As breeders and the undisputed guardians of our breed, I think we should stand back a step, remove our rose-coloured glasses and be very critical of what we see being touted as good representatives of a "working" breed.
I'd like to see more breeders considering that function dictates form. Does the dog have the conformation that allows it to physically perform the job it was bred for. Does it have good shoulder lay? Is it, as we so often see in the show ring, short in upper arm. Does it have an efficient gait (can it cover ground). A dog with a steep shoulder lay and short upper arms can not possibly have good movement. It can not reach out and when compared to a dog that is properly conformed, it will always be seen taking almost twice the amount of leg movement to cover the same distance. Do the dogs today have stamina? And how many breeders could really tell you what aspect of conformation effects each of these?
We are inclined to think we are doing the right thing. But are we? Why then are so many of our finished champions so short, almost square, stocky and overdone?(Too much bulk, slab sided or just plain too fat to carry out the job they were originally bred to do). Overdone bone and massive heads never do make a better working dog. We need to reconsider the statement..."We need all that bone so the dog can take a kick." What we should be trying to avoid are the short muzzles and prominent stops that are slowly creeping into the breed. A short muzzle is not a strong one. We're setting our dogs up to take a kick because they are becoming too heavy and slow, or too high at the withers to get out of the way.
Cattle are being worked quite successfully by BC's and Kelpies. We have to admit they have proven us wrong on this line of thinking, especially with today's cattle and the size of holdings, compared with yesteryears. If you want a dog to stay healthy working cattle, they have to be fast, agile, natural heelers, with excellent instincts and level heads.
Hopefully there are breeders that do care about all these things. Hopefully all this campaigning, and sometimes healthy discussion has had some effect. I'd like to think the Australian Cattle Dog is still one of the finest working dogs on the planet.
If you work dogs long enough, their performance,physically and mentally, will very quickly help you decide whether or not the dog has the full potential and should be bred. If he/she does not have this ability, why continue the charade? It does the breed no good at all.