Working dogs’ price rise
A GOOD heading dog or huntaway will cost farmers over a thousand dollars today, and a top dog will fetch $1500 according to Mahoe Station manager and dog trialist, Dean McRobbie.
Well-known Waipukurau dog trialist Charlie Anderton puts the prices a little higher.
He says there should be no trouble in getting $2000 for a classy farm heading dog and anything reasonable should make $1200 to $1500, “although if you’re lucky you can pick up a good dog for less.”
Dean says working dog prices have gone up about 20 percent over the past ten years; “Ten years ago you’d have to have had a very good dog to make $1000, now it’d just be a good dog. which would have been worth $700 ten years ago.”
Dean says dog trialists pay big money for top trial dogs, especially in the South Island where dedicated trialists will spend up to $3000 for the right dog.
Charlie agrees, saying there seems to be a vacuum even for pups in the South Island, particularly heading dogs.
Dean says farmers are looking for more heading dogs than huntaways these days.
He says because a lot of farms now have lanes dogs don’t have to be as good, and consequently they are not broken in as well as in the past.
Charlie says it’s amazing what you can do with stock with a farm bike, but they are the ruiners of good dogs!
He says the noise seems to wind dogs up and before you know what’s happening you have a team yapping and nattering their heads off and doing nothing sensible.
He says in the good old days when shepherds rode horses it would have been silly to gallop to head a mob of sheep: you’d sit quietly on the horse and send the dogs out, but people think nothing of doing it on a bike.
In fact, he says many farmers hardly use dogs at all, especially if there are two or three bikes on the go.
A lot of hours go into training a dog, and Charlie says most farmers and shepherds don’t make the effort.
“Trial dogs are as well or better training as they ever were, but the average farm dog ….no. Only those who have a bent for working sheep correctly can be bothered to break dogs in to a reasonable standard,” he says.
Charlie says his own dog training methods have changed because “most paddocks today, you can just about kick your hat across – by the time you’ve let the dog go he’s got to the end and you haven’t had the chance to tell him anything!”
Now, instead of teaching young dogs with sheep right from the start, Charlie has gone to mechanical means to show them what is required.
He is very happy with the results, saying the method is probably easier on both.
Photo caption – Waiting for a word from master.