Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog



The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is the original Australian working dog, developed before the Australian Cattle Dog and the Australian Kelpie. Known affectionately as ‘the Stumpy’, it is a descendant from the Smithfield, a black and white rough-coated ‘bobtail’ dog that originally came from the Smithfield Markets in England. The Smithfield was used to herd just about everything from ducks and geese to cattle. Through selective breeding of bobtail dogs, the Stumpy was developed in the mid-19th century.


The Stumpy has a natural aptitude in the working and control of cattle. It is loyal, courageous and above all devoted to its owner, but may be reserved towards strangers. It is ever alert, watchful and obedient, and must be amenable to handle in the show ring.


The Stumpy is a medium-sized, well-proportioned working dog that is rather square in profile. The breed has two colours – blue and red. There can be no tan markings on the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog. The Stumpy should be clean and tight and has a hard-bitten, rugged appearance. It is never fat but must be well-muscled, so as to endure long periods of arduous work.


In terms of grooming, the maintenance of the Stumpy is low. A weekly brush is all that is needed and a bath when necessary. In terms of exercise however, the Stumpy is high maintenance. It is an incredibly intelligent breed with high energy levels; if an Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog gets bored, it will find ways to entertain itself, such as digging holes or pulling washing off the line.


In general, the Stumpy is a relatively healthy, robust breed. Prcd-PRA can occur in the breed; this condition causes progressive vision loss, however a DNA test is available. Non-form PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) can only be identified through eye examination, not through a DNA test. Examination of breeding stock by an ophthalmologist is recommended. Deafness can occur, for which a BAER test is available. Hip and elbow scoring should also be carried out to identify any dysplasia. 


This breed will not tolerate isolation or neglect; it craves family, activity and training. Unless the Stumpy is kept physically and mentally active, it will become destructive and unruly.

The ideal Stumpy owner is a committed, active and experienced dog owner. This is not a part-time breed. Early socialisation with dogs and people is recommended for a well-rounded companion. Training and firm leadership is essential.

As a thinking dog, the Stumpy will compensate for any weakness in leadership by taking the place at the top of the pack. ‘Firm’ does not mean ‘hard’; the Stumpy’s eagerness to please you means that consistency, reinforcement and reward will go much further than punishment.

Words: The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog Club of NSW
Image: Ffire Photography

In Conclusion

Now you know a little about the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog you may have think that this is the dog for you. Before you make a decision, please make contact with the breed club or your State controlling body for purebred dogs. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog and its needs and whether this breed would suit your lifestyle.


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