Australian Cattle Dog
Type: Herding Dog
Height: 17 - 20 inches
Weight: 35 - 45 lbs.
Life Span: 12 - 15 years.
Litter Size: 4 - 8 puppies.
Country of Origin: Australia
Activity: Very High. This breed is always on the go.
Watch-dog: High. Aussie Cattle Dogs are very suspicious of strangers.
Guard-dog: High. They are very protective of the family.
Description: The Australian Cattle Dog is also known as the Blue Heeler. They are a tough, hard working dog who can cover immense distances. They are a versatile herding dog and can work with horses, goats and even ducks. Considered a working dog who is fearless and determined, the Australian Cattle Dog has been carefully bred to what it is today through use of Dalmatians, wild Dingos, Collies and other breeds. A one-person dog, they are rather aloof with strangers, but to their owner they are eternally loyal, gentle, alert and can easily be trained. They are quite easygoing with people they know, and can get along with children, although they may try to herd them. The AuCaDo, they they are often referred, can be stubborn and independent. Puppies are born all-white with coat coloring appearing a few weeks after birth. These are medium sized dogs with a quick gallop and a quiet temperament. They have natural prick ears and are sturdy and compact. Muscular and strong, they have almond shaped eyes and come in colors of blue, blue mottled, blue speckled or red with or without black, blue or tan markings on the head. They have a long brush tail and smooth double coat. Agile and intense, the Australian Cattle Dog is an excellent herder.
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Other Names: Queensland Heeler, Blue Heeler, Red Heeler, Hall's Heeler, Heeler, Aussie, AuCaDo
Colors: Blue, blue mottled or blue speckled with or without black, blue or tan markings on head.
Coat: Smooth, hard, straight, water-resistant top coat and short, dense undercoat.
Temperament: Australian Cattle Dogs are bold and determined. This is an extremely hard working breed. They have constant energy and need to be doing things. The Australian Cattle Dog is loyal and friendly to those it knows, but wary with strangers. They are protective and easygoing, and tends to be a more one-person dog. The ASD is hardy and smart, independent and responsive. They can be stubborn but are tireless in their efforts. They are excellent cattle drovers because of these traits. More silent than the average dog, the ASD may try to nip at the heels of running children.
With Children: Yes, good with their family's children, but may not deal with other children well as the Australian Cattle Dog will interpret playful wrestling and chase games as a threat or as a call to herd.
With Pets: No, wary of other dogs.
Special Skills: Cattle driver and family pet.
Care and Training: Australian Cattle Dogs should be brushed once a week to keep the coat clean and remove dead hairs. Always check the nails and clip them regularly if needed. ASDs need lots of mental and physical exercise. They should be given a good jog or long work out every day. They need long, vigorous walks at least twice a day. They can be headstrong and need to be taught to obey their owners commands at an early age.
Learning Rate: High. Obedience - Medium. Although loyal to their owners, they are independent. Problem Solving - Medium.
Special Needs: Exercise, a job or activity to do, socialization and training.
Living Environment: A home with a fenced yard is essential. The owner of an Australian Cattle Dog should be a no-nonsense leader, and the dog should be given a job to do. The best owner for this breed would be an active owner living in a rural or suburban home.
Health Issues: Hip and elbow dysplasia, hereditary deafness and occasional eye problems such as PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy).
History: In the vast plains of the Australian desert, unruly cattle would often veer off and cause trouble for the shepherds. These European settler shepherds needed a dog that could control the group without barking, as barking seemed to make the situation worse by spooking the wilder cattle. Not only this, but the Black Bobtail breed which was being used as a herding dog at the time, "bit like an alligator and barked like a consumptive", said Robert Kaleski, author of the written standard of Australian Cattle Dogs. The Black Bobtail, and other breeds such as the Smithfield Collie, would run and bark after the cattle, scaring them and working the meat off of them, and essentially, working themselves down to nothing. Surviving in such intense heat was difficult for a breed from a different country. Thus, shepherds took what dogs they had and bred them with others to develop a more efficient breed. Developed in Australia around the early 1800s, the Australian Cattle Dog was used to cross great distances in herding cattle. Since records were not well kept it is only with speculation that their ancestry is known. First, breeders bred the Smithfield Collie to the Dingo, an efficient wild hunter dog that was silent in work and conserved energy well. The result were Timmon's Biters, dogs which no longer barked at the cattle, but intensified the biting of the cattle, which was not good. Second, a man named Thomas Hall in 1840 decided to breed his smooth-coated Collies to Dingos, producing Hall's Heelers. Thirdly, the Dingo, Timmon's Biter's and Hall's Heelers were rolled into one breed. Mr. Allen McNiven conducted more breeding programs and bred a wild male Dingo to his Blue Merle Collies, and came to the conclusion that it takes 12 generations to obtain a good AuCaDo (Australian Cattle Dog). Finally, the Dalmatian was added to the mix and created the speckled look, as well as the reason why puppies are born white. This added loyalty to their master as well as an affinity with horses. To infuse toughness, some Bull Terrier blood was added, but not well received and thus bred out. And later a cross to the Australian Kelpie was made, thus creating intense heeling capabilities. The breed was "perfected" in 1893, but it wasn't until 1903 that they were known as the the Australian Cattle Dog.
First Registered by the AKC: 1980
AKC Group: Herding
Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 1), KC (GB), UKC