The origins of the White Galloway are uncertain, but they are thought to have originated in south west Scotland either from mating with the white offspring of a black Galloway or possibly from crossing White Park cattle with the local Galloways. For most of the 20th century the breed was a quite rare, but a resurgence of interest led to the decision in 1981 by the Belted Galloway Cattle Society to open a section of its herd book for the registration of White Galloways. Since then White Galloways have been registered by the Society and have become a popular breed due to their hardiness, ease of management and highly attractive appearance.
First and foremost the cattle must be of good Galloway type, that is to say they should have a wide head, not too long from eye to muzzle, with a good, wide mouth and fairly broad ears which point forwards and upwards. The body should be deep and wedge shaped with fine shoulders, not too wide at the top. A straight back and well sprung ribs, fairly wide at the hook bones, and long hindquarters set on legs which are not too long complete the picture. The distinctive aspect of the White Galloway are the markings, and therein lies a very important part of the story.
A White Galloway should have a good covering of thick, white hair all over the body. A small amount of coloured flecking is acceptable, but too much is undesirable, as is a bluish or grey tinge to the coat. The “points” refer to the coloured marking on the animal’s feet, muzzle and ears. These can be black or red, and should be a good, deep colour. If White Galloways are continually bred to one another there is a tendency over time for the markings to fade or even disappear. For this reason the cattle are crossed back to Black or Red Galloways from time to time, and this means that it is impossible to pedigree a White Galloway. The Society registers the cattle, but they are not regarded as pedigree because of the presence of another breed in their ancestry. Because the cattle carry genes for colour, occasionally a mating between two White Galloways will produce a solid black or red calf. Currently this cannot be registered by the Society, however new rules will come into force on 1st January 2013 (see under Registration) which will allow the offspring of such a female to enter the appendix system, provided the solid coloured mother had been birth notified, thus maintaining the continuity in the Society’s records.