ShowSight Presents The Australian Cattle Dog

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

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2017 • 251

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