Record-priced $40,000 Border Collie was bred to rate her cattle

Terry Sim, May 8, 2024

Cabra Glebe Working Dogs principal Joe Leven, right, with his son Amos and their $40,000 collie Liz. Photo – JEM Photography.


A NEW Australian record of $40,000 for a Border Collie is just the latest in a series of votes of confidence in the stock-rating working dogs of Casino breeder Joe Leven.

On Saturday at the Ray White Livestock Rockhampton Working Dog Sale at the Gracemere saleyards, his 20 month-old bitch Cabra Glebe Liz sold to return buyers James and Helen Parker from Monto in Queensland.

Liz’s price tag was under the hammer price of the Border Collie Kim sold in the United Kingdom in 2021 — hammer price £27,100 or about A$49,600 at the average exchange rate at the time. The world record for a Kelpie sold at auction is still held by New South Wales Kelpie breeder Chris Stapleton’s Capree Eve, that sold for $49,000 in 2022.

James Parker said apart from the help of the underbidder in blowing his budget, it was his experience with Cabra Glebe dogs and Joe Leven that spurred him on to pay what became an Australian  record for a working border collie at auction.

The Parkers last year paid $33,000 for Liz’s half-brother Cabra Glebe Sid which James Parker described as a phenomenal dog for Helen.

“He is a brilliant dog, I didn’t think dogs existed like that and people don’t sell them.

“Joe is just a really genuine bloke and sells really genuine dogs.”

The Parker’s also bought a full sister to Liz last year.

“So when the opportunity came up (with Liz) I just wanted to get in on the action, I suppose, because they really suit us.”



James said the Cabra Glebe dogs have a feel and respect for cattle; a trait he has been looking for in working dogs for a long time.

“It’s hard to find dogs that are strong enough to hold their ground, but respectful enough to cattle to give them time to make a decision whether to step into the dog’s bubble or to turn around and go back to the mob.

“I just find that they (the Cabra Glebe dogs) have both – they’re respectful and have enough feel for cattle, but are strong enough when they need to be, and they understand when to be strong and when not to be,” he said.

“It’s like having a good stockman there working beside you; they just a really good rating and feel for cattle, yet they’re still strong enough to stand their ground when they need to.”

James said just days after the sale Liz is already his best mate.

“Sid was the same when we got him here and so was Silver, the other sister.

“Joe does such as amazing job; he’s a really good stockman and a really good dog handler, and they are just so well-mannered, well-presented and well-trained – it’s a pleasure to have them.”

James said Helen has a really good eye for a dog and picked Sid out of the 2023 sale catalogue.

The Parkers run on 700-800 purebred Wagyu cows on 11,000 acres at Monto selling progeny at feeder weight and the dogs fit into the Wagyus’ need for a bigger bubble.

Liz and their other Cabra Glebe dogs have been helping to respectfully educate 500 weaners in the last week.

“They are just really good rating, really good feel and respect for cattle — it’s a pleasure to go to work with them they just don’t upset cattle.

“There are a lot of hard-biting dogs out there and everybody has their own preference, but they just upset the cattle a bit, especially Wagyu that have a lot of feel and a big bubble,” James said.

“We breed, training and show cutting horses and we talk about horses that slow fast cattle down by the way they turn and move and that’s what we feel Sid did; he had that feel for cattle and he would slow fast cattle down, but had the presence to move slow cattle.”

Joe is breeding dogs with gears

Joe Leven works as a member services officer for the Casino Food Co-op meat processing plant at Casino in northern New South Wales and has been involved with working dogs all his life.

He also sold Lot 30 Cabra Glebe Jenny for $38,000 earlier in the Rockhampton sale, before her litter sister Liz set the new world record of $40,000 about two hours later. In 2021, he sold Cabra Glebe Big for $30,100 at the Geurie Golden Collar Working Dog Auction near Dubbo.

Joe said Liz is a very well-bred intelligent dog with a good work ethic and a depth of proven work genetics.

“So there is a lot of confidence in her ability to work naturally as a genetic asset for future breeding.

“She is a good athletic type of dog with good conformation and able to cover long distances for days,” he said.

“And she can handle tough cattle, what we would call in our world a good cow and calf dog.”

Joe said working dogs need to be able to ‘rate’ their stock and this was among the traits he selected for, along with presence and type.

“You don’t need to be full bore all the time, you need to pick your battles a bit, and the dogs that can do that well go well with cattle.

“Sometimes cattle just need to be guided, sometimes they need to be corrected — she rates her stock very well.

“I describe it as a dog that has gears; you don’t always have to be in fifth gear and sometimes you need to be in first gear, and when you need to be in first gear, being in fifth gear is no good at all,” he said.

“I would say that is 80 percent genetics and you just put a bit of polish on it.”

Joe said he doesn’t breed border collies for the sales.

“I’m a passionate breeder, I’m in the industry and I use these dogs.

“It’s great to see that you are preparing something that is valued and actually in high demand, I suppose that is probably the driver for me; that I must be somewhere on the right track and hitting the right spot somewhere for the market to be able to recognise that here is a good product or article.”

He said the final $40,000 price result gave him “more of a humbling feeling” than surprise; that people valued his dogs so much. This year he also had overseas interest in his dogs for the first time, when an American handler in New Mexico chased Jenny in the Rockhampton sale.

Of the 75 dogs offered in the Gracemere sale, 67 sold and averaged $8273. Of the 57 pups offered, 53 sold, averaging $5773, bringing the overall sale average to $7720. The clearance rate was 90pc, with gross sales exceeding $935,200. The top pup sale was Lot 79, Carrdoon Della, that sold for $32,000 to Rob Grieve at Westwood, Queensland.

Check out the Rockhampton sale dogalogue here.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


Get Sheep Central's news headlines emailed to you -