ShowSight Presents The Australian Cattle Dog

JUDGING THE AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG

by KATHRYN HAMILTON

T he first sentence of the excel- lent breed standard speaks volumes: The general appear- ance is that of a strong com- pact, symmetrically built working dog, with the ability and willingness to carry out his allotted task however arduous. There is no mystery in judging this breed as there is no feature of the Cattle Dog that is over emphasized nor over exaggerated and if ever there was a dog’s dog, the Cattle Dog is that dog. First and foremost, he is a working dog, a true stock hand, and a great asset to his owner as he has no peer in his abil- ity when called upon to control cattle. This should be the primary mental pic- ture you have in mind when judging the Cattle Dog. He must appear strong enough, athletic enough, fast enough and brave enough to work cattle. He must have strength in his head and

teeth, well laid back shoulders that allow him to dive for heels and duck from kicks, a low, well placed tail to help steer him, low hocks and strong hind quarters that allow him to spin and sprint, strong arched feet and strong legs to carry him unrelenting miles and an overall strength of body to endure the well placed kick when the cow makes contact with his body and strength of character to get back to work after he is kicked. He is an athlete, a cunning thinker, and able to reason in a way that can at times be madden- ing, making him the best at his job. He is serious when it comes to his work, and protective of anything he lays claim to that he deems as his own. He will show his funny, silly side whenever it suits him. Most everything will be on his terms. This is a breed that can be knocked cold by a kick, come to, shake

it off, teach the offending cow who is really the boss, and earn a qualifying trial score. I’ve seen it happen. When judging the Cattle Dog, approach him with complete confi- dence and be quick about your work. Allow your hands to confirm what your eyes have seen and be done with it. He will tolerate your exam, but it isn’t likely he’ll try to become your friend. A temperament foreign to a working dog must be regarded as a serious fault. His head shows overall strength in both breath and depth, keeping in proportion with his body. His skull is only slightly curved, he has a slight but definite stop and he is well filled in under his eyes. He has a strong, deep well developed under jaw. Be confident in checking his bite, and be aware that missing pre- molars will sometimes occur. Teeth should be a scissors bite, evenly spaced, sound and strong. Because he uses his teeth in heeling and biting they are very important. Show dogs are often worked and as a result you may find broken or damaged teeth. These should be regard- ed as honorable scars and should not be faulted. He has medium sized, brown, oval eyes and a prized characteristic suspicious glint. That glint is difficult to describe, but unmistakable when you see it. When you get “the look” you’ll know it. Atop his strong head are mod- erately sized, pricked, muscular ears, that incline outwards. His ears will tell you what he is thinking so pay particu- lar attention to them. His body is strong, enabling the con- stant need for quick twists and turns and for the long haul in wide open spaces. This dog can work in close quarters as easily as on the open range. He is given much credit in opening the outback of Australia, with its hostile conditions, as he is tough enough to

“FIRST AND FOREMOST, HE IS A WORKING DOG, A TRUE STOCK HAND, AND A GREAT ASSET TO HIS OWNER AS HE HAS NO PEER IN HIS ABILITY WHEN CALLED UPON TO CONTROL CATTLE.”

260 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M AY 2018

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