CATTLE DOG AUSTRALIAN
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PUREBRED DOGS A Guide to Today's Top
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AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG from the AKC Complete Dog Book
W hen the great grazing lands of Australia opened to settlers dur- ing the 1800s, necessity com- pelled ranchers to create a dog that could withstand the harsh conditions, work quietly, and have the ability to face free-roaming, stubborn cattle. Highland Collies were crossed to native Dingos, with a dash of Dalmatian and Kelpie, to aid in the development of the highly intelligent and biddable working dog that we so treasure today. The work of Robert Kaleski in formulating the first breed stan- dard in 1902 is of enormous importance. Early accounts credit American servicemen stationed in Aus- tralia for bringing the Australian Cattle Dog (ACD) home with them after World War II. The genesis breeders in America acquired their stock from top Australian kennels and, thankfully, preserved the breed’s uniformity, intelligence, and trainability. In September 1980, the ACD joined the Working Group to become the 126th AKC recognized breed. In January 1983, they became part of the newly formed Herding Group. The early development of the ACD prioritized its successful function as a working partner. Never assume that today’s ACDs are less capable than their brave ancestors. Every part of an ACD rep- resents strength, resistance to injury, and common sense construc- tion. Capable of independent thinking, the ACD prefers an owner who appreciates its devotion to family and property. They require a gentle and fair leader who has the time to form and maintain a strong relationship. If you are thinking about living with a Cattle Dog, you must first consider what you will be doing with your Cattle Dog. The people [who are] happiest living with ACDs are active in mind and body. Whether it’s being a co-conspirator on a trail ride, mov- ing sheep, rounding up those bovine bunch quitters, training for a fun run, flyball, obedience or herding trials, SAR or tracking, the answer is always, “YES, please. We will do our best!” This highly inquisitive and resourceful dog needs physical and mental stimu- lation to be healthy and to avoid demanding behaviors. Owners should be ready to spend significant time with their dog whether in direct activity or as a trusted companion. You are or will become “dog people.”
BY GAYE LYNN GRANT
When selecting a puppy, a wise owner should rely on com- petent breeders for help in matching temperaments and abilities. The forward-thinking breeders of today will present puppies from thoroughly health-tested parents with a lifetime commitment to the new owners and the puppy. Health testing of breeding stock should include OFA or Penn Hip x-rays (hip dysplasia), elbow x-rays (elbow dysplasia), BAER (hearing), and PRAd markers (blindness). Familiarize yourself with the breed standard and spend the time to meet the parents from which your puppy arises. Early socialization is a must and obedience training makes communica- tion easier. A quick and willing mind makes training an ACD a pleasure. Do not take a puppy that you are too busy to enjoy. Basic care is a delight. The all-weather coat has no odor or oily residue. It is smooth, consisting of a double coat with a short, dense undercoat. The undercoat is shed biannually, and weekly brushing is required. Bathing and toenail care are influenced by activity. The breed standard allows for two colors; red or blue. The mark- ings on a blue coat are black, blue or tan. The red coat should be evenly colored and can have red head markings. Any dilute colors such as chocolate or slate are not purebred stock. ACDs participate, successfully, in all canine events offered through the AKC. The Australian Cattle Dog Club of America is an active group of enthusiasts who show and compete in Agil- ity, Conformation, Obedience, Rally Obedience, Scent Work, Fast Cat, Dock Diving, and Herding, with a National Specialty held every Fall. The Australian Cattle Dog is a dog built for maximum exercise tolerance. They have great integrity and an unshakable devotion to their people. These two factors, paired with a highly developed intelligence, makes them a poor choice for owners with little time or low expectations. But if you wish for a best friend, a wise guard- ian, and a winning performance partner, this may be your dog.
Gaye Lynn Grant ACDCA Past President ABOUT THE AUTHOR
North Central Regional Director Littleflock Australian Cattle Dogs AKC Judge #100927
198 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, SPRING EDITION
LIVING WITH Australian Cattle Dogs
BY GAYE LYNN GRANT
Aren’t they “hard” dogs? Don’t they require a lot of exercise? Stubborn? I hear they are stubborn. If they’re so smart, why don’t you see more in Obedience? They’re nippers, right? Is that a red/blue heeler? My Grandfather had one and said...
Q uestions? These are some of the most commonly asked questions of owners and breeders of Australian Cattle Dogs. Do you have your own questions about the breed? The dogs that you meet briefly may seem one dimensional, but to their people they are complex, fascinating, and totally unique. So, let’s talk about those questions. “Hard” dogs? Well, that depends on several factors. ACDs are highly intelligent dogs and do best with owners who are at least as smart and creative as themselves. They need a partner who is willing to be the leader, with enough time to nurture and sustain their relationship. “Hard” to care for? Absolutely not! Their beautiful double coat is odor free and water-resistant. Shedding is typically a bi-annual event. “Hard” to train? Not at all! From their beginnings in the Australian out- back, the ACDwas developed to be a partner, working side-by-side with ranch- ers and stockmen. A well-trained dog replaced two men on horseback. The conditions were extreme, with danger everywhere. It is the ACD’s strength of character, balanced structure, unshakable confidence, and willingness to take on the day that made them invaluable then—and still today. The ACD that enters a show ring should exude these same qualities of integrity and sound- ness. If the dog presented has straight stifles, flat feet, and loaded shoulders, it is not a proper example of a hard-working Australian Cattle Dog. Stubborn? No, they are not! However, they do believe there are stupid questions and they do not suffer fools easily. They need an owner with a plan, TIME, follow-through, and one who wants to be a “dog person.” To quote a famous recruitment poster, “Be All You Can Be” aptly describes the best ACD owner. Whether you are doing Obedience from a wheelchair or train- ing for an Iron Man race, your ACD will be there for you. So why aren’t there more ACDs in Obedience? I think it has more to do with the people who own them than it does with the breed’s aptitude. Obedi- ence is just one stop on the ever-expanding list of opportunities, activities, and titles their dogs lead them to try and succeed in. “Nippers”? Let’s address the style of herding that ACDs use to do their job. ACDs are capable of moving stock by applying a quick grip, usually to the heels of the offending livestock. They are adept at rating their response to the required movement. Wild stock may need a firm biter, whereas a lamb will only need the dog’s presence for direction. They also have a wide range of vocal abilities, including snapping, clacking, and barking. How does this apply at home? Normal barking is to be expected. Silly noises and a surprising variety of sounds are courtesy of their dingo heritage. Herding children? This is a rarity because ACDs understand pack order, and human children are always seen as higher-ranked.
“Is that a red/blue heeler?” Ah, that question really makes me cringe. We officially became the Australian Cattle Dog in 1980. Isn’t that enough time to erase that deceptive moniker? As far as color, AKC and all interna- tional kennel clubs only recognize two colors: Red and Blue. Red is defined in the standard as Red Speckled with allowable, darker red markings. Blue is divided by three separate descriptions: Blue, Blue Mottled, or Blue Speckled with or without other markings. The permis- sible markings are black, blue or tan on the head, the forelegs tan midway up the legs and extending up the front to the breast and throat with tan on the jaw. At no time should the tan appear on the body of the dog. The undercoat should never be cream or white. The nose is always black. My wish is that more questions were asked about preventative health testing and nutrition. The commit- ted members of the ACDCA are advocates of sound genetic testing, transparent reporting, and appropriate x-ray screenings. Where are your questions? Most ACDs today live with families as diverse as you can imagine. However, these families all share on thing in common; they like to be active. Whether their ACDs function as ranch dogs, running partners, show and trial dogs or just babysitters, they all put their heart into the lives of their people. The ACD is extremely adapt- able. Loneliness and boredom are their only enemies. Devotion to the stock person and the family, flocks, and property are what they do best. I really can’t imagine a more delightful compan- ion than an Australian Cattle Dog. They love uncon- ditionally, and they inspire and uplift my life. They have opened my world to great friendships and dreams I never dared to dream. They think deep thoughts, and they forgive and pardon mistakes. They are funny and silly with no self-consciousness, and they are so smart. I am truly grateful to share my life with them. Any questions?
Gaye Lynn Grant ACDCA Past President ABOUT THE AUTHOR
North Central Regional Director Littleflock Australian Cattle Dogs AKC Judge #100927
200 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, SPRING EDITION
History courtesy of ACD CLUB OF AMERICA AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG A ustralians owe a great debt to all the persons involved in the development of the Australian Cattle Dog, for without it the beef industry of Australia would undoubtedly have had great difficulty in developing dogs had black patches around the eyes, with black ears and brown eyes, with a small white patch in the middle of the forehead. The body was dark blue, evenly speckled with a lighter blue, having the same tan markings on legs, chest, and head as the Black and Tan Kelpie. The red dogs had dark red markings instead of black, with an all-over even red speckle.
into the important industry that it has become. In the year 1840, George Elliott, in Queensland, was experi- menting with Dingo-blue merle Collie crosses. Elliott’s dogs pro- duced some excellent workers. Cattle men were impressed with the working ability of these dogs, and purchased pups from them as they became available. Two brothers, Jack and Harry Bagust, of Canterbury in Sydney, purchased some of these dogs and set about improving on them. Their first step was to cross a bitch with a fine imported Dalmatian dog. This cross changed the merle to red or blue speckle. The Bagusts’ purpose in this cross was to instill the love of horses and faithfulness to master into their dogs. These characteristics were obtained and made these Bagust dogs useful for minding the drover’s horse and gear, but some of the working ability was lost. Admiring the working ability of the Black and Tan Kelpie, which is a sheepdog, the Bagusts experimented in crossing them with their speckle dogs. The result was a compact active dog, identical in type and build to the Dingo, only thicker set and with peculiar markings found on no other dog in the world. The blue
Only the pups closest to the ideal were kept, and these became the forebears of the present-day Australian Cattle Dog. The work- ing ability of the Bagusts’ dogs was outstanding, retaining the quiet heeling ability and stamina of the Dingo with the faithful protectiveness of the Dalmatian. As the word spread of the abil- ity of these dogs to work cattle, they became keenly sought after by property owners and drovers. The blue-colored dogs proved to be more popular, and became known as Blue Heelers. These cattle dogs became indispensable to the owners of the huge cattle runs in Queensland, where they were given the name tag of Queensland Heelers or Queensland Blue Heelers. After the Black and Tan Kelpie cross, no other infusion of breeds was practiced with any success. The breeders of the day concentrat- ed on breeding for working ability, type, and color. In 1893 Robert Kaleski took up breeding the Blue Heelers, and started showing them in 1897. Mr. Kaleski drew up his standard for the Cattle Dog and also for the Kelpie and Barb in 1902. He based the Cattle Dog standard around the Dingo type, believing that this was the type naturally evolved to suit the conditions of this country. Even today the resem- blance to the Dingo is evident, except for the color of the blues and the speckle in the reds. After much opposition from careless breeders, Kaleski finally had his standard endorsed by them and all the leading breeders of the time. He then submitted his standard to the Cattle and Sheep Dog Club of Australia, and the original Ken- nel Club of New South Wales for their approval. The standard was approved in 1903. The breed became known as the Australian Heeler, then lat- er the Australian Cattle Dog, which is now accepted through- out Australia as the official name for this breed. However, even today, some people can be heard calling them Blue Heelers or Queensland Heelers. After a period as a Miscellaneous breed, the Australian Cattle Dog was accepted for registration by the American Kennel Club as of May 1, 1980, and became eligible to be shown in the Working Group as of September 1, 1980. It was transferred to the Herding Group when that was formed, effective January 1, 1983.
“The blue-colored dogs proved to be more popular, AND BECAME KNOWN AS BLUE HEELERS.”
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AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG
1. Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs? 2. How many years in the ACD? Showing? Judging? Breeding? 3. What, in your opinion, is the secret to a successful breeding program? 4. What do you feel is the condition of the the ACD breed today? Pros and Cons? 5. What do you feel breeders need to concentrate on to improve the quality of the ACD? 6. How do you keep up with a dog this smart and active? 7. Is the ACD an easy whelper or do you encounter any special problems? 8. What is your favorite dog show memory? 9. Is there anything else you’ d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. PATTI SALLADAY
Marketing and Sales director. In addition I am a Certified Small ani- mal Nutritionist and Certified Canine Fitness Instructor spending time teaching classes and giving seminars in training canine fitness and nutrition. I have been involved with the Australian Cattle dog for 40+ years—36 of which are with AKC. I breed on a limited basis and have been active in Conformation, education and other dog sport. I have had the honor of judging Sweepstakes at the ACDCA National Specialty and several Regional Specialties. I currently work for a pet food company, so I cannot apply for my judges license but as soon as I retire, I plan on applying. The secret to a successful breeding program is patience, perse- verance and hard work. 40+ years and I am still working at improv- ing my breeding program. The current condition of the breed: I feel the type is level, front assembly are a bit shaky and lacking—which in turn affects move- ment, neck, head carriage and topline. This is a working dog and should have effortless movement, covering the most amount of ground with the least amount of effort. I feel breeders need to concentrate on quality—not quantity. Be selective and honest with your litter evaluation. Not all puppies are show quality. It’s tough to live with dogs that are smarter than you and con- tinually challenge your creative ability to keep them busy. We live in suburban, Oregon so we get by working out on with Fit paws routines and playing ball. Is the ACD an easy whelper? I have not encountered any whelp- ing issues, but health and fitness of a bitch in whelp is crucial. My favorite dog show memory: I have so many. I have enjoyed my dogs so much over the years but watching new owners and pup- pies that you have produced achieve titles and accomplishments is the best! The Australian Cattle Dog is an incredibly smart, loyal, chal- lenging breed. If you are interested in getting an ACD, do your research—meet several breeders, go to dog shows and get the educa- tion before you buy. Check with the Australian Cattle dog Club of America for breeder referral and education opportunities available. LYNDAWHITE I got my first Austra-
Patti has loved and lived with cattle dogs since 1975 beginning with National Stock Dogs and Joining AKC in 1980. She is a member of the Austra- lian Cattle Dog Club of America, current Chair- man of the ACDCA Stan- dard and Judges Education committee, member of the Cascade Australian Cattle Dog Club, a Code of Eth- ics breeder, Dog Fanciers of Oregon and are recog- nized as a Breeder of Merit with the American Kennel
Club. She is active in AKC conformation shows and working and have fun in other dog sports. Currently (2018)—I am breeder of three of our Top 20 ACD’s and are loved and owned by two of them. Catchpen is also proud to be breeder of ACDCA National Specialty—2018 Grand Sweepstakes and breeder of the winner of this year’s prestigious award—High In Trial Cattle. Along with her love for the Australian Cattle Dog, nutrition, health and fitness is a vital part to having great dogs. Patti is a Cer- tified Canine Nutritionist and Certified Canine Fitness Instructor. Along with working for Northwest Naturals, she has FITPAWS classes in her studio located in Vancouver, Washington hosting classes for puppies to senior from show dogs, competition dogs and family pets. Dogs love to learn, and especially those that compete in any type of sport are athletes and should be treated accordingly. Proper nutrition and exercise are vital for any canine athlete to keep them sound in Mind, Body and Spirit. My husband Michael and I currently reside with three ACD’s and one naughty Pug! I live in Portland, Oregon. Outside of showing dogs, I work for Northwest Naturals, a Raw Pet Food Company as the
lian Cattle Dog in 1987, a bitch that I showed to her championship. I have had two national spe- cialty winners, as well as a national herding high in trial. I am a founding member of the Austra- lian Cattle Dog Club of Greater Los Angeles and a member of the Austra- lian Cattle Dog Club of America for over 30 years. I live in a small town below Kings Canyon
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Australian Cattle Dog Q& A
“I love this breed. It is not necessarily for everyone. THEY ARE SMART AND FUNNY AND OFTEN A HANDFUL. AT TIMES THEY ARE ALMOST FERAL IN THEIR BEHAVIORS. I think it goes back to their Dingo roots. They really are a fascinating breed with a rich history going back to the 1800s.”
National Park called Dunlap in California. I am a registered nurse working mostly in the critical care and emergency room areas. I got my first ACD show dog in 1987 and have been showing and occasionally breeding ever since. I have shown in obedience and herding in the past. I mostly show in conformation now. The secret to a successful breeding program: I think objectivity is very important. As a breeder you need to take a really honest look at your dogs. See what needs improvement and pick a stud dog or brood bitch that will help to improve this. I think an open mind is of the utmost importance. The current condition of the breed: I think one of the pros we have in our breed is that we pretty much see the same dog in the herding arena and in the conformation ring. We have several dual champions and that makes me proud. I think we need to remember what these dogs were bred to do. Structure is of utmost importance. Proper shoulder and rear struc- ture are a huge consideration. I have been seeing a lot of flat feet lately. I used to shoe horses for a living and we had a saying, no hoof no horse. This can be said for the Cattle dog as well. They need to cover a lot of rough ground in their daily work. Their feet need to be able to hold up or you have no dog. These dogs need a purpose, as most herding dogs do. It doesn’t necessarily need to be herding, but something to keep their minds active. I do have livestock and let them herd on occasion. I also have a large piece of property that they get to explore. They are definitely thinkers and need to be able to work their brains. Agility is a good outlet. I have also seen several cattle dogs trying barn hunts and scent work lately. Anything that keeps them thinking is good. Is the ACD an easy whelper? In my experience, they are easy whelpers. I have not had any problems. They are excellent and attentive mothers. Very protective. Honestly my favorite memories from showing dogs over the last 30 plus years are of spending time with friends I have made along the way. I have met and become friends with some of the most incredible people. When we get together and laugh, and have a great meal, those are the best. I love this breed. It is not necessarily for everyone. They are smart and funny and often a handful. At times they are almost feral in their behaviors. I think it goes back to their Dingo roots. They really are a fascinating breed with a rich history going back to the 1800s. LAURIE YOUMANS Tehachapi California is where I live. I have been breeding and showing Australian cattle dog since 1980 when they were recog- nized by AKC.
When I was a child we had a Queensland healer and it was the best dog we ever had. So when recognized by AKC my mother, Marty Youmans- Griffith, said we would breed them. We started off with a great dog because of my mom’s knowledge of structure. That was Dawn Heir’s Blu Bron- co. He was also a Best in Show winning Aus- tralian Cattle Dog.
I was a dog handler for 15 years through the 80s. In 1991 I left dog showing for a while to pursue a career with the Pasadena fire department. After a 21 year career I’ve retired and gone back to the show ring campaigning my cattle dog Wyatt. He has been the number #1 ACD for 2016, 2017 and 2018. He retired with a win at Westminster 2019. My favorite dog show memory would probably be Wyatt win- ning the 2017 ACDCA National under breeder judge Kathy Ham- ilton. I was most proud for my mother Marty! Her true dedication to the breed after guiding our 38 years of line breeding. All of the hard work and sacrifices have paid off. I think the secret to a successful breeding program is breed to the standard. Breed to correct dogs. Don’t just breed to your friend’s dog. The condition of the breed today: I believe there are plenty of correct dogs out being shown. I think we need to work on tem- peraments also not having so many varieties. I mean different looks. These things changes with education. Which I must say social media is a great tool for that. I believe education is why our breed is getting better every day. I think breeders need to concentrate correct angles and move- ment. Before breeding breeders need to be knowledgeable on struc- ture. Don’t just breed to the local dog because it’s easy or to your friend’s dog. How do I keep up with this breed? They’re definitely very smart and they need to be stimulated; it’s best if you give them a job. I found that the Australian cattle dog is an easy whelper. I find them fantastic mothers; usually they do everything themselves.
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JUDGING THE AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG
by KATHRYN HAMILTON
T he first sentence of the excel- lent breed standard speaks volumes: The general appear- ance is that of a strong com- pact, symmetrically built working dog, with the ability and willingness to carry out his allotted task however arduous. There is no mystery in judging this breed as there is no feature of the Cattle Dog that is over emphasized nor over exaggerated and if ever there was a dog’s dog, the Cattle Dog is that dog. First and foremost, he is a working dog, a true stock hand, and a great asset to his owner as he has no peer in his abil- ity when called upon to control cattle. This should be the primary mental pic- ture you have in mind when judging the Cattle Dog. He must appear strong enough, athletic enough, fast enough and brave enough to work cattle. He must have strength in his head and
teeth, well laid back shoulders that allow him to dive for heels and duck from kicks, a low, well placed tail to help steer him, low hocks and strong hind quarters that allow him to spin and sprint, strong arched feet and strong legs to carry him unrelenting miles and an overall strength of body to endure the well placed kick when the cow makes contact with his body and strength of character to get back to work after he is kicked. He is an athlete, a cunning thinker, and able to reason in a way that can at times be madden- ing, making him the best at his job. He is serious when it comes to his work, and protective of anything he lays claim to that he deems as his own. He will show his funny, silly side whenever it suits him. Most everything will be on his terms. This is a breed that can be knocked cold by a kick, come to, shake
it off, teach the offending cow who is really the boss, and earn a qualifying trial score. I’ve seen it happen. When judging the Cattle Dog, approach him with complete confi- dence and be quick about your work. Allow your hands to confirm what your eyes have seen and be done with it. He will tolerate your exam, but it isn’t likely he’ll try to become your friend. A temperament foreign to a working dog must be regarded as a serious fault. His head shows overall strength in both breath and depth, keeping in proportion with his body. His skull is only slightly curved, he has a slight but definite stop and he is well filled in under his eyes. He has a strong, deep well developed under jaw. Be confident in checking his bite, and be aware that missing pre- molars will sometimes occur. Teeth should be a scissors bite, evenly spaced, sound and strong. Because he uses his teeth in heeling and biting they are very important. Show dogs are often worked and as a result you may find broken or damaged teeth. These should be regard- ed as honorable scars and should not be faulted. He has medium sized, brown, oval eyes and a prized characteristic suspicious glint. That glint is difficult to describe, but unmistakable when you see it. When you get “the look” you’ll know it. Atop his strong head are mod- erately sized, pricked, muscular ears, that incline outwards. His ears will tell you what he is thinking so pay particu- lar attention to them. His body is strong, enabling the con- stant need for quick twists and turns and for the long haul in wide open spaces. This dog can work in close quarters as easily as on the open range. He is given much credit in opening the outback of Australia, with its hostile conditions, as he is tough enough to
“FIRST AND FOREMOST, HE IS A WORKING DOG, A TRUE STOCK HAND, AND A GREAT ASSET TO HIS OWNER AS HE HAS NO PEER IN HIS ABILITY WHEN CALLED UPON TO CONTROL CATTLE.”
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take not only the punishment that can be dished out by rouge cattle but also the punishment of the elements. Think of him trailing cattle for miles on end with the need now and then to bolt off to collect a stray, when evaluating his body and running gear. Any tendency to grossness or weediness is a serious fault as either of these deviations will take away from his ability to perform his job. His topline is level and strong and his body is short coupled with well sprung ribs and a deep, muscular chest with a ratio of length to height as 10 is to 9. His legs, front and rear, have round bone, should be parallel, straight and strong. In the front he has a slight angle in his flexible pasterns and in the rear he is powerful with long thighs and well turned stifles, with hocks well let down. Feet are round, strong well arched with hard deep pads that must carry the load every step of the way. His moderately low set tail comes off a rather long croup and reaches approxi- mately to the hock. At rest it will hang in a slight curve, but will raise during movement or excitement but at no time should it be carried past a vertical line. Posturing dogs will hold their tails out to impress their rivals, but even then a correct set on will be clearly evident. Soundness in motion is paramount. For such a powerfully built dog, his gait is free, supple and tireless. He looks like he can go forever, because he prac- tically can. When trotting the feet tend to converge at ground level. Many faults from the standard appear in the Gait/ Movement portion and will be assessed on the move, with stiltiness, loaded or slack shoulders, straight shoulder place- ment, weakness at elbows, pasterns or feet, straight stifles, or cow or bow hocks that must be regarded as serious faults. If his movement is hampered, his ability to work is hampered and no matter how good he looks standing, his value comes when he is moving to control cattle. In my experience, the one ques- tion that is most commonly touched on by judges is that of color. This may be because the color is somewhat novel to Cattle Dogs. There is no preference in color and both red and blue are to be judged equally. A good blue dog is every bit as prized as a good red dog. Blue is a distribution of black or blue hairs and white hairs while reds are, well red, with white hairs. Blue dogs have tan markings that are distributed the same as can be seen on many black and tan dogs, i.e. Dobermans, Dachshunds, etc., while red dogs do not have tan mark- ings. Blue can range from a very light silver to a dark blue but at no time should there be an absence of white
“FOR THOSE THAT ARE AS LOYAL TO HIM AS HE IS TO US, HE IS AN IDEAL DOG.”
hairs making the dog appear black. The same is true in red dogs, that they must not appear solid red from an absence of white hairs. While both of these are rarely seen, they do occur and should be penalized in proportion to their degree. The standard does differ between the two colors in other ways. “Blue may be blue, blue speckled or blue mottled.” Mottle is described by Spira in “Canine Terminology” as “Basically a bi-colored pattern consisting of dark, roundish blotches superimposed upon a light- ish background, giving an overall uni- form appearance.” No such reference is given in the standard where it pertains to reds. Most commonly seen are the blue or red speckles. Again referencing Spira, speckle is described as “An alter- native to the term ‘flecking’ or ‘ticking’ employed in many breed standards. When used for the ‘red-speckle’ variety of the Australian Cattle Dog, it consists of red colour patches, spots and/or dots distributed over a red roan back- ground.” Further, black markings on a blue dog are “not desirable” while red marking on a red dog are “permissible but not desirable”. I have never received a satisfactory answer on why this is so, but it is so. Permissible markings are on the head, evenly distributed for prefer- ence. Breeding for head markings is not possible and you just “get what you get” so little emphasis is placed on mark- ings by breeders. Full or double masked dogs heads may appear wider, and half masked dogs can look different from side to side. Look at them closely to determine what structure is under that marking. Masked or plain faced, there is no preference. White spots on the cen- ter of the head, referred to as “Bentley marks,” are very common and should not be faulted even though this feature is not addressed in the standard. Tails can be speckled and sometimes they are ringed as like a raccoon. Some tails will also have black or red spots on blue dogs or red dogs respectfully. Breed- ers discuss this at length, but they are generally dismissed as they are not on his body. This again is not addressed in the standard, but should not be faulted. Reds can also get blue or black casts across their coats, referred to in the fancy as “purples”. This color is not cor- rect, but it isn’t something to get hung
up on either. After all this attention to color, it has little bearing in the judging of the dog and I only expand on it to this degree because it is so frequently discussed and questioned by judges. Remember always, first and foremost this is a working dog, and while we want him to have correct color, it’s priority will come well after the physi- cal attributes of the dog are considered. All of these lovely colors occur on a smooth, double coat with a short dense undercoat. The coat is close, straight and weather resistant. People are often surprised when they find that touching the coat can feel luxurious when to their eye the coat may seem otherwise. There are no disqualifications in the breed standard so it is up to you to con- sider the degree of the fault and asses the seriousness in regard to the exact proportion to its degree. Respect his power and intelligence, honor his place in history, and always remember he is the very best at his job when it comes to controlling cattle. For those that are as loyal to him as he is to us, he is an ideal dog. To quote a friend, “he is the best dog you’ll ever have and the worst dog you’ll ever have and it will be the same day”. Such is life with an Austra- lian Cattle Dog. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Kathryn Hamilton has had Australian Cattle Dogs since 1982, when she met her husband and he had one. Together breeding under the Redwing prefix, they have enjoyed finishing several Championships, Obedience and Herd- ing titled dogs. They have earned sev- eral awards for breeding accomplish- ments, including coveted Registers of Merit. Kathryn served as the first AKC Delegate for the Australian Cattle Dog Club of America, Inc. and held the position for twelve years. During that time she served on the Herding, Earthdog and Coursing Committee for several terms. She is very active in her local Cattle Dog Club, as well as her local All Breed Club. She has been honored to judge two ACDCA, Inc. National Specialties as well as Region- al Specialties and the National Spe- cialty in Germany. Judging great Cat- tle Dogs at these events continues to thrill Kathryn!
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AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOGS Q&A
CAROL & JAMES (STEVE) BECKETT 1. Please tell us about your backgrounds in ACDs. We commenced breeding ACD in 1988 under the prefix TAGETARL and to date have breed over 100 Champions, many that have won either Best in Show or Best in Show Sec- ond (all-breeds). In addition to this, approximately 80% of our dogs have achieved their conformation Championship with one or more Group First wins. We don’t just breed with the ideal of competing at breed level, but consider a worthy dog to be one that can be consistently competitive at all-breeds level as well. Showing is the avenue that we use to promote ACDs, not only to the show dog community, but also the general pub- lic. Therefore, we always strive to put the best examples in the ring that we can, both in conformation, movement and temperament. It is vital that not only other breeders, but also judges—particularly international judges—can see quality examples on which to form their mind’s eye picture for cor- rect breed type. If good examples are not campaigned then we can’t expect others to be educated. Regarding our judging experience, Carol has her herd- ing, terrier, toy and non-sporting licenses. In addition, she is only one successful exam away from her sporting group that should be later this year. Carol is also currently studying for both working and hound groups to become an all-round- er. Steve is licensed to judge herding, working and sporting groups and is also only one exam from gaining his toys this year and then his remaining groups. We have both judged extensively within Australia at all-breeds, single breed and group specialty shows and have an overseas appointment next year. 2. In order, name the five most important traits you look for in the ring. Firstly, correct breed type. This term is often misused by referring to dogs belonging to a certain kennel or having a
particular “look.” (For example, that is X’s type and that is Y’s type!) This application of the term is a misuse. Type is defined as “the characteristics that give the breed its unique appearance.” In other words, type is what makes an ACD an ACD—what traits separate it from other dog breeds and as such defines it as being unmistakably an ACD. Dogs that hold strong breed type conform closely to the standard and are able to perform the function of the breed. Secondly, and this is a breed characteristic stated in the first sentence of the standard, the ACD must be compact. Length through the body is incorrect. The ACD must be able to pivot and turn and therefore must have a short and mus- cular back and loin with broad shoulders, chest and hips and plenty of spring of rib. There is nothing more breathtaking than watching a compact, powerful dog that also has the required angulation explode into action from a standing start. Thirdly, correct substance. The ACD is a strong boned animal. This does not mean his frame is heavy, nor does it mean that he is light boned and fine framed either. We see too many misinterpreting the word “agility” as meaning “light in structure”. This is totally incorrect. The ACD must have sub- stance to face a fully-grown, headstrong bull. They should not ever be light in bone or lacking substance through the head and body. Fourthly, this breed must have a strong loin, long and slop- ing croup, muscular thighs and well-turned stifle. I will group the individual hindquarter parts together into one region, as the correct assembly here is essential in order to exhibit pow- erful movement with strong drive. This is essential not only to maintain a correct effortless gait, but also crucial for the ability to turn suddenly and take off from a standing start. The ACD must be able to change direction and go after a breakaway cow at a second’s notice. He does this time and time again when performing the original function of moving and controlling untamed cattle. Lastly, correct head type is also essential. This denotes breed identity. The head is broad with strength in both the skull and foreface; there is no chiseling under the eyes. The underjaw must be well developed and there is good space (distance) between the eyes allowing for a greater field of vision and completing the picture of a strong, well-balanced, typical head.
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3. What shortcomings are you most willing to forgive? What faults do you find hard to overlook? We are critical of faults that limit endurance and unsound- ness. The ACD must show free, strong movement. We have even had several judges say to us whilst exhibiting that it is, “Okay for ACDs to move slowly because they only have to walk behind slow moving cattle all day.” What rubbish! Untamed cattle are unruly and unpredictable. The ACD was not breed to follow along behind quiet dairy cows on their way to be milked. He was developed to perform the job alongside the stockman of moving cattle across vast areas and for yard work with unpredictable animals not used to con- finement. For this reason, he must be sound of body, sound of mind to think on his own and able to work with endurance from sun up until sundown. Unfortunately, times change and the job the ACD was bred to do is now performed in Australia using helicopters (heli-mustering), motorbikes, bull-catchers (modified open Jeeps) and the stock are carted using road trains. Despite this now being the case, the standard is a derivative of this purpose and so the structure of the dog must show that he can still perform this function. As with any breed, purpose is paramount. After all, this is the reason why we have any dog breed, to perform a certain job or fulfill a purpose. We are fortunate in that the name Australian Cattle Dog actually tells us he is a dog that works cattle, so by default this should be firmly implanted in our heads when we picture the breed. Probably the shortcoming we find most forgivable is color faults (within reason) as color is secondary to conformation. However that being said, color in the ACD still does have a functional purpose. Cattle see in a limited range of colors, primarily in tones, therefore the ACD should ideally be mid- colored—that is, not too light or dark. The ACD is an invisible and silent worker. He does not bark to move cattle, rather he sneaks in and bites the heels and so being invisible is an advantage. Therefore a mid-range color with added speckle to break up the dog’s outline is most desirable. The only time a cow should be aware of the dog is if it is heading the beast. We are also a little forgiving on wary dogs (again within reason). In saying this, we do not excuse timidity or aggres- sion, but as a loyal and devoted dog that can—according to the standard—show some suspicion of strangers then this should not be penalized. Considering a wild canine (the Dingo) is in his direct ancestry, thousands of years of evo- lution in the wild lends itself towards a naturally suspicious dog. Because of this, we do not expect an ACD to stand there
wagging his tail and enjoy being handling by a stranger. The ACD is not friendly to those he does not know like a Sporting or Toy breed. He was bred with the dual purpose of being protector of the stockman and his charges; therefore, suspi- cion is a breed trait. However, in the ring a judge must be able to examine the dog to assess structure, so training is essential. The ACD is an extremely intelligent breed that can be taught to stand for examination and if handled correctly they soon know what is expected, so we should not excuse extremes of behavior. 4. Has the breed improved from when you started judging? Which traits are going in the wrong direction or becoming exaggerated? The most concerning change has been the trend towards lighter framed dogs that lack substance. This seems to be hand in hand with an increasing length in the back giving a stretched appearance. Reductions in angulation, not just in the shoulder and stifle but also the croup have resulted in a dog that appears to be more upright, leaner, lacking sub- stance, lacking curves/angles and lacking compactness. This shows in short upright movement lacking drive and power. Such dogs tend to be short stepping and pitter-patter around the ring at a walking pace. The ACD should move with such power and considerable length of stride, so much so that the handler is running to keep pace. There is no ambi- guity in the words written in the standard: “Free, supple, tire- less, powerful thrust, quick and sudden movement.” It was explained to us when we first started by old-time breeders that you should be able to fit a man’s hand between the ears, between the eyes and between the forelegs of an ACD and that the loin should be no longer than a man’s hand. It was also stated to us that the loin should be wide enough that a dinner plate placed on the loin should not slide off either side. Another trend seems to be towards dog’s exhibiting too much tuck-up. The ACD should not have a defined waist. This has been an excuse by some who say a dog like this is in so- called “working condition”. The standard describes a dog in working condition and it states quite clearly that the flanks are deep. Once again honing back to the ideal impression of a dog with substance and as such having depth through the whole body. 5. Are there aspects of the breed not in the standard that you nonetheless take into consideration because breeders consider them important? We are fortunate in that our standard (as with all ANKC standards) is quite explicit and self-explanatory. We would strongly encourage anyone with an interest in the breed to read the extended standard available on the ANKC website as this gives a far greater understanding of the workings of the standard. The concern with the standard is not so much how it is written, but rather misinterpretation of some key areas. Perhaps the most misunderstood section relates to the tail, or more specifically its set and carriage. The ACD is required to have a sloping croup and moderately low tail-set. The tail
“THE ACD IS AN EXTREMELY INTELLIGENT BREED THAT CAN BE TAUGHT TO STAND FOR EXAMINATION...”
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follows the contours of the sloping croup. The tail may only be raised in excitement (if the dog is greeting another dog, for example). When the dog is moving in a true working gait around the ring the tail is carried down, it is not raised above the topline. Occasionally as a judge you will see correctly conformed dogs raise their tail on the move this is usually for a reason, such as when another dog is in close proximity or occasionally an excited puppy might do this wanting to play with another dog. However, when the same dog is doing its individual pattern around the ring and is focused on the job the tail should return to the correct position. That is, carried as a continuation of the line/slope of the sloping croup and should not be raised. The point in the standard stating ‘vertical line’ applies to the point or position at which the tail is set (can’t be raised above this point), not an imaginary line disappearing into the air above the dog. This word should more correctly say ‘hori- zontal line’ not vertical as this is ambiguous. The ACD has never and should never be allowed to carry its tail. Continuous high tail carriage equates to lack of slope and often also length of croup. Many breeders have worked extremely hard to improve croups in our dogs. Once upon a time it was commonplace to see dogs gaiting with raised tails due to short croups. Thankfully through hard work we are seeing fewer and fewer dogs that exhibit incorrect tail carriage. When the ACD is moving at a functional gait, the tail should be just up enough to be away from the legs and should balance the dog. The top silhouette should flow from the neck, along the back, slope off the croup and down along the tail. Tail carriage is an extremely important judging tool for any breed, all judges get their eye in on what is correct and not correct for each breed. High tail set means short croup, while this is desirable in many terriers, some toys, spitz and some other breeds, but it is not correct in an ACD or most other herding breeds either. Reason being, the tail acts as a rudder enabling the dog to change direction quickly and stabilizes the dog’s kinetic balance during movement. It is extremely important. The cor- rect croup along with well-turned stifles, developed second thigh and short hock provide the required powerful drive. Dogs lacking croup often have other structural concerns in the hindquarters. A dog portraying true effortless movement with good reach and powerful drive can’t do so with the tail up like a flag. Another widely held misconception relates to the body length ratio. The ACD should be 9 high to 10 long. This ratio is written to describe a correctly conformed ACD that has a well-developed fore-chest or prominent pro-sternum. This is the point from which the dog is measured. It is possible to measure a dog that lacks fore-chest and is longer in back than desirable and still arrive at an accurate ratio of 9:10. However, give this same dog the correct fore-chest development and we soon see that he is actually too long in body. As the standard states, the dog is “compact” and “strongly coupled”. This, together with fore-chest development, gives the correct proportions. In other words the ACD is short bodied because the difference between the ‘9’ and the ‘10’
relates to the fore-chest protruding forward of the well-laid shoulders. The ratio does not apply to having extra length in the body trunk. This is covered more explicitly in the extended standard. AND THIS IS PARTICULARLY PERTINENT FOR THE ACD.” 6. Have you watched or competed in ACD herding? Did that experience affect judging decisions? Unfortunately we reside in the tropics and so no com- petitive herding is undertaken here with any breed of dog. However, we have exported dogs that are involved in herding and of course we have placed many dogs as actually working dogs on cattle stations (ranches) here in Australia from the Kimberley in Western Australia, across to the Atherton Table- lands in Queensland and down through Southern Australia and New South Wales where they are actively employed as working stock dogs. Yes, working ability does influence the qualities we look for. As stated, form follows function and this is particularly pertinent for the ACD. This applies not only to conformation but also instinct, stock sense, intelligence, heeling and head- ing ability and that intrinsic tenacious approach that the ACD must have to work headstrong cattle. 7. What do handlers do that you wish they would not? Don’t over bait an ACD. The reward should come after the judge has examined the dog and preferably wait until after they have left the ring. The ACD is an intelligent dog and can understand the concept that while in the ring they are actu- ally working or have a job to do. Aside from puppies that are still learning the ropes (so might need a little food as posi- tive reinforcement or encouragement), an adult ACD should have the capacity to stand for examination, move and be alert without the handler needing to shovel piles of food down its throat. Education/training takes place outside the ring. A dog should be almost weaned off food as a motivator before it is shown. We think also some handlers get nervous and so overfeed their dog rather than making the dog actually work for it. We are not saying don’t use bait in the ring, just use it is a purposeful manner. Also look the part. Dress appropriately, not like you are out for a casual stroll. Take pride in your dog. He is worthy of your best efforts showing him. This applies not only to pre-show prep and training so he understands what to do, but also in preparing yourself and looking professional. It is sad to see a nice dog going around the ring sniffing the ground because the handler looks like they could not care “AS STATED, FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION
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