A tribute to the Australian Cattle Dog - Michael Timmins

Michael Timmins regularly brought cattle from Bathurst, over Bell's line of Road to the Sydney sale yards. Timmins crossed the black bob-tail with the Dingo to get a red bob-tail, popularly known as 'Timmins Biters'or Timmins Heelers.

This cross was an improvement, as his dogs were active, fast, and practically silent workers. However, they were hard to control, and worst of all, they were very severe biters with a tendency to maul or kill calves when working out of site of the stockmen.

To get over these problems, Timmins crossed his heelers with the collie and although he produced some wonderful workers, this cross did not "breed in", in that its good qualities were not always passed on to its progeny.

Most of the Timmins breed gradually died out, but according to Kaleski, writing in 1935, the strain survived in the Queensland blue stumpy - a cross between the red bob-tail and a modern blue speckled cattle dog. Others tried to cross the Rough Collie and the Russian Sheep Dog (or Owtcher) and the Rough Collie and Bull Terrier, both of which apparently produced uncontrolable progeny that were savage and crippling biters. In some places where the cattle were very wild, a cross of Kangaroo Dog, Bulldog and Collie was tried without much success and these soon died out.

Though many people contributed to the development of the Australian Cattle Dog (or "Blue Heeler"), the man who can be said started it all, was Thomas Simpson Hall 1808-1870, of Dartbrook, near Musselbrook, New South Wales, a pioneer cattle man of the Upper Hunter.

In 1840, he imported from Scotland, a pair of smooth-haired, blue-grey merles (marbled or mottled dogs) which were a cross between the Italian Blue Greyhound and the rough haired Scotish ollie. These dogs worked cattle fairly well but were poor biters, and because they barked and headed too much, they tended to make the cattle wild which ran the fat off them.

Hall then crossed the progeny of his merles with the Dingo. The result was a great success, as it produced an intelligent, hardy and tireless dog that possessed the Dingo's instinct of creeping up silently behind a beast and biting. In colour they were blue or red speckled, depending on whether the Dingo or merle predominated.

Tom Hall's dogs soon developed a reputation as first class workers and became well known all over the Hunter Valley and the New England district as "Hall's Heelers". Later, others, including George Elliot of Queensland also experimented with the merle-dingo cross and likewise produced excellent lines workers of workers.

The next stage of the development of the Australian Cattle Dog took place around Sydney. Some time in the 1870's, "Pilla" Davis, fat stock buyer for the family firm of carcase butchers, who had paddocks and a slaughter yard at Canterbury, bought some of "Hall's Heelers" to Sydney. The dogs attracted the attention of drovers, butchers, and others who set out to improve upon what was still, after all, a first cross.

Numerous names are mentioned by kaleski as having some part in improving the breed: The Lees (who very probably introduced Bull Terrier blood), The Peeks, The Jubbs, Jack and Harry Bagust, C Pettit, J Yabsley, J.Brennan of Summer Hill, Owen Nolan of Clovelly and Alex Davis of Canterbury, who was in partnership with Kaleski himself in breeding working dogs in the late 1890's. Another was Henry Rose of Burwood.

A Tribute Cont...
Tribute Cont..

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