This strong, durable dog has modern roots in the British Isles and ancient roots in Asia, and was bred to handle the harsh terrain of Australia.
To go back to the very beginning of the Stumpy’s family tree, we need to return to Asia, say, two or three thousand years ago. Like other parts of the world, Asia had its share of wolves, and some of those wolves became domesticated. Asia also had its share of sailors, especially in China, and Chinese sailors did what sailors do—they sailed. When they took to the high seas, their dogs—those more or less domesticated wolves—went with them, as dogs tend to do.
One of the places it is believed the Chinese ships reached was Australia, and there it is thought that, as happens now and then, some of the sailors, and some of the dogs, jumped ship. What happened to the sailors is anyone’s guess, but when it came to the canine crew members, the Aboriginal people who already inhabited Australia knew a good thing when they saw it, so they hung onto the dogs and used them as hunters. Today we know that breed under the name Dingo.
In 1788 the British arrived in Australia and made landfall on the southeast coast with seven hundred and thirty-six convicts, seventeen convicts’ children, and a few hundred soldiers and sailors along with their families, and established a penal colony near Botany Bay that eventually became the city of Sydney. Over the next decades more people arrived, and many of them began raising sheep and cattle.
If you want to raise sheep or cattle, you need a dog. More, in Australia’s open and arid terrain you need a tough one. In the third decade of the nineteenth century, a group of Australians began to create a new herding dog by mixing two breeds together. One of those was the Smithfield, an English dog that was big, strong, and bobtailed. The other was the Dingo. The Dingo has predatory tendencies, and Smithfield/Dingo cross created to a dog that was hard to handle, so shortly after that another breed, the Blue Merle Collie, was added to the mix, and the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog was born.
The Stumpy is very intelligent, and will respond well to obedience training, and even more to skills training. It is a herder, and will jump at the chance to show its abilities in that domain.
Stumpies are pack dogs, and they need a pack leader. If the human owner does not take that role, the dog is likely to, which will lead to trouble down the road. It is important to establish, from day one, that you are the alpha in the household. This means early socialization, good obedience training, preferably with the help of a professional who has experience with working dogs, and firm, consistent discipline. The owner of this dog needs to be willing to invest time and energy in shaping its behavior and attitude, and be able to spend considerable time working with it every day. Having a Stumpy is a full-time job, and if you lack the time or the energy to do that job, this is not the dog for you.