ShowSight Presents The Australian Cattle Dog

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.

246 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2017

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