Breed History

Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog

The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog and the Australian Cattle Dog share the same early ancestry. Both breeds were developed from the Halls Heeler. It is thought that Thomas Hall's imported Drovers Dogs carried the gene for taillessness if, indeed, they were not stumpy-tailed themselves. The later development of the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog, however, diverged from that of the Australian Cattle Dog.

Thomas Hall's developmental breeding was carried out on Dartbrook but it is unrealistic to suppose that Hall retained direct and personal control of all later breeding. The size of the properties operated by the Hall family, and their distance from the Sydney markets drove the development of the Halls Heeler. Similar factors would have persuaded decentralised breeding.

It is probable that, after ca1840, the stockmen on the various Hall properties bred their own dogs, with interchange of breeding-stock between one property and another.Coincidentally, the Halls Heeler may have developed two differing strains: those bred on properties in northern New South Wales and Queensland, and those bred in the Upper Hunter Valley (Dartbrook) and further south.

It is thought that the incidence of stumpy-tailed (and red) Halls Heelers may have been larger in the northern strain than in the southern strain. Emphasis was on breeding for working ability and stamina and, if the stumpy-tailed Halls Heelers were workers of excellence, their taillessness would have been disregarded. In the Sydney area Kaleski's bias would further have discriminated against stumpy tailed dogs.

Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog ca 1938.

By the 1890s, the Cattle Dog was an exhibited breed in Queensland and Cattle Dog classes attracted both long-tailed and stumpy-tailed entrants. Some closely related entrants were of different tail type and in some shows, Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs comprised 50% of the Cattle Dog entry.

During the years following World War I, the popularity of the Stumpy Tail Cattle as a benched breed began a decline. The period saw a corresponding increase in the popularity of long-tailed Cattle Dogs with Sydney breeding behind them. A change in the regulations governing litter registrations, during the 1950s, accelerated the decline. By the 1960s, only one registered breeder of Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs remained: Mrs Iris Heale of Glen Iris Kennels.

By the 1980s, it became apparent that the Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog, as a registered breed, was approaching extinction. In 1988, the Australian National Kennel Council announced the Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog Redevelopment Scheme. The Upgrade Program, subsequently implemented, has been successful in its basic aim: that of preserving the bench breed.

In type, the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog has remained more faithful to the inferred Halls Heeler type, as expressed by Nipper, than has the Australian Cattle Dog.