Buyers and breeders come together for rare Western Australian working dog auction

Working dog breeder James Carr has said goodbye to his three-year-old sheepdog Tanner after a buyer offered $15,900 to bring the ‘mighty’ pup home during the sale to Katanning working dog auction.

“She’s just at that point now where she’s too good at what she does on the feedlot,” Carr said.

“So I really want to give someone else the opportunity to have a sensational dog by their side.”

Tanner will now work with Craig Heggaton, Kojonup farmer and president of the WAMMCO lamb cooperative, which placed the highest bid.

“I mean a dog like this would have done a lot more in the eastern states,” he said.

red kelpie walks on top of sheep with owner behind hat
Tanner sold for the highest amount at $15,900 at the working dog auction.(ABC Great Southern: Olivia Di Iorio)

“A good dog is worth its weight in gold, especially if it can work well in the yards, keep the sheep moving and stand in for two people in the yards.”

Tanner was one of 18 dogs up for auction at the rare dog auction, the first to be held in nearly 10 years.

The auction attracted buyers and breeders from all over, giving them the opportunity to bid and brag about having working dogs.

The second highest bid was for Kelpie, Fire by Peter Barr which sold for $11,700.

The man in the hat is holding the dog Kelpie.
Peter Barr was a judge on the Australian television series Muster Dogs.(ABC Great Southern: Olivia Di Iorio)

Mr Barr drove through the Nullabor from Pinaroo in South Australia to watch the event, with a truck full of his working dogs.

“You need a dog with your livestock. It makes life much easier with the right dogs. One dog equals 10 workers,” he said.

“So if you have a good dog, it saves a lot of wages in the long run.”

Mr Barr sold his four Kelpies at the auction, fetching just under $30,000.

Bearded state for sales

Changerup farmer Jenny Whitelock has put some of her dogs up for auction in Katanning.

Ms Whitelock said it was difficult to get the number of participants at a working dog auction.

“This is the second auction. We don’t have a tight-knit community of people in such a large state,” she said.

“People come from all over and have to travel long distances to round up the dogs and hold an auction.”

The woman stands on the grass patting her border collie's head as he looks at her.
Jenny Whitelock sold one of her border bollies for $2,200.(ABC Great Southern: Olivia Di Iorio)

Shannon Keilar is another breeder, selling two border collies at auction.

Both dogs had a reserve of $2,000, with one selling at the reserve price and the other for $1,900.

“It’s not a huge sum, but it’s something new for WA and just having your dogs there and being able to showcase them is pretty special in itself,” Ms Keilar said.

Seven people at an auction of framed watches.
Bidders gathered at the Katanning Leisure Center for the auction.(ABC Great Southern: Olivia Di Iorio)

Volunteers made it happen

Auction coordinator and Williams farmer Jim Harradine volunteered his time, alongside Blake Robinson, to organize the event in Katanning.

“As far as expectations go, we’re blown away. We’re really happy with the outcome,” Mr. Harradine said.

“Certainly Tanner got what she was worth – a fully trained dog is worth $12,000 to $15,000 any day of the week.”

a man pats the face of a Kelpie puppy
Jason Crockford’s four-month-old baby Bug sold for $2,300.(ABC Great Southern: Olivia Di Iorio)