|'Stumpy Tails - The
Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog'
The Australian Stumpy
Tail Cattle dog is the oldest selectively bred Australian working
dog. Farmers emigrating from the British Isles brought their working
dogs to assist in the settlement of the vast tracts of Australia. As
these dogs were specialised in the working of sheep and cattle over
short distances and relatively easy terrain they often foundered
under Australian conditions of tyranny of distance and lack of
Australian cattle and sheep stations cover vast areas, often
thousands of hectares of land to sustain a herd. A working dog was
required that could cover vast distances in desert, scrub, and snow
whether the land be flat, undulating or mountainous and with little
food or water – week in, week out. The establishment of the
Australian stumpy Tail Cattle dog as an excellent worker capable of
enduring the harsh terrain and the extremes of temperature and lack
of water began in the 1830’s.
The Dingo – Australia’s very own native dog, which had adapted over
thousands of years to the harsh Australian conditions and which is
the only Australian breed of dog older than the Stumpy was mated to
a Smithfield. The Smithfield, one of the working dogs brought out
from England was a heavy, cumbersome dog, rather square in
appearance and with a natural bob tail. Unfortunately, the
Smithfield barked too much at the cattle and was too heavy in body
to cope with the distances and environment.
The mating of the Dingo and Smithfield produced progeny that could
cope with the tough conditions and were good workers, but rather
fierce biters. It is generally believed that the Smooth Coated
Collie Dog was added to “soften” the progeny. To this day, many
enthusiasts of the stumpy believe that the breed used was not the
Collie but German Coolie. As there are no written records, it is not
possible to prove which of the breeds was used. The result of
combining the Smithfield/Dingo/ and Collie/Coolie produced an
excellent and popular working dog.
During the early 1920’s the stumpy tail began to die out. However,
one family in Queensland continued breeding the stumpy maintaining
the purity of the breed. For some considerable time their dogs were
the only pedigreed, registered dogs in all of Australia. The breed
appeared to be destined for extinction.
In 1988 the Australian National Kennel control formed a development
register in an endeavour to rescue the breed. Dogs that resembled
stumpies could be taken to grading days and those dogs give an A
grade could then be mated to other A graded dogs and their progeny
could have a pedigree. Thankfully this system is now closed but it
was instrumental in bringing the breed back from extinction.
The stumpy now has a following committed to restoring the breed to
its former glory as a good all rounder –i.e. top working dog, show
dog, obedience, herding, agility, endurance trials and family pet.
The Australian stumpy tail cattle dog should NEVER be confused with
the Australian cattle dog. This is not an Australian Cattle dog with
the tail docked!
The Australian stumpy tail cattle dog gives the impression of being
square in the body when measured from the point of the breastbone to
the buttocks and from the shoulder to the ground. The stumpy comes
in two colours – either blue speckled or mottled or red speckled.
The stumpy tail as its name implies, has a natural bob tail – no
longer than 10cms. or 4 inches. Docking of tails is not allowed –
the tail MUST be natural. This breed is a medium sized dog, i.e.
46-51cms (18-20 inches) for the male and 43-48cms (17-19 inches) for
the female. These dogs require very little grooming as they have a
very short but dense weather proof coat. The lifespan of this breed
is up to fifteen years.
The Australian stumpy tail cattle dog is very hardy although it
requires a firm and consistent hand. This dog is extremely
intelligent and can reason. Like other intelligent breeds the stumpy
is capable of re-arranging the garden, house, etc if constantly left
alone as it craves companionship. The stumpy likes to be near their
chosen person at all times and prefers an active lifestyle. They
love water and can be great companions with other animals if taught
from an early age. Some Tangara dogs have cats, chickens, and camels
as their pets, as well as children.
The Australian stumpy tail cattle dog is not for everyone. They are
somewhat similar to husbands in that they suffer terribly form
“domestic deafness”. However for the family looking for a versatile,
courageous, loyal, intelligent and devoted companion, they are hard