High Quality Practical ‘Utility’ Stock Dogs must inherit the following essential natural traits/instincts with plenty of ‘heart’, ‘purpose’ and intelligence to naturally collect, control and move stock. (Both male and female dogs – for sheep and cattle work). A deficiency in any of these traits can greatly affect the working ability of these dogs.
Essential Natural Traits
(a) Cast long and deep, both clockwise and anticlockwise, with a desire to break out wider to search and muster stock to a distance of at least eight hundred metres (800m), without any inclination to ‘cross’ between the handler and stock (unless directed) – using their own initiative.
(b) Approach stock steadily with trustworthiness, with a natural stop/pause to find the point of balance and bring them from afar in a meaningful, steady, balanced and collected manner over various terrain – using their own initiative.
(c) Drive – to get in behind stock and to work them with ‘purpose’; (i) to the handler (ii) with the handler (at times required to ‘cross’ between stock and handler) (iii) away from the handler (take stock away from handler and to ‘cross’ willingly).
(d) Force with a sensible and effective desire to move stock with strength – without excessive weaving or showing any intimidation or weakness as in tail turning.
(e) Block and hold stock with meaningful and effective cover and strength.
(f) Work sheep willingly in yards, shearing sheds and stock trucks – with ‘purpose’ and without fear of confinement.
(g) Tackle willingly, with sensible strength, any confrontations from stock and to heel and head nip unruly cattle when required– to ‘hold ground’ without backing off or tail turning or any sign of ‘fizziness’.
(h) Work a reasonable mob of stock, as well as a few, and also a single animal, in a controlled manner with:
- hold together
- distance (not too pushy or too slack and to be aware of the ‘contact zone’ when working behind stock)
- width (not too close or too wide and to be aware of the ‘contact zone’ when going around stock)
- break (clean and purposeful, without ‘chopping in’ on stock or splitting them and without tail turning)
- heading (to go completely to the head of stock when required)
- eye (to have the desire to overview changing situations and to use a minimal amount of concentrated and cautious eye when required, without any ‘stickiness’ or ‘tunnel vision’)
- balance (to recognise, and where necessary, maintain a stationary or moving point of balance of stock)
- short cover and mob cover (immediate reaction with a range from moving one foot or a slight turn of the head to changing position around or along a mob of stock – to maintain control)
- steadiness and calmness
- freedom of movement
- minimal activity (do no more than is necessary).
(i) Back and squeeze through packed sheep in a race, pen and stock truck – to free jammed sheep.
(j) Controlled bark if/only when practical and effective – without excessive bark or bark associated with fear.
(k) Show no savagery towards stock (only controlled force).
(l) Willing to accept sensible command/control and discipline – to be biddable.
(m) Have good stamina.
(n) Other essential attributes:
- Have plenty of ‘heart’ to work under great adversity
- Be highly intelligent with ‘purpose’ – to attain the job at-hand
- Be physically sound with agility
- Possess calm confidence and an overall good temperament – without excitability and nervousness
- Be compatible with people
- Be compatible with vehicular travel
- Willing to work with whip cracking and thunder
- Be loyal to handler.
Fertility is also indispensable in Fostering Excellence in Breeding Practical ‘Utility’ Stock Dogs.