Breed Characteristics

The Australian Cattle Dog has changed little since the late 1800’s when the first standard was drawn up. In 1897 Robert Kaleski drew up the first Standard of points for the Australian Cattle Dog which was recognised by the original Kennel Club of New South Wales in 1903. This standard was not changed until 1963 and then changes were made in the early 80’s. The current standard has been in place since 1994. AKC has adopted the country of origin standard. CKC do have slight variations and some disqualifications.

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.

The Australian Cattle Dog comes from a spitz type breed, the Dingo, and should display all spitz characteristics except for the tail curling over the back. The head is wedge shaped, the eyes are oval, slightly obliquely set, the ears are small and pricked, there is a slight ruff around the neck. These are all spitz characteristics. Medium length neck blending into well laid shoulders. The topline is level, the angles are moderate. Balanced and symmetrical, sturdy and compact. The breed is generic with the key word being everything in moderation. The dog must fill the eye as a whole. No point should be so much in excess of the others as to destroy the general symmetry. Coarse or fine boned specimens should be penalised.

In 1893 Kaleski described the breed as a “small thick set Dingo”, that has a head that is broad between the ears. This ensures that the dog has a large brain-box, hence has plenty of intelligence. If narrow here, the brain must be small and the intelligence feeble, hence a poor worker.

As the name implies, the dogs prime function, and one which he has no peer, is the control and movement of cattle in both wide open and confined areas. Always alert, extremely intelligent, watchful, courageous and trustworthy, with an implicit devotion to duty making it an ideal working dog.

The Australian Cattle Dog should always portray a picture of an intelligent, watchful, loyal dog ready at any time to defend master and property. He must clearly convey the ability to work. A soft dog that is out of condition should be penalized heavily. They are athletes and must be kept in good hard working condition even in the show ring.

As a conformation show dog the breed has in recent years become particularly competitive with many excellent specimens gaining the ultimate Best in Show award. The Australian Cattle Dog can been seen in show rings all over the world. There are many specimens being exhibited in the United States, Canada, Europe, South America, Japan, Asia, United Kingdom, New Caledonia and more recently their popularity as a show dog, working dog and companion has reached South Africa, Kenya, India and some of the more remote parts of the world.

The Obedience Dog is an area that the Australian Cattle Dog excels. This breed has a natural affinity for obedience work. Herding breeds in general with generations of experience in following the master’s hand signals when moving stock are a far better bet at obedience work than perhaps a Terrier that was bred to work on it’s own, killing rats in the farm shed. The breed is very quick to learn and responds immediately to the master’s signals and voice commands. They particularly enjoy Agility which is not only fun but often has breath holding excitement for both the handler, dog and spectators alike. The best part of all is the dogs love it.

The Working Dog. This breed was initially bred to work but over the years with the introduction of motor bikes and helicopters to herd the cattle long distances, the work of the Australian Cattle Dog in most part is confined to the yards. Although in some areas of Australia where the dense scrub is still impenetrable to a man on horseback and the modern stockman with their helicopters and motor bikes cannot get cattle out, the working cattle dog is sent in to bring out the beasts to the drovers. There is nothing more enjoyable than to watch this breed doing what they were bred for.

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.

A nervous, shy or aggressive dog should be heavily penalized. The Cattle Dog should present as a bright, intelligent dog, loyal and ready to defend his master and property but at all times amenable to discipline. The characteristic “suspicious glint” should convey a strong alpha temperament and a “don’t fuss with me or my master” attitude. However, bad show ring behaviour is inexcusable.