occiput. Width of skull and depth of head slightly less than half length of head. In profile, top of strong muzzle appears parallel to top of skull. When viewed from side, narrow or snipy appearance undesirable.


Dark, oval, medium sized, with well-pigmented rims. Horizontally placed. For the Harlequin variety, wall eyes can occur.


Dropped, flat, not set close to head. Length equal to half that of head.


Teeth strong, full dentition. Jaws strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.


Muscular, blending smoothly into withers. Strong, to give proud head carriage.


Shoulder blade and upper arm approximately equal in length and with moderate angulation. Well-defined withers. Brisket reaching elbow. Chest wide and deep. Forelegs clean and muscular, medium bone and straight when seen from all angles.


Firm, level back. Ribs long and well sprung. Loin wide, very muscular. Slightly sloping croup which determines the set of the tail. Length of body from withers to set on of tail slightly longer than height at withers. Bitches may be slightly longer than dogs.


Moderately angulated stifle. Vertical from low set hock joint to foot. Well muscled. Seen from behind, legs parallel. Double dewclaws set close to foot.


Strong, round, tight, turning neither in nor out. Nails black, pads hard but supple.


Carried low and hanging straight, reaching to hock and with loose hook at end.


Effortless, supple and free, with good reach, to display strength and endurance in the extended trot.


Short on head. Short, rough, thick and coarse laying close to body. Approximately 3-4cm (1¼-1.5 ins) long. Slight breeching on rear of thigh and under tail. Undercoat short, fine, soft and dense, preferably light grey and not showing through topcoat.


Black and Tan: Markings rich and bright. Tan above eyes, on side of muzzle, narrowing on to cheeks but not reaching under ears. Two spots preferred on forechest rather than continuous band. Marked also on throat, under tail and on feet up to hock and pastern. Leg markings narrowing upwards on outside, but blending higher on inside. A few white hairs on chest permissible.

Harlequin: Grey and black patches evenly distributed over the body, black may predominate. Tan markings as in Black and Tan.


Dogs: 65-70 cms (25½-27½ ins); Bitches: 61-68 cms (24-27 ins).


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.


Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

*Note for prospective puppy buyers

Size – The Kennel Club breed standard is a guide and description of the ideal for the breed; the size as described does not imply that a dog will match the measurements given (height or weight). A dog might be larger or smaller than the size measurements stated in the breed standard.