A St Bernard dog at a show
St Bernard

Switzerland’s national dog, the St Bernard, is just as happy trekking through the snowy Alps as he is curling up on the couch with his family.

An impressively muscular giant, the St Bernard is descended from alpine mastiffs first brought to Switzerland with the passing Roman army. The Bernadine monks from the Hospice Grand St Bernard, situated 8000 feet above sea level in the Swiss Alps, have used this breed since the 1660s for draught work and to find travellers lost and stranded on the mountains.

Since that time the St Bernard, as the breed has been known since 1865, has saved an estimated 2500 people. It is easy to see why this trustworthy, loyal and intelligent dog has become so popular throughout the world. Debbie Egglestone of the St Bernard Club of Victoria and St Bernard specialist judge has been breeding St Bernards for more than 25 years.

“Saints need a guardian who is kind, caring and has a joy for life,” says Egglestone, “someone who is not overly bothered by housework as the Saint loves to be inside. Someone who is happy to have both a garden and a yard so the Saint can have a separated area. Also, you cannot be selfish with your time as the Saint loves to share it. You must have a big heart to match that of the Saint.”

A big heart

The St Bernard has a love for people and enjoys being included in family activities. He is not suited to someone who doesn’t enjoy spending time with their dog and will become destructive if left in the backyard to amuse himself.

“The St Bernard is well known for its suitability to people,” Egglestone says. “Saints were not only rescue dogs but also companion, watch and farm dogs. Saints were utilised in all aspects of farming work, cart pulling and family activities, and it is these functions that we see carried on in the Saint of today.”

The Saint is a true family dog that will bond to the family but is particularly fond of children, where children have taken the time to devote themselves to the dog, says Egglestone. “The Saint has quite a sense of humour and a love for children,” she says. Sometimes the Saint forgets his large size so young children should be supervised (as they should be around any dog).

The Saint has an easygoing nature but will defend his family and property if the need arises. “By purpose, part of the characteristics of the Saint is as a watchdog,” Egglestone says. “But by no means does this mean aggression. This is simply to advise his or her owner that someone is encroaching and to vocalise until the impending stranger has departed. The Saint will immediately give up that responsibility to the owner once the Saint is comfortable that no threat is imposed or that the owner is comfortable about the intrusion. Saints are well known for not taking any noticeable action, but quietly placing themselves between their owner and the perceived threat or danger.”

Plenty of praise

The Saint, with his eager-to-please attitude, is easy to train but positive reinforcement methods and plenty of praise must be used to achieve the desired results.

“As a giant breed, the Saint’s reaction/response time is not as fast as many agility breeds, however they are still easy to train and very receptive and responsive to friendly and direct training methods when given ongoing praise and encouragement,” Egglestone explains. “Their desire to please is the main reason Saints become so responsive and some have succeeded well in both endurance and agility in some states, though they are not as fast as many breeds.”

Being such a large dog, the Saint does require daily exercise but care must be taken in puppyhood and exercise should be limited for the first 15 months. “Particularly up to the age of approximately 12-15 months, the St Bernard puppy should be restricted in exercise as they need the time to develop muscle and ligament tissue — although bone development is fairly rapid right through this period,” Egglestone says. “Correct care of the Saint puppy and juvenile allows for exercise tolerance of bone development but with limited pressure/fatigue on underdeveloped areas. After that time, Saints can have their exercise increased and are tolerant of considerable exercise, providing it is gradually increased.”

The St Bernard: Your new best friend

If you don’t mind sharing your house with such a large dog and watching television from the corner of the couch (the dog will take up the rest), the St Bernard may be the breed for you. However, guardians must be prepared to vacuum the house on a regular basis and perform regular grooming as Saints shed their coat throughout the year.

“There are two different coat types — the long-coat (rough) and short-coat (smooth),” Egglestone says. “Each will shed coat throughout a normal 12-month period, with bitches also losing coat throughout their seasonal changes, possibly more so than other dogs. The long-coat Saint requires regular grooming with slicker brush and comb to ensure matting does not occur, particularly in the longer coat area of the feathering in the rump and behind the ears.”

Eggelstone recommends a weekly brush for all coat types. “The short coat is relatively easily maintained and is quicker to groom, with less density and no matting, and easier in wet times as a towel usually dries off the dog fairly quickly,” she says. “Either way, grooming is usually an enjoyable experience for both dog and owner if conducted regularly and started at an early age.”

According to breeders, it is often necessary to place your name on a waiting list to obtain a St Bernard puppy, especially if there is a preference for a specific coat type or sex. “Reputable breeders should be able to offer full support, breed knowledge and background advice to the prospective buyer, as well as offer some guarantee of the quality of the puppy and terms of sale,” Egglestone says. “All puppies should be wormed, vaccinated and even microchipped before release for sale. Most reputable breeders are only too happy to offer ongoing support for the term of your Saint’s life.”

Five fast facts

Personality: The St Bernard is an easygoing and placid breed. It is also trustworthy, steady, intelligent and courageous. It loves being with the family and enjoys lounging around watching TV with you.

Suitability: Saints are suitable for anyone who has the time for and enjoys giant breeds. This dog makes a wonderful family pet but must be supervised with young children as it sometimes forgets its size.

Favourite activities: Being with you! The Saint enjoys a daily walk or run in the park but care must be taken when it’s a young pup so you don’t overdo it. The St Bernard enjoys being inside the house so be prepared to vacuum on a regular basis. They are not suited to anyone who loves a spotless house as they shed through the year.

Backyard requirements: A good-size backyard is needed as the St Bernard is a giant breed and will happily play there with company. It does like to get out so a daily walk is a good idea. Your Saint would much rather be inside with its family than outside in the backyard by itself. As the Saint is a giant breed, always remember to leave at least half an hour between meals and exercise. This is especially important for all large and giant breeds.

Hereditary diseases: Hip dysplasia is a concern in many breeds, including the St Bernard, however most breeders screen for this disease. Ectropion and entropion are sometimes issues for the Saint; and epilepsy, cardiomyopathy and gastric torsion can be prevalent in some lines of breeding. Reputable breeders will discuss and advise on these issues.

Read more and explore where to adopt a St Bernard

Official Club of NSW
Official Club of QLD
Official Club of Tasmania


The Samoyed is an affectionate and loyal dog to the family that thrives on outdoor physical activity.



Brains, looks and personality, the Samoyed has it all. It is an affectionate and loyal breed and needs to be part of the family, not left out in the yard on its own.

Suitable for:

The Samoyed can be susceptible to certain eye conditions and heart problems, but is generally considered a healthy and hardy breed due to its early years of surviving in harsh, icy terrain. Be very aware of hip dysplasia, which can occur in the Samoyed, and make sure you check the breeder you’re buying from has hip scores of the pups paren’ts. Buying from a registered and reputable breeder will lessen the possibilities of buying a puppy with an inherited problem.

Favourite activities:

Bred originally to work for Siberian tribesmen, this breed is somewhat of a work horse and thrives on outdoor physical activity. The Samoyed will excel at training and agility, loves sledding and going for a daily walk. But once the exercise is out of the way for the day, your pooch will love nothing better than to settle down with its pack and have a good rest.

Watchdog qualities:

The Samoyed is not considered an effective watchdog as its friendly personality makes it a people-lover rather than a skeptic of strangers. However, this pooch will bark and therefore alert you when someone approaches.

Backyard requirements:

As long as your Sammy is given a good daily outing, it can happily live with a small yard and even in an apartment, as long as its exercise needs are well taken care of. High fences are a must with this breed as a bored or unhappy Sammy will try everything to escape.

The stunning Samoyed has it all beauty, brains and physical prowess that sees it as one of the forerunners when it comes to agility and sport.

Bred by the ancient Samoyede people, who made their way to Siberia, the Samoyed, which took the name of its original owners, accompanied its tribesmen guardians everywhere, herding reindeer, pulling sleds and providing warmth. Being close to members of the tribe, and sharing campfires and living space, made these dogs very people-friendly. And while its unlikely that Sammies will still be towing sleds and the like for their modern-day guardians, this beautiful breed still exhibits strong traits of loyalty and attachment and will need to be taken in as one of the pack.

Family ties

The Samoyeds close association with its tribal family has resulted in a breed that is today known for its warmth and vitality. Considered very people-friendly, this pooch is well-suited to families and loves children; many consider it a perfect family pet.

Lorraine Addison and husband Ron, committee members of the Samoyed Club of Victoria, got their first Samoyed pup in 1966. In the 42 years since then, we have not been without a Samoyed or more in our home, Addison tells Dogs Life.

Clearly entranced with this beautiful breed, the Addisons admit to being smitten by the Samoyeds outstanding beauty and incredible friendliness and who could ever resist that smile? What I like about the Samoyed is his loving and playful nature, his gentleness and open friendliness to all he meets, Addison enthuses.

She does point out that the Samoyed is a pack dog and hence needs human contact. They do not like being left at home by themselves every Samoyed loves human companionship. After many years of close living as a part of the Samoyede tribe, they are at their happiest when they are near you, Addison says.

The Samoyed is recognised for its great sense of humour and smiley face, and is frequently used as a therapy dog. As a complete package, this pooch is hard to resist, but breeders warn that early socialisation, exercise and time for grooming are important aspects of owning this breed.

Coat care

Sammies need regular grooming to ensure their thick coat stays healthy and matt-free. This canine has a double-coat, which will need weekly, even daily, brushing. The coat sheds seasonally (males once a year and females after every season), so if you are house-proud and have an aversion to dog hair sticking to your furniture and carpet, think twice about getting this breed.

The Samoyeds double coat and its colour act as insulation from the heat and they will cope as long as they have shade and water. In extreme conditions, however, they do appreciate the indoor comforts of air-conditioning.

One enormous plus to the Sammys coat is that it is hypoallergenic and, therefore, very good for people who are allergic to dog hair. The Samoyeds shed undercoat can even be collected and spun. Many beautiful items of clothing have been made using Samoyed fur, Addison comments.

The coat is also free of doggy odour, which is why the Samoyed makes a good indoor dog.

Out and about

Your Sammy will be less inclined to make a noise if it is sufficiently exercised and stimulated through the day. A member of the working group of dogs, the Samoyed was bred to be active and will need a good dose of exercise each day to keep it fit and happy. It may unwittingly herd the children during play sessions, due to its instinctive herding tendencies!

We lived for a time next door to a small farm, where the owners ran a few sheep, Addison relates. The owner approached us one day and asked us if we could keep our dogs locked up while we were away from home at any time during the week. He noticed that at a certain time on some weekdays, a pair of white dogs were quietly and gently rounding up his sheep into one particular paddock and sitting guard for sometime after.

Never at any time did we have an inkling that the dogs were not enclosed in their own backyard, as they were always there when we left and always there when we came home.

Samoyeds are naturals when it comes to dog sports, and will thrive on the stimulation and adrenaline rush of activities like obedience training and agility. There is also a sledding competition held annually during winter contact the Samoyed Club of South Australia for more information.

Breeders warn that without the stimulation of daily exercise and people contact, the Samoyed will become a shadow of its true self and will fall into a depressed state. This can lead to unruly behaviour, as well as a tendency to escape from the yard.

As with all dogs, early socialisation and training is a must with the Samoyed to ensure it develops good social skills.

Breed Care

Daily: Daily exercise is important for the Samoyed. A balanced diet and fresh water should always be available. Average-size meals of meat, rice, pasta and vegetables should be served, and healthy snacks. If possible, a brush each day will help prevent shedding around the house.

Weekly: Weekly grooming is a must to prevent tangles forming. If necessary, a rub-down with a cloth will help keep the coat clean.

Monthly: Check your dogs ears and clip nails if needed. Heartworm and flea treatments.

Other: Gastrointestinal worming for adults, more frequently for puppies. Bath every few months, or as required.

Schnauzer dog

The Schnauzer dog breed is known for its constant loyalty, entertaining behaviour and love for its family.


Personality: All three varieties of Schnauzers share similar personality characteristics such as a love and loyalty for their chosen people and a craving for human contact. Schnauzers love to entertain and have a mischievous streak, but are easily trainable.

Suitable for: Either families or singles prepared to welcome a dog into their home and their hearts. This is not a breed that can be left in the backyard with nothing to do all day. All varieties of Schnauzers can be boisterous and can accidentally knock children over during play, so supervision is a must.

Favourite activities: Schnauzers love to be wherever you are. They enjoy socialising, going on bushwalks, having picnics and basically following in your footsteps. They love to play and will entertain you with their sense of fun. They are excellent at the sport of tracking, with their keen sense of smell and strong trialling abilities.

Watchdog qualities: This breed was bred to watch so makes an excellent, alert dog. They are always on the lookout for suspicious people and activities (busybodies would be a better name for them!) and will give you a quick, shrill bark to warn you of strangers or unusual occurrences.

Backyard requirements: This breed happily lives in an apartment as long as its exercised outside at least once a day and taken on fun walks where it can sniff to its hearts content. It should never be forced to spend all of its time in the backyard it thrives on human attention and is best when with its family. Regular exercise, plenty of games and interaction with the family are imperative to raising a happy and healthy Schnauzer.

About the Schnauzer

The Miniature Schnauzer was shown as its own breed in 1899 and today has upstaged its larger rivals as the most popular of the Schnauzer trio. Originally bred for killing rats on farms, it readily adapts to a wide range of living environments thanks to its happy-go-lucky personality. Its cuteness and compact size make it an ideal apartment dweller, but it is equally at home in suburbia, on the farm, with just one owner or with the whole family.

While the Miniature Schnauzer is wary of strangers and wont bail up a person like some other breeds, it can quickly tell the difference between friend and foe and acts accordingly. When around kids who know how to treat and respect dogs, this breed makes a great companion. But be careful when new kids or people arrive as a Schnauzer will naturally guard the people it loves the most.

As a puppy, the mini can be an ingenious and mischievous addition to the household. Puppy socialisation and early, regular obedience training are recommended and should put your Schnauzer in good stead as a loved family member for the rest of its life.

Be sure to provide your Schnauzer puppy with plenty of stimulus such as short walks, lots of toys and short bouts of training. Left with nothing to do it will become destructive, dig up the garden and destroy whatever is in its path. Fortunately, the minis tend to mature quicker than their larger counterparts and are considered mentally mature when they celebrate their first birthday (though many Mini Schnauzer puppy owners are sure to disagree with me here!).

This breeds sense of fun will keep you on your toes and laughing for a good part of the time you spend with it. It loves to entertain, will take great delight in showing off to your guests and its happy face and ever-wagging stump will keep all in its presence in stitches.

Miniature Schnauzers are renowned for their loyalty to humans and comical nature; one Sydney Schnauzer even has a statue dedicated to him.

Biggles, who closely resembled a mini Schnauzer, was a much-loved member of The Rocks community. He could be seen on the back of a bike, travelling in a milk crate, with his daredevil pillion-riding owner keeping control. So well known was this dog that the NSW Minister for Planning and Housing recently unveiled a statue and memorial in the dogs honour.

If you’re interested in seeing the statue for yourself, check out www.zeta.org.au/~schnauza/biggl.html for more information. Unfortunately, Biggles daredevil attitude also led to his demise and he was last seen chasing a rat off a cliff near Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.

Standard Schnauzers are both cuddly companions and alert watchdogs a combination of both brawn and brains. This breed is a star in the sport of trialling and is so versatile it readily adapts to a wide range of tasks. Take one of the most famous of all Standard Schnauzers, a dog named George, who only recently made medical history by being the first dog trained to sniff out cancer.

George was trained by a dermatologist to sniff out skin and lung cancer in patients and had a whopping accuracy rate of 99.7 per cent.

His amazing sniffing ability is a Schnauzer trait, so new owners should look at harnessing this ability as a way of keeping their dog stimulated mentally and physically. Long bushwalks where the Schnauzer can put its nose to the ground and follow scents are some of the breeds most favourite pastimes and, should you want to get involved in the canine sport of tracking, there’s no dog better equipped for the challenge.


The Standard Schnauzer was the original of the three Schnauzers and the prototype for the Giant and Miniature versions. The breed developed in Germany and is believed to have appeared in a litter of German Poodle-Grey Wolf Spitz crosses.

The breed was further developed by travelling German tradesmen who needed an alert and compact dog that could act as guard without taking up too much room in their carts. These dogs were also trusted companions that looked after the children of the family while the adults were working.

The breed was suited to droving and ratting work and was later used as a messenger during World War I. Standard Schnauzers were first shown in the late 1800s under the breed name of Wire-Haired Pinschers, and a breed standard was prepared in 1880.


Whether you choose a Miniature, Standard or Giant Schnauzer, all three need careful and regular attention paid to their coats. Generally, the harsher the coat of your Schnauzer the less grooming required, but all will need to have their coats either hand stripped or clipped by you or a professional groomer.

Maintaining a Schnauzer in show coat is a lot of hard work, as breeders will attest, but the results are dazzling. Getting this coat often takes three to five hours using a stripping brush to strip the hairs individually from the coat. This must be performed two to three times a year to keep coat in optimum condition. If you want your Schnauzer in show coat, ask your breeder to recommend a professional groomer to you, as its important that the groomer is knowledgeable about the Schnauzer and its unusual coat.

Most pet owners choose to keep their Schnauzers coat in a simple summer clip. This will need to be performed by you or a groomer every six to eight weeks. Hair around the face will also have to be trimmed to stop hairs growing into the eyes and mouth. If you do choose to keep your Schnauzer in a pet clip, you may find that your dogs harsh outer coat becomes a lot softer over time.

Size does matter

If you like the look of the Schnauzer and love big dogs, this big breed makes a lovable and loyal companion The Giant Schnauzer is the largest of the three Schnauzers.

It should closely resemble the Standard and the Miniature but, like the other two, is a distinct breed.

Bred in Germany in the Middle Ages as a common herding breed, the Giant Schnauzer soon became a noble cattle dog and sheep drover.

This breed is a true working dog and, when first exhibited in Munich in 1909, was called the Russian Bear Schnauzer. In Germany, the breed is known as das Riesenschnauzer.

The breeds good looks, alertness and intelligence came to attention in Germany just before World War I where they were trained as police dogs a role they are still used for today.

In Canada and the Unites States, the Giant Schnauzer is also used for rescue work and as a Customs dog in airports.

A large and powerful breed, the Giant Schnauzer is playful, spirited and alert. It loves being with its family and is good with children, but like all breeds must be supervised with young children.

Being a protective, courageous and loyal breed, this dog will risk its life for its family and property, so obedience training is necessary from a young age. However, their willingness to please means they are easily trainable.

The breed does enjoy a daily run in the park and will not take kindly to being left in the backyard.

Their intelligence and need for constant mental stimulation will ensure a destructive dog if left in the backyard to amuse themselves.

A distinctive feature of the breed is its powerful muzzle, which ends in a moderately blunt wedge and a long and coarse beard. The Giant Schnauzers harsh double wire coat comes in two colours black and pepper/salt and requires skilled professional grooming at least twice a year and weekly grooming in between to keep it in good shape.

The breed is robust and hardy but, to ensure a sound dog, always buy a puppy from a reputable breeder registered with the canine council in your state.

Breed Care

Daily: A balanced diet, with plenty of access to fresh water. Daily walks are a must.

Weekly: Trim hair around face and feet when necessary.

Monthly: Coat maintenance, ear cleaning and nail trimming. Often best left to the professionals. Coat can be hand-stripped or clipped.

Regular: Gastrointestinal worming, heartworming and vaccinations.

Leonberger: Dog Facts, Breed Information and Care Advice

A dog bred in 19th-century Germany to resemble a lion, Lucy Arblaster discovers that although the Leonberger shares its appearance with the big African cat, its temperament is gentle and laid-back.

Affectionately known as lean-on-bergers, the Leonberger is a true companion animal, laid-back and extremely loyal. These highly intelligent gentle giants thrive on socialisation – whether it is with people or the four-legged variety – love anything to do with water and have an enthusiastic (and sometimes clumsy) outlook on life.

The Leonberger originated from the town of Leonberg in southern Germany during the mid 1800s, when Heinrich Essig, a town alderman, shrewd businessman and trader of a variety of dog breeds, set about trying to create a breed of dog that resembled the crest of Leonberg – namely a lion. This rare breed is thought to contain a variety of mountain breeds, including the Saint Bernard, Newfoundland and Pyremean Mountain dog.

High-maintenance grooming

With a lion-like coat, the Leonberger has a semi-long to long coat with a dense undercoat, so they are reasonably high maintenance when it comes to grooming.

They can shed a lot of hair, but a daily brush will help keep the hair free of knots and tangles and will reduce shedding. This breed comes in a variety of colours, including lion yellow, cream, gold and red-brown.

The Leonberger is an active and versatile breed, enjoying a good walk or run every day and a swim at any opportunity, although they are also quite happy to laze around with family members. Boasting strength and agility coupled with gentleness, this breed has achieved much success throughout the world in areas such as water rescue, tracking, agility, carting and therapy.

Highly sociable, the Leonberger fits effortlessly into family life, and with this in mind, they do not do well left alone for long periods of time.

Adaptable breed

Although a large breed, the Leonberger is relaxed and adaptable, fitting into a variety of living situations, including apartments and small backyards, as long as they are exercised regularly and are given the love and attention they crave.

A gentle giant, the Leonberger interacts well with children, but as with all other breeds, they must be well socialised and trained (along with the children) because of their size and enthusiasm.

The Leonberger is considered one of the healthiest of the purebreds, with the only hereditary disease attributed to it being Inherited Leonberger Polyneuropathy (ILP), which is an extremely rare disease that can affect the nerves, causing a weakness and dysfunction in the dogs muscles.

Cataracts and hip dysplasia are also something to be aware of, although they can be avoided by purchasing your dog from a reputable breeder who screens for these sorts of problems.

Taken by their stunning beauty and elegance, Leonberger breeder Karen Hindson of Launching Place in Victoria became involved with this giant breed in the mid 1980s. Hindson describes the Leonberger as full of fun, sometimes stubborn, but also willing to please. She says they have a lively nature, yet a calm disposition and are exceptionally good with children.

A water-loving dog

Hindson tells Dogs Life that the Leonberger is definitely a water-loving dog, renowned for its water-rescue work. It is an all-purpose work dog, possibly a jack of all trades, master of none, Hindson says. A Leo is not for everyone. Copious amounts of fur everywhere would drive some people to distraction.

However, she describes the Leonberger as loyal and calm, eager to please and protective without being aggressive. Hindson says Leonbergers can live in relatively confined spaces, as long as they are exercised, but stresses that they should not be left in a backyard and ignored, as this can lead to destructive behaviour. On the other hand, if the backyard is big enough and they have another dog to play with, they will exercise themselves.

Hindson explains to Dogs Life that the Leonberger has a strong prey drive, so they need to be socialised with other animals, such as cats or farm stock from an early age. They will then become avid protectors of these animals.

A truly loveable gentle giant, the Leonberger boasts agility, loyalty, adaptability and immense enthusiasm – a welcome addition to any family.

Breed Contacts

For more information on the Leonberger, contact a club in your state or the Australian National Kennel Council: www.ankc.aust.com
Leonberger Association of New South Wales:


The Bullmastiff is an alert, loyal and intelligent companion, that loves to jump over fences!


Personality: High spirited, very good temperament, level-headed attitude, alert, faithful, docile, intelligent, territorial, likes to lay about and can be stubborn.

Backyard requirements: Normal-sized backyard with a sturdy fence, preferably 5’6″ as they have been known to jump over high fences. Large backyard or country space is preferable if you have more than one dog.

Health problems: Cancer, heart murmurs, bloat, hip and elbow dysplasia.

Watchdog qualities: Excellent. It knows when and when not to bark. Has good protection and guarding instincts and will alert you to danger.

Exercise requirements: Careful that you don’t exercise your puppy too much as high-impact exercise and running is not recommended for puppies until well over 18 months old. If you must walk your puppy, start with short and slow strolls.

The Bullmastiff is a loveable large breed with a heart of gold. It has great guarding capabilities while being a loyal, loving companion.

Watch out, this dog is able to knock you down in a single bound and can leap high fences in a single jump! Despite its imposing size and bully-dog looks, the Bullmastiff is really a calm, gentle and level-headed pooch. Breeders describe the Bullmastiff as an excellent companion and guard dog and most value it for its quiet virtues. It is not much of a barker and will only bark if necessary. The Bullmastiff should not be confused with the much larger Mastiff, also called the English Mastiff. The Bullmastiff is a separate breed, originating in England in the early to middle 1800s.


The history of the breed is an interesting and purposeful one. As a number of private estates got larger and larger in early 19th-century England, it became increasingly difficult for gamekeepers to patrol and keep poachers under control. Punishment for poaching on private property was very severe in those days, in some cases punishable by death. As rewards for poaching became higher and more attractive, poachers took more risks and the crime ultimately became more dangerous. This lead to estate gamekeepers keeping powerful dogs that could track down and help them confront and hold the poachers.

Initially they tested the Mastiff but found it to be too slow and not agile enough. They then trialled the smaller Bulldog but found it too vicious. These dogs tended to wound their victims rather badly, sometimes even mortally.

The ideal breed for the task came in the form of the Bullmastiff, a cross between the two earlier breeds. It proved to be the best dog for the job — quiet enough to track the poacher and fast and powerful enough to pounce on and keep the perpetrator down until the handler came. The beauty of this breed is that its instinct is not to bite, but to hold down.

Because of its history, the Bullmastiff is also called the “gamekeeper’s dog”. As larger estates got broken down into smaller lots and sold off, the need for Bullmastiffs as tracking and guard dogs declined. Today, they fit in remarkably well with families as companions and guard dogs.


Although the true mixture of the Bullmastiff is 60 per cent Mastiff and 40 per cent Bulldog, it seems the English preferred their Bullmastiff with a 50/50 combination while the Americans and Australians preferred 60/40 Mastiff and Bulldog cross. Bullmastiffs are intelligent, stubborn, fearless, possess good watchdog instincts, are quiet, alert and faithful.

This giant is surprisingly good with young children, but be careful around small kids as this breed grows very quickly and in its excitement can knock down kids accidentally during playtime. Breeders Kath and Barry Marion and Nikki Marshall advise that children and dog should be taught to respect each other.

Something to remember is that although the puppy may be adult-sized, it is still a puppy! Firm obedience training, education and dog-friendly playtime should be encouraged and taught as early as possible. This breed responds to firm obedience training and it’s best to start as early as possible. They’re very strong dogs and it would be wise to get the dog to respond to you as soon as possible. Remember, you should always supervise your children when playing with dogs, no matter what the breed.

According to the Marions, who have been breeding for more than 20 years, Bullmastiffs are territorial and don’t always put out the welcome mat for other strange dogs (they’re good if they’ve grown up with other animals) or strangers. One good way to get your dog to accept your guests is to welcome your guests and introduce them to your dog, letting your dog slowly approach and sniff their legs. Bullmastiffs may take a while to approach a guest so it’s best not to rush towards the dog. Let it come to you first. When it comes to strangers, Nikki agrees that a bonus with the Bullmastiff is its impressive size, which is always a good deterrent to intruders.

But the coat is so short. Do I still need to maintain it?

Bullmastiffs shed quite a bit of their coat so regular brushing is recommended. Kath and Barry say their dogs shed mostly in spring and depending on how dirty they are, they are bathed about three times a month. They use a rubber horse curry brush after a bath to get rid of those loose hairs.
Some dogs moult badly but Kath says this is quite natural as the new coat comes through a shade darker, giving the coat a mottled look. If you don’t want to bathe your dog, Nikki has some good tips for dry bathing. She rubs down the dogs thoroughly with warm water and a small amount of disinfectant to rid the coat of dust. She says you shouldn’t always give your dog a full shampoo wash as that can strip the coat of its natural protective oils and can make it susceptible to skin problems, such as hot spots.

Kath and Barry remind us to check the dog’s ears as well and clean them regularly; if they start shaking their ears incessantly, it could mean they have grass seeds in their ears. Take your dog to the vet if you are unsure.

Things to remember

Bullmastiffs do no like the heat so take them for their walk in the morning or in the evenings. The Marions’ dogs love the coolness of the cement kennel floors in summer, when temperatures really soar. They have also installed water mist sprays across the top of the kennels which spray a fine mist over the dogs when it’s very hot.

And not too much lazing about, please! Don’t forget that without proper exercise and stimulation, Bullmastiffs can turn into fat couch potatoes just like humans. If you keep your dog in a small backyard, make sure it gets enough exercise.

Kath warns that while it is tempting to stuff your pup as much as you can because you think it will make it grow faster, this can backfire. Instead, you could end up with a fat, greedy and often unhealthy puppy. Kath says that you should be able to see the last rib on an adult dog or bitch.
Though there is no hard and fast rule as to what to feed your dogs, you might want to try some of these breeders’ dietary tips. Kath and Barry recommend that you feed your dogs a low-protein diet through the summer months to prevent your dogs developing skin problems. “Ours are lucky. They have plenty of fruit in their diets through the summer as we have lots of fruit trees. They love their treats of apricots, plums, apples and figs,” says Kath. Nikki has experimented with feeding her dogs solely on the BARF diet but found they needed the bulk of a good-quality dry food as well. She recommends that an all-natural, colour-free dry food is best, supplemented with raw chicken carcasses minced up with vegetables, pasta, egg and red meat if you have time.

Like a lot of large, deep-chested breeds, the Bullmastiff can suffer from bloat. This occurs most commonly after vigorously exercising your dog several hours after a meal. Make sure that if you want to walk your dog after a meal, do it slowly and gently or exercise before a meal. Hip, elbow dysplasia, kidney disease, thyroid problems, heart murmurs and certain cancers are some of the more common problems prevalent in the breed. All honest breeders should have their stock hip X-rayed and scored before breeding. Always ask your breeder if their stock is hip scored and X-rayed if you’re not sure.

The only disadvantage to this breed is that it has a short lifespan, living up to 10 years. So make all those formative, fun and productive years with your Bullmastiff count. Both breeders testify to the joys of owning this pooch and like any addiction, once you have one, you just can’t stop.

Breed Care

Daily: Fresh water and a good balanced diet.

Weekly: A brush with a rubber or slicker brush to promote good skin and coat.

Monthly: Heartworm, gastrointestinal and flea prevention. Also check the nails to see if they need to be clipped and wipe inside the ears. Bath once a month or when required.

Regular: This breed loves to get out and about with their owners and will really enjoy a good off-leash run at least once a week. Walking daily with the dog is a requirement.

Breed Contacts

If you would like to find out more about this breed and watch some of these dogs in action, please contact the club in your state for weekend show details:

NSW Club
SA Club
Victoria Club
QLD Club

doberman pinscher
Doberman Pinscher


Personality: Bold and alert, the Doberman Pinscher is an extremely loyal and protective breed, but it also has a very gentle nature, craving affection and attention. Highly intelligent and very obliging, the Dobermann is cheeky in character and a lot of fun.

Suitable for: The Doberman is an active breed, so needs regular exercise and a reasonably sized backyard to run around in. But they are not a breed you can just put in the backyard and leave. They thrive on attention and like to be part of the family, with plenty of mental stimulation. They are very adaptable dogs and will be quite content indoors or outdoors, but most importantly, they enjoy being part of the family.

Favourite activities: Energetic and agile, the Doberman thrives on attention, so will enjoy any activity, as long as it involves time with the family. They also enjoy a good walk or run.

Watchdog qualities: Loyal and protective, the Doberman has good guarding qualities and will be as tough as you want it to be. Although its not overly aggressive, this breed can be quite standoffish around strangers.

Hereditary diseases: There are a few hereditary diseases to watch out for in the Doberman, such as von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD), Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) and Cervical Vertebral Instability (CVI), commonly known as Wobblers. Purchasing a dog from a reputable breeder minimises the risk of such diseases.
Loyal, bold and protective, the Doberman can be an intimidating breed at first glance. However, these loveable characters do have a softer, cheekier side. Craving affection and attention, they are trustworthy companions and an ideal addition to any family, as Lucy Arblaster reports.

History of the Doberman:

Thought to be a combination of the Great Dane, German Shepherd, Weimaraner and Manchester Terrier, the Doberman was founded in the 1860s by Louis Dobermann, a German tax collector who wanted a dog to protect him on his rounds.

This protective streak led the breed to be used as police dogs during the 19th Century and later as war dogs in World War II, where they were known as devil dogs, working alongside the US Marines to flush out the enemy. Today, the Doberman is the US Marines proud mascot.

Traditionally, the Doberman has a gentle nature, but will be as tough and protective as you want it to be. A true companion animal, this breed fits well into family life, serving as a great playmate for children, with the versatility of being an indoor or outdoor dog.

However, a word of warning: if a Doberman is an indoor dog, it is likely to make itself right at home, preferring to join family members on the lounge and even in bed! Robust and agile, the Doberman is bold in appearance and comes in a variety of colours – black, brown, blue or fawn with rust red markings. The breed has a low-maintenance, smooth, short coat.

Protective and loyal

Arriving in Australia in the 1950s, the Doberman has an extremely loyal following, as Dogs Life finds out when speaking to Ray Nunn of Camden, NSW, a breeder for more than 25 years.

Nunn says he was initially attracted to the breed because they are big sooks. He actually went to buy a German Shepherd, but then this big black thing came bounding in. It wasnt intentional, but I just liked the look of them.
Nunn describes the Doberman’s personality as very loving and intelligent. Bred as a protector, the Doberman is as protective as you want it to be. It all depends how you bring them up, he says.

He also tells Dogs Life they love nothing more than activity – running, walking, agility or obedience – but also enjoy being couch potatoes. Dont let them see the lounge or they will be on it, Nunn laughs.

Nunn points out that the Doberman needs an owner who is active and strong-willed. They are like naughty two-year-olds, and if you can’t control a two-year-old in the supermarket, you will never be able to control a Doberman, he says.

Energetic breed

In terms of maintenance, the Doberman is a breeze, requiring very little grooming. They do, however, have an abundance of energy and require moderate exercise and a reasonably sized backyard to run around in.

If you want to run a Doberman 24 hours a day, it will run, Nunn says. They are not a breed you can just put in the backyard and leave. They thrive on attention and like to be part of the family, with plenty of mental stimulation.

There are a few hereditary diseases to be aware of. Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD), detected by a simple DNA test, is an inherited bleeding disorder, which can also affect many other breeds. Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease of the heart, while Cervical Vertebral Instability (CVI), otherwise known as Wobblers, is a compression of the spinal cord, usually seen in dogs seven to eight years of age. To avoid these hereditary diseases, Nunn recommends purchasing your dog from a reputable breeder.

Another devoted owner of Dobermans is Alannah Cargill of Glenhaven, NSW, who has been involved with the breed since the mid-1980s. Cargill has two Dobermans, Sammy, 14, and Stanley, eight. She says she initially chose a Doberman because her husband was away a lot and she wanted a dog that people would be wary of, but as it turns out, her dogs are somewhat humanised, spending most of their time indoors.

A family dog

Cargill describes the Doberman as very easygoing, obliging, adaptable and a lot of fun. She says they can look intimidating, but just crave attention and love company, content to be inside all day with the family.
Cargill says her Dobermanns love nothing more than to race around. We have a property at Scone and we take them up there to belt around and have a good time, enjoying all the smells, she says.

Caroline Zambrano also gives us an insight into this loveable breed. I have two male Dobermans, five-year-old Logan and four-year-old Chase, who are amazingly affectionate and want to spend time with the family all the time. They are so good with our young daughter and our lovebird! she says. Logan and Chase are also playful and can be mischievous, so my life is never dull with them. I just wish they didn’t look so scary to some of my friends. My boys would just lick them to bits! I think people who don’t know Dobermans are missing out. They complete me.

Breed Care

Daily: Fresh water and a well-balanced diet are essential. The Doberman enjoys a walk each day and a reasonably sized backyard to run around in.

Weekly: This breed is very low maintenance, so a weekly brush and a bath when necessary would suffice.

Monthly: Like any other breed, the Doberman should be treated for heartworm, ticks and fleas, and their nails should be trimmed regularly.

Breed Contacts

For more information on the Doberman, please contact your state canine council or breed club in your state or territory.

Dobermann Club of NSW: (02) 9788 0977;NSW Club

Dobermann Club of Western Australia Inc.:WA Club

Dobermann Club of Queensland Inc.: (07) 3321 8849;QLD Club

Dobermann Club of the ACT: (02) 6231 2022;ACT Club

Dobermann Club of Victoria Inc.:0407 869 493

Siberian Husky
Siberian Husky

True pack animals, the Siberian Husky dog is an amazing canine that has always thrived on the company of others, both humans and other canines.


Personality: Loving, loyal, mischievous, playful, exuberant and fun. The Husky will need early obedience training and should be taught from a very young age to come when called. It is not a dog that can be let off lead if it wont recall as you’ll have no chance of keeping up with its bounding strides.

Suitability: People with active lifestyles and families who are prepared to make the time to train and care for this beautiful breed, which requires lots of mental and physical stimulus.

Favourite activities: Racing, weight-pulling, bushwalking, running, jogging and playing. This high-energy dog will happily join you in any high-impact activity, but will equally enjoy a lazy afternoon snuggling on the couch.

Watchdog qualities: Siberian Huskies are not guard dogs, but they will let you know when someone is approaching their territory.

Backyard requirements: High fences are necessary because Huskies can jump 180cm from a sitting position. Hoses should be kept out of reach. Its worthwhile to provide an area or sand pit for digging as Huskies are notorious for rearranging gardens.

History of the Siberian Husky

Not many breeds trace back to such heartfelt and uplifting tales of survival. With ample strength and amazing courage, the Siberian Husky was bred to be a different type of working dog to a hunting or sheepdog. Amazing tales surround this breed, which was developed over a period of 3000 years to become the hard-working, reliable and sweet-natured Siberian we know today.

Originating in Siberia, as the name suggests, the Siberian Husky was bred to live in the ice-cold land inhabited by the Chukchi people and other tribes from the eastern Siberian arctic. Harsh living conditions in the arctic forced these semi-nomadic natives to expand their hunting grounds. They responded to their changing needs by developing the Siberian Husky, a unique breed of sled dog. The Chukchi people relied on these animals to survive.

The American Kennel Club reports that the Chukchis needed a sled dog capable of travelling great distances at a moderate speed, carrying a light load in low temperatures with a minimum expenditure of energy.

Sled dogs

Twenty or more of these striking dogs were teamed together to run across the ice and through the snow at considerable speed. It has been reported that the Chukchi people and their dogs would cover up to 100 miles in one day, so the men could fish for food to feed their families.
Research indicates that the Chukchis maintained the purity of their sled dogs through the 19th Century and that these dogs were the sole and direct ancestors of the breed known today as the Siberian Husky.

It is thought that around 1900, news of these fantastic sledding dogs spread to Alaska. In comparison to its sled-dog cousin, the Alaskan Husky, the Siberian was smaller but could move faster and required less food than its larger relative. It was in 1909 that the Siberian Husky was first entered in the All Alaska Sweepstakes Race. This humble dog, raised and cared for by natives, made its first major mark in history when it was imported to Alaska by Charles Fox Maule Ramsay and his team.

Driven by John Iron Man Johnson, they won the 400-mile race in 1910, marking the beginning of an amazing run that saw Siberian Huskies win an impressive tally of racing titles in Alaska.

According to Bob Thomas from www.workingdogweb.com, the legendary John “Iron Man” Johnson team completed the race in 74 hours, 14 minutes and 37 seconds. This time was never matched, even when the race was re-run within the last decade.

Legendary Serum Run

Another marker in history for this breed occurred in 1925, when the city of Nome in Alaska was struck by a diphtheria epidemic. There was only one way to get the urgently needed antitoxin to the sick residents of Nome, so many of the nations sled dogs and their drivers were sent to get the lifesaving serum. From then on, this run was known as the heroic serum run.

One of these drivers was Leonhard Seppala, a Norwegian man who came under the spell of the Siberian Husky in the early 1900s. Today, there is a breed of the Siberian Husky known as the Seppala Siberian Husky. Seppala became a legendary dog driver after he was given a team of Siberian Huskies by his employer. By the end of 1913, Seppala had earned a reputation as a capable driver, and from 1914 to 1917, his dogs dominated the All Alaska Sweepstakes races.

Seppala received significant press attention for the serum run and took his dogs on a personal appearance tour. He was then invited to compete in the sled dog races in New England. The superior racing ability and delightful temperament of Seppala’s Siberian Huskies won the respect and the hearts of sportsmen across America. According to the American Kennel Club, it was through the efforts of these pioneer fanciers that the breed was established in the United States and AKC recognition was granted in 1930 and then later in England, Europe and Australia.

Huskies at home

At home, the Siberian Husky is known to be a loving family dog that enjoys being with its owners. Since they are such energetic and strong-minded dogs, they can be hard to train. According to Sheri Bain, who has been breeding Siberians for nine years, you just need to be creative in your training methods.

A happy Siberian is one that knows its boundaries, so basic obedience training is a must, Bain tells Dogs Life. Whilst they are generally harder to train, it is by no means impossible. Many Siberians enjoy participating in obedience, as well as the sport of agility.

Bain loves her Siberians and finds them to be great characters, although they can be a handful in some areas due to their independent nature. The most important thing to be aware of is the Siberians strong desire to run. Your dog should never, ever be let off its lead. They are excellent family dogs that thrive on being included as a part of the family pack, Bain says.

Breed Care

Daily: Walks, runs and games. Access to fresh water and shade a must.

Weekly: Regular brushing helps keep coat and skin healthy. The Husky will blow its undercoat once or twice a year so brushing during this time is essential.

Monthly: Heartworming and bathing when needed.

Regular: Three-monthly gastrointestinal worming, more frequently for puppies. Regular vaccinations.

Hereditary diseases: Hip dysplasia and the eye problem Progressive Retinal Atrophy. But buying from a registered breeder who tests for hereditary diseases will significantly reduce the risk of a dog having or developing these problems.

Boxer dogs: a close-up image of a Boxer dog

Boxer dogs are suitable for families as they are fun, smart and willing to please.



A fun-loving family dog, the Boxer dog has a good sense of humour and a genuine willingness to please. A smart individual with energy to burn, the Boxer remains a puppy for most of its life.

A great dog for:

Families with children, singles or couples. The Boxer thrives in an environment where it can take part in most family activities. Not a leave in the backyard kind of dog, Boxer dogs are best suited to active individuals who will give it the physical and mental stimulus it needs to thrive. Not an apartment dog.

Boxer dog: favourite activities:

If there are people involved, just about anything. Boxers thrive on activities where they can stretch their legs and work their brain. Some become very adept swimmers, others sink like stones. Your pooch will let you know what it likes doing so follow its lead.

Backyard requirements:

A well-fenced backyard, but provided you are able to take your dog for regular walks, you don’t need loads of space.

Watchdog qualities:

Very good. This is a thinking guard dog it doesn’t bite first and ask questions later because it was bred as both a companion and a guard dog.

When a Boxer dog wiggles its way into your life for the first time, never expect things to be dull or lacklustre. This is a breed whose last name is hyphenated by the word FUN; whose sense of humour and readiness for a game is tireless; and whose good looks and huge heart will reach even the coldest corners of your own.

When a Boxer enters your life you don’t gain a dog, you gain another family member. Talk to anyone who has owned the breed and they’ll sing its praises. Spend time in the company of a Boxer and you’ll probably find yourself making room in your heart and home for this fabulous dog, especially if you’re looking for a medium-sized, short-coated breed which is great with growing children, adaptable and dependable.

Humble beginnings

Liz and Miles Gunter of Guntop Boxers in Pheasants Nest, New South Wales, are two of Australia’s top breeders and have owned and loved the breed for more than 30 years. Liz jokes that she knows shes been involved with the breed for a long time because she is now selling puppies to the children of people she sold dogs to many years ago.

Liz and Miles decided to own their first Boxer dog after they’d heard about the fun-loving nature of the breed. We did all the wrong things. We bought one out of the paper and it had everything wrong with it under the sun wrong, Liz said. We thought we could buy a pet and show it. We thought she was a lovely colour and had nice feet, but we had a lot to learn. After having taken her to a couple of shows we became hooked. But when we bought our next dog, this time we did the right thing.

The couple went to a reputable breeder and bought a puppy sired by Champion Cherry Burton Playboy, imported from the UK. That dog, Champion Lalaguli Woowookurung, won five Royal Show dog challenges; and his number one son, Regal, won both a Sydney and Melbourne Royal Show challenge. The couples top homebred bitch, Champion Guntop Minute Maid, won four Royal challenges in succession.

The Gunters dogs give them a lot of pleasure, particularly when it comes to seeing the way their Boxers enrich the lives of those who buy them. They are the breed that people, once having had one, will always stay with. We know families who are now on their third Boxer from us and their children are coming to us for a Boxer, too.

The Gunters run a sizeable Boxer kennel but say that the breed is very accepting of being a kennel dog. However, at Guntop the Boxers are always kennelled with another dog because they do enjoy company.

Puppy purchase

Liz, who is secretary of both the Boxer Club of NSW and the National Boxer Council, recommends that when looking for a Boxer dog, it is important that would-be owners go through the right channels. They should contact their state canine council and ask for a list of registered breeders and the contact details of the secretary of the local Boxer club. If they do this, Liz says they stand a better chance of going to someone who will stand by the puppies they breed, and someone who has made sure their puppies have had the necessary vet check and vaccinations.

Liz recommends prospective owners don’t see a puppy before it is three to four weeks old. And make sure, if possible, that you see both Mum and Dad. That’s the best guide to see how your puppy is going to turn out in temperament, looks and everything else.

The breed is well known for its excellent temperament and should be stable and trustworthy. Even a bitch with her puppies should let a stranger approach providing the owner is there.

A dog or a bitch? Liz says there is very little difference between the temperament of dogs and bitches, and it really comes down to the personal preference of the owner. People tend to stay with what they’re used to or what their family has had. Other than that the sexes should have much the same temperament, although the dog should be slightly larger than the bitch.

Owners have two colour choices, either red or brindle, with or without white markings. The Boxer should always have its characteristic black mask on its muzzle but there is no requirement for them to have white markings, although white on a Boxer dog can be very attractive.

The white markings should appear on the feet, legs, chest, on the back of the neck and on the muzzle. There should not be white markings on the body or the torso and the amount of white on the dog should not exceed one third of the whole body.

Loving and reliable

Shirley Dunn of Shirbel Boxers in Victoria, and the secretary of the Victorian Boxer Club, got her first Boxer as a pet in 1965. She says its the breeds loving nature and reliable temperament that have endeared her to this dog for the past 35 years. Originally a fan of obedience, Shirley got bitten by the showing bug many years after buying her first dog. She met Arthur Fry of Australia’s well-known Lambda Boxer Kennels and bought a dog from him to start exhibiting in the conformation ring.

While showing is now one of the things she enjoys with her dogs, Shirley says she loves her Boxers at home just as much.

I love their temperament. They’re such loving dogs and you always feel very safe with them. Each has its own distinct personality and I just love them. As companion dogs they always get between you and the door when someone is there. They come to the door and they just sort of inch in front of you you’re not even aware that they’re looking after you.

Shirley says Boxers are a great family dog and love romping with growing members of the household.

They don’t mind the children dressing them up. They’re also great with older people.

They are very much a person dog and keep you company. They like to be with you and are always one step behind you when you’re moving around, or they’re always lying across your feet or lap.

The expression in their faces when they look at you makes them hard to resist, she says.

Origin: Germany

The breed was developed in Germany in the late 1800s, where its ancestors were used by butchers for baiting bulls. The dogs were developed and owned by members of the Butchers Guild of Munich. Historically, butchers believed that the meat of slaughtered bulls that had been baited by the dog was more tender.

The butchers looked for a dog that had agility and strength of character as well as a willingness to serve. So the Boxer was born.

The first Boxer club, the Munich Boxer Club, was established in 1895; and the first breed standard, which specifies the breeds personality and physical characteristics, was written in 1902 and was adopted officially in 1904. In relative terms, as we know him, the Boxer is a fairly new breed having been developed only within the past 100 years.

The early ancestors of the modern Boxer dog were exported from Germany to America in the 1930s. Some also went to England, but predominantly they found favour in the US, particularly among some of the early stars of the big screen including Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

The Boxer dog arrived in Australia in 1948, brought in by Fred Wheatland of Victoria, who imported dogs from England. The first American Boxer was brought into Australia by Rena Gerardy of Sydney in the 1950s. They were bred as companion dogs.

Boxer Dog: Breed Care

Daily: This is a drip-dry breed which doesn’t need much in the way of day-to-day maintenance. However, the more you brush it, the more itll love you for it. This also gives you a chance to check for ticks and fleas. If your dog is swimming in the sea, wash the seawater out of its coat.

Weekly: A hard biscuit or a marrowbone (not small bones) should be given to help keep teeth clean. Ears should be examined and cleaned and nails clipped.

Monthly: A bath once a month should suffice.

Regular: Regular treatment for heartworm and other worms. Vaccinations and annual boosters.

Hereditary diseases: There are also some known heart diseases in the breed, so work with a breeder who screens their breeding stock. Puppies should be vet checked before they leave the breeder.

Breed Contacts

NSW Club
Victoria Club
QLD Club

Breeder quote
“There was a Boxer that became famous for his water-skiing antics on the Hawkesbury River. They’re an all-round fun, family dog; whatever the family wants to do the Boxer wants to be in it” – Liz Gunter, Guntop Boxers

Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog
Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog

Bred to work, the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is much like the other beloved breed of Australian Cattle dog, possessing personality traits the breed are famous for.

In total, three breeds were crossbred to create the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog, or “Stumpy” as it is known locally. These include the Australian dingo, the British Smithfield and the German Coolie. The Stumpy is characterized by its stumpy tail, blue coat and work ethic.

The oldest selectively bred Australian working dog, the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is well proportioned, being square in profile with a rugged appearance. The breed comes in two varieties — blue speckled/mottled and red speckled/mottled. The Stumpy also sports a natural bob-tail up to 10cm in length. It is important to note that the tail of this breed is never docked.

Bred during the 19th century as a drover’s dog, the Stumpy is unique in Australia’s agricultural heritage. The result of mixing a Dingo with imported working dogs, this tenacious working dog was bred to move cattle over long distances, tackle harsh terrain and endure extreme temperatures.

A breed of endurance

Working dogs like the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog are known for their stamina, endurance and courage. The breed also served as a faithful and loyal mate to drovers and cattlemen. A tireless working dog and a silent worker, the Stumpy is a true ‘workaholic’. Even on the hottest day, this breed will be ready and waiting, keen for the next job on the agenda.

The Stumpy has also attracted attention overseas. America and Canada, with similarly large cattle properties, appreciate the breed’s working qualities, while it has also been exported to Japan and New Zealand. Today the Stumpy fulfils many roles — working dog, show dog, obedience dog, agility dog and constant companion. The breed is physically strong, with rugged nobility and a constant craving of activity and affection.

A South Australian breeder for more than 15 years, Kate Lewis says she was attracted to the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog because she loved its rugged look, “its musculature and its intelligence and great loyalty”.

Needs physical activity

“This is a highly intelligent dog that requires activities, both physical and mental, and a close association with its owner,” Lewis says. “They do need to have physical activity so I would not recommend them for apartment living. Preferably an active person, who can take them for a daily walk and/or swim, as they love the water.”

Lewis says they make good family pets as long as their needs for physical and mental activity are met and there are set boundaries for interaction between children and the dog. “A Stumpy, with its intelligence and loyalty, will spoil you for any other breed. Once you have been owned and loved by a Stumpy, all other breeds fail to meet your standard of a good dog. They’re not for everyone, as they can be stubborn, but they can also be your best friend and companion,” she says. Sarah Wilson of the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog Club of NSW agrees that the Stumpy is not a breed for everyone. “But if you’re chosen to be owned by a Stumpy,” she says, “you will be rewarded with a breed that has a sense of humour, great stamina, boundless energy and a mate for life.”


Personality: The Stumpy is a very loyal and hard working breed. To owners the stumpy truly is man’s best friend. A courageous dog suspicious of strangers, the Stumpy won’t give up on hard work and won’t back down from defending its owners. The obedient breed is intelligent and won’t act unless commanded to do so.

A great dog for: Farmers with cattle and energetic owners. These dogs love to work.

Favourite activities: Working, herding cattle and long daily walks.

Backyard requirements: The Stumpy is not suited to apartment living and needs a large amount of backyard space to keep energetic. The hardworking breed require a job to keep them busy. High fences are a must as the Stumpy is great at hurdles. They also love to dig and burrow if they get bored.

Breed Care

Grooming: The Stumpy’s coat is short and weather resistant so requires minimal grooming. They need to be bathed only when necessary and their coat groomed with a firm bristle brush. Some dogs will shed depending on their sex and the region they live.

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