History of Briarmoor
a Cattle Dog
The Other Critters
There's a few thing you need to know about the Cattle Dog before you decide to bring one home.
The Australian Cattle Dog (ACD) is a relatively new breed developed within the past hundred years or so to work cattle on the rough terrain of the Australian Outback. There is controversy over what breeds were used to make up the ACD as we know it today, and several books are available that discuss this at length. Generally, it is known that a Scottish Collie (similar in type to a border collie, but of a merle color) was imported from the British Isles to Australia, but due to the heat and harsh conditions, didn't do well. Dingo was crossed with these collies, but the dogs proved untrustworthy with stock, so Dalmation was infused. From there, it is thought at one point Bull Terrier was bred in, then supposedly bred out, but given the heads on some dogs, it would appear that all the bull terrier strains were not omitted entirely! There is controversy as to whether Kelpie was infused, possibly at a later date. Because many breeders kept their own stock and were spread out over hundreds of miles, it is entirely possible that different strains had varying amounts of the different foundation breeds in them. Due to the newness of the breed, varying type and size still exist today in the breed. To read the complete standard on the breed go to www.cattledog.com.
Lots of people are drawn to the Australian Cattle Dog (ACD) because of its unusual color and look, its easy-to-care-for coat, and medium size. Cattle dogs are generally "easy keepers", meaning they aren't high maintenance; they like to eat and are seldom picky, they are hardy and healthy, not often at the veterinarian for health problems. Some people joke that a cattle dog can exist on a grub worm and a mud puddle! Not that we should care for them this way, but it gets the point across about their general thriftiness.
As for living with a cattle dog, that is another story! While they are incredibly athletic and capable of about any activity, this can also be a detriment to the busy owner who cannot devote the time needed to exercise a cattle dog's busy mind and body. Most ACDs require substantial exercise to be happy, although there are exceptions to the rule. They are "busy" dogs, interested in what is going on around them and checking things out. This does not mean one cannot do well with an apartment dweller, it just means that cattle dogs are best suited to a person or family with an active lifestyle, preferably one that includes the dog. A bored cattle dog can be a destructive cattle dog!
ACDs love to be with "their people", even seemingly when they are doing nothing. Most love to ride with the owner on errands and trips. They enjoy hiking and swimming. A majority are "ball crazy" and will fetch for hours; if there is no ball, they will make do with about anything. They excel at agility, and can do well at obedience, providing the trainer is creative and keeps the keenly intelligent cattle dog on his toes and happy to work. Cattle dogs are great for flyball and frisbee, they seem to have springs in their legs and are very agile. A number of cattle dogs have proven themselves competitive in the conformation show ring against other breeds at the group level. Then there is herding, at which cattle dogs do quite well, although they can be stubborn and like to try to do things their way. Most cattle dogs are tenacious and will stand up to anything in their way.
Besides dog sports, there are a number of ACDs doing therapy dog work and also search and rescue. Many are jogging partners for their active owners. They are good watch dogs, although not of the same temperament as the working/guard breeds. A cattle dog will tend to sound the alarm and try to drive away an unwelcome visitor at a distance. It is very typical of an ACD to wait for a person to turn away, then dive in and nip an ankle and duck back out (just as they would a wayward cow!). They can be quite territorial, so should not be allowed to roam loose. Also, because of their high herding drive, most will eventually chase cars or livestock if left unconfined without supervision.
Some cattle dog quirks include digging in their water dish, the toilet, or bathtub. Old-time breeders say that the desire to dig in water goes back to the Dingo ancestor who could smell underground water supplies in the dry Outback and dig down to get a drink. Very young pups can often be seen exhibiting this behavior as they learn to drink from a bowl, seemingly like instinct their little feet begin pawing ever so slightly. Cattle dogs also typically have a very high pitched bark, more like a shriek, when they are excited or frustrated. It can be piercing to the ear! ACDs can also become "mouthy" if not corrected. The mouthiness, or light nipping or putting their mouth on their owners or others, is related to their desire to herd. They may also attempt to "herd" groups of children together if left out in the yard with several. First-time cattle dog owners often comment on how their ACD seems to always be right with them, sometimes underfoot! Cattle dogs don't let "their people" out of sight usually and get very attached to their owners or families. The cattle dog is not a breed that will usually just go off with someone they hardly know. They are extremely loyal to their owners.
Because of the ACDs dominant temperament, and tendency to bossiness and territorialness, it usually works out best if they are either an only dog, or share a home with a dog of the opposite sex. This can alleviate possible fighting while vying for top position. There are many exceptions to the rule and there are people who live with several cattle dogs of the same sex without many problems, or also have same sex dogs of other breeds. It all depends on the dogs involved and their personalities, but if you are starting out, it is usually easiest to keep opposite sexes together. Cattle dogs can do well with children, but parents must keep in mind the energy and activity level of a young pup and its boisterous jumping may be too much for a small child to deal with. The ACD must learn early on that it is at the bottom of the pack, even under the children, although they must treat it fairly, and not be allowed to try to take over. Ideally, a good cattle dog owner will be firm and fair, not easily cowed, fairly dominant, just like the dog! Soft-spoken, benign owners may have a difficult time controlling this take charge breed. So while, the cattle dog is not for everyone, it can be the perfect breed for the person or family with the attitude and environment that suits it.
If you decide that you want a puppy, seek a responsible breeder who can show you:
The Registration Certificate for the Litter or the Puppy
The Puppy's B.E.A.R. Hearing Test papers so you don't end up with a Deaf pup.
The Parent's O.F.A. papers showing their hips are clear of dysplasia.
The Parent's C.E.R.F papers showing their eyes are certified clear of PRA.
A Written Health Guarentee
In the event of some unforseen circumstance, all responsible breeders will take back any pup
aquired from them, at any time, even if they're 11 years old, butt ugly and toothless -- so....
Keep in touch with your pup's breeder. All responsible breeders want to know how you and your new puppy are getting along, so they can celebrate with you titles or share stories of those silly puppy antics.
Perferably, all breeders should place pet puppies on spay/neuter contracts or on written show contracts depending on if you are seeking a pet puppy or show prospect. For Links to important sites on Cattle Dogs, General Training Articles, Information on Dog Health and Genetics, and other things I think are just fun and interesting for you to look over, check out the following links. G'day
The Australian Cattle Dog Club of America
The American Kennel Club (AKC)
The Candian Kennel Club (CKC)
American Temperament Test Society, Inc. (ATTS)
The American Herding Breeds Association (ABHA)
Canine Eye Registration Foundation (C.E.R.F.)
Info Dogs Site
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (O.F.A.)
Glassportal Herding Site
The Australian Cattle Dog in Europe
"Dakota's" Compreshensive Rescue Group's Site
Mark's ACD FAQ
BARF FAQ Too
BARF!!! Bones and Raw Food
Natural Rearing, Alternative, Holistic, Complementary, Pet health care