|Thomas Simpson Hall c. 1832.
Australian Cattle Dog and his cousin, the Australian
Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog, share common origins in the
Halls Heeler, a distinct working-dog breed developed
in the 1830s by Thomas Hall. Need drove the development
of the Halls Heeler and the early history of both breeds
is interlocked with the history of the Hall family
and the growth of the Hall cattle empire.
George Hall, with his wife and four young children, arrived in the
fourteen-year-old New South Wales Colony in 1802. At first, George
was put to work on a Government farm at Toongabbie but in 1803 he
was granted 100 acres on the Hawkesbury River, on the north-western
fringe of the Colony. George prospered and soon added to his land
holdings. By 1820 he owned or rented some 850 acres. George's family
also grew. Thomas (1808-1870) was one of six sons and three daughters.
|Jack, exhibited as a Cattle Dog in 1898.
Successful exploration during the 1810s
discovered rich grazing land to north, west and south
of the highlands that surround Sydney. John Howe, a close
friend of George Hall, established a useable track from
Windsor to the Hunter River in 1819 and in 1824 the younger
Halls, including Thomas, explored the Upper Hunter Valley
with the intention of selecting land. By 1825 the Halls
had established two cattle stations in the Upper Hunter
Valley, Gundebri and Dartbrook. Thomas Hall settled at
Dartbrook and his home became the base for the northward
expansion of the Halls' pastoral interests into the Liverpool
Plains, New England and Queensland.
Droving from the Hunter Valley stations to the Sydney meat markets,
along John Howe's original track, was difficult because of dense
scrub and difficult terrain. Droving from the Liverpool Plains runs
to Sydney presented a more acute problem. In droving terms, thousands
of head of cattle had to be moved for thousands of kilometres along
unfenced stock routes, including through the rugged Liverpool Range.
A note, in his own writing, records Thomas Hall's anger at losing
200 head in scrub.
A droving dog was desperately needed but
the colony offered nothing suitable. The colonial working
dogs are understood to have been of Old English Sheepdog
type (commonly referred to as Smithfields), imported
from the south of England. Jack , a dog of this type,
was photographed at the Metropolitan Intercolonial Exhibition,
Sydney, in 1898, where he was exhibited as a Cattle Dog.
With their heavy build, shaggy coats and intolerance
to climatic and vegetation conditions, the Colonial Smithfields
were useful only over short distances and for yard work
with domesticated cattle.
Thomas Hall addressed the problem.
|Modern British working-dog. Photo, courtesy David Hancock
For some years, Thomas had kept Dingoes at Dartbrook for study and
realised that they had potential in the development of a working
dog. He now looked for a second breed to cross with Dingo. Probably
on the advice of his parents (both from farming backgrounds), Thomas
imported Drovers Dogs from his parents home county, Northumberland.
For convenience the Hall family historian, A J Howard, gave these
dogs a name: Northumberland Blue Merle Drovers Dog; drovers dog for
their function and blue merle for their blue mottled colour.
These Drovers Dogs had long been bred for their working characteristics
and distinctive colour by ancestral Halls and other farmers
in Northumberland and across the border in Scotland.
By the early 1830s, when Thomas Hall imported his Drovers
Dogs, these and many other Drovers Dog strains were becoming
extinct in Britain. The distinctive blue colour, however,
is still to be seen in some modern British working dogs.
It is not associated with the Merle gene.
|The Cur Dog, from an engraving by Thomas Bewick.
The origins of the Northumberland Blue Merle Drovers Dog are obscure.
The short coat, conformation and natural taillessness of the Cur
Dog, illustrated by Bewick and other early British writers, suggest
that the Cur was one of the ancestors. Some of these early writers
describe the Cur as a Drovers Dog. Thomas Hall's imports may, or
may not, have been tailless themselves. As possible carriers of taillessness,
they are the most likely source of taillessness in the Australian
Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog.
Thomas Hall crossed his Drovers Dogs with
his Dingoes and by 1840 was satisfied with his resultant
breed. During the next thirty years, the Halls Heelers,
as they became known, did not disperse beyond the Hall
properties. The Halls were dependent on the dogs and,
given the number and size of the runs needing Halls Heelers,
it is unlikely that there was a surplus. Besides, the
dogs gave the Hall family an advantage over its competitors
in the cattle industry.
After Thomas Hall's death in 1870, the Hall cattle empire came to
an end. The runs in northern New South Wales and Queensland went
to auction with the stock on them and, for the first time, Halls
Heelers became freely available. Some were retained by stockmen from
the former Hall properties and others were eager to own them. It
is thought, for example, that the stockman, Jack Timmins, acquired
his famed Timmins Biters (Halls Heelers) at this time. The wholesale
butcher, Alexander Davis, is said to have brought Halls Heelers to
Sydney, from the Hunter Valley, to work in his cattle yards and move
cattle from yards to abattoir.
|Wooleston Blue Jack
By the 1890s, Halls Heelers, by then known simply as Cattle Dogs,
had attracted the attention of several Sydney dog breeders with interests
in the show ring, of whom the Bagust family (particularly Harry Bagust,
c.1860-1914) was the most influential. In 1897, Robert Kaleski (1877-1961)
drew up the first Breed Standard for the Cattle Dog. Kaleski's Standard
was published by the NSW Department of Agriculture in 1903 and re-published
in 1910. From 1903 until his death, Kaleski campaigned tirelessly
for true recognition of Australian stock dogs - Cattle Dogs and Kelpies.
Also in the 1890s, Cattle Dogs of Halls Heeler derivation were seen
in the kennels of exhibiting Queensland dog breeders such as William
Byrne of Booval (near Ipswich). It is thought that these Cattle Dogs
were obtained from former Hall properties in southern Queensland
and northern New South Wales.
The early exhibited Cattle Dog population in Queensland differed
from the parallel population in New South Wales. The Queensland population
included both long-tailed and stumpy-tailed types and both types
were exhibited in the same classes. Stumpy-tailed exhibits were sufficiently
strong in numbers by 1917 for some shows to have introduced separate
classes for long-tailed and stumpy-tailed entrants. Queensland also
had a marked preference for blue. Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs appear
not to have been exhibited in New South Wales and there is evidence
of strong discrimination against them. Red speckled Cattle Dogs were,
however, accepted in New South Wales and the Royal Agricultural Society
of New South Wales introduced separate classes for them in 1918.
The early Queensland population progressively lost its identity,
however, except in the kennels of the few breeders that were dedicated
to Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs. William Byrne (his early breeding included
stumpy-tailed Cattle Dogs) is the first Queensland breeder known
to have favoured New South Wales bred Cattle Dogs. His first was
Rowdy , probably whelped 1899, and others followed during the next
twenty years. Byrne may even have set a trend; other breeders certainly
followed his lead. The number of Sydney bred dogs found in Brisbane
and Ipswich kennels increased during the 1920s and 1930s. They included
Little Logic , whelped 1939. There was no corresponding Sydney interest
in Queensland-bred dogs until after World War II. Cattle Dogs, known
as Australian Heelers or Queensland Heelers, became an exhibited
breed in Victoria during the 1930s and Victorian breeders also shopped
Royal Shows were suspended during World
War II and resumed in 1947. Sydney exhibitors saw Little
Logic offspring, for the first time, among entrants at
the Sydney Royal of 1947. These exhibits, and their sires'
show record, created immediate demand for Little Logic's
lineage. By the end of the 1950s, there were few Australian
Cattle Dogs whelped that were not Little Logic descendants.
The convergence on Little Logic continued into the next
generation when Little Logic's best known son, Logic
Return , also attained prominence in the show ring and
popularity at stud (initially in Brisbane and later in
The prominence of
Little Logic and Logic Return in the pedigrees of modern
Australian Cattle Dogs was perpetuated by Wooleston Kennels.
Whelped in 1965, Wooleston Blue Jack was line bred to
Little Logic and Logic Return , and Wooleston Kennels
subsequently line bred to Wooleston Blue Jack , himself.
For some twenty years, Wooleston supplied foundation
and supplementary breeding stock to breeders in Australia,
north America and Continental Europe. As a result, Wooleston
Blue Jack is ancestral to most, if not all, Australian
Cattle Dogs whelped since 1990 in any country.
Looking back from a 2000's perspective,
Wooleston's most influential client was Tallawong Kennels
in Victoria. Starting with Wooleston Blue Jenny , Tallawong
line bred to Wooleston and, by the late 1970s operated
as a closed kennel, breeding back to its own lineage.
No other lineage is as pervasive in the Australian Cattle
Dog population of the 2000s as Tallawong and no dog's
descent is as strongly expressed in the modern population
as Wooleston Blue Jack's , both via Tallawong and independently
of that lineage.
The Role and Impact of Robert Kaleski
Robert Kaleski, a younger breeding associate
of Harry Bagust, was a tireless advocate and long-term
publicist for the Cattle Dog and other Australian working
dogs. Without him they would have lacked an effective
voice. He was heard frequently, and particularly in Sydney's
weekly newspaper, the Sydney Mail , appealing for true
recognition of the role that Cattle Dogs and Kelpies
had played, and were playing, in Australia's cattle and
|Robert Kaleski (1877- 1961)
In the pages of the Sydney Mail , Kaleski begged the organisers of
the Sydney Royal Show to increase the prize money offered to the
agricultural breeds, as an incentive to working stockmen to exhibit
their dogs. He pointed out that suburban breeders, being unaware
of their importance, were likely to lose some of the important working
characteristics in the dogs they bred. Some of his comments on the
exhibited dogs of the 1920s and 1930s show that he saw evidence that
some Sydney breeders were breeding Cattle Dogs of a type that were
far removed from the Cattle Dogs of the early 1900s; photographs
from the period support his observations. His pleas for higher prize
money went unheeded.
|Nipper , bred by Harry Bagust in 1899
the first Standard for the Cattle Dog breed in 1897 and
had it published, with photographs, by the New South
Wales Department of Agriculture in 1903 and 1910.
Nipper , bred by Harry Bagust, appears to be a classical exemplar
of the breed that Kaleski described and is probably close to Halls
Heeler in type and conformation. Rural Cattle Dogs, photographed
in the 1940s and believed to have been bred from Halls Heeler stock,
Kaleski's Standard was taken up by breed clubs in
Queensland and New South Wales and re-issued as their
own, with local changes. Despite the modifications
to Kaleski's Standard and despite Kaleski's own prejudice
against red coat colour and taillessness, his Standard
was the first great step in establishing the breeds
Kaleski's versions of Breed Origins
Kaleski's Department of Agriculture publications in the 1910s are
written with authority and, combined with the photographs that
accompanied them, give insight into the early development of the
Cattle Dog and the breed type for which he wrote the Standard.
In his later writings, however, Kaleski introduced some contradictory
and unlikely assertions. With the passage of time, these have been
generally accepted. The most enduring of Kaleski's myths relate
to alleged early Dalmatian and Kelpie infusions, said to have been
introduced by the Bagusts into the early Cattle Dog breed. These
infusions are not referred to in Kaleski's writings until the 1920s
and there is no evidence that they occurred in the mainstream early
development of the Cattle Dog.
Kaleski was preoccupied by similarities. For example, for him a
red Cattle Dog looked more like a Dingo than a blue Cattle Dog
did; therefore there was more Dingo in its total make-up. It seems
likely that Kaleski sought to explain the Cattle Dogs mottled colouration
and tan on legs by similarity to the Dalmatian and Kelpie, respectively.
Having done so, he had then to produce reasons for introducing
these breeds, and particularly the strange choice of Dalmatian.
The genetics of coat colour, alone, make the Dalmatian an extremely
unlikely mainstream ancestor of the Australian Cattle Dog.
In 1911 the Cattle Dog would, according to Kaleski, "make any horse
or beast lead, and watch his owner's property when the latter was
away from it" and would "gallop to the head of a mob and hold it
there". A working dog of perfection.
From a functional viewpoint, the alleged Dalmatian infusion (it
was first mentioned in the Australian Encyclopaedia in 1926)
was "needed" to
instill a love of horses and guarding instincts into the breed
and the alleged Kelpie infusion was "required" because the Cattle
Dog "could not be sent ahead to block or wheel [the mob]". Kaleski's
reasons for these infusions were in complete contradiction to
his earlier (1911) statements.
In 1935, by which time the Bagusts were long dead, Kaleski re-affirmed
both infusions and specifically attributed them to the Bagusts.
The Dalmatian and Kelpie myths became increasingly elaborate
with time and eventually Kaleski was able to tell us which Dalmatian
(he belonged to "one of the Stephens, a very old Sydney legal family")
and which Kelpies (black-and-tan dogs, "Maidens dogs, if I remember
aright"). Kaleski also mentioned an early Bull Terrier infusion,
but not by the Bagusts.
Given Kaleski's self-contradictions and the belated accounts of
the alleged Dalmatian and early Kelpie infusions, it is unlikely
that either occurred although the Bull Terrier infusion is probable.
This was also the opinion of Alan Forbes ( Pacific Kennels), who
lectured to trainee judges during the 1960s for the RAS Kennel
Control, and of Berenice Walters, Wooleston Kennels.
Various other infusions have certainly occurred during the last
100 years, either by accident or by design. The photographic record
includes some very atypical Cattle Dogs, and chocolate and cream
miscolour in both modern Cattle Dog breeds has been substantiated.
Dingo re-infusions are also well known, dating from the early years
of the twentieth century to more recent dates.
Despite his lapse in the matter of breed origins, however, it is
hard to believe that the Cattle Dog breeds would have endured without
the dedication and commitment of Robert Kaleski.
The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle
|Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs were evidently
taken for granted in Queensland; a stumpy-tailed Cattle
Dog illustrated an article on the Cattle Dog in The
Courier-mail Dog Book (1938).
The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog and the Australian Cattle
Dog share the same early ancestry (see above). Both breeds were
developed from the Halls Heeler and 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
and Hall is understood to have been satisfied with the result by
c.1840. No records survive 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 had driven the development of
the Halls Heeler. Similar factors would have persuaded decentralised
breeding. It is thought that, after c.1840, the stockmen on the
various Hall properties bred their own dogs, with interchange of
breeding-stock between one property and another.
As a result of decentralised breeding, the Halls Heeler seems to
have developed two 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 would appear that the
incidence of stumpy-tailed Halls Heelers was greater 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
After Thomas Hall's death in 1870, the Hall cattle empire came
to an end. The runs in northern New South Wales and Queensland
went to auction with the stock on them. Halls Heelers from the
postulated northern (stumpy-tailed) strain were already in Queensland
and northern New South Wales, and generally available to stockmen
from the early 1870s.
By the 1890s, the Cattle Dog was an exhibited breed in Queensland.
Although separate classes were not scheduled at Brisbanes National
Agricultural and Industrial Association shows until 1917, it is
evident that the earlier Cattle Dog classes attracted both long-tailed
and stumpy-tailed entrants, and that some of the entrants were
related. 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
The name of the breed was changed to Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle
Dog on 1 January 2002 and in December 2002 the Breed Standards
Commission of the Federation Internationale Cynologique accepted
the Country of Origin Breed Standard for the Australian Stumpy
Tail Cattle Dog.
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. The onus rests with judges
and breeders, to ensure that the Stumpy's distinctive type does
Clark, N R. A DOG CALLED BLUE : the Australian Cattle
Dog and the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle
Dog 1840-2000. N R Clark, Sydney, 2003.
Hewson-Fruend, H J. Changes in Australian Cattle Dog Breed Standards
and Type, in N R Clark:
A Dog Called Blue , Chapter 10. N R Clark, Sydney, 2003.
Hewson-Fruend, H J. Inheritance of Coat Colour in the Australian
Cattle Dog and the Australian
Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog., in N R Clark: A Dog Called Blue , Chapter
12. N R Clark, Sydney, 2003.
Merchant, B M. The Redevelopment of the Australian Stumpy Tail
Cattle Dog, in N R Clark: A Dog
Called Blue , Chapter 11. N R Clark, Sydney, 2003.
© Noreen R Clark 2003
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