By Lanna Mills
“Man’s best friend.” Over the years this title has been earned by our companion, the dog. Cattle dogs, however, are more than just our companions. They are our co-workers and partners, working on the ranch alongside cowboys and ranchers to gather, move, sort and load cattle.
There are various breeds of cattle dogs, each unique in its own way. Cattle dogs come in many different sizes and colors. Some of the more common breeds used in our area are Australian Cattle Dog, Border Collie, Australian Shepherd and Catahoula.
The Australian Cattle Dog, also known as Blue or Red Heelers, originated in Australia. They are blue or red speckled in color often with tan markings. Blue heelers will often have black markings or black and tan markings. This particular breed of dog makes a great cattle dog. They are eager to learn and please. They are agile, quick, have great stamina and have an unwillingness to quit. They gained the name heeler for the way they herd and move cattle by running up behind them and nipping at their heels.
The Border Collie is known as one of the most intelligent and trainable dog breeds. It originated in the border country between Scotland and England. Its striking black and white coat along with its great intelligence has earned it a place in many movies, such as “Babe,” and television commercials. The border collies are different from other cattle dogs in the way they work. Their instinct is to “round up” the cattle and bring them to you. They use a type of pressure and release approach along with an intimidating stare.
The Australian Shepherd, or Aussie as he’s often called, is a beautiful breed with vibrant merle coat patterns in red or blue color and various eye colors. This breed is smart, focused, loving and people oriented. This breed drives cattle by pushing them, barking, and nipping at their heels. A mini or toy version of this breed also exists. The mini and toy versions the same loving, smart, eager to please dog, just in a smaller size.
Pick up the August issue to learn more!