ShowSight Presents The Australian Cattle Dog

Q&A Australian Cattle Dogs

the well-laid shoulders. The ratio does not apply to hav- ing extra length in the body trunk. This is covered more explicitly in the extended standard. 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 Tablelands 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 particular- ly pertinent for the ACD. This applies not only to confor- mation but also instinct, stock sense, intelligence, heeling and heading 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 actually working or have a job to do. Aside from puppies that are still learning the ropes (so might need a little food as positive reinforcement or encouragement), an adult ACD should have the capacity to stand for exami- nation, 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 less about being there. Take pride, respect your dog and try your hardest. Regarding grooming. There seems to be a very worrying trend of showing dogs groomed to have an open coat. Whilst this looks appealing to the inexperienced judge or onlooker it is very far from correct. The ACD must have a tight, close, waterproof coat in order to survive and work in extremes of both hot and cold. A dog with the correct coat can go swimming for some time and still be dry underneath the topcoat. So please, when grooming, don’t fluff up the coat. The neck and breeches can be longer, fuller and look impressive, but the coat over the body should lie flat. 8. How can this breed’s Judges Education be improved? As Australian judges we have been asked many times by international judges, “How do you judge an ACD?” They are always concerned about what is correct type and wanting assurance they are awarding the right dogs. Our response to them is that the ACD is actually not a difficult breed to judge in comparison to some breeds. In the ACD there is really nothing that can be completely hidden, even by a good handler. As a judge, let movement be your primary guide when assessing the ACD. Many dogs are stacked to look fantas- tic but they don’t measure up on the move. If in doubt move the dogs again. This is not a breed to be judged standing. Remember the key words: substance, strength, powerful, compact, muscular, free flowing, great reach and drive, agile. I can‘t speak for the AKC training scheme but as with any education, hands-on experience and talking to knowl- edgeable judges/breeders is essential. 9. What previously campaigned ACDs come close to your ideal? Please explain. I believe that in order for a dog to be considered great it must not only exemplify true type but be able to reproduce its virtues in subsequent generations. For this reason, and without wanting to blow our own trumpet, we would have to say that our homebred dog

“THE ACD IS AN INTELLIGENT DOG And CAn understAnd the ConCept thAt while in the ring they Are ACtuAlly working or hAve A job to do.”

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