ShowSight Presents The Australian Cattle Dog

Jim took his Cattle dogs straight from the cattle ranch through the week to the AKC show ring on the weekends. To date around 400 AKC championship dogs have come from the Buzzard kennels, with many Grand Championship title- holders as well. Jim of course wanted to show the purebred ACD’s herd- ing ability as well, with a Buzzard Cattle dog named “Tubs” becoming the first ever AKC HX titled herding dog of any breed. Buzzard Australian Cattle dogs also have had 4 AKC dual champions 5 if you count “Tubs,” who had done that prior to there being a dual title. He became an AKC approved conformation judge for the Australian Cattle dog in 2008. His obvious knowledge and work done in the herding ring allowed the AKC to grandfa- ther him in as an approved Herding judge in 1990. His dedi- cation and knowledge of the breed began to spread around the globe, even gaining notoriety in the home country of the breed, Australia, where he was invited by the Victorian Kennel club to come to Australia and start their herding pro- gram—quite an honor indeed. 2. In order, name the five most important traits you look for in the ring. First, which one has the correct structure to work cattle all day, everyday? Secondly, does this dog have enough size to control large herds/groups of cattle, sometimes 100+ head? Third, does this dog have the correct cattle dog tempera- ment—not fearful or shy; does it cower as I approach it? These are detrimental to the ACD being able to handle tough working conditions that the cattle and weather can place on a dog working the ranch. A dog that is bold and confident for exam not only shows to me ring savvy, but also that he has the confidence to work even the strongest willed cattle who need to be brought under control of the dog. Fourth, always start at the feet and legs and move upwards. Foundation must be good or the rest of the dog’s structure and ability will suffer. Feet should be tight, round and catlike with short, strong nails. Feet with a hare-like length or that splay including flatfooted dogs, crooked toes must be heav- ily penalized. Strong, large bone that is not crooked or mis- shaped is a must for the long-term health of the working ACD. Finally, balance, soundness and movement—all of these are absolutely essential in any ACD that works cattle. 3. What shortcomings are you most willing to forgive? What faults do you find hard to overlook? Color variations are the least important to the ACD’s abil- ity to do what he was originally created for… working cattle. I find it impossible to overlook poor movement as the ACD must move many miles a day in his job and if they cannot get to the cattle, they certainly can’t work them. 4. Has the breed improved from when you started judging? Which traits are going in the wrong direction or becoming exaggerated? Yes, as a breed they have become smaller in stature with many times finer bone and shorter legged. The trend in ACDs

is to have softer temperaments, which directly affects their cattle working ability. This has been created by breeders selecting traits for the “urban cowboy” of today. 5. Are there aspects of the breed not in the standard that you nonetheless take into consideration because breeders consider them important? An ACD should be 55% leg and 45% body. And mature male ACDs should weigh approx. 50-60 lbs. with mature bitch ACDs being approx. 40-50 lbs. Neither of these items is addressed in the standard, but both are nevertheless very important. 6. Have you watched or competed in ACD herding? Did that experience affect judging decisions? Yes I have, having trialed the very first ACD to achieve the herding excellent title in the AKC. 7. What do handlers do that you wish they would not? The ACD should never be “groomed up” as they are a wash-and-wear breed and should be shown in conformation as such. 8. How does the breed in North America compare to other parts of the world? They are generally similar with the quality and faults being somewhat universal. When comparing dogs in the US to others, it’s important to note that in 1980 when the AKC accepted the Studbook into its records every dog listed there- in was progeny of dogs registered in Australia. 9. Do you have anything else to share? An Australian Cattle Dog has to be an athlete much like a pro-football player. They need the endurance of a marathon runner, the brilliance of a road scholar, must be able to take a blow like a heavyweight boxer while possessing the speed of a cheetah. A Cattle Dog’s will must compare to that of an ele- phant so they are able to gather, bunch, drive and pen large masses of cattle. With weakness in any of these qualities, you just have an Australian Dog. Just one fault in the structure of an ACD is like having the wheels fall off your car. It must always be remembered there are not little cows. The bigger your job, the more important your dog is. “A CATTLE DOG’S WILL MUST COMPARE TO THAT OF AN ELEPHANT SO THEY ARE ABLE TO GATHER, BUNCH, DRIVE AND PEN LARGE MASSES OF CATTLE.”

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

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