ShowSight Presents The Australian Cattle Dog

Q&A Australian Cattle Dogs 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. 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 unsoundness. The ACD must show free, strong move- ment. 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 stock- man of moving cattle across vast areas and for yard work with unpredictable animals not used to confinement. 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 helicop- ters (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 deriva- tive 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 Aus- tralian 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 con- formation. 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 aggression, but as a loyal and devoted dog that can— according to the standard—show some suspicion of strangers then this should not be penalized. Consider- ing a wild canine (the Dingo) is in his direct ancestry, thousands of years of evolution 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, suspicion 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 direc- tion 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 giv- ing 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 substance, 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 ambiguity in the words written in the standard: “Free, supple, tireless, 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

“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.”

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