Each breed of dogs has some standard qualities that make them unique from the other members of the dog family. For Australian Shepherd dogs, breed standards limit the amount of white markings that Aussies are supposed to have. The excess white markings on Australian Shepherd dogs are called mismarks or overmarking. A mismarked Aussie has these white markings which are considered outside of their breed’s boundaries. This is a result of piebald spotting genes from the parents and their offsprings inherit the unacceptable markings.
The American Kennel Club sets specific standards for Australian Shepherd dog’s white markings. They say the head of this breed of dogs shouldn’t have a predominantly white color. Their eyes should be pigmented and fully surrounded by color. White is only limited to certain parts of their bodies such as blaze on head, muzzle underparts, neck, chest, and legs. They disqualify dogs with white body splashes or those having white color on their sides between their elbows and back hindquarters and between withers and tail. Meanwhile, the Australian Shepherd Club of America says that the areas around the Aussie’s eyes and ears should have dominant non-white colors. As for their collars, the white color should only reach their withers and those with white body splashes are disqualified. In general, as long as Aussies still have color in their eyes, ears, and saddle and the rest of their bodies are colored white, their markings are still within the Aussie breed’s boundaries.
What’s with the colors, you might ask. These standards were not set just to produce a preferred look for Australian Shepherd dogs. They are actually related to their health. They say that some Aussies with more than the allowed white color on their bodies may indicate health concerns regarding their eyesight and hearing. Through the years, they’ve observed that Aussies with excess white markings most of the time exhibit these significant defects in their vision, eye defects, and deafness ranging from mild to severe. However, take note that not all mismarked Aussies are either deaf or blind. It is best to take them to the eye and ear specialists to have them checked so that you know the condition of their health.