New South Wales cattle producer Wendy Mayne has owned her fair share of working dogs, from kelpies to border collies, and then there was a koolie.
- The Koolie Club of Australia says the breed has been around since the 1800s
- Despite this, many owners say koolies deserve more recognition as good working dogs
- One breeder says it is difficult to access genetic material
It was the koolie that left a lasting paw print on her heart.
“We’ve always had working dogs, usually kelpies, and [Mum] got this koolie we called Jess and she turned out to be this fantastic dog,” Ms Mayne said.
“It’s a breed that needs more recognition because they are the most wonderful dogs.
Her love affair with the breed may have begun as a child, but it has only been in recent years that Ms Mayne began breeding her own line.
Texas Koolies was founded in 2019 when Ms Mayne realised there were very few people breeding working koolies and she wanted to expand their reach.
“I decided that koolies were a breed that people really don’t know a lot about and they’re really not that well recognised,” she said.
It all began with a puppy her own mum bred and gave her. That puppy was called Emmie and turned out to be a very special dog.
“When I researched the koolies, there weren’t a lot of breeders out there … and I didn’t want her bloodlines just to be lost, so we went out and bought a solid, black-coloured koolie male from northern Queensland and the rest is history.”
Deserving of more
According to the Koolie Club of Australia, the breed began during the 1800s and was “unrecognised by many”.
That was a sentiment sheep producer, grain grower, and koolie owner Jenny Bradley agreed with.
Based in the central west of New South Wales, Ms Bradley has only ever had koolies.
Her father owned his first koolie in the late 1950s and has had them ever since.
“I have continued that line of koolie dogs so we’ve still got that original koolie line that Dad started with,” she said.
“He had sheepdogs when he was younger … he had kelpies, I think, and I don’t know what initiated that change but he never reverted back to anything else other than the koolie dog.”
While Ms Bradley said recognition needed to be earned, koolies tended to stay in the shadows of other breeds.
“All the publicity goes around kelpies and collies so you never see many koolies in yard dog trials or sheep dog trials,” she said.
“They are so loyal.”
Lack of genetics
Breeders and owners say outside genetics for working koolies are limited when it comes to expanding the breed.
Ms Bradley said she had great difficulty sourcing genetics, going to extreme lengths to do so.
“It is becoming really hard to find those outside genetics and a working dog base as well,” she said.
“So I have done strange things like that, following people in utes on the highway to find out where they live because you just don’t hear of many of them around.”
Ms Bradley has been successful sourcing working koolie genetics that way so far but she would like to see the breed expand.
However, she said it needed to be for the right reasons.
“A lot of people like the colours and they just want a coloured dog so that leads into not breeding for working dogs but comes into breeding for how pretty they are,” Ms Bradley said.
“You’ve just got to source out the people with the working dogs.”
While Ms Bradley only breeds a litter every few years for her own farm, she has sent some puppies to different states.
They have gone to farms and some have even gone to compete on the agility circuit.
For Ms Bradley, she will never find a better employee or friend than her beloved koolies.
“They’re fun dogs to have. They’re working dogs firstly but they’re part of the family and they love it,” she said.