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By Kathy Hoyt Warren, originally
published in the Aussie Times Jan/Feb 1991
Copyright 2001 Australian Shepherd Club of America, Inc.
I have had many discussions on the subject-some supporting the article, some
upset by it, and some confused by the terminology used.
This is to clear up the terminology. In "Ringers" I used the terms "eye" and "loose-eyed". Loose-eyed and eye are general terms to describe the methods by which a dog controls stock.
In general terms an eye dog uses eye at all times, whereas a loose-eyed dog turns it off or it uses eye when power or extra control is needed and relaxes the use of the eye when it isn't needed. The use of eye is a major part of what makes the differences between the two dogs but it is not the only trait. That would be like saying the only difference between an Hereford cow and an Angus cow is color. Other traits that make the difference between eye and loose-eyed dogs are body position (upright and crouched), close or wide running, balance points, amount of wear and the tendency to side pass.
|Typical eye dog look.||Aussie using "eye."|
think that just because an Aussie uses eye that he is unusual or atypical. All
loose-eyed dogs use varying amounts of eye while controlling their stock. It is
very difficult to put on paper the differences between an eye dog and a
loose-eyed dog. And to make matters more difficult when describing traits within
a breed, �eye� and �loose-eyed� are also used. For example: Tag, a Border
Collie, is loose-eyed for his breed. Rip, an Aussie, has tense eye for her
breed. However, between the two dogs, there is no cross-over or comparison. One
is definitely a eye dog and one is definitely loose-eyed. The difference when
watching the two work is day and night.
Though the purpose of this article is to educate who were confused by the terminology, I would also like to point out that there is a need for loose-eyed dogs. The eventual loss of loose-eyed dogs, either through selective breeding or crossbreeding, for the sake of money or trialing wins, would be a serious loss to those of us who need them to those who would like to preserve the traits that make the Aussie specifically an Aussie. Breeds are breed specific for a reason. It makes a dog easily adapted to certain tasks that other breeds are unable to handle. The Aussie is a loose-eyed breed. An Aussie that uses eye at all times and has characteristics of an eye dog, such as the Border Collie, is atypical for the breed. Just as atypical as an Aussie that looks like a Saint Bernard.
The use of eye is a major part of what makes the differences between the two dogs, but it is not the only trait.
(Please read the article that preceded this one, published in the previous Aussie Times, called "Ringers" and the President's Response)