The Tail So Far
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'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 water.

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 to beat.

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