ShowSight Presents The Australian Cattle Dog

Q&A Australian Cattle Dogs

“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.”

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 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. Occasion- ally 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 occa- sionally 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 slop- ing 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 disap- pearing into the air above the dog. This word should

more correctly say ‘horizontal 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 impor- tant 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 correct croup along with well-turned stifles, developed second thigh and short hock provide the required power- ful 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 mea- sured. 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

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