Dogs of AUSTRALIA0January 26th, 2012Dogs Of The World
Every November, The Kennel Club hosts Discover Dogs at Earls Court in London. This is an opportunity for dog lovers to attend seminars and demonstrations, socialise, do some shopping, and, most importantly, meet and greet almost 200 different breeds of pedigree dog.
In association with his event, and the Discover Dogs stands at Crufts in March, Dogs In The News aims to give you a brief preview of some of the dogs you might meet with our new “Dogs of the World” series. Today, in honour of Australia Day, Australian dogs get the spotlight:
There are just 5 breeds of dog which have origins Down Under.
Surprisingly, the Australian Shepherd is not one of them! Despite its name, this breed originated in the western United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is thought that the misnomer came about due to many of the dogs coming from Australia being blue merle; the adjective “Australian” became associated with any dogs of that coat colour, and, although the breed now comes in many coat colours, the title stuck.
However, the Australian Terrier was very definitely named for its country of origin. This diminutive breed – similar to but not to be confused with the Yorkie – was bred from various imported British terriers to act as vermin control on Australian ranches. Capable of tackling rats, mice and even snakes, it also served as a watchdog for people living in isolated areas. These tenacious traits remain with the breed today. The breed is exhibited in a shorter and less glamorous coat style than the Yorkie, reflecting its past as a working terrier.
The other terrier from Down Under, the Silky Terrier, however, was bred primarily to be an urban pet and companion. At first the breed was known as the Sydney Silky, due to its area of origin. Again, very similar to the Yorkie, it sports a brown/grey or brown/black coat, which is, as you could probably guess, silky to touch. This needs extensive care if is to be kept in good condition. Based on both of the above, many Kennel Clubs place it in the Toy Group rather than classify it as a Terrier, but it still has a strong personality and plenty of love to give.
The next Australian breed is another working dog – this time their task was as a cattle herder and guard on cattle drives through the Outback. The Kelpie is Aussie’s answer to the Border Collie; a dog bred to be quick and clever, who is happiest when he has a job to complete or a puzzle to solve. In its native country, working Kelpies are rumoured to have Dingo blood running through their veins (history suggests this is unlikely), and they are numerous. In the UK, they are growing in popularity both in the show ring and as agility stars.
Very similar to the Kelpie is the Australian Cattle Dog. Bred to meet the specific demands of an Australian pioneer in the 19th Century, we know that their ancestors actually do include the Dingo, as well as the now extinct Blue Heeler, the Smooth Collie (merle), the Dalmatian and possibly the Bull Terrier. These are dogs with a strong working instinct and, were recognised by the British Kennel Club in the 1980s. Some have competed successfully in obedience and working trials here, but they remain largely unheard of outside of specialist circles.
Finally, we have the Labradoodle, which, although not officially a ‘breed’, we thought merited a mention. The first ever Labradoodle (a cross between a purebred Labrador and a purebred Standard Poodle) was bred in Australia in 1988, when Guide Dogs Victoria attempted to create a hypoallergenic dog for a visually impaired woman in Hawaii whose husband had allergies. One of the puppies, Sultan, was successfully trained and placed, and became the first Labradoodle Guide dog. Therefore, the world should thank Australia for ‘inventing’ this wonderful type of dog, which has become increasingly popular all around the world.
We hope you have enjoyed our little tour of the dogs from Down Under. Don’t forget you can visit all these breeds and over 195 more at Discover Dogs at Earls Court in November and at Crufts in March each year.