The Koolie Club of Australia hopes to boost interest in one of Australia’s lesser known dog breed’s through a series of upcoming stock herding workshops.
For the last 10 years the club has held a series of stockdog herding workshops in Mareeba to cater to the ongoing demand for working dog schools in the north, while simultaneously shedding a light on the lesser known Koolie breed.
While the breed is more widely recognized in the southern states for working sheep, Queensland breeders have made it their mission to showcase the good temperament, speed, stamina and versatility of the Koolie breed to cattle and sheep producers in the north.
Koolie Club secretary, and registered breeder Kylie Willson said the club has remained an open registry in a bid to attract more station bred Koolies, to encourage more people to become registered breeders.
“We’re trying to hold onto a breed and make it more recognized in Australia for it’s attributes and not just as a pretty dog to have in the backyard,” she said.
“Our gene pool as such is quite small but the Koolie club is an open registry for that fact.”
Ms Willson has been involved with the breed for the last 12 years after making the switch from cattle dogs at an early age.
“I grew up with cattle dogs, my parents had always had cattle dogs and a Koolie was something I had never heard of until Jackie introduced them to me,” she said.
“Up here Koolie’s weren’t very well known at all. In the broader Australia not a lot of people knew of them as they’re more so down in Victoria and places like that because they’re very good sheep workers.”
She remembers her first experience with the Koolies well through her first dog Echo, which is what started her fascination with the breed.
“Echo was a red and tan Koolie, and I believe he could really think for you,” she said.
“One day we were having a bit of trouble getting this one weaner into the yards. I had Echo locked in a crate up at the shed and for the life of me I can’t work out how he escaped.
“Things were starting to go pear shaped and all of a sudden down the paddock came Echo. He saw me, spotted this weaner and hit it that hard on the nose, turned the thing around and ran it all the way back to the yards on his own.”
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Ms Willson’s family has 110 hectares of land on the Tablelands where she now breeds Koolies to work stock.
“Our biggest thing is we want to better the breed, I don’t breed anything unless to me its a guaranteed worker and has come itself,” she said.
“A big thing for me is getting across to people that color doesn’t make the dog.
“As a breeder a lot of people have come to me and said ‘I want a red merle color with two blue eyes’, and straight up I tell them I’m not breeding for color, I’m breeding those dogs to work cattle .”
Ms Willson said the DNA health testing conducted on the breed has enabled them to track particular issues back to a certain bloodlines.
“We work with a company down in Melbourne who do our DNA testing so we’ve worked out what particular diseases reflect into each line to ensure that they’re as heathy as can be so you’re not breeding two dogs that are going to have health issues together.”
“Many people don’t realize that if you breed two merle colored dogs together you can get genetic problems.
‘”As part of the club it’s a passion of mine to educate people about the breed for those sorts of things and the importance of having the solid colored dogs in the breed.”
Similar to other animal breeds, Ms Willson said the progeny from certain bloodlines tend to exhibit different working traits, with some dogs often more direct than others.
“I’ve got dogs from an old bloodline from down south that have got a bit of gumption about them so when I’m selling them I’m always happy to send those pups to cattle working homes,” she said.
“It is good to see nowadays more people contacting the club looking for registered Koolies, so there not just buying from the backyard breeders off gumtree.”
The 2021 stockdog herding workshops are being held between September 14-16 and September 18-20 at the Mareeba Pony Club grounds.
Theodore cattle producer Tony Cock will be running the two herding workshops on behalf of the Koolie Club of Australia.
“Tony is very hands on and the workshop caters for everybody from a beginner to the backyard herder, and station based people.”
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