|JUDGING THE AUSTRALIAN STUMPY TAIL CATTLE DOG:|
|Identifying True STUMPY Type|
|by Carolwyn Beckett B. Ed (sec)|
|There still appears to be a number of judges who are failing to recognise or reward true stumpy type. The Stumpy is NOT a variety of the regular Australian Cattle Dog (ACD), he has many unique features which, when present combine to determine his individual breed type. These distinct differences must be actively sought and rewarded when they are present. Only by doing this will we send a clear message to judges, breeders and exhibitors on just what a Stumpy should be !
And yet many judges are placing dogs that clearly exhibit ACD features. This may be because they either are not fully aware of just what constitutes Stumpy type, or maybe because they do not have 'typey' specimens exhibited under them. Either way the judge must send a clear message to exhibitors. It is not good enough to say that, "You only have a small gene pool so I will give you all awards anyway." The exhibitor misinterprets this as a ringing endorsement and their view is ";Why improve when I am already winning". I am not saying that awards should be withheld, rather that judges must search for a specimen that exhibits true TYPE and take it further. And when the reverse in true only award breed placings.
So just what is STUMPY TYPE? I would like to now detail individual properties that should be present in the ideal Stumpy and specifically how these finer points differ in look to the ACD.
GENERAL APPEARANCE: What do we immediately look for when a Stumpy enters the ring. As he goes around we want to see a much more refined dog than the ACD, but he must not be week or fine boned. Rather he has a cleaner more sculptured outline. This impression is created by the greater leg length and shorter coat that a Stumpy posesses. He is somewhat more upright than the ACD but must still show good reach and drive.
Above all, we see a square dog, of medium size that is obviously whole coloured blue or red.
HEAD, EYES, EARS: He has now stopped and we approach the front of the dog to go over him. What must we be looking for? The appearance of the head is that of a wedge. He is much longer in foreface than the ACD and so noticable different in look. We would want to see a head where the skull and muzzle are equal in length and much longer than the ACD. The Stumpy's skull is not as wide as that of the ACD, but the whole head must still give the impression of great strength. Remember that both of these breeds are used for the same purpose. The muzzle must never appear snipey and there should be great strength in the underjaw region.
The EYES are another unique feature of the breed and are very important. Incorrect eye shape not only gives an uncharacteristic look but also tells us that the head shape is not quite right. The true eye should be
almond shaped. When the almond shape is present we can be almost assured that the correct head length is also present. This shape is reminisent of his collie and dingo ancestry, both of which must have the almond eye. And certainly in overall look the Stumpy more closely resembles the dingo that any other breed including the ACD. Today we find that many Stumpies being exhibited have a round and even protruding eye. This is totally foreign to the breed and suggests either ACD ancestry or lack of attention to true type on the part of the breeder.
The EARS are another dictinct feature that clearly sets the Stumpy apart from the ACD. The standard clearly states that the ears must be 'high set' but too often we see dogs with ACD ear sets. The tips of the the Stumpy's ears should point to 11 o'clock and 1 o'clock, while the ears on an ACD are set inclining outwards towards 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock. This is because the ACD has a wider skull and is slightly rounded between the ears, while the Stumpy must have a flat skull.
Another characterictic difference is the fact that the Stumpy has pointed ear tips while the ACD ears are a more rounded at the tip. The stumpy has the impression of tall ears.
The eye and ear shape and placement are very accurate indicatiors of true 'Stumpy type'. If these are wrong then their is a great chance that the head shape will also be incorrect, and more often than not we have a specimen that is exhibiting strong ACD type.
Judges need to be aware of specimens who exhibit what I refer to as 'bull terrier' and 'sheepdog' head types. These dogs commonly have what appears to be receeding skulls and rounded forefaces when veiwed in side profile. Often these dogs also have loose fitting lips, appear hollow under the eyes and are somewhat truncated (squared off) in the muzzle region. This shape of head is not indicative of Stumpy Type and should be strongly discouraged. Such a head structure is highly undesirable in a working dog that is required to heel as he would continually bite in own lips while working.
I am unsure as to whether these heads have originated from the possible infusion of Bull Terriers or if they are a throwback to lines that have a strong link to the old Smithfield breed of England, a breed which is part of the Stumpy makeup and which posessed a truncated 'sheepdog' style of head.
My assumption is that the receeding skull fault, is the result of Smithfield ancestry. I come to this conclusion due to the fact that this trait is also very evident in many modern Australian Shepherds (AS) that I have seen. The AS is a breed that is reputed to be a direct decendent of the Smithfield and its derivatives/offshoots. Like the Stumpy it too has the same natural bobtail gene, inherited from the same ancestor. However, unlike the AS the Stumpy resembles the Australain Dingo in look and appearance, rather than a heavy, well-coated sheepdog.
BODY, AUGULATION AND LEGS: We now turn our attention to the body of the Stumpy. What distinct features/properties must we be looking for that denote type. The Stumpy has a number of specific characteristics, the most important of which include; length of body, length of leg, definition of the waist area,set on of the tail and general joint angulation in the shoulders, stifle and pelvis. All of these areas differ considerably when compared with the required structure in the ACD. I will address each area individually.
The standard clearly states that the Stumpy is a SQUARE dog. he is approximately the same distance from his brestbone to behind his buttocks and from his whithers to the ground. The ACD however is slightly longer in body than he is tall. Judges must closely asses Stumpies that are 'long in cast' (long-bodied).
Do they also posess other ACD traits, or are they only a little long in back?
Leg length is another unique feature. The stumpy must appear markedly 'higher on leg' than the ACD. He must still show the strength needed for a working dog but the proportions of depth of body to length of leg should be in the ratio of approximately 48:52 as a percentage of total height at the whithers. This compared with the ACD who's ratio is equal with respect to depth of body and lenth of leg, that is 50:50.
Boby shape: The ribbing, depth of chest and width of loin on a Stumpy should be strong just like the ACD. However, the Stumpy posesses a more obvious 'tuck-up' in the waist/underline area. We see tighter skin and less depth in the area directly behind the ribs in the Stumpy. this feature is reminisent of his Dingo heritage. the dingo is a also a tight skinned dog with a defined waistline.Stumpies have a shorter croup and higher set tail than the ACD. The angles between the bones making up the hindquarters are more open (greater than 90 degrees) than those of the ACD. The Stumpy will carry its tail up while moving, a trait that is a serious fault in his cousin the ACD.
The angulation of the Stumpy is only 'moderate' as apposed to the well angulated ACD. Hence the movement of the Stumpy is very different. Stumpies exhibit a more upright gait which is somewhat more elastic when compared with the ACD who should get down into its shoulders and drop the head more while moving. Both breeds should show true straight gait and economy of movement (maximum ground coverage for minimum effort).