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The Altdeutsche Huetehunde is a working German sheepdog. It is a known ancestor of the GSD, but it is also a probably ancestor the koolie and the Australian shepherd.

The Altdeutsche Huetehunde is a working German sheepdog. It is a known ancestor of the GSD, but it is also a probably ancestor the koolie and the Australian shepherd.

Photo from Ralf H.

The landrace German sheepdog is the Huetehunde (“herding dog,” a very generic term.) It comes in a wide range of colors, including blue merle, and in smooth, long, and shaggy coats. Some of these dogs look more like sheep-poodles, others more like Australian shepherds, and others like Belgian and German shepherds. These dogs existed in the higher regions of Germany, bred solely for their working ability. The wolf-like dogs were the main breed behind the German shepherd dog as we know it today, and this breed is widely credited as being the ancestor of the GSD.

However, this mid-European shepherd breed has a bit longer reach than just the modern versatile shepherds of the European continent. In Australia there are several breeds of stock dog. We know the Queensland heeler, blue heeler, or Australian cattle dog the best in this country. It is a mix of collie, dingo, dalmatian, and bull terrier. We also might have the odd kelpie dog in this country. Kelpies, where are named after their foundation dog, who was himself named after a mythical Scottish creature also called a water horse, are believed to be entirely derived from collies. However, there is some evidence of dingo ancestry in them, too. There is, however, a breed that we usually do not see in this country. It is called a koolie or “German collie.”

koolie

Koolie or "German collie."

The dog in this photo is very similar to the Huetehunde. These dogs were kept by German settlers in the southern part of Australia. They were always associated with Germans in Australia, which is why they are called “German collies.” The Germans called them “koolies,” probably in their attempt to connect them with the more common collie-type dogs that their British and Irish counterparts were keeping. The koolie is probably partially derived from the Huetehunde.

Some of these dogs are also long-haired and have semi-pricked ears.

long-haired-coolie

And others come in red merle:

red-merle-koolie

Now, German settlers also brought the merle dogs to the US, where they were called “German tigers.”  (Tiger is  pronounced with the i as an “e” sound). And these dogs mixed into the bob-tailed herding dogs that were developing in the American West. True collie types were mixed with Pyrenean shepherds, and the German tiger dog.  It is also possible that some collies from Australia were imported into the West to handle the great flocks of sheep that once were found there. In fact, that could be the origin for the very strange name we currently have for this dog. Even though it developed and was entirely standardized in the US, we call it an Australian shepherd.

Not all Huetehunde are  merle. Some look more like GSD’s or sheep-poodles in color and appearance. It is meant to be a working breed, so a wide variance exists in appearance with these dogs.

So out of that German landrace, we have culled out three distinct breeds on three separate continents.

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