The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog has a unique place in Australia’s agricultural heritage. Bred during the 19th Century as a drover’s dog, traits of existing breeds such as the dingo and the Smithfield were selected and combined to produce a worker that could move untamed cattle across vast distances and rugged terrain. The evolution of the ASTCD began as early as the 1830s.
It is thought that a drover named Timmins crossed the Dingo, with its high intelligence and hardy nature, with an English breed of dog called the Smithfield, one or both of which may have been naturally bob-tailed. The results were red bob-tailed dogs known as ‘Timmins Biters’ because of their headstrong habits and very hard bite. The progeny from these dogs were probably crossed with the Blue Merle Smooth Collie which exhibited stronger traits of obedience and a gentler personality to produce what we have today – the Stumpy – considered by many farmers and drovers as the best working dog in the world.
The Stumpy, recognised by the Australian National Kennel Club and the FCI, is the result of years of selective, careful breeding. It is not a variety of the Australian Cattle Dog but a breed in its own right.
The breed still exhibits the tenacity, resourcefulness and larrikin character of those early Australian bush pioneers. These were qualities that would have been valued by drovers on a drive that stretched over thousands of miles and many months. Drovers and cattlemen needed more than a tireless, courageous worker: they valued a faithful, loyal mate.
The Stumpy is alert, watchful and obedient and while loving towards its family, it can be suspicious of strangers. The Stumpy is an excellent watchdog and is good with children and other dogs. It has a unique sense of humour rarely shown to outsiders.
In the 21st century the ‘stumpy’ is unparalleled as a companion, show dog and sporting dog, but he retains those unique qualities of the early drover’s dog. He is a brave, loyal, physically strong and highly intelligent dog. He possesses a rugged nobility, but is equally the ‘Aussie larrikin’ with a terrific sense of humour. He asks for activity, affection and lifelong commitment and will repay these tenfold throughout his life.
The ‘stumpy’ does not respond well to neglect or isolation, but, like most of us, thrives on inclusion and affection and lives for his pack or his person. The Stumpy is not the type of dog that enjoys sitting around the house or being tied up in the backyard, left to amuse itself with only sporadic exercise. It will become bored, unhappy and restless.
Although a working dog, the Stumpy can do well in urban environments if properly cared for. The Stumpy thrives on inclusion and needs to be a member of the family and be included in the family activities. It is important to remember that the Stumpy is a working dog and mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise.
It is highly recommended that new owners attend a “puppy pre school “ and obedience training and positive socialisation is a must. Any breed of dog is so much more pleasure if it has good manners and some kind of formal training.
People most suitable to have a Stumpy as a pet include: active and committed families or individual owners – those who take regular walks and enjoy sharing their activities with their dog are the most suitable to have the Stumpy as a pet. The Stumpy adores children, and behaves the best when brought up with them from puppy age. The Stumpy also gets along with other household pets as long as they are introduced slowly in a relaxed environment.
The Stumpy is often described as:
The Stumpy is a well proportioned, square-profiled, rugged looking working dog with male dogs standing 46-51cm (18-20in) at withers, and female dogs standing at 43-48cm (17-19in). It weighs from 18 to 22kg depending on sex, and lives on average to 15 years.
The Stumpy has a moderate foreface with deep, powerful jaws, tapering to a blunt strong muzzle. Its eyes should be almond shaped, dark brown and moderately sized, with an alert and intelligent expression. The Stumpy’s nose is always black, irrespective of the coat colour.
The Stumpy’s ears are moderately small, pricked and almost pointed. It has a “natural”, free and tireless gait that is capable of sudden, quick movement. The Stumpy’s tail is undocked, and at natural length, must not exceed 10cm (4in).
The Stumpy’s Coat: undercoat is dense and soft, while its outer coat is moderately short, straight with a medium harsh texture that is weather resistant. The Stumpy’s coat needs little care and is very easy to groom with a firm bristle brush doing the trick. Its coat, which usually sheds once or twice per year, comes in two colours including:
Blue – an even Blue Mottle or Blue Speckle without any red or tan
Red – an even Red Mottle of Red Speckle without any blue overlay
It is important to note that apart from other distinguishing features, unlike the ACD the Stumpy must not have tan markings. Other faults include cream or white undercoat and non-black nose or toenails.
Most breeds have some inherited conditions. The Stumpy is generally a sound, healthy breed but can be affected by the following conditions. Puppy buyers should make sure that their breeder is committed to health testing to safeguard their Stumpy companion for many, healthy years.
Prcd_PRA: is a hereditary disease and causes the dog to go blind, sometimes from as early as 3 years of age. There is a simple DNA test available for this disease and some reputable breeders are now testing for this disease.
Deafness: is also in the breed and there is also a test available for this. It is called BAER testing. Unfortunately the facility for this test is not available Australia wide and is limited to Sth Aust. NSW. and QLD.
Hips and Elbow Scoring: is also another routine screening done by reputable breeders.
As mentioned, the Stumpy requires little grooming but loves a bath or swim. The Stumpy can cope well in small backyard as long as it gets plenty of physical and mental exercise, affection and stimulation. The Stumpy’s intelligence and willingness to follow orders also makes obedience training a wise and fun idea.
A good balanced diet includes fresh meat, chicken, dry food, vegetables, rice and pasta, and readily available fresh water. See your vet for more information.
Choosing a Stumpy:
While the Stumpy is not the breed for everyone -if you are chosen by this breed it can be almost guaranteed you will never have another breed of dog.
Do your research carefully and make sure you purchase your Stumpy from a reputable breeder who is committed to health testing. This will ensure that you have your beloved Stumpy for many years. Always look for a puppy that is healthy, friendly and outgoing.