© Familie Herbel - 35614 Asslar - Germany
Horseman’s Buddies Australian Cattle Dogs
When the first Europeans came to Australia at the end of the 18th century to settle there, nearly everything was strikingly different on this continent from their homes in the "old world". Even the most vivid imagination would not have been sufficient to intend a country like this where not only the landscape and the climate but also flora and fauna differed so much from what settlers had known so far. The first "settler" really had no choice - to be true, these settlers were prisoners from the overcrowded British prisons who were just shipped to the new colonies to give release to British prisons. However, the more people were brought to far Australia, the harder it became to feed them there. The native Australian people were hunters and collectors, there existed no agriculture on this vast continent so that it was necessary to ship nearly all victuals. There was only few space on the sailing ships to transport live stock and salted meat was just a bad substitute. It could be foreseen that feeding the steadily increasing number of deported persons was impossible to manage from England in the long run. It was rather suitable for that situation that reports about the far continent made free people from the fast growing English cities become interested in settling in Australia. Those who intended to emigrate to Australia were obliged to build up agriculture there. Lots of them really like to do that as they had the wish to live like farmer again, just like their forefathers did. Together with the lifestock there were also dogs brought to Australia, dogs that were at that time used to do their job on stockyards and in slaughterhouses in England. They were called Smithfields - not due to them belonging to a special breed but due to the place were these dogs were working, the Smithfield Meat Markets in London  that were the most important trading centres for  meat stock those days. Smithfield dogs were rather tall and had tousled hair - nowadays they would be described as a mixture of Bobtail and Bearded Collie. Some of the had  long, hairy tails, others were stumpy tailed. Least item seemed to be a remnant of the times when working dogs in England were marked as such by cutting the tails so that no tax had to be paid for them. The Smithfields did a good job at the harbours were the stock  was landed and at the stock markets located at the Australian shore, just like they used to do in their English home country. However, it turned out that these dogs were less adequate for the Australian Outback with its archaic landscape and its high temperatures. The dogs had severe problems finding ways through the seemingly endless country when heading to the incredible vast pastures in the Australian outback. The Smithfields simply were too heavy for these long and  exhausting trails and, moreover, their long tails and hair got tangled up in the prickly vegetation. The hot climate exhausted the dogs seriously so that they could only do their job with the livestock very limited and sometimes even not all. At those times working cattle without the help f dogs would have made stock-farming on those tremendously large pastures very difficult and not very efficient. Fences that could easily be installed or barbed wire were not invented, yet and it was very hard to fence in smaller areas with wooden barriers. Consequently, the cattle had to be  watched over around the clock. This kind of work demanded working dogs that  could easily adapt to the Australian living conditions. [...] Some time ahead, Thomas Hall, son of an English farmer dynasty, planned breeding a new Australian working dog with a little more sensitivity and breeder knowledge. First of all he spent dry periods where driving cattle made no sense with studying the dingoes intensively. For this reason he kept some of these animals on his own farm he may have taken over already tamed from the Aborigines to study their characteristics and behaviour thoroughly. Very soon Thomas Hall was convinced that the dingoes with their ideal physics an their quiet way to hunt were the right basis for an Australian working dog. He considered the drover dogs the English immigrants had important to be inadequate - however, it is not handed over if he had knowledge of the unsuccessful try to breed Smithfields to dingoes. Well, Hall now had to search for a dog breed that would pass on their capacity of working cattle to the planned new breed. He started to search among English dog breeds for specialists in herding cattle that also qualified themselves from their outer appearance to cope with the difficult Australian terrain. He learned from his parents that family members left behind in their former mother country worked dogs with cattle on their farms in Northumberland that would come up to his expectations concerning working abilities. These dogs bred by the Halls family were a variety of the so called "Cur Dogs" with short hair, often born with a stumpy tail. They were said to be fast, courageous and persevering and they had a natural tendency to heel, I. e., slightly biting the heels of the cattle to drive them. Some of these "Blue Merle Northumberland Drover's Dogs" were imported to Australia by Thomas Hall in 1830. These ancestors of today's Cattle Dogs owe their name their blue merle colour. However, these Drover's Dogs did not carry blue merle gene which is nowadays known among a lot of dog breeds, causing a similar colour. And, moreover, it is not relevant for the colour of their offspring although it is often falsely assumed. Unfortunately, history does not tell how Thomas Hall realised his plan of breeding herding dogs that were ideally adopted to Australian conditions. It is sure that he bred dingoes to Drover's Dogs, following his aims very directly an without making compromises. It is very likely that offspring that did not come up to his expectations had no chance within his breeding program. The Hall's Chronicles reveal that Thomas Hall owned already around 1840 a larger number of outstanding, self-bred dogs that helped him with the long-distance cattle drives from the heart of the country to the stockyards at the coast - dogs that gave Hall a tremendous advantage compared to the other cattle farmers. It was just due to these dogs which soon worked on all the Hall's farms that the Hall family could enlarge their properties and number of cattle during the following years. Consequently, the Hall family became one of the greatest cattle farmer dynasties among Australian farmers of that time. The Hall's dogs did a perfect job with the cattle and they cooperated very well with the mounted stockmen so that they were highly esteemed and in great demand by farmers in entire Australia. However, the dogs were exclusively bred on the ground of Hall's property for more than three decades and only passed on to farmers working for the Hall cattle empire. This fact gave them the name "Hall's Heeler". Only after Thomas Hall's death in 1870 and the death of his brother one year later, the Hall's Heelers were available for other farmers and slaughterhouse owners due to the sale by auction of the Hall properties. The former Hall's Heelers were now named "Queensland Heeler", "Australian Heeler", "Red Heeler" or "Blue Heeler" and  they rendered their new owners a good service. Today we know that these dogs were  decisively conducive to the rapid and positive development of the cattle industry on the fifth continent. In the eyes of  numerous cattle owners the working abilities made the heelers very valuable so that, even after 1870, the farmers avoided to spoil Hall's bloodlines by crossing heelers to other breeds. According to contemporary reports breeders thought for a long time that it was inevitable to cross dingoes in every fifth generation to preserve the typical heeler. If this crossing was practised cannot be proved as there exist no written records of that time.
Text: mit freundlicher Genehmigung von Andrea Kreusch Aus dem Buch: Australian Cattle Dog, Charakter Erziehung Gesundheit, Andrea Kreusch , Cadmos Verlag, 2009
Robert Kaleski, born in 1877, was the man who made the cattle driving dogs of the Hall family finally internationally known as "Australian Cattle Dog". He met these dogs when he was working as a stockman as a young man. In the first half of the 20th century Kaleski was noted as cynologic journalist when he wrote numerous newspaper articles and several books about the working dogs in Australia. An anecdote illustrates how much Kaleski appreciated the Cattle Dogs: Purely accidental Kaleski saw how two stockmen together with their dogs (no Cattle Dogs) unsuccessfully tried to drive a stubborn cattle from a mud hole back to the herd. Kaleski sent out his Cattle Dogs that commanded the cattle's respect immediately so that Kaleski could order the dogs to drive the poor cattle several times into the mud and out again. Obviously, it gave Kaleski a deep satisfaction that he could tell later that these two stockmen ordered a cattle puppy from him after this incident. Robert Kaleski's engagement for the breed went so far that he created the first breed standard for Cattle Dogs in 1903. Though Kaleski's standards were discussed controversially the breed standard was published and finally accepted as valid show standard from the "Kennel Club of New South Wales". All the standards for Australian Cattle Dogs published afterwards are based on what Kaleski once described as the typical characteristics of this dog breed. In 1914 Kaleski published a book entitled "Australian Barkers and Biters" dedicating the Cattle Dog an entire chapter. He enthusiastically describes these dogs as "non-hunting dogs, only interested in their work with cattle or horses".  Kaleski points out that meat would surely be "double the price" if there were no Cattle Dogs. He states: "The cattle herding would really be very costly without them. Normally,  one Cattle Dog replaces the working power of two men but in rough terrain even a dozen men cannot replace the dog's skills. With no effort the dogs go to places where no rider can go to and that as fast as a flash." Without questioning, Kaleski took over the thesis of the canine world, that breeding Dalmatian and Kelpies to Cattle Dogs had improved the dogs. His theory was that the Dalmatian as cart companion dog had passed on the sympathy for horses to the Cattle Dog  and the Kelpie had added the herding capacities to the breed. This thesis cannot be proved today. The gene causing the mottles among Dalmatian Dogs could not be found with the Cattle Dogs and the first Kelpies were brought from England to Australia in 1870. At that point of time the Hall's Heeler were established herding dogs for more than 30 years and had been working closely together with riders and horses for the same time. It is very likely that Kaleski tried to explain the specific outer appearance of the Australian Cattle Dogs in an "advertisive" way - the mottled fur of the Dalmatian and the tan markings of many Kelpies combined characteristics of these two breeds Kaleski considered to be desirable and a good sales promotion.             [...] However, the glory days of the working Australian Cattle Dogs are over on the fifth continent and won't return. What has stayed is the vivid impression these dogs have left behind. Even today the terms "Blue Heeler" or "Blue Dog" stand for a special Australian quality; these labels imply will to work, toughness, sensitivity and loyalty. In Australia, motels, bars, shoes, jeans and numerous companies carry the Blue Heeler in their names and even today the Blue Heeler on the back of a ute is a typical motif of the rural "Down Under". The little town Muswellbrook in Upper Hunter Valley even put up an oversize statue of the Blue Heeler. It is intended to the underline that the region - named "Blue heeler Country", of course - is the cradle of the famous Australian dog breed. Even the local Rugby team is called "Blue Heelers". Consequently, it seems to be more than likely that the Australian Cattle Dogs will keep their place in everyday life in their country of origin. In a lot of other countries of the world the Cattle Dog is just about to conquer a comparable firm place in the hearts of dog enthusiasts. If we consider the number of annually officially registered puppies, the Australian Cattle Dogs stands back behind more fashy breeds and breeds that are supposed to be easier to handle. Nevertheless, in 2008 they held the third place in the whelping statistics of the so called "Working Dog Group" with the remarkable number of 1118 puppies, registered by the Australian National Kennel Council. This number nearly has not changed during the last ten years. If you put the number of puppies in relation to the relatively small number of Australian inhabitants you will notice that Cattle Dogs are still very popular in their home country. The first Australian Cattle Dog Club abroad was founded in the USA in 1967. In 1980 the American Kennel Club (AKC) accepted the breed as such and gave permission for showing the breed on its shows. Since 1983 the Australian Cattle Dog is listed in the AKC "Herding Group". Today the "Australian Cattle Dog Club of America", affiliated with the AKC, represents the very active Australian Cattle Dog scene in the USA concerning breeding and dog sports. The first Australian Cattle Dogs came to Europe around 1970 finding new friends first in Sweden, Great Britain, the Netherland and afterwards Germany. In the meantime, you can find Australian Cattle Dogs nearly all over the European Continent. In Germany the members of the  Australian Cattle Dog Club Germany (ACDCD e. V.) , affiliated to the VDH, strive for breeding healthy, well-socialised Cattle Dogs following valid FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) standards. The number of Cattle Dogs bred in Germany moved steadily from only 42 puppies entered in the stud book of the VDH in 1998 to 133 puppies in 2007.
Ch. Little Logic (*1939), Vater: Mascot Gem; Mutter: Ch. Little Sally Ch. Nugget, Robert Kaleski's alter blue speckled Cattle Dog (1908-1912), Dingokreuzung Blick in die Bucht von Sydney, Port Jackson, August 1788 Von E. Dayes von einem Stich von T. Hunter.  Bild:  State Library of Victoria
In der Anfangszeit lebten die Viehzüchter hauptsächlich im Umland von Sydney (New South Wales). Im Laufe der Jahre wurde dann das Hinterland bis nach Queensland und Victoria erschlossen.
Smithfield Fleisch Markt, Foto ca. 1895 Betjeman, John. Victorian and Edwardian London  from Old Photographs. London: B. T. Batsford, 1969
Wildhund aus Australien: Der Dingo
(c) Alexander Estmo, jugendfotos.de Ein "Cur Dog", nach einem Stich von Thomas Bewick
‘Jack’ - ausgestellt als Cattle Dog - 1898
Robert Kaleski mit einem seiner Champion Hunde
Foto: the first five years, Donn & Deborah Harling, 1986
Ch. Nugget Robert Kaleski’s alter blue speckled Cattle Dog (1908-1912), Dingokreuzung
Ch. Little Logic (*1939), der wohl bekannteste Deckrüde und Urvater fast aller heutigen Cattle Dogs.
Ch. Logic Return, "schwerer Typ", (*1949)
Ch. Logic Return (*1949), Sohn von Ch. Little Logic, seinerzeit hocherfolgreich auf Ausstellungen
(C) Australian Cattle Dog Old Timers, C A Edwards (C) Australian Cattle Dog Old Timers, C A Edwards (C) Australian Cattle Dog Old Timers, C A Edwards Blue Heeler Statue, Muswellbrook (Höhe: 2m) (c) wikipedia.com
Erste ‘National Speciality’ des ACDCA in Calistoga, Kalifornien, 28. August 1976 Bester Hund der Show: Ch. Tallawong Blue Joshua
Foto: the first five years, Donn & Deborah Harling, 1986 Start Welcome About us Dogs Breeding Information Horses Gallery Contact Site credits Links Start Welcome About us Dogs Breeding Information Horses Gallery Contact Site credits Links