In early Britain, most short-tailed droving dogs were known as " Curs", dogs that some claim to have been a cross between the sheepdog and the terrier. "Cur" did not always have a derogatory connotation. They were prized animals. To the Welsh herdsman, their cur was "of equal value to an ox".
The word "cur" is thought to come from the Swedish "Kurre", meaning dog. When early droving dogs had their tails docked it was known as "curtailing", a word now in general use meaning "cutting short".
An unknown author, writing in 1851, described the Cur dog thus: "Closely allied to the shepherd's dog is the cur, or drover's dog. This useful animal is larger than the shepherd's dog, the hair is generally shorter, and the tail, even when not cut purposely, often appears as it if had been so. It seems to us that the drover's dog is in reality, a cross between the shepherd's dog and some other race. These dogs are singularly quick and prompt in their actions and, as all who have watched them in the crowded, noisy, tumultuous assemblage of men and beasts in Smithfield must have observed, they are both courageous and intelligent."
An earlier writer Bewick describes a cur dog of the times in The General History of the Quadrupid (1811): A trusty and useful servant to the farmer and grazier. In the North of England this (the cur), and the shepherd's dog are called 'coally dogs'. They are chiefly employed in driving cattle, in which they are extremely useful. They are larger, stronger and fiercer than the Shepherd Dog and their hair is smoother and shorter. They are mostly of a black and white colour, their ears are half pricked, and many of them are whelped with short tails, which seems as if they had cut off; these are called self tailed dogs.' Bewick also gives us a woodcut of a black and white cur dog, which fits this description well. This type of dog still crops up, though very rarely.
The McNab breed in the United States bears a remarkable resemblance to these early curs. Though the McNab history is obscure, it appears that they are descended from a 'Scotch Border Collie', which was taken to America in the mid 1800s by a Scot called Alexander McNab. This particularly handsome breed is still used to work cattle and sheep there. What is more relevant here, however, is the likelihood that both the McNab and Stumpy Tailed Cattle Dog share a common ancestry in the humble cur.
To keep the stumpy tail characteristic, only short tailed dogs were then mated. This eliminated any long tailed strain. Now Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs breed true to type, with all litters born either without tails or very short tails. Another name for the Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is the Smithfield Heeler, a name claimed to be given to it by a family called Smithfield who helped develop this dog. They were said to have lived on the Queensland-New South Wales border. I cannot accept this theory, a singularly remarkable coincidence of names should it ever be substantiated. There can be little doubt that the 'Smithfield' in the records refers only to British working dogs of that name. A colloquialism given to dogs that worked stock of all types at the Smithfield Meat Markets in London at that time.
The Australian Stumpy-Tail Cattle Dog has proved every bit as effective with cattle as its longer tailed cousin. Though still relatively uncommon, this wiry, tireless worker is slowly gaining its ground, particularly in country areas, where it is held in high esteem. The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is a silent worker and many fanciers claim that its endurance is second to none. Like the Australian Cattle Dog, it makes a loyal and courageous friend. The breed is now attracting attention overseas, particularly in Canada, where its working qualities are appreciated on large cattle properties.
The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is believed to be the first pure bred to be developed in Australia. The dog is a valuable all-rounder and one of the best working dogs ever produced.|
During the ten years up to 1998, only fifty pups were registered under the prefix of the one and only kennel owning registered animals of both sexes; it was clear the breed was in danger of extinction. The Australian National Kennel Council resolved to save the breed by implementing a developmental register breeding program. Other breeders of Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs have since had stock registered, a number of these in N.S.W.
The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is NOT a short-tailed Australian Cattle Dog, but a different breed. Some of the differences between the two include:-
STCD Health Issues
A Stump For A Tail
You can't buy loyalty, they say,
I bought it though, the other day;
You can't buy friendship, tried and true,
Well, just the same, I bought that too.
I made my bid, and on the spot
Bought love and faith and a whole job lot
Of happiness,so all in all
The purchase price was pretty small.
I bought a single, trusting heart,
That gave devotion from the start.
If you think these things are not for sale,
Buy a brown-eyed puppy with a stump for a tail.