The Working Kelpie Council of Australia

Breed Society for the Australian Working Kelpie

Scone Working Dog Futurity Trial Background - Graham Hook

To expand  on matters  raised in the  July News Bulletin,  I thought  I would  give   some more in depth background to this matter. As I mentioned about three years ago a small group of us, met to discuss the best way to foster the breeding of dogs with the right type of strength to successfully work cattle. It had become obvious over recent years that large numbers of Working Kelpies were being bred, with their major abilities directed towards sheep yard work . Clearly there is a demand for these dogs, and a real use for their ability, but it appeared to us that hand in hand with the development of this type of dog, was a reduction ( and in some cases a complete loss) of the dogs ability to cast, and therefore a very substantial reduction in their use, as paddock dogs. It appeared that this type of dog also in the process of selection had in many cases forgone the strength and presence required by a dog to successfully work cattle

A disturbing trend was that some Working Kelpie breeders recognising this situation,  in an attempt to infuse some additional strength in the breed were resorting to cross breeding with hard biting strains of Border Collies, and other breeds. Some of these cross bred dogs are very good dogs, but because of their wide genetics, it becomes a bit of a lottery when it came to the ability of their progeny.

We were aware that there existed Working Kelpie strains , which had the attributes which we considered necessary to successfully work cattle, and it was decided that the best way to foster the breeding of these dogs was to create a Futurity and Sale, and we were successful in setting up the National Working Stock Dog Futurity, support for which continues to grow, and it now has become an annual event which will be held in the third weekend of June each year at Scone.

This year dogs were sold to purchasers from NSW but also from Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland, King Island ,with enquiry from Tasmania and the USA The sale is not breed specific, but it is very heartening to note that Working Kelpies secured a large proportion of the places both in the Open and the Futurity Trial.

As mentioned in the July Bulletin, a web page has been set up as If members visit this site they will see a number of videos of dogs working in the finals of the two events. As they will see young bulls were used as the cattle, which would test any weak dog. A viewing of these videos will also demonstrate the calm strength and presence of the dogs.

Our view is that the type of Working Kelpie whose breeding we are attempting to support will demonstrate the following traits:

  1. The dog must be calm, strong and confident, it will be able to control stock by its presence alone, but will if needed apply as much force and strength as required, but will release the pressure off the stock, to give the stock a clear choice of action.
  2. The dog must have an excellent temperament. It must be able to take pressure both physical and mental from the handler and the stock.
  3. The dog must be a good type, it must be athletic and show stamina.
  4. The dog will be a silent worker, with only an occasional bark, if required to put additional pressure on a stubborn beast.
  5. The dog will have a presence with cattle, which will recognise it as a something to be reckoned with, and who is in charge.
  6. The dog will be biddable, but nevertheless will demonstrate its own ability and stock sense,  and will be in the right place without constant instruction from the handler. It will have a natural balance on stock i.e. working with you, and not shutting stock down, which is a common fault when stock handling by dogs.
  7. The dog will naturally cast reasonably wide of its stock, and will go to the lead. He will go out with purpose and presence .Its instinct must be to bring the stock back to the worker. We can only try, but there does seem to be an ever increasing groundswell of support for our concept.