The Australian Cattle Dog requires mentally challenging and hard physical exercise daily to keep it happy and content. They are quick, independent dogs that are stubborn, energetic and very clever. All those traits are essential to enable them to control headstrong cattle, which they were bred to do. As an Australian Cattle Dog has a strong desire to please, they are highly trainable. A well-trained Cattle Dog will replace 3 good men on horseback. In a family situation, it is essential to have your Cattle Dog trained to instil your leadership over them. An Australian Cattle Dog is the best family/protector dog a family could hope for.
Although they are independent thinkers, once trained they are capable of working on routine tasks - unsupervised, as they are self-directed workers, quite able to solve complex problems. The Cattle Dog will single out trouble making stock quite forceably, but handle calves quite gently in comparison. This ability which is referred to as 'rating required force' gives them the versatility to handle all types of cattle.
Cattle Dogs approach stock in a calculated, deliberate manner. A dog will predominately fetch or drive the cattle. Factors involved are their actual bloodline, the age of the dog and which technique was used in training the dog. Because the Cattle Dog holds its head a shoulder level while working, they are considered an upright breed. This enables the dog to read stock and to slip in and heel. When confronting stubborn animals at the head, some drop to a crouch preparing to nose bite, while others raise their heads to challenge the beast and come straight on. The method a dog uses will come after the dog experiments with a range of postures and approaches. It is the Cattle Dog's perfect combination of size, angulation, balance, agility and instinct that enables him to continuously heel low and avoid being kicked.
Heelers must have the ability to know when to enforce with a hard bite aimed low on the leg, at the fetlock, on the leg bearing the weight of the beast. To avoid the ensuing kick, they 'clap' themselves (drop down). Dogs also need to know how to 'head' cattle ie enabling turning or stopping the livestock with instinctive quick nips with immediate release.
Good eye control ie turning or holding stock by sight, then returning to a looser approach after the incident is over.
Cattle Dogs are single-minded (stubborn, one eyed, pig headed) and even when socialised and trained, may still only respond quickly & efficiently to the one handler. They may humour others, seeing them as playmates or peers, but tend to focus on one person who is the boss (superior, pack leader).
General Appearance: The general appearance is that of a strong compact, symmetrically built working dog, with the ability and willingness to carry out his allotted task, however arduous. Its combination of substance, power, balance and hard muscular condition must convey the impression of great agility, strength and endurance. Any tendency to grossness or weediness is a serious fault.
Characteristics : As the name implies the dog's prime function, and one in which he has no peer, is the control and movement of cattle in both wide open and confined area. Always alert, extrememly intelligent, watchful, courageous and trustworthy, with an implicit devotion to duty making it an ideal dog.
Temperament: The Cattle Dog's loyalty and protective instincts make it a self-appointed guardian to the Stockman, his herd and his property. Whilst naturally suspicious of strangers, must be amenable to handling, particularly in the Show Ring. Any feature of temperament or structure foreign to a working dog must be regarded as a serious fault.
Head and skull : Strong and must be in balance with other proportions of the dog and in keeping with its general conformation. Broad skull slightly curved between ears, flattening to slight but definite stop, cheeks muscular, neither coarse nor prominent with under jaw strong, deep and well developed. Foreface broad and well filled in under eyes, tapering gradually to form medium length, deep powerful muzzle with skull and muzzle on parallel planes. Lips tight and clean. Nose black.
Size : Height at the withers: Dogs 46 - 51 cms (approx 18-20 inches) Bitches 43 - 48 cms (approx 17-19 inches)
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE AUSTRALIAN BREEDS :
CATTLE DOG, KELPIE AND STUMPY TAIL CATTLE DOG
Ratio (length:height) 9:10
Skull slightly curved
Foreface broad, well filled
Front angulation well angled
Tail Set moderately low
Bone strong & refined
Ratio (length:height) 9:10
Skull slightly rounded
Foreface chiselled, defined
Front angulation right angled
Stifles well turned
Tail Set moderately low
AUSTRALIAN STUMPY TAIL
Bone well boned
Ratio (length:height) 10:10
Foreface well filled
Front angulation moderate
Tail Set moderately high
DID YOU KNOW
The Australian Cattle Dog was created to withstand the extreme Australian conditions. These dogs must travel vast distances, over rough terrain, keeping ever alert in scorching heat, drought, flood and also sub zero temperatures. These dogs were required to work silently (dingo strain), work amicably with horses (Dalmatian strain) to work from front (as in the sheep orientated collie) but also from the rear snapping & biting at the heels of cattle (dingo trait) when necessary.
Apart from the recognizable look of the Cattle Dog - strong and agile, the soundness of movement is paramount. True, free, tireless actions require the movement of shoulders and forelegs (the reach) with a powerful thrust of hindquarters (the drive) in unison. Each joint must be strong and the bone structure of the dog must be correctly aligned, to enable the correct reach and drive, characteristic of the breed. Without correct angulation, it would be impossible to work tirelessly nor would the dog have the speed required to drop after heeling the cattle, to avoid the spontaneous reaction of the hoof of the bullock.
Anyone who has approached a Cattle Dog would well be aware of the warning or suspicious glint coming from the dark brown eyes. These dogs are highly intelligent and although quite gentle, will put up with nothing interfering with their family or job.
Note: Be aware that should you (eye ball) look directly into the dog's face, this could be taken as encroaching their space; thereby causing them to feel threatened or challenged. However all dogs must be amenable to handling in the obedience or breed ring.
All Cattle Dog pups are born coloured white with the only colour being their head markings (masking) or body markings (eg band on top of tail).
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