Australian Cattle Dog Breed Origin

The ACD was developed in Australian in the 1800s by immigrants from the British Isles. It is a true Australian dog bred to deal with unfenced, harsh scrub range, large herds of cattle and an often difficult climate, all of which differed from the transplants’ homeland.

The precise history of breed development was not well documented. Thomas Hall is considered the breed founder. The Halls held vast amounts of land in New South Wales and Queensland from the early 1800s to the break up of their cattle empire which began after the death of Thomas Hall in 1870.

Cattle were gathered up, sorted and then trailed to the markets. The dogs were, necessarily, athletic, tough, durable, hardy and efficient workers with plenty of grit and attitude. Although many now wrongly consider the ACD to be only a driving dog, a working dog must control the heads to be effective in gathering, grouping, stopping breakaways and controlling the herd. The work of controlling cattle and moving them across distances has not changed and is still most efficiently done using dogs today.

After the dissolution and auction of the Hall's property, the cattle dogs spread out more generally and would likely have gradually dissipated without the enthusiastic support of Robert Kaleksi who was born in 1877. He published the first standard for the ACD in 1903 and, while eccentric and contradictory, he was a tireless promoter of the breed until his death in 1961.

Although Kaleski claimed the breed to be from a mixture of highland collies, Smithfields and dingo, among others, his acquaintance with the breed started well after its dispersal from the Hall property. It is certainly a mixture of what was available and what worked. The only dog found in Australia before the British colonization was the dingo so any dogs used in the mixture would have been dogs brought over by the colonists. The new breed developed from that pool of dogs based on what successfully handled the climate, terrain and job with or without dingo influence. DNA analysis may one day give us a clearer idea of the breed’s genetic makeup.

After a period as a Miscellaneous breed, the Australian Cattle Dog was accepted for registration by the American Kennel Club as of May 1, 1980, and became eligible to be shown in the Working Group as of September 1, 1980. It was transferred to the Herding Group when that was formed, effective January 1, 1983.