ShowSight Presents The Australian Cattle Dog

take not only the punishment that can be dished out by rouge cattle but also the punishment of the elements. Think of him trailing cattle for miles on end with the need now and then to bolt off to collect a stray, when evaluating his body and running gear. Any tendency to grossness or weediness is a serious fault as either of these deviations will take away from his ability to perform his job. His topline is level and strong and his body is short coupled with well sprung ribs and a deep, muscular chest with a ratio of length to height as 10 is to 9. His legs, front and rear, have round bone, should be parallel, straight and strong. In the front he has a slight angle in his flexible pasterns and in the rear he is powerful with long thighs and well turned stifles, with hocks well let down. Feet are round, strong well arched with hard deep pads that must carry the load every step of the way. His moderately low set tail comes off a rather long croup and reaches approxi- mately to the hock. At rest it will hang in a slight curve, but will raise during movement or excitement but at no time should it be carried past a vertical line. Posturing dogs will hold their tails out to impress their rivals, but even then a correct set on will be clearly evident. Soundness in motion is paramount. For such a powerfully built dog, his gait is free, supple and tireless. He looks like he can go forever, because he prac- tically can. When trotting the feet tend to converge at ground level. Many faults from the standard appear in the Gait/ Movement portion and will be assessed on the move, with stiltiness, loaded or slack shoulders, straight shoulder place- ment, weakness at elbows, pasterns or feet, straight stifles, or cow or bow hocks that must be regarded as serious faults. If his movement is hampered, his ability to work is hampered and no matter how good he looks standing, his value comes when he is moving to control cattle. In my experience, the one ques- tion that is most commonly touched on by judges is that of color. This may be because the color is somewhat novel to Cattle Dogs. There is no preference in color and both red and blue are to be judged equally. A good blue dog is every bit as prized as a good red dog. Blue is a distribution of black or blue hairs and white hairs while reds are, well red, with white hairs. Blue dogs have tan markings that are distributed the same as can be seen on many black and tan dogs, i.e. Dobermans, Dachshunds, etc., while red dogs do not have tan mark- ings. Blue can range from a very light silver to a dark blue but at no time should there be an absence of white


hairs making the dog appear black. The same is true in red dogs, that they must not appear solid red from an absence of white hairs. While both of these are rarely seen, they do occur and should be penalized in proportion to their degree. The standard does differ between the two colors in other ways. “Blue may be blue, blue speckled or blue mottled.” Mottle is described by Spira in “Canine Terminology” as “Basically a bi-colored pattern consisting of dark, roundish blotches superimposed upon a light- ish background, giving an overall uni- form appearance.” No such reference is given in the standard where it pertains to reds. Most commonly seen are the blue or red speckles. Again referencing Spira, speckle is described as “An alter- native to the term ‘flecking’ or ‘ticking’ employed in many breed standards. When used for the ‘red-speckle’ variety of the Australian Cattle Dog, it consists of red colour patches, spots and/or dots distributed over a red roan back- ground.” Further, black markings on a blue dog are “not desirable” while red marking on a red dog are “permissible but not desirable”. I have never received a satisfactory answer on why this is so, but it is so. Permissible markings are on the head, evenly distributed for prefer- ence. Breeding for head markings is not possible and you just “get what you get” so little emphasis is placed on mark- ings by breeders. Full or double masked dogs heads may appear wider, and half masked dogs can look different from side to side. Look at them closely to determine what structure is under that marking. Masked or plain faced, there is no preference. White spots on the cen- ter of the head, referred to as “Bentley marks,” are very common and should not be faulted even though this feature is not addressed in the standard. Tails can be speckled and sometimes they are ringed as like a raccoon. Some tails will also have black or red spots on blue dogs or red dogs respectfully. Breed- ers discuss this at length, but they are generally dismissed as they are not on his body. This again is not addressed in the standard, but should not be faulted. Reds can also get blue or black casts across their coats, referred to in the fancy as “purples”. This color is not cor- rect, but it isn’t something to get hung

up on either. After all this attention to color, it has little bearing in the judging of the dog and I only expand on it to this degree because it is so frequently discussed and questioned by judges. Remember always, first and foremost this is a working dog, and while we want him to have correct color, it’s priority will come well after the physi- cal attributes of the dog are considered. All of these lovely colors occur on a smooth, double coat with a short dense undercoat. The coat is close, straight and weather resistant. People are often surprised when they find that touching the coat can feel luxurious when to their eye the coat may seem otherwise. There are no disqualifications in the breed standard so it is up to you to con- sider the degree of the fault and asses the seriousness in regard to the exact proportion to its degree. Respect his power and intelligence, honor his place in history, and always remember he is the very best at his job when it comes to controlling cattle. For those that are as loyal to him as he is to us, he is an ideal dog. To quote a friend, “he is the best dog you’ll ever have and the worst dog you’ll ever have and it will be the same day”. Such is life with an Austra- lian Cattle Dog. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Kathryn Hamilton has had Australian Cattle Dogs since 1982, when she met her husband and he had one. Together breeding under the Redwing prefix, they have enjoyed finishing several Championships, Obedience and Herd- ing titled dogs. They have earned sev- eral awards for breeding accomplish- ments, including coveted Registers of Merit. Kathryn served as the first AKC Delegate for the Australian Cattle Dog Club of America, Inc. and held the position for twelve years. During that time she served on the Herding, Earthdog and Coursing Committee for several terms. She is very active in her local Cattle Dog Club, as well as her local All Breed Club. She has been honored to judge two ACDCA, Inc. National Specialties as well as Region- al Specialties and the National Spe- cialty in Germany. Judging great Cat- tle Dogs at these events continues to thrill Kathryn!

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