Australian Shepherd: Origins

Australian Shepherd; what is the origin? General characteristics, location of birth, ancestry and breeding theories of the Australian Shepherd, popularity, recognition, and name change. The Australian Cattle Dog is a well-balanced, sturdy dog ​​with pointed, upright ears and long legs. A characteristic of the species is the frequent absence of a tail. When the tail is there, it is pretty short and docked. The coat is medium, straight, dense, and complex with a mottled or mottled blue color.

Birthplace of the Australian Shepherd and Ancestral History

The origin of the Australian Shepherd Tail Cattle Dog is a hotly debated mystery. The breed was developed to a limited extent in rural areas and was bred only as a working animal. These factors, combined with the fact that it predates the first records of dog breeding, mean that no one is sure how and when the breed was created or who developed it.

The usual claim is that the Australian Cattle Dog is the oldest purebred dog in Australia. The claim is possible but can’t be said for sure until the scientists provide convincing evidence. There are many theories and stories about the evolution of this species, although the evidence to support any of them is scant and unreliable at best.

All versions agree on four key points: these dogs were bred in Australia and first appeared in the first half of the 19th century; they were the result of a cross between British sheepdogs and the Australian Dingo; the variety was bred for grazing cattle and sheep.

The history of the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog dates back to 1788 when the first British colony was established on the Australian mainland. From the earliest days of European settlement in Australia, herding and wool production have played an essential role in the economy of the country and the British Isles.

British herd breeds have been defined as the most capable and efficient livestock breeds for hundreds of years. These dogs were well suited to work in their homeland. When British nomads first migrated to Australia, they brought dogs that had served them and their ancestors for countless generations. However, the extremely loyal, dependable working, and highly trained British Sheepdogs did not fare well in their new homeland.

Adapted to life in excellent England and the cold Scottish Highlands, these dogs, the predecessors of the Australian Shorthorn Sheepdog, were very poorly adapted to Australia’s weather conditions. Temperatures in Australia often reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and stay that way for hours. British collies and shepherds could not stand this weather and often died of heat stroke. Numerous diseases thrive in warm climates, including many that have not been discovered in Britain or were extremely rare.

As well as numerous diseases, Australia is also home to more parasites and biting insects. Australian wildlife is also significantly more dangerous than the UK, with the red fox and estuary being the most significant surviving predators, neither of which threaten an adult shepherd. Australia has many species willing and able to kill dogs and livestock, such as the Dingo, monitor giant lizards, enormous crocodiles, wild pigs, the world’s most poisonous snakes, and, according to legends, the thylacine (possessed wolf) or the Tasmanian Tiger.

One of the most developed countries in the world, Great Britain was densely populated, had a sound road system, and generally fertile land. In the 1800s, Australia was arguably the least developed country, with no roads and countless square miles completely uninhabited. Even sheep and cattle in Australia were much more challenging to process. While cows and sheep in Britain were highly tame and malleable due to reproduction and close contact with humans, livestock in Australia was semi-wild because they had to live in small numbers and because many animals only saw humans up close. Times a year.

The hardships placed on British sheepdogs, the ancestors of the Australian shorthorn, were severe in the remote settlements of Europe. Farmers working hundreds of hectares in Australia often had flocks of sheep more than a hundred kilometers from the nearest large settlement. Before railroads and cars, the only way to get a product to market was with the help of horses and dogs. The farmers needed dogs that could work quickly and in extremely high temperatures for many hours in rugged and uneven terrain. And also have resistance to disease and parasites and the ability to cope with dangerous wildlife in Australia.

However, one breed of dog, the predecessor of the Australian Cattle Dog, was very well suited to living in the Great Southern Continent – the Dingo. Although their origins have been lost over time, Dingos were first brought to Australia between 4,000 and 12,000 years ago by fishermen from Indonesia or New Guinea. Once on the Australian mainland, the Dingo was feral and eventually went into a wild state.

The Dingo lives a solitary life in Australia and evolves in its way, like other canines, such as wolves, which are usually considered separate subspecies. Dingos are well adapted to life in Australia. They have successfully spread to the continent, even in the most painful areas. To survive, hunters are regularly hunted. However, specific subspecies of these dogs may have produced fertile offspring with all domestic dogs (including British Shepherds) and wolves.

Breeding theories for the Australian Cattle Dog

The most popular and widely accepted theory about the origin of Australian Shorthairs is that they were bred by a man named Timmins, whose name seems to have been lost to history. Timmins was considered a farmer who had a lot of cattle and sheep. It is known from many sources that Timmins lived and worked during the early colonial period, mainly in Bathurst, New South Wales.

They were modeled after many early Australian settlers, the farmer-owned Timmins Smithfields. Smithfields, now generally considered extinct, was a grazing breed that originated in southern England, similar to the Old English Shepherd, which they may have been the ancestors of. Named the dogs after Smithfield market in London, where they were most often used. At one point, there were two types of Smithfield, one with a natural tail and the other with a long tail.

Timmins said he crossed his Smithfield with Dingo to get a dog with the best qualities. The resulting dogs, the forerunners of the Australian Shepherd, lightly bit the legs of cattle to get them to move and became known as “Timmins Biters.” They were said to have a thick Smithfield tail and a red Dingo color. The author considered his dogs very hardworking and uniquely adapted for Australian life. However, they tended to bite so hard that they could damage the livestock they drove and were wild and difficult to train.

Timmins crossed his dogs with Merle Blue Smooth Collies to address these issues. The puppies still had short tails and were efficient and environmentally friendly. Still, they were less stiff and trainable; some had blue instead of red. Timmins and other breeders focused their efforts on blue dogs, assuming they had fewer Dingo genes and thus became finer. However, the red color never entirely disappeared.

There is another popular theory about the origin of the Australian Shepherd. Some argue that it is a descendant of the same dog group that gave birth to Australian Cattle Dogs. In 1802 the Heller Hall family moved from Northumberland, England, to New South Wales and became the owners of a vast cattle farm.

The family subsequently imported sheepdogs from Northumberland to help in the new home. The exact nature of these dogs is unclear, but they were almost certainly collies. The Hall family may later have crossed them with the Smithfields. After realizing their dogs were having the same problems as other British working dogs in Australia, they struck them with Dingos, which the farmers kept as pets. The offspring proved to be precisely what the family wanted, and they became known as “Hall Heller.”

These dogs were improved in the early 1840s and had advantages over other dogs. Therefore, they were not bred but cherished and passed from ancestor to ancestor until the family patriarch Thomas Hall died in 1870. Believers of this theory claim that the dogs that remained closest to the original Hall Heller later became Australian Shorthairs. Equally crossed with other breeds, the Australian Bull Dog was born from them.

There are few indications of these routes, but it seems that the origin of Timmins’s theory is more plausible than that of Hall. In reality, neither is entirely correct, especially regarding specifics. Regardless of how the breed originated, the Australian Cattle Dog developed into one of the premier domestic animals in its homeland by the end of the 19th century.

The breed was widespread throughout Australia and was often used as a working dog. Still, it was probably never as popular as the Australian Cattle Dog. Although they are used for similar purposes and probably sometimes overlap with Australian Cattle Dogs, they are recognized as different breeds or at least species.

Australian Shepherd
Australian Shepherd

The popularity of the Australian Cattle Dog

Short-tailed dogs have appeared in Australian dog shows since at least the 1890s. Most early performances included both sexes in the same classes. Before the First World War, the Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog accounted for almost 50% of the Cattle Dog entries.

In 1917, the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) recognized both dogs as separate breeds, initially calling them the Australian Cattle Dog and the Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog (without the word Australian). Working-dog Meanwhile, his short-tailed relatives were almost exclusively working animals.

Many American soldiers stationed in Australia during World War II introduced the Australian Cattle Dog to the United States, which became pretty popular as a working dog and companion animal. However, the short-horned Shepherd was virtually unknown outside his country.

By the turn of the 20th century, the Australian Cattle Dog has almost destroyed the Shorthorn Dog in terms of popularity and social acceptance. Interest in members of the species has almost completely disappeared. In the 1960s, only one family had fully registered Australian Shepherds, Mrs. Iris Hale of Glen Iris Kennel. A few other breeders continued to breed their dogs as working animals. Still, they did not register them, possibly crossing with different breeds and Dingos.

Restoration, recognition, and renaming of the Australian Bull Dog

By the 1980s, it was clear that the Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog was on the verge of extinction, at least as a purebred dog. In 1988, the ANKC announced a radical rescue program – a dog rehabilitation program. Individuals, like purebred Shorthorn Sheepdogs, were found throughout Australia. They were primarily but not exclusively working herding dogs.

These animals were judged on how closely they meet the “A” breed standards, which is the highest requirement. The offspring of two A-dogs was allowed to be registered as a purebred Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog. The rebuilding program proved very successful and significantly increased the number of registered breeders while preserving appearance and performance.

As the breed grew, a few short-tailed puppies began to be exported to other countries, notably New Zealand and the United States. In 1996, the United Kennel Club (UKC), the second largest dog registry in the United States and worldwide, fully recognized the Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog as a member of the Herding group. In 2002, the ANKC officially changed the breed’s name to the Australian Shorthaired Pointer, and the International Association of Women Professionals granted provisional breed recognition.

In 2006, officially completed, would add the gender reassignment program and no new non-pedigree dogs to the registered population. However, the number of breeding representatives has increased so much that now the species is in a reasonably safe position and is not subject to extinction. In addition, many full-fledged short-tailed representatives remain in the countryside as working animals.

Unlike most dog breeds today, the Australian Cattle Dog is considered almost exclusively a working animal and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. In recent years, some owners have started keeping members of the breed primarily as companion animals. But this variety demands a lot of exercise and physical stimulation, which is difficult for most families.

The overall population of the breed in its home country is now relatively stable. Still, these dogs are almost unknown in other parts of the world. Suppose the breed becomes popular in various countries. In that case, it will almost certainly become well established in countries such as the United States, which have many herd breeds, and perhaps appreciate and use the talents of the Australian shorthorn dog.

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