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Ain’t nothing like a farm dog

AustralianFarmers count down the top 5 Aussie working dog breeds you’d want out on a muster or down in the yards

Without a doubt one of the hardest workers on the farm is the dog. A good dog can be worth up to 10 of their human counterparts, going from dawn till dusk in all-weather to get the job done. Moreover they’re loyal friends and companions for many farming families, with countless generations of farm kids growing up under the watchful eye of a veteran working dog who’s earned the right to make it into the house yard.

Here at Australian Farmers we’re casting our eye over what’s on offer and weighing up to options, giving you the out Top 5 with one honourable mention.

Honourable Mention: The Bitsa

A special mention to all those motley, half-bred but hardworking hounds with questionable origin and dubious breeding. Maybe hailing from an ill-timed trip to the sale yards or an unlikely romance between a purebred pet and a stud dog from the wrong side of the house yard fence, the wonder of hybrid vigour can often produce some real quality and many a mongrel is the pride and joy of the station.

It takes all sorts to run a farm, and these Heinz 57 hounds can be worth their weight in gold, either down the paddock or keeping an eye on things from the back step of the house.

The lovable bitsa: worth a mention (via @pistoltherescuedog, Instagram)

5. The Huntaway

Technically not from Australia, but seeing as we love claiming anything that looks like it might be half handy from across the ditch, we’ll give it a burl. The Huntaway has managed to prove itself a capable worker known for its deep, repeating bark which can be kept up for a very (and we mean VERY) long time. This lanky, black and tan stayer loves big open spaces, often going right the way back over the horizon returning long after the work’s been done or the mob has got away.

They take patience to train and always look like they need a drench but these friendly, kind hearted dogs are a good addition to any team. 

The Huntaway: hard to teach, hard to hate.

4. The Smithfield

The outsider! This shaggy haired, floppy eared, commonly bob-tailed dog is almost unique to Tasmania but they have often been seen on the mainland, where they have shown off their mix of stocky agility and strength, with one cocky once remarking he’d never seen a mop back cattle like that before. Showing neither shyness nor aggression these dogs work in close, enjoying the action on the drove and can bark and bite if necessary to get the mob on the move.

Even though you’ll need to run him in for a crutch every now and again the Smithie will prove to be a balanced and intelligent workmate when there’s a job to be done. 

Smithy at home in the Tassie high country (via @dyszi, Instagram)

3. The Koolie

Now here’s a head turner! You can’t miss the Koolie with their distinctive merle patterning. It’s not just about looks though, their natural ability makes them flexible workers easily able to shift between herding, heading or backing anything that moves on the farm. Such is their working prowess their owners sometimes tongue-in-cheek curse the walleyed buggers for mistakes no other dog would come close to making, but it’s born from a place of affection and respect for the skilled worker and devoted companion.

You might cop a few strange looks for the spotty dog on the back of your ute, once the work starts though, critics will be left in no doubt as to the quality of your charge. 

The Koolie: a great addition to any farm. (via @stemafachhandel, Instagram)

2. The Cattle Dog

Whether they’re blue or red, heeler or stumpy tailed, these hard headed tough nuts of the working dog world love being right in the middle of the action, especially where there’s hoofs and horns flying. Often found between a rouge Mickey bull and a hard place, the cattle dog excels in shifting those hard to budge bovines and the only thing more ferociously measured than them when they’re on job is the debate between Muswellbrook and Aberdeen as to which town can claim to be the cattle dog’s ancestral home.

When they’re not busy trying to eat the meter reader or chase the bloke from the bank up a tree, these dogs are loving and loyal mates who are always by your side. 

The classic Australian Cattle Dog (via @chloereith, Instagram)

1. The Kelpie

Talk about your dinky di, true blue, red dirt in the veins, sunlit plains, flooding rains and vegemite sandwich kind of canine. These dogs will work just about anything except the tractor (which is a good thing otherwise they’d put us out of a job) and they’re always up to the task, thriving on long hard days and seemingly running off nothing but the task at hand. These hardy dogs are world renowned for their natural instinct and intelligence, casting and holding mobs either on their own or as part of a seamless team.

Their ability to work independently sometimes gets them into trouble when they decide they know best, but a good Kelpie is an indispensable member of both farm and family. 

Taking out top honours is the ever-popular Kelpie (via @taerenn.nepthanon, Instagram).
Edmund Hogan, resident farm dog wrangler for AustralianFarmers

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Let us know what you think! What did we miss? Reckon we’ve got the cart before the horse? Feel free to share a photo of your dog hard at work or hardly working, and make your case for why it’s worthy of its spot on the list. Log in and leave us a comment below!

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