Monday, May 21, 2012

Unusual Breed: Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog

The Australian stumpy tail cattle dog is also known as the stumpy tail cattle dog, stumpy tail, and stumpy
The Australian stumpy tail cattle dog looks quite a bit like the Australian cattle dog, and the two breeds do share some history. The origins of both breeds are believed to started with crosses between collies and other herding dogs with the dingo. However, there are some notable differences between the two breeds. The stumpy is significantly lighter in build and has longer legs when compared to the Aussie. Though the two breeds come in basically the same two colors (red and blue), blue stumpies cannot have tan points, while blue Aussies must have tan points. Stumpies are also natural bobtails and, as is so often the case with bobtails, puppies with tails are born regularly. However, docking of tails appears to not be allowed by the standard, and thus only the dogs born with a bobtail can be shown. Some standards only imply this, but others state outright that docking will cause a dog to be eliminated from the show right.

Stumpies are medium in size, ranging between seventeen and twenty inches in height. The breed is what you would expect from a herding breed: active and intelligent. Aiming to please, they learn quickly. They also tend to be wary with strangers and quite loyal to their owners. However, aggression isn't allowed as, according to the standard, the dogs must be able to be examined by a judge. As for the breed's health, a number of issues can occur. These include deafness, elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and hip dysplasia.

I do find it quite interesting that the blue coloration seen in this breed has been attributed to early breeding to merle collies, when the "blue" in the stumpy and the "blue" that is merle have completely different genes that cause them

Sources are the Fédération Cynologique Internationale, United Kennel Club, Australian National Kennel Council Ltd, Canada's Guide to Dogs, and Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog Club of NSW Inc. Image is from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

22 comments:

  1. If you want to make it really confusing, for some odd reason, it's common for people to dock Australian cattle dogs/Queenlsand heelers.

    At least in the US, it is.

    In my area, you can't get one that is undocked.

    It makes no sense.

    You can't show an ACD with no tail.

    And most of these dogs aren't even registered.

    So what's the point?

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    1. I suspect they probably do it because they think it will prevent injury? This is a common statement made by those who own breeds that are docked on a regular basis like Rottweilers, et al.

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    2. Although your statement is about ACD, this article is not about ACD. It pertains to a Stumpy. Stumpy is a cow dog, but not a ACD. So the point about the tail is irrelevant to this article posting. Stumpy's are born with no tail. There is no discussion about cutting the tail. In the irregular situations in which one is born with a tail, there may be consideration to dock the tail.

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    3. Can a stumpy tail be bred to a stumpy tail? Someone in a livestock-related forum is arguing that breeding a NBT to NBT (natural bobtail) will cause severe spinal mutation, resulting in "spontanious abortion, reabsorbtion or mutated puppies that die shortly after birth due to spinal issues." If they can be bred together I would love to hear more on the subject, and any online articles or information relating to it that I can share with her.

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  2. Shortly after World War II, a few American GI's that had been stationed in the Pacific and had spent R&R in the land downunder had the opportunity to observe "blue and red heelers" working stock in the outback.

    When these guys got back home and realized how wild their own livestock had become, it was determined to import some of the dogs they had seen working. Those first groups of imports included the "Stumpy Tail" cattle dog and the "Australian Cattle Dog". Both breeds were often simply referred to as blue heelers.
    Unknown by the Americans, the Australians had sent BOTH breeds over. It was not a malicious thing, after all, there was no registry in the US for either breed at the time and the Americans just wanted tough tireless dogs to control stock with.

    As time progressed and more dogs were needed, the Americans were breeding the two breeds together. After all no one had ever said "Dont cross breed them, they are two different breeds". This practice had a downside. Litters had pups born with tails, without tails, and some with badly kinked and crooked tails. Someone started docking tails most likely in an effort to give the litter a more uniform appearance. Even today you will see cattle dogs that have been docked. Its one of those things that has been going on for decades and almost no one remembered how it had begun.

    The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog descended from the original cross of the Smithfield, being a black and white bob tailed dog with a long dense coat, and the dingo, by a drover named Timmins. The progeny were red bob tailed dogs which were known as Timmins Biters. These red bob tails were later mated with a blue merle smooth coated collie. This produced both red bob tail and blue or blue mottled bob tail dogs. The latter having black patches on the head and some black patched on the body.

    Although the Stumpy tail is relatively uncommon around the show ring (even in Australia) it is held in high esteem in the country as a wiry, tireless and intelligent worker.

    The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog possesses the same natural aptitude in working and control of cattle as it's cousin the Australian Cattle Dog, and is also a loyal and courageous companion.

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  3. The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog, while at first glance appears to resemble the Australian Cattle Dog. Closer examination reveals that apart from the absence of tail there are several major differences.

    The body is square and thus appears leggier. It has length of leg like the dingo, so as to allow the distance from the elbow to ground to be more than half that from the withers to ground.

    The ears are moderately small, pricked and almost pointed. Set higher on the head than the Australian Cattle Dog and as wide apart as possible.

    The Stumpy Tail has a high set undocked tail. It is not to be longer than four inches, and not to be carried much above the level of the back.

    Due to the absence of the black and tan Kelpie in the makeup of the Stumpy, it does not possess to Black and Tan gene thus the color is blue, blue speckled or blue mottled. Both the head and body may have black markings, but tan markings are not allowed. Up until the '60's tan was accepted It is said that the presence of tan indicates the introduction of the Australian Cattle Dog. It was known that some breeders did cross their ACD's with the Stumpy. It was not acceptable then nor is it acceptable now. The red speckle must be a good red speckle all over, and darker red markings are allowed on head and body.

    The gait of the two breeds is influenced by the variation in the height to length ratios, square as opposed to 10 is to 9. The Australian Cattle Dog has more angulation, therefore has greater length of stride. The Stumpy has a tendency toward an apparent rotary action of the hindquarter and an ambling movement at slow speed.

    The breed was re-organized by the Australian National Kennel Council in 1988. At this time there were not huge numbers of registered Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs but the numbers are growing as more people become aware of the versatility of the breed. The ANKC set up a grading system which is enforced by a panel of 3 judges who inspect each dog wishing to be registered. There are three types of classification: 'Fully Registered' being from two registered parents. "A" Grade being from a registered dog or bitch and a non registered dog or bitch with the necessity to conform to type as per the Breed Standard as judged by the panel. 'B Grade' is a secondary classification for dogs which may not fully conform to the Breed Standard but have other attributes which clearly define them as an Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog and as being a distinctly different breed from the Australian Cattle Dog.
    The grading system was dropped a few years ago and registration within ANKC follows the usual methods.
    BTW........tha ACD is never referred to as an 'Aussie'. The Australian Shepherd is commonly called an Aussie and is a totally different breed of dog. Cheers, grace

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    1. Grace, thanks for expanding on the information I have given. You've touched on basically every point I have made. I intend these posts to be short tidbits to inform people of breeds that they are less likely to have heard of before. If they want to know more, they can then start doing a little research for themselves.

      I have heard cattle dogs being referred to as Aussies before and I don't see why this would be an incorrect designation. Calling them Australian is definitely more fitting than calling Australian shepherds Australian since that breed was developed in the United States.

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    2. Its all about custom. My Austraiian shep. were and are always called Aussies. My ACD...I call ACD. Never the less, I love both.

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  4. WOW! Thanks, Grace, for all that knowledge you just dropped!... is what this author should have said.

    I appreciate your clarification as it perfectly answered my personal query. I just adopted an adult ACD who displays traits from both standards (tall & slightly sloped, tailless, blue and red coloring) and I was wondering if she could be a Stumpy Tail. But with your comprehensive comparison and history of the breeds, I've realized she's just an American bastard! Well, I guess that suits me :)

    Author, you need to work on your courteousness.

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  5. Would it be fair to say that the stumpy has the same lethal bob gene as the aussie? And what precentage of pups have health issues from that? Only one site I have found that says they are stumpy breeders mentions spina bifida. Is this something stumpy breeders want to cover up?

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  7. I do wish there were more Stumpy breeders in the U.S. Just like anything else, when someone has the monopoly or supply is short, it has issues both good and bad.

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  8. In January '09 we rescued Brit, 5 1/2 months old, from our town's shelter. She was picked up by Animal Control while walking unattended and without tags on a residential street. We'd never adopted/rescued a dog before, and I actually prayed the night before we went to the pound that we'd find just the right dog for us. Our prayer was answered - what a blessing she's been! She's so smart it's scary, she's affectionate and protective, and she's especially close to my husband who's suffering from early-onset dementia; she's practically his caregiver, following him wherever he walks in the house and keeping watch over him when he's lying down. For the first year or so that she was with us we assumed that she was a red heeler mix because of her stumpy tail, broad back and generally unremarkable appearance. Then her coat became so thick and woolly that we had her groomed closely (we live in the high desert of New Mexico), and she took on a far more distinctive appearance. There's no doubt in my mind now that she's a stumpie-tailed red heeler, especially after seeing several online photos of the breed, both blues and reds. We've been very blessed; adopting a shelter puppy is like buying a box of chocolates (you know the rest). But Brit has turned out to be a fantastic companion; high energy, to be sure, but simply a perfect addition to our family of two. In the past I had two pure-bred Shelties, beautiful, intelligent, exceptionally sweet dogs, but as I've gotten older I've developed a special compassion for pound puppies. I'm so glad we chose adoption rather than purchase; actually, SHE rescued US. I doubt we'll ever go to a breeder again, since our experience with Brit has been so happy and fulfilling. It feels wonderful to have saved a precious life, and we've been greatly rewarded with her unconditional love in addition.

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  9. Came hear doing some research on this particular breed and Australian Cattle Dog. Both breeds have caused problems on our farm, whilst other breeds have not. Prone to obsessive behaviour, untrustworthy around other farm animals, and generally lacking in obedience is what I have noticed. Basically, I've got to know 2 particular ACD's very well, and a bob-tail which visited the farm made quick work of a rooster, ripping its head off. These type of dogs may be suited for particular purposes around cattle, but otherwise they shows too many traits often associated with Australian males - stupidity and aggression. Lucky they don't like beer, otherwise it would be a perfect match. Sorry for the negativity, but these type of dogs are woeful when compared to border collies or German Shepherds. Therein lies the difference I suppose - a working dog breed for sheep verse ones bred for cattle. The sheep dogs use intelligence, whereas the cattle dogs require aggression; sheep being smaller, sensitive, and flightie, while cattle are big and sluggish, needing the odd nip to keep them in line.

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    1. Bull shit. That's the only response your comments deserve.

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    2. 'Canis' is correct 'Deuce Bagg' & people who intend to have this breed of dog should educate themselves before owning one. I have had this breed of dog since I was a child in Australia- I am in my mid 50's & still have them but at least I know the pitfalls when raising this breed. Very loyal dogs but need supervision, training & discipline. They are a very active working dog-(Bred to bite & bark) & were used to muster large wild beef cattle such as the Brahman bulls that were used for breeding tough cross-bred cattle in the harsh & rugged top end of Queensland/Northern Territory in Australia's early history. The 'Purebred' stumpy tail Cattle Dog is not a good general farm dog & should be watched around smaller animals, pets & kids. I have seen sheep mauled, chooks, ducks, geese killed, horses chased or pet cats attacked by stupid hobby farmers who use them on their small farms as a general farm dog/pets. They were crossbred with Australia's wild dingo & Australia's dingo is a hunter/scavenger like the wolf. The 'Stumpy' was bred to be tough, agile & be capable of biting/snapping like the dingo when needed. This dog was bred for a particular reason & not as a back yard family pet. They are faithful to their owners or family with older children & do make great guard/protection dogs but this breed does need constant stimulation & activity to be happy in a back yard environment.

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  10. I rescued a stumpy last July; he is now about 1 1/2 years old. He had no chip, no collar, and no training. Within 3 weeks he learned sit, down, come, stay, and heel. I cannot seem to teach Himalayan "off", but we keep trying. He is amazingly smart, and follows me everywhere in the house and yard. He fetches a rope or ball, drops it when asked. He was horribly head shy when I got him, so I think he was abused in his other home. Yes, he is full of energy, and we walk 3-4 miles at a time. Even off leash he obeys all the commands. He is loving and devoted, and sleeps very close to my knees (I think to always know where I am). It has taken me these 9 months to finally find out what kind of dog he is, having never seen a dog like this before.

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  11. Our ACD of 16 yrs required a bit of training to deal with nipping at heels and slight aggression towards other dogs but only for less than a month after we rescued her from the humane society. She was predominantly a fun, loving dog with great intelligence and self control. I think that ACDs (Stumpy tailed cattledogs) are likely to be a reflection of their "owners". A bitter impatient self-centered judgmental owner is not a dog's guardian and will manifest those traits in his dog.

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  12. We have a six year old blue stumpy. We rescued her around 2yrs from northern California thinking she was a cattle dog but quickly discovered what she was through photos online. (She was found in ranch country on the freeway -- because of her fears when we drive or travel on the freeway, we believe she either fell out or was abandoned or kicked out of a moving vehicle). First, let me say we adore her and that she is funny, sweet, terrifically smart, loving (to us), and loyal. However, from the get go we had problems with other dogs, especially small dogs. I've found everything said above to be true, and I'm not surprised by "Canis's" comments. She's tough and aggressive, tramples small dogs and chases birds. Originally, my parents, who are Border Collie owners, thought it was strange she had such a strong prey drive, but after reading Grace's post, I'm not surprised. We do have another dog, half her size, who she is fiercely protective of (will attack any dog who gets near him). Furthermore, we have big problems with her eyes. When we adopted, she had undiagnosed Distemper virus and went blind for six weeks. Her eyesight came back, but two years later, we learned she has glaucoma - at first secondary to the retinal damage from the virus, but now he thinks she has primary glaucoma, too, because it's progressing quickly. The doc insists it isn't PRA, but I can't help but wonder... In any case, these dogs should only belong to people who are highly dedicated to their exercise (ours runs on the beach and chases ball) and to the health care they may need. And don't expect a warm and cuddly dog around guests or other dogs...unless perhaps the dog is highly socialized from birth (which we were unable to do). I agree with Grace -- these were dogs bred for a very specific purpose...yet, here they are, showing up in shelters, and some of us will have to (and want to) deal with their very special needs.

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    1. I meant to say that Robyn's comments also rang true to me (prey drive)...

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