Dogs West

Numbat - WA's Native EmblemNumbat - WA's Native Emblem

Because the Colony of Western Australia developed quite separately from the rest of Australia until Federation in 1901, the Western Australian Kennel Club also (WAKC), developed differently. Western Australia was the only State that enjoyed affiliation with the Kennel Club of England. Without the necessity of rival bodies, unusually the WAKC was also the only 'controlling body' for WA at that time. Today, its capital Perth is Australia's only State capital with a 'Kennel Zone'. This consists of 25.3 km² of suburb where owners and breeders can live without the restriction of only being allowed to keep just two dogs.

History of DogsWest

The WAKC was certainly conducting shows before it was incorporated in 1912, as there is a report in a 1898 'West Australian' newspaper that a particular Airedale Terrier won a First Prize at a WAKC Show held that year[1].

Grand Champion Field Spaniel 'Bonny Union Jack' born 1905Grand Champion Field Spaniel 'Bonny Union Jack' born 1905

Affiliation with the Kennel Club (UK) had many advantages over the remainder of Australia at that time because the WAKA singularly dealt with registrations, the issue of pedigrees and shows. Additionally, the WAKC was able to award Challenge Certificates for Best of Breed of sex. This included the award of show titles like the dog pictured which must have accumulated the six Challenge Certificates necessary for it to become a Grand Champion[4a] 

Auspices with the WA Royal Agricultural Society (RAS of WA)

Meanwhile, the RAS of WA, which had been holding 'Royal' Shows for Agriculture since at least 1834, probably also hosted WA's early dog shows. Although the year dog shows commenced in WA remains unclear, by 1905 the RAS of WA had moved to the Claremont Grounds in Perth where, by 1911, 120 dogs competed in their 'Royal' Show[2].

Because the RAS of WA had had the experience of establishing 'Stud Societies' throughout the State, in 1940 the WAKC came under the auspices of the RAS of WA who took over the Secretarial duties of the WAKC for a fee. In 1951, the WAKC was re-constituted with the right for either party to terminate after giving six months notice. After much turmoil, ties were broken with the WAKC and the Canine Association of Western Australia (CAWA) was born.

Airedale Terrier 1891Airedale Terrier 1891

In 1962, under the guidance of the CAWA, an Associated category of membership was introduced to allow owners of de-sexed and non-pedigreed dogs to take part in Obedience events. In August, 1970, the WA Canine News commenced publication. By 1977 after a referendum, it had become obvious that the CAWA should break all ties with the RAS of WA and that the CAWA should become an independent body.

Dogs West finds a Home

Western Australia is unique in that, 16 km south of its capital city, Perth is a  'Kennel Zone'. This consists of a suburb of 25.3 km² dedicated to allowing all dog activities associated with breeding, boarding and for the keeping of more than two dogs. In built up areas in the remainder of Australia, without a permit, only two dogs may be kept.

In 1981, this led to the purchase of  a 14-acre bush block of land within their Kennel Zone. By 1987 the WACA had built a wonderful undercover dog showing complex. Although WA did not start publishing dog registrations until 1985, by 1988 WA was linked to the NSW system. Today the controlling body for Western Australia is still the CAWA which trades as 'DogsWest'.

References and Further Reading:

[1] Information supplied by Mr Wright, Albany WA from 'The West Australian' Thursday 12 May 1898

[2] Mr Piesse, President. RAS of WA 'A Century of Shows', Article published as Foreword in the 1934 Perth Royal Show Catalogue.

[4] 'An Historical Record of Australian Kennel Controls' published ANKC, Ascot Vale Vic 1988.

[4a] Ibid., Canine Association of Western Australia by Ann Mitchell page 133 - 141