Quest for an Australian Stud Book

Bulldog c 1870Bulldog c 1870From 1862, when Australia's first dog show was held in Hobart, Tasmania, the breed, sex, age and colour of the dogs should have been entered in some sort of a ledger or Stud Book. It should have also been verified whether bred in the colonies or imported. Despite England, America and even New Zealand having Stud Books from their first Dog Shows, Australia did not. This segment outlines our journey covering 145 years, to co-ordinate our pure breed dog information into the equivalent of an Australian Stud Book.

Early Attempts

Dog Tent at 1874 National Show Melbourne Dog Tent at 1874 National Show Melbourne

In our early days, Australia had no dog societies or agricultural magazines that were interested in collating the pedigrees of the dogs shown. Because of this, the only records that remain of dogs entered in our early dog shows are their call names like 'Jack' or 'Bess' P.U. (parentage unknown). The breed assigned to them was purely guesswork. For example, in the catalogue of the first Show held in Melbourne in 1864, some of the exhibits were even listed in an 'Extra Stock - Various' category as crossed breeds![4] 

In 1868 Victoria held another Dog Show in the Duke of Edinburgh Theatre with 232 dogs entered. In 1877 the Victorian Poultry and Dog Society (VP&DS) was formed and held its first show. In 1880 they decided to have a dog show without including poultry which ran at a loss of £100. In 1881 the VP&DS declared that all dogs must be registered because, without a formal Stud Book, unscrupulous dog traders were inventing pedigrees that attracted big prices!

A Chronology of Events

The following was collated from 'The Book of Chronicles' in Reference [1] below:

  1. In 1883 there was a grant of £200 from the Government to create a Stud Book with a further £200 from W Beilby to cover the cost of plant and expenses. In 1883 the Australian Fox Terrier Club was formed and also the Saint Bernard Club. Dogs were included at the VP&DS Show at the exhibition Buildings. Also, the question of who would compile a Kennel Club Stud Book was first discussed.[1].
  2. 2. By 1888 around 1,500 dogs were registered and there was more agitation for a Stud Book. By Jan 5th 1889 the VP&DS decided a Stud Book should be published at once financed by an overdraft. Because there was so much internal conflict within the VP&DS, some members were unaware of this[1].
  3. 3. By 1889 the VP&DS obtained a £200 overdraft to publish this Stud Book with full particulars solicited from breeders. But because there was so much internal conflict within the VP&DS , some members were unaware of this overdraft.  By June, 1890 41 pedigree dogs had been imported. But no Stud Book was produced.

  4. 4. By June, 1890 41 pedigree dogs had been imported. In 1892 the VP&DS produced a 'Code of Rules' for the Guidance of Dog Shows where dogs 'assumed and duly registered in he VP&DS 's Stud Book by the owner with a distinguishing name and number' by the payment of a fee of one shilling[2]. But it was 1894 before a unanimous decision was reached that the VP&DS record pedigrees in an official Stud Book.
  5. 5. In 1895, at a Kennel Conference in Sydney the issue of the Stud Book was again discussed with registrations to be interchanged to avoid confusion. But no decision was made.

  6. 6. In September 1895 that same year the VP&DS became the Victorian Poultry and Kennel Club (VP&KC) which still exists to this day. But because of a financial depression it was not until 1899 that the VP&KC became debt free and had a credit balance. Despite this, no Stud Book was produced.
  7. 7. In 1904 NSW also attempted to produce a Stud Book but this was never published.

Tyzack's Annual

Mr Tyzack and his shopMr Tyzack and his shop

In 1912 Mr Tyzack self-published the Annual which bears his name. A panel of 9 members, 6 from various affiliated Clubs and 3 from the VP&KC created the first landmark Stud Book which attempted to formalise registering dog (and poultry) pedigrees so accurate records could begin in Australia.This panel oversaw this publication which supposedly sorted out the legitimate breeders from the rogues and vagabonds who faked pedigrees so their mongrel puppies could command higher prices!

Mr Tyzack, the publisher of this Annual was was basically a poultry man who, from 1890 also published the Australian Dog and Poultry Gazette fortnightly. He was a businessman who also owned a shop in central Melbourne distributing both dog and poultry supplies.He was one of many dedicated breeders who had strong interests in both dogs and poultry.

Although this landmark publication was called Tyzack's Annual, there was never another one. Perhaps this was because World War One intervened.

Mr Clement Turner

Australian Terrier c 1912Australian Terrier c 1912

Mr Clement Turner was the dog judge who collated the enormous amount of dog material contained within Tyzack's Annual, stated:

'The first Stud Book in Australia for dogs will mark a new era and will supply... under rigid registration the genealogical tree the boughs of which make what is called a pedigree"

Within Tyzack's Annual, Mr Turner also collated an amazing section called the 'Book of Chronicles' which charts the domestication of both poultry and dogs dating from 88 BC through more than the two millennia to 1911.

Queensland's Annual Stud Books

Collie (Rough Coated) 1894Collie (Rough Coated) 1894

In 1921, Mr Clement Turner then initiated the production of a series of Annual Stud Books published by the Kennel Association of Queensland. These ran through until 1948. By this time, all the other States were also registering the dogs' parentage, often controlled by two or three separate bodies, each under different Rules. However, no other formal 'Stud Books' as such have ever been published in Australia.

Australia's Royal Agricultural Societies

English Setter (imp 1891)English Setter (imp 1891)

Back to 1840 in Victoria, the Pastoral and Agricultural Society Felix was formed along the same lines as the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, with the first Exhibition in 1842[2]. By this time, other States were also forming Agricultural Societies. As these were basically farming events with competitions like ploughing in a straight line, dogs and poultry were not initially involved. But by 1870, these included the exhibition of dogs.

Fox Terrier (Smooth) imp 1896Fox Terrier (Smooth) imp 1896

As agriculture in Australia grew, so did the status of Agricultural Societies with Victoria's becoming the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria. As many rich landowners were involved in these Societies, they did not suffer the financial difficulties that plagued the Kennel Clubs along with general economic depressions. Also reflecting our British ties, in May 1890, the National Agricultural Society of Victoria received 'Royal' assent from Queen Victoria. Assuming other States followed, each one holding its own prestigious Show affectionately known as the 'Royal' to this day.

Because these State capital cities' Agricultural Societies registered stud horses, sheep and cattle, procedures were in place to register dogs.This played an ever-increasing role in Australia's dog world as one by one, the various States required their respective 'Royal' Societies to provide secretarial and financial assistance during hard times.

The Registry of Prefixes

Working Border CollieWorking Border Collie

In 1927, a Registry of pedigrees was set up under the banner of the Victorian Working Sheepdog Association. The ground-breaking concept of prefixes was introduced whereby every puppy must carry the prefix of the breeder who whelped it.

In 1953, this finally put in place when a Register of Prefixes was agreed to by the various Controlling bodies. However, it was not was until 1986 when the Australian co-ordinating body called the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) was up and running, that there could be a Central Register of Australian Prefixes[3].

The ANKC Emerges

In the beginning, each of the States awarded the Championship title independently. To complicate matters, if a dog received a certain number of points in each of three States, it could carry the most prestigious title at that time, 'Australian Champion'.

Growing up in Victoria, I vividly remember numerous long interstate trips seeking these elusive points. This often involved travelling along two-laned unsealed highways in the early hours of the morning and late at night along rough roads in those uncomfortable cars of the 1950's!

At last, in 1958, the Australian National Kennel Council was formed 'to act as only as as a co-ordinating and recommendatory body'. At that same Meeting it was agreed to co-ordinate the allocation, among several other things uniform points for Challenge Certificates throughout Australia, making the title 'Australian Champion' consistent.

By 1975 the RAS of NSW became one of the first organisations of its kind to install an in-house computer to cope with its dog registrations. Most States and Territories became linked to the NSW system except Victoria which had a separate system to which South Australia was linked.

In 1982, a Standard Constitution was passed whereby the ANKC could control certain activities. The six States and two Territories each had voting rights. An ANKC Secretary was appointed and an Australia-wide computer system was proposed to co-ordinate registrations. At last, 145 years after our first dog show was held, Australia would have a Stud Book!

The ANKC Today

Today, the ANKC holds at least one face-to-face Meeting annually with other Meetings held by digital means where necessary. The ANKC is made up of the eight ANKC member bodies which represent each Australian State and Territory. At present, voting on the various issues is as follows: NSW, Victoria and Queensland, having the highest number of members are allowed two votes each while the remaining three States and two Territories are only allowed one vote each.

The ANKC is recognised by the Kennel Club (UK) the American Kennel Club, the New Zealand Kennel Club and is accepted by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) as an Associate member. Internationally, this facilitates

  • Recognition of qualifications of both Australian and Overseas judges,
  • Export Pedigrees and other relative information that may be exchanged nationally.
  • Changes to Breed Standards

Domestically it facilitates

  • A central computer system controlling our Stud Register,
  • Standard Rules for the award of Challenge Certificates
  • Standard Rules for the various disciplines like Obedience, Field & Retrieving Trials etc
  • Unified Breed Groups
  • Rules regarding recognition of new Australian breeds.

References and Further Reading

[1] 'Tyzack's Annual' Compiled by T. W.Tyzack and C.S.Turner; Published 1912 by Bellamine Bros. Printers, 66-70 Flinders Lane Melbourne. 'The Book of Chronicles' Page 129

[2] Royal Agricultural Society of Vic, '100 Years of Shows, the Story of the Melbourne Show 1872 - 1972' published by Royal Agricultural Society of Vic Ascot Vale Page 2

[3] 'An Historical Record of Australian Kennel Controls' published ANKC, Ascot Vale Vic 1988. The ANKC Page 14

[4] Catalogue of the First Exhibition of Sporting & Other Dogs, Thursday & Friday April 7 & 8, 1864 promoted by the Council of the Acclimatization Society, printed in Melbourne by Mason & Firth, Printers, Flinders Lane West Page 15