ShowSight Presents The Australian Cattle Dog

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...”

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

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