The "Smithfield" Dog.

by John Chandler

Over many years I have had numerous enquiries from all over Australia about the "Smithfield". A letter from Bert Howard ("Over Halling the Colony" and "The Colony Over Halled") has prompted me to look further into the possible existence in Australia of the Smithfield or its descendants, or even a different type of Smithfield to the one the British authorities have pronounced extinct.

I often reply to e-mails from people asking for breeders of Smithfields and it has been my practice to suggest that there may have been a mistake made and in fact they were talking about the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog. I would then go into detail describing the "Smithfield" as Robert Kaleski was wont in his book "Barkers and Biters"......"he was a big, rough coated , square bodied dog, with a head like a wedge, a white frill round the neck and saddle flap ears. He got over the ground like a native bear". I feel sure this description did not fit these peoples' dogs. I also doubt that the description of the Stumpy did not fit exactly. Of course, interpretation of breed standards can tend to lead people to conjure their own images. A good example is the height of Australian Cattle Dogs and Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs. Both breed standards state the same height at the shoulders for both breeds, but a lot of people see the Stumpy as a taller dog.

There is the possibility that there is/was an Australian dog that was bred at a place called "Smithfield" which is near Texas, just inside the Queensland border (see map). Another possibility is that there is a suburb of Sydney called Smithfield. Maybe back in the 1800's there were dogs bred there that were known as "Smithfields" but of a different type to that which Kaleski describes.

Durham shorthorn cattle

As Bert Howard states in his letter, "It is interesting because nearby is Mundoey (a Hall property was Mundoey). Still more interesting is nearby Silverspur where A.Munroe once had a property called Arcot. He was a top breeder of poll shorthorn cattle. It is recorded he used "sports" from Weebollabolla station (Munroe owned now), which came directly down from Thomas Hall's breed of 1840. There were pure bred Hall's Heelers on Weebollabolla station then. If he (Munroe) got cattle from Thomas Hall, why not cattle dogs (Hall's Heelers) and bred from them?"

Qld NSW map

If something like this happened, it would answer a lot of questions regarding the origins of some dogs. Possibly the "Smithfield"?

I have heard that there are some breeders in Tasmania endeavoring to breed back to the old "Smithfield" or Old Beardie. I can not confirm if this is the case or whether or not they had any success. If anyone can shed some light on this dilemma re the Australian "Smithfield" please contact John Chandler

Submitted by John Chandler

Feedback re "The Smithfield"



My name is Richard Bjork, I train animals for the Film and TV industry.
I am trying to track down a Smithfield dog by the name of Splash, and I think he lives In Bargo NSW.
Can anyone help me out here. Thankyou,


Phone 02 6373 8148.

Dear John, I am glad to have finally found some information on Smithfields. I am in New Zealand and about 5 years ago a friend of mine dropped off her Pup she could no longer look after.She is approx 6 years old. When I asked her what breed she is she said a Smithfield crossed with a beardie. Her name is Zena, she is black with a white chest and has a stubby tail, she has long coarse hair. She is the most beautiful dog I have seen, though some people may disagree!! She is very clever, she can shake hands and say Hello! She is wonderful around children and loves to run and play. I didnt realise that Smithfields were near extinct! She has had 2 litters of Pups, the first she had 5, they were crossed with a Foxy, 4 out of 5 pups had stubby tails. Her second lot are only 6 weeks old and are gorgeous, unfortunately only 1 has a stubby tail and it is a Male. 5 are going to have fur like her long and course but 2 have come out with short fur, all are Black with white patches on their chest and paws, a couple have white tips on the end of their tails. Im not sure where my friend got her from, now I feel quite special to have such an "exotic" dog!! She is definately part of our family. If you know some people in New Zealand who are keen to own a smithfield cross please let me know.

Jess Atkins.

Information on the Smithfield

per kind permission Helen McIntosh

22nd Jan, 2007

Barb Wire

A typical Smithfield
A typical "Smithfield"


I was reading your article with interest in relation to the "Smithfield". Your comment below caught my attention:

"I have heard that there are some breeders in Tasmania endeavoring to breed back to the old "Smithfield" or Old Beardie. I can not confirm if this is the case or whether or not they had any success. Can anyone shed some light on this dilemma re the Australian Smithfield".

About 14 years ago, Dr Harry Cooper ran a story on his TV show "Talk to the Animals" regarding the "Smithfield". He profiled his good mate Geoff Elmer, a sheep farmer from Deloraine (Tas).

Coincidentally we were looking at buying another dog, and after seeing this show contacted Geoff and purchased a Smithfield puppy. In the 18 months following the TV show, there were over 150 puppies sent throughout Australia from various breeders in Tasmania.

As requested, from my experience, below are the general characteristics of a Smithfield. As you can see, they are very similar to a Bearded Collie with the main difference being the coat texture & length.

Characteristics: The Smithfield is hardy & active with an aura of strength and agility. They are stable and self-confident, showing no signs of shyness or aggression. They are a devoted and intelligent member of the family.

General Appearance: The Smithfield is a medium-sized shaggy dog with a medium length coat. The body is long & lean and though strongly made does not appear heavy. A bright inquiring expression is a distinctive feature of the breed.

Body: The body is longer than it is high in an approximate ratio of five to four (Our female is approx. 600mm in length [point of chest to point of buttocks] & 530mm at withers).

Tail: The tail is set low and is long enough for the end of the bone to reach the point of the hocks. It is normally carried low with an upward swirl at the tip while the dog is standing or walking, but may be extended at speed. It is never carried curled over the back. The tail is covered with abundant hair. (Our female tail length is 350mm).

The Smithfield looks very similar to a Bearded Collie but with a shorter, coarser, thicker coat. They come in predominantly 2 colours - grey & white or brown/red & white. They stand around the same height as a Beardie and are quick to learn & keen to work. Their breed is not recognised by the Canine Association. On many occasions over the years our dog has been confused for a Beardie, even at a Bearded Collie show.

On trips to Tassie, we've witnessed a number of Smithfield's competing in Sheepdog trials. To our knowledge, Geoff is still working with & breeding Smithfield's.

Searching the internet, there's a Smithfield, named Cricket, who won the 2004 NSW Agility Dog of the Year who came from a farmer in NSW - so they're out there, it's just a matter of finding them.

Our Smithfield, is now just shy of her 14th birthday and in exceptionally good health (even after having just been diagnosed with diabetes). Many years ago she achieved her CDX in Obedience & trained for Utility & Agility for the fun of it. She is still very alert & has plenty of energy and has given us many years of pleasure. We'll be contacting Geoff again when it comes time to buy another Smithfield.

Hope this information has been of some interest.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my experiences on this breed. I hope this assists in clearing up some of the confusion.


As requested, from my experience, below are the general characteristics of a Smithfield. As you can see, they are very similar to a Bearded Collie with the main difference being the coat texture & length.

The Smithfield is hardy & active with an aura of strength and agility. They are stable and self-confident, showing no signs of shyness or aggression. They are a devoted and intelligent member of the family.

General Appearance:
The Smithfield is a medium-sized shaggy dog with a medium length coat. The body is long & lean and though strongly made does not appear heavy. A bright inquiring expression is a distinctive feature of the breed.

The body is longer than it is high in an approximate ratio of five to four (Our female is approx. 600mm in length [point of chest to point of buttocks] & 530mm at withers).

The tail is set low and is long enough for the end of the bone to reach the point of the hocks. It is normally carried low with an upward swirl at the tip while the dog is standing or walking, but may be extended at speed. It is never carried curled over the back. The tail is covered with abundant hair. (Our female tail length is 350mm).

Thank you for the opportunity to share my experiences on this breed. I hope this assists in clearing up some of the confusion.
kind regards,

Helen McIntosh

From:Graham Rigby

Hello John, my name is Graham Rigby .I`m from Campbell Town in Tassie. For the past few years I have been the organiser of a Smithfield Sheepdog Competition, held at the Campbell Town Show. It was started in 1986/1987. There is still a fair number of the dogs down here, with a group of us interested in keeping a " pure " line of Smithfields established. One of the problems is with some people breeding the dogs using dogs of mixed ancestry, that if they come out being hairy they call them Smithfields , even though they are still only part - breds. Then people wonder why they get such a variation in their pups.

I will keep this message short, just wanted to touch base with you about the dogs. If you could let me know that you received this message, I will get back in touch with you. My phone number is 03 63811289 if you felt like giving me a call.

Thanks, Graham.

From: julie webster
Thursday, March 08, 2007 8:38 PM
Subject: Smithfields

John, I also was reading your article. I myself breed the correct Smithfield ( like in the pic). I thought that Helen McIntosh might like to know Im in Victoria and am very glad to see the information on the net is improving. Only three years ago your site was the only one. Im trying to build a website but Im not so clever with the computer I have some success. If you could pass on my details and tell her her Smithfield is just beautiful I would appreciate this thankyou

Dear John,

I just stumbled across your website and article on the 'smithfield' dog. Do you know if there are any breeders of this particular breed? (our dog attached pic from the pound everyone says he is a smithfield or oh he has smithfield in him.)

A Smithfield

I would just like to find out a bit more about "the smithfield" any info would be greatly appreciated.
Kind regards,
Heidi Newham


Hey John, My name is Dion Green.I moved to Tasmania 5 years ago and adopted a Smithfield from an eldely couple. I had never heared of them before, though in Tas they are very common. Many people I meet while walking him ask me if he is a Smithfield and add that they have one just like him. He has a 4-6 inch shaggy coat, blackish grey, with a white patch on his chest and just under his chin,(beard). He had never seen cattle before, but when we took him home he immediately rounded up all the neighbours sheep. He was approximately 6 when we got him, now 10ish. We live in west Australia now. He is very needy & cant take his eyes off me every where I go. He was clipped back a few months back, so his coat isn't quite full length - it's a lot warmer in WA than Tas. He is still full of beans, very alert and obedient, though a little bit silly. He can get through the smallest of holes too, more hair than anything else. He hangs out with my chickens & ducks when in Tasmania on the farm without any worries and once I found him with 2 new born lams herded into the corner just sitting 2 or 3 feet from them not letting them wander, but not posing any threat toward them at all.He's a very loyal and trust worthy member of my family, he sleeps on my bed and loves to go out for a drive. IF I could ever be lucky enough to have the opportunity to befriend another smithfield I would jump at the chance. You may include this info and these pictures on your site. I also would like to thank you , for I have had difficulty finding any information on the smithfield. Cheers.

Re Smooth Coated Smithfields

ByAngie Seager

Hi John

My family for many years owned and bred Smithfield working dogs, on a dairy farm, in the heat and wilds of Northern Victoria. It was hot, dry and with infestations of prickles and burrs, not the place for a long haired dog

The dogs you show, especially the photo of Smitty, are similar to a bitch my brother owned. However, the rest were smooth coated. They looked something like a large fox terrier, about the size of a kelpie and were brilliant cattle dogs. Our dogs were pure bred. This is over 25 years ago and we haven't seen any since. My brother's girl took off in a storm and that was the end of our smithies.

The internet has proved to be almost completely devoid of details on this breed. When I rang the various dog orgs. I was told this breed didn't exist; that it was an english breed that died out over a hundred years ago; that no there were no pups available. Given the fact that I grew up with these dogs I was totally amazed at how ill informed these poeple were or that our dogs were extinct!

All of the dogs I have managed to find on the internet and newspapers are all of the long hair type. This type is fairly alien to me as I did not see it until years after our farm was sold. As I said it was my brother's bitch, Biddy.
At the time I was a little unconvinced that this dirty moving floor rug could be a smithfield but it produced smooth coated puppies that looked just like the ones we had on the farm. I know Lyle used to send them all over Victoria to other breeders. He also said his dog "Biddy" was bought from a stockman who worked the Kensington Cattle yards in Melbourne, Victoria. He himself had doubts as to her pedigree due to the wooliness of her coat. It was not something he had ever seen before. He also said she chased rather than herded the cattle and, being a bit clumsy and not paritically intelligent, was always crashing into things. No wonder the stockman got rid of her! However she did produce some highly talented working dogs that were much sought after.

As to the smooth coated ones they were of a fine build, finer than a kelpie. The head was narrowish and smaller than the body. We were unable to chain ours up as they always slipped their collars. The back legs tended to be longer than the front. Many sites refer to them as loapers. I would have to agree with this. They did move differently from other cattle dogs. They held their almost non existant tail down. If it had been longer I'm sure it would have been between their legs, even when wagging! They were very loyal dogs, smart, quite submissive, not aggressive such as a heeler and much calmer than kelpies. I.e., not mental! Total sooks. I have noticed on your site that you refer to the heeler as a smithfield. We also had heelers and they were nothing like the smithfield.

The heeler was bred such a long time ago and are really a completely different breed just as the stumpie is. The australian shepperd does seem to be fairly similar to the long hair type and in its movement too, both short and long haired.

The breed it is most similar to is probably totally unrelated. The Jack Russell! When I thinking about getting a dog, my kids were very small. Dad advised me to get a Jack Russell. I must have been the only person on the planet that didnt know what a Jack Russell was. He told me they were a small version of a Smithy. Not wanting a toy/claytons version of a Smithfield I neatly pushed the suggestion aside whenever he brought it up. I did not want some painful yappy little mutt. Dad died about 5 years ago. A few weeks later my husband brought home a little dog he found dumped at the local footy oval. It looked just like dad's smithfield dog, on a smaller short legged chubby scale. The vets stated that it was a Jack Russell of the old type. The owners never showed up and today Rex is still with us. He's very similar to old Mitch with the same submissive nature and the little tail wagging. A total sook. He loves to round the chooks up and gives my horses the irites and has even tackled some bulls. Dad was so right.

For many months now I have promised to find you a photo of one of our dogs and I I promised to find a photo of one of the dogs for you and have finally located one. Not quite what I would have liked but it is the old boy alright!

Mitch as you can tell has a very short and smooth coat, a white body with black markings and ears and a tan coloured face.

As I said he was a wonderful dog around kids and is sitting in a sooky submissive state with his ears held back. Unfortunately he is sitting down, so his short stumpy tail and long back legs cannot be seen. But you can see his proud barrel chest, the white "collar" that many smithfields were said to have. The photo must be around 38 years old as I as standing next to him. I am sure that "collar" is the same one we often see in the Blue heelers of today.

My brother again stated that he was pure bred and his mother was a brown and tan coloured dog.

Mitch was a wonderful dual purpose working dog. He was highly intelligent and could run all day after a herd. Like our ACD he used to heel the cattle however never so as to injure the stock. Unlike many kelpies, the large beasts rarely bluffed him. He also could work sheep extremely well and could be trusted implicitly unlike old Bluey. Mitch was also completely trustworthy around my siblings as he was so gentle and tolerant. He was not a pretty dog but he could always be relied upon and trusted whether around a toddler, or stock. He was efficient, calm, and completely loyal. His favourite place was by his master, my Dad, often on the back of the old farm bike. He truly loved herding the cattle. While Old Blue wombled along no doubt wondering who he could bully that day, Mitch would be off to do happily Dad's bidding that's if he, he ever needed to be told in the first place. He had an inate instinct for the purpose he was bred for.

short hair

"The Dogs Grave"


Hi John, my name is Jo Cronin, I live and work on a sheep and cattle station in NSW, I am originally from Tasmania. I have always had Smithfields dogs but I can't seem to get hold of anyone over here who breeds them. I am wanting another pup as my other dog has passed away. I was wondering if you could put me onto some breeders.

Kind regards Jo Cronin.

Hi John
We live at Westbury Tasmania and breed Smithfields. In fact we won at the Campbell Town show which has its own Smithfield class. I will send photos. We have a litter of 8 pups at the moment, I was just looking for some information for one of our clients who purchased a dog when I came across your question.

The Campbell Town Show in central Tasmania now has a Smithfield Class. This consists of five categories:

Pure Smithfield Dog
Pure Smithfield Bitch
Partbred Smithfield Dog
Partbred Smithfield Bitch
Pure or Partbred Smithfield Puppy

Smithfield Champion Award chosen from winners of each class.

Whilst it is accepted that they are not a registered breed as such, there is sufficient interest and acceptance in Tasmania of the breed for this event to be held. The show is held in early June and we were fortunate enough to win the Puppy section the year before last. It is a very enjoyable day with probably 40+ entries and not at all like your traditional dog show. Most entrants arrive tied to the back of utes and are presented in natural condition. Some which are pets obviously are groomed a lot better but this fact does not seem to be reflected in the results which are based on the judges concept of the "Purebred Smithfield".

It is a great show. Photos will follow.

Philip & Cindy Swinton
Park Crest Stud
03 63931193

Hi John,
We live in Southern Tasmania, and fell in love with Smithfield dogs, it was your site that assisted in us getting our delightful boy Toby, who is now almost 7months old.

We were able to find Geoff Elmer at Deloraine, (I rang the elmers in the phone book and struck his son) his father just happened to have a litter of puppies. At that time we had been looking for quite a while for a pup. We rang and travelled up from our place, saw his litter, one male and four females, only one female and the male were left. We both fell in love with the male, drove home (3hours which in tassie is like driving for 6 hours) and slept on it for a few days, funnily enough we saw an add in that weekends paper for smithfield pups, but when i rang theyd all gone. So we rang Geoff and organised to pick the pup up the next week.

We both loved the little male, he was ginger with a white ruff, and white sock, he is a stumpy tail, which was a bit sad, but his little tail wags with such optimism and joy (with no risk to things on low tables). I cant imagine him with a tail now he just would not be our boy! He seemed to pick us. We wanted a pet, and his sister seemed well, when she heard the sheep bleat she wanted to go, see them...where as Toby well he just wanted a cuddle.

He is a delight, intelligent, quick and loves people, he thinks everyone should love him and he just doesnt understand why everyone does not...!(me either).

So roll on more information about Smithfields.

warm regards De-arne.

"Toby" then.

"Toby" now.

Dear John,
We found your article most informative having just lost our beloved friend "Tess" recently, I decided to look for someone who may know which breed she is. When she came into our lives we were told she was a border collie, being a first time dog owner we knew no different. We had never heard of a smithfield until our first trip to the vet. The vet explained that she was collie x smithfield. Tess was such a wonderful companion to the whole family, her loyalty and temperament was second to none. How much smithfield is in her? We know she was bred in Tasmania about 14-15 years ago, if we wanted to love another dog like "Tess" we would be very interested to know who may breed this type of dog and who we could contact.
Attached is a photo of "Tess" Could anyone please give us any information about her breed and breeders.

Kind regards,
Darren and Maree Colgrave
Nubeena Tas 7184




Tasmanian Smithfield Dogs
Click here to visit "GLENIRA" SMITHFIELDS

The Tasmanian Smithfield is a dog almost unique to Tasmania, although over the years a number have gone to the Australian mainland. (No, they are not the 'smithfield' cattle dog most mainlanders think of when they hear the name Smithfield). Although Tasmania is a small State as well as an island, it is predominantly very rural, and there are still numerous old bush stockmen tucked away in many places who keep the dogs just as they always have. As no records are officially kept, numbers of these dogs could range either from just hundreds up into thousands, especially if crossbreds are included in the count.

The Smithfield is a sheepdog, (they also work cattle), dating back to the first settlers. The Tasmanian Smithfields are descended from dogs who worked sheep and cattle at the Smithfield meat markets of London. The 'smooth fields', an area of flat pastureland outside London, was the original site of the British fat-stock show and market, which was rebuilt in 1860 and renamed Smithfield. A band of drovers were specially licensed and employed by the markets to bring the cattle in and for this they required the assistance of large, strong dogs known locally as 'Smithfield collies'. Early books depict the Smithfield as a heavy black dog with a shaggy coat, often with a white ring around its neck, and sometimes white at the feet or tip of the tail, floppy ears, a wedge-shaped head, and a square body with long hair - the Smithfields of today tend to be more refined than those in old photos and written descriptions. The name Smithfield originally embraced many working dogs, eg. Old English Sheepdogs and Sussex Sheepdogs.

Today's dogs can be any colour although they are predominately tan/cream or blue/grey, often with some white marking. Their coats are medium-long and/or shaggy. The dogs are medium sized, with a strong, stocky, agile build. Many of the dogs are born as natural bob-tails which is common in the breed - tails can be anything from almost nothing to full length. Smithfields tend to be strong close workers, basically a droving/driving dog, and can bark and bite if necessary to get large mobs moving.

The breed is known for being laid back but also hard working. They are sensible and very trainable, smart dogs who tend to be thinkers. In most cases they are late maturing, around 1 - 2 years. The Smithfield is a gentle, loving dog who wants to be with you. They make excellent pets and house dogs, are athletic and ready to go when there's work to be done, and are just as happy to sit and wait for you - not always the case with working dogs. Over the years only the strong and sound dogs of good temperament and ability have been kept for working, so the breed has remained true, except in the cases where people have crossbred them with other dogs. They are often clipped off in summer. Clipping stops grass seeds and the like that are around at that time of the year from getting stuck in the coats and between the toes.

The annual Campbell Town Agricultural Show, situated in the midlands area of Tasmania, hosts a Smithfield show each year which is always strongly supported by various owners and enthusiasts, often about 40 dogs will participate. The show usually falls early in June. The Smithfield is not recognised by the Canine Councils, so I thought the entry conditions of Campbell Town might be of interest, especially to anyone involved in trialling or showing under the rigorous control of the various State bodies. Entry Conditions: Purity decided by dog's owner, solely on the basis of the dog's appearance and regardless of known or suspected ancestry. Entry fee $2.00 per dog. There are classes for pure and part bred dogs. So while these dogs are unregistered and largely unappreciated by those who don't know them, there is an increasingly large band of people who value them for the great dogs they are. The competition at Campbell Town has probably helped to keep some of the good old true-to-type working strains going, which might have otherwise died out, as many people have again realised what a fantastic dog the Smithfield is. They are a dog which conforms to a general type, but not to a precisely worded breed standard.

In 1862 the first Dog Show was held in Australia. This was in Hobart, Tasmania. Records show that one 'Smithfield Colley' and one 'Black & Tan Colley' were shown there.

As well at this excellent site maintained by John Chandler, a lady named Tull Luttrell from Hobart Tasmania has begun a Yahoo group on the internet for people with an interest in Smithfields wishing to communicate. Probably not a lot of the older farmers have internet skills, however there are a few new names joining from time to time.For anyone wishing to join the group


Hello John,

My name is Marilyn Ford.

I was so excited to find your article on the The "Smithfield" Dog as I have been searching for sometime now to find information on the NZ Smithfield, as my dog "Ernie" is crossbred between a German Wirehaired Pointer and a NZ Smithfield.

I'm hoping someone will be able to tell me if the NZ Smithfield and the Tasmanian Smithfield are the same breed of dog.

I got my "Ernie" 5 years ago purely by fate. What a great day that was for my partner and I to accept him into our home. He was nine weeks old at the time and was just adorable. We can't imagine what our lives would be like without him. However, from the information I have gathered along with various photos, I have to say he is predominantly German Wirehaired Pointer, as you will see from the photos below. The NZ Smithfield bit has always been a mystery to me as I haven't been able to find out any information on this breed until lately. Even our Vet said "A New Zealand What."

Ernie appears to be smaller in stature than the GWP and has the stumpy tail, possibly the only two traits he gets from the Smithfield. Some Smithfields appear to have tails and some not.He is extremely loyal and very intelligent. Doesn't particularly like his own company preferring to be with my partner and I, loves ball games (he makes the rules to suit himself);would swim and run all day if possible,just never seems to tire. At the same time, if I decide to have an indoors day, he's just as happy with that also, as long as he's got company. His favourite time of the evening is to curl up like a cat between my partner and I on our two seater couch while we watch TV. How he organizes his long legs is still a mystery to us. Night time, well, he has his mat in our bedroom, where else.

I hope someone can enlighten me on the NZ Smithfield.


Marilyn Ford


Hi my name is Jodie Wairama
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2008.

Firstly I would like to congratulate you on this wonderful web site!

Well I live near Campbell town in Tasmania, Ross actually (5-10mins from CT in the centre of Tassie) and the breed of "smithfields" is alive and well here!! My dear friend in Campbell town also has 2 beautiful Smithies (and states their wonderful working dogs,and just loves them..) We mated my bitch smithie cross kelpie (smooth hair) with his pure smithie (long hair) to get 6 adorable puppy's (some short hair, rough hair and long hair) and I have pup's that will be 6 weeks old on the 1st of April and I don't want to part with them! But I can't keep them all... They are wonderful working dogs, affectionate, loyal and pleasure to be around... So hopefully I will find people that will adore them as much as me.....I have listed them on the Litter Bin section of this site. I moved from QLD 2 years ago and had never heard of the breed till I met a farming family in the area (they came from farming families also, that have been here in Tassie since convict years), They have had smithfields for years and swear by the smithfield breed as a loyal and devoted working dogs.. I personally do not work my dogs, even though it is so natural for them.. they do require physical activity (but don't we all..) They are highly intelligent and wonderful family pets..

Thank you, Jodie

Down Down Under...
Author:Mickie Sommer
with special permission to reproduce


So good to have a Smithfield site on the Web. We have had Beardies for years but have become very interested in the Tassie Smithfields due to their possible relation to the Beardies. We now live in Tassie and get a lot of chances to see these beautiful dogs.

Some articles seem to say that they are extinct but others say that there are descendants spread around the world to wherever the British settled. Another person that may be worth chasing down if you wish is Roy Butler. He has also done alot of research going from Scotland and through America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. At the time I met him he was a Government vet in Tasmania. Last I heard I think he was in West Australia. I do know that he was used as a judge at one of the Campbell Town shows recently so someone whould know where he is. Graham Rigby used to know but his email does not appear to be working. Roy had boxes of research. He felt very strongly that the Smithfields and Beardies were very close if not the same with the Smithfields having a bit more mixed in. He was nice enough to give me a copy of an article that he had written for an agricultural publication in 1978. He took photos of one of our beardies in movement. He said that they were so similar that they had to at least be very close. Being a vet the judgement involved more than just general similarities. In this article he even suggested using Beardies to build the lines and numbers for the Smithfield’s survival.

When we arrived in 1984 most of the Smithfields were very like our older style Beardies. At the first Campbell Town Show's Smithfield Judging he had not only worked to get it off the ground but asked us to bring our Beardies also to show everyone and allow them to compare. One agricultural journalist asked us when our Smithfields were going in the ring. Roy said that one thing that made him think that the Beardies were so strongly involved in the Tasmanian Smithfields (not the Timm's Bitter ones for instance) was the fact that no matter what they were mixed with, the type still came through. As the Beardies were such an old type of working dog - older than many of the others that were used in the crossings - then this would explain the consistent type. Since then there appears to be a division between what I call the 'Beardie-type’ and the other types. The others seem to have curlier coats, slightly different heads, a boxier body and often no tail - only a stump. Others show a definite influence of Old English or Border (all related way back to the Beardies). There also appears to be a smaller one now ending up as pets but still called Smithfields. Boy, I found out that any of the types definitely feel that theirs is the true Smithfield. One group even cornered me (nicely though) - removed a dog from it's box and flipped it over and made me feel it's tail to show me what a naturally docked dog's tail felt like so I wouldn't be confused by the imposters! Obviously temperament is also good in the Tasmanian Smithfields – similar to our Beardies. I tried to nicely explain that they were all Smithfields just different lines and strains and possibly from different locations.

It is good to see the numbers growing but sad to see so many ending up in the pound though. I noticed today that there is already a rescue society set up in the USA. People forget that they are still at heart working dogs - as our beardies and years ago our Shelties (ours still worked but then even our Borzoi would cast behind the cattle!). Working dogs need to work. You can't just say "What a cute dog" and throw it in the backyard. I discovered from some of the oldtimers that there were actually a pure line of working Beardies near Hobart until about the 1930s and was told that the best workers were a cross between the Beardies and the Smithfields. I also found out that working Shelties were also brought into Tassie. I don't believe any of us will ever know for certain about the past but the trip is definitely interesting. Keep up the good work Mickie

PS Decided to add photos of our foundation Beardie Amber. As the Beardie as a show dog was still fairly new in 1978, Amber was into working dogs from only about 5 generations back. I have attached photos of her as a pup, in her prime as a showdog, and a few days before we lost her on "her" chair eyeworking the poor fish round and round.

Eye-working the fish

Show pose

Amber as a puppy.

Also found a group on the Web that are trying to save the working beardies. That is a site too to see what the beardies used to look like and the strength of their comparison to the Tasmanian Smithfield.

The following is an article that I did after attending the first judging of Smithfields at Cambell Town Show, Tasmania, Australia.

This was a specialty type judging of just Tasmanian Smithfields. Hobart, Tasmania was actually the first dog show on record in Australia. It was held soon after settlement. That show and others following may have had the occasional Smithfield. Just a quick remark on the Smithfield show. Firstly I must say a job well done to Roy Butler. Despite threatening weather (we all know that feeling) and the show committee changing their time – which meant some exhibitors missing their ring call. That included one poor exhibitor with three exhibits and a litter of pups. They all appeared to have been brushed and possibly washed for the day – no an easy task when you consider they were mainly farm dogs that only had previous contact with dam water. A local dog food company presented sashes for the first four places and for the Best Smithfield in Show and a large bag of food for the first prize winner of each class. Their photos were also taken for the record.

Most of the exhibitors were there and waiting – not a bit of straw to be seen. Despite no advertising, 25 entries were received. When you remember they were mostly farm dogs without a club to support or points to be gained – you can imagine the pride and love these people have in their dogs. Some had brushes even. The leads were many and varied. One man took to in at once – on chains! Another went on a horse lead. Ringcraft was from bad to good an performance was very well behaved considering. When you stop to think that the dogs had never experienced this situation before, their temperaments were super – not one snarl even. One pup couldn’t stop barking – tails were wagging – paws were waving – so much like a Beardie show. It was said that the judge only had them walk and not trot but I could still ascertain some good reaches. The judge breeds Smithfields and is involved in working trials. Each exhibit was called into the ring by name. I wish I had written them down. Winton - the pup –Muffewria – a friend’s dog – Bob, Bobby, Cindy and Bounce- the eventual winner- stand out in memory.

The colours were all the Beardie colours represented in full range. Some were mismarks but here, who cares. Pigment is important though, as I explained in an earlier article, and even the ones with too much white were good. Remember the saying – “A black mouth means a good worker.” Some were shorn as their coats and its attraction to burrs is their only fault according to one gentleman. Type varied from replicas of the 1903 Beardie in G.O.Willison’s book to good replicas of our beloved Beardies of today. The 1903 versions did seem to be a bit finer and not quite so wedge shape in head, except for one who took a first in his class. I wish I had taken more photos of a particular fawn one. Except for reach of neck and a fine head, she was very nice. I’ll try to get reprints of a photo that I also took of a mis-marked dark slate that was sparser in coat but expression, etc., would definitely fit our Beardie Standard. When I send it please look at the pigment around the eyes and on the upturned rear foot and the vague hint through the whites of her forelegs. She illustrates clearly the pigment situation that I mentioned. The poor gentleman taking photos for the Tasmanian Country Newspaper mistook our Beardies for Smithfields. We were also asked when we were going in the ring! Need we say more?

One older gentleman again told me of the Beardies that used to be here. They seem to speak of the pure Beardies and the cross Beardies being called Smithfields. The best worker he had ever seen was a cross Beardie – Smithfield. He said it would work until it dropped. It just would not stop. He was very concerned that the Beardie working lines would be lost and felt we ought to go back to our older stock occasionally to preserve it.

The owners were just as friendly as their dogs. We were totally accepted. Roy had a sign up by the ring, mentioning Beardies and pointed us out. None of this was asked for but was totally appreciated. We were shown nothing but friendliness and interest. Knowing the general feeling farmers have to show dogs, we were pleased. I hope that we have broken a bit of ground for the Beardies acceptance as the worker that it is – not just a glamour item, Roy agreed with my comment that after spending the morning with them, that I couldn’t help but feel that they were the same breed basically – just divided into working and show lines. Sadly, most of the working lines have had to be inter-mixed to save them but type and temperament is still there. If it is not a descendent of our Beardie, then the Smithfield is definitely a very close cousin. A close cousin that must be saved and preserved. I’m afraid to take a definite part due to being a KCC member but I do feel that these people , their beautiful dogs and particularly Roy Butler need our encouragement. I must say thank you for letting me share their special day. I am looking forward to another chance next year.

Hi John,
I just happened to stumble across your website dedicated to the "Smithfield" breed. We have a 4 month old puppy "Charlie" and he is a Smithfield x Border Collie. I was finding it rather difficult to find information on the breed and was grateful to discover your site. Do you know how much a full grown Smithfield would weigh?
Our little Charlie is such a delight. He is extremely intelligent and easily learns new "tricks"! He loves everyone, is very affectionate and loves a cuddle. I've included a few pics of him.I would be inclined to think Charlie has more Border in him than Smithfield. JMHO. I have friends who breed BC's and he (at this age) looks more like their BC pups. Howver, they change so much as they grow. Erin Crawford
graphic designer
The Examiner Newspaper
Design & Production
71-75 Paterson Street,
Launceston, Tasmania, 7250.
Ph: 0438 448 941

Smithfield crossBC Smithfield/BC cross Smithfield/BC cross

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