The American Southern Shepherd (ASS) is a new designer breed of indigenous dog derived from crosses between Australian Shepherds, Huskies, Labrador, and Golden Retrievers. Both Australian Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers have had a history of significant genetic defects when they are purebred, especially if the line has been interbred too much, while Huskies and Goldens are virtually trouble free. Because of the findings in her research of many different breeds, she found that the Golden Retriever and the Husky breeds have no significant genetic defects, and so has included these breeds in her line of American Southern Shepherds. Because of her love for all of these breeds and a desire to outbreed some of the more troublesome purebred genetic difficulties, Kimberly Hartfield, from Hattiesburg, MS has begun to develop what she has called the American Southern Shepherd (ASS), a truly American Breed. The chance of these animals having many of the genetic problems associated with Labs such as Canine Hip Dysplasia, and Demodectic Mange, which is associated with Australian Shepherds, has been significantly decreased in this new line. American Southern Shepherds have kept much of the working dog instincts of the Australian Shepherd and Husky, and are able hunters and retrievers as well when trained properly. This new designer breed is also a great all around family dog and watch dog, having the friendly nature of the Husky and Golden.
The resulting breed of American Southern Shepherd has all the best qualities of their purebred ancestors, and is generally a medium to large size of Dog. Males will range in size from 19” to 25” and Females range in size from 18” to 24”. Males will weigh between 45-80 lbs and Females will weigh between 40-70 lbs. The coat is medium to long in length, usually with a fully feathered tail and hind quarters. They have a thick undercoat in the winter, but shed much of this in the summer. The color range of the American Southern Shepherd is shades of blonde, red, chocolate, black, red and blue merle, along with multi-color mixes such as is in the Husky Breed. Most colors will usually have some lighter shades of markings on the feet, chest, blaze, and tip of tail. Eye colors will vary along with the coloring of the coat but will generally range from blue, green, light brown, dark brown, or multicolored. The ears are set fairly high and fold down to the sides of the head. The tail remains naturally undocked, there being no valid reason for docking today other than visual aesthetics.
Kimberly decided to breed the American Southern Shepherds primarily for household pets and as human companions, and are generally great for families with children. American Southern Shepherds can make excellent working dogs, hunting dogs, and watch dogs, as well.
As their predecessors, the Aussies, Huskies, and Retrievers, they love to run and to swim so a minimum of two hours of brisk exercise is needed daily. These animals are compatible with traveling and camping when properly trained and restricted. They are generally family oriented and do well when allowed in the home. A good weekly to biweekly brushing (when they are shedding the undercoat) is recommended to keep the coat healthy looking. As with any dog, regular health care is necessary. Monthly worming, a series of puppy shots, and regular yearly boosters are recommended, along with dipping when needed are the primary considerations. Veterinary care and expenses for unexpected problems should also be considered, though the breed should be generally healthier than most purebreds. Purchase price for this breed starts at $200 and can be as much as $400 depending on the quality of the pup. Each puppy will be given a numbered certificate from ARK Pups Unlimited designating where in the original line the puppy came and from which litter, who the parents were and their general description. The first number designates the litter and the second number after the dash represents where in this line the puppy came from. Example (1-4 means 1st litter puppy # 4) Subsequent litters will look like this (3-24) and will signify 3rd litter, 24th puppy in the line. Any puppies bred should be at least separated by 1 litter and should be bred from a different parental heritage than the first puppy obtained in order to forestall any future genetic difficulties in this breed. Anyone intending to obtain a pair for breeding must register the new litters with ARK Pups Unlimited in order to keep the line in tact. As Mrs. Hartfield has several pairs of breeding animals this is not a problem, though a waiting period may be applicable to the circumstances. As stated, this breed is a new breed and is not yet recognized by any of the agencies that normally “paper” animals. With sufficient numbers, they will likely be recognized by these in the future.