Australian Cattle Dogs, Hull said, are the only breed resulting from the successful hybridization of dogs and dingoes.
“Australia, more than any other country, was so dependent on dogs,” Hull said. “Especially native bred dogs that could cope with all of the hardships of the land.”
The progenitors of the breed were created by the Hall family. These early Australian settlers owned 700+ square miles outside of Sydney. They needed a dog that could deal with wild cattle imported from South Africa. Sheep didn’t survive well in the hostile environment of the new country. Beef cattle could survive, but they needed tough dogs to help manage them.
The Hall family crossed an English dog known as the “droving cur,” tailless, square in profile, speckled blue, with dingoes. Dingoes, as a species, are classified as wolves.
Dingo genes are so strong they dominate domestic genes, Hull said. It took multiple generations of back crossing to the domestic dogs to create the dog we know today. By 1832 the Halls had two types, including the Australian Cattle Dog progenitor.
These dogs, known as Hall’s Heelers, were privately held from 1830-70. Managers of 200 Hall properties carried forward the breeding program.
When the family sold all of their holdings after 1870, the dogs became available to the general public.
Around this same time, long distance droving dogs became redundant with the advent of wire fencing and railroads.
Hall’s dogs were designed to work wild cattle. When cattle became quieter and easier to manage, with the import of new cattle breeds, fences and transportation, the dogs were too “hard” for the domestic cattle.
Border collies, kelpies and other “collie” type breeds became popular to work the more domesticated stock.
The show fraternity preserved the Australian Cattle Dog after its job was no longer needed.
“They are a dog that has re-invented itself as all around Australian guard dog and companion,” Hull said. “They are supposed to have a suspicious glint in their eyes.”