Cobber Stories & Media

Made of the ruff stuff: The 12 finalists for the 2023 Cobber Challenge revealed

10 July 2023

The stage is set for the 2023 Cobber Challenge, with 12 of Australia and New Zealand’s ruff-est and toughest working dogs chosen to battle it out for the title of Australasia’s hardest working dog.

The 2023 Cobber Challenge recognises the unsung heroes who keep Australia and New Zealand’s multi-billion dollar agricultural sector moving - the paws-itive champions of the industry, better known as the working dog.  

Now in its eighth year, the 2023 Cobber Challenge is predicted to be the best yet, with a brand new format set to produce record-breaking scores for each contestant.

The 12 canine competitors will wear a GPS tracker to record their distance, speed and duration each work day, with points accumulated based on performance. For the first time in the Challenge’s history, the data will be collected over three months, with the three busiest weeks on farm counting towards each dog’s final score. 

Come October, the dog that clocks up the most points will take home honour, glory and a cash prize, while each participant will receive a year's supply of ‘Cobber Working Dog’.  

Kellie Savage, Cobber’s Marketing Manager, said the new format of the Cobber Challenge is levelling the playing field for all Kelpies, Collies, Crosses and Heading Dogs.

“We know that a cattle station in the Northern Territory operates very differently to a sheep farm in Queenstown, so we’ve taken on board feedback from past competitors and extended the competition to ensure we capture every farm’s busiest period,” Ms Savage said.

“Selecting this year’s finalists was an incredibly difficult task as we had the most farmers ever across Australia and New Zealand nominate their best mates and most valuable employees.

“Our final 12 represent a variety of breeds and experiences. There’s Gary the Kelpie from Esperance who herds cattle and sheep, Dot the Heading Dog from Canterbury in New Zealand who isn’t afraid to put in the hard yards, and Earl the partially-blind but tenacious Kelpie from Tassie who’s been working on farm since he was a pup.

“We’re so excited to see just what these finalists can do and we’re confident that multiple records will be smashed by the 2023 cohort.” 

The 12 Cobber Challenge finalists for 2023 are:

  • Alex Johns of Fingal in Tasmania with their Kelpie, Earl
  • Ashton Clements of Te Wharau in New Zealand with their Heading Dog, Fern
  • Cloe Latty of Willaura in Victoria with their Kelpie, Jazz
  • Dan McInnes of Acheron in Victoria with their Kelpie, Jack 
  • Dean Gardiner of Amberley in New Zealand with their Heading Dog, Dot
  • Declan Martin of Conmurra in South Australia with their Koolie, Pip
  • Demi Riordan of Esperance in Western Australia with their Kelpie, Garry 
  • Holly Jessen of Woodhill in Queensland with their German Shorthaired Pointer Cross Kelpie, Dallas
  • Renee Hayter of Bombala in New South Wales with their Kelpie, Bat 
  • Kelsie Meads of Lake Coleridge in New Zealand  with their Heading Dog, Sass
  • Katie Williams of Uralla in New South Wales with their Border Collie, Scooter 
  • Jackson Clifford of Mataranka in the Northern Territory with their Kelpie, Rose 
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