Cattle Dog Breed
The Australian Cattle dog is a wonderful creature. In the
early days of colonization in Australia, the first settlers, having
limited availability of labour to control the large herds of cattle
that grazed on unfenced properties and rugged bushlands, set about
to create a breed of dog to assist in mustering an moving wild cattle.
The principal requirement of this breed of dog was
that it be strong, possess great stamina, and be able to bite. Initially,
the cattlemen used a bob-tailed dog with a heavy coat, black in
color, with white markings around its neck extending down its front,
and big hanging ears. It had an awkward, cumbersome gait, was unable
to cope with the hat, and barked too much. This dog was commonly
know as the Smitfield.
In 1830, a cattleman by the name of Timmins of the Bathurst area
of New South Wales crossed the Smitfield with the Native Australian
dog, the Dingo.
The progency were red bob-tailed dogs known as Timmins Biters. They
were silent workers though very severe heelers. These dogs were
the early ancestors of the Stumpy-Tailed Cattle dog, which is an
entirely separate breed and not just an Australian Cattle Dog with
its tail cut off.
In 1840, a landowner by the name of Thomas Hall of Muswellbrook
in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales imported two smooth-haired
blue merle Scotch Collies. They proved to be reasonably satisfactory
cattle dogs but barked and headed, both of which are undesirable
traits for dogs that work cattle. Hall crossed the progeny of this
pair with the Dingo; the resulting litters became known as Hall's
As the Dingo trait is to creep silently from behind and bite, the
pups followed this style of heeling and were welcomed by grazier
and drover alike for their ability to handle wild cattle, their
stamina to travel great distances over all types of terrain, and
their endurance in extremes of temperature. The progeny were generally
of Dingo type, color being either red or blue merle. Hall continued
his experimental breeding until his death in 1870.
Around this time there were other landowners who experimented with
this crossing of the Dingo and Collie. George Elliot of Queensland
produced some excellent workers, entering into his diary on the
12th of February, 1873 that his two-month-old quarter Dingo worked
so silently on cattle, he called her ''Munya'', which is aboriginal
Around the 1870s a butcher named Alex Davis proudly displayed the
ability of a pair of Hall's Heelers at the cattle saleyard in Sydney.
Two brothers, Jack and Harry Bagust of Canterbury in Sydney, were
among several cattlemen to purchase pups from Davis. They then set
about improving them. First, they crossed a bitch with a fine imported
Dalmatian dog. This cross changed the merle color to red of blue
As with Dalmatians, the pups were born white, developing their
color gradually from approximately three weeks of age. The main
purpose of this cross was to instill in the dogs a love of horses
and protectiveness toward master and property. Unfortunately, some
of the working ability was lost with this cross, so, after admiring
this ability in the Black and Tan Kelpie, the Bagust Brothers crossed
the Kelpie with their speckled dogs.
This produced highly intelligent, controllable workers, built like
thickset dingoes and with peculiar marking known to no other dog.
Through selective breeding, these dogs became the forebears of the
present day Australian Cattle Dog.
In 1893, Mr. Robert Kaleski took particular interest in this breed,
developing and stabilizing it, and drawing up a standard of the
breed. This standard was endorsed initially oby the Cattle and Sheepdog
Club of Australia, then by the Kennel Club of New South Wales in
1903. Robert Kaleski's standard has been expanded over the years,
but the essence of it is still very much a part of the official
standard approved and adopted by the Australian National Kennel
Council in 1963.