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Australian Cattle Dog

Origin

Dogs the settlers brought with them from Europe, called Smithfield and the Old Smooth Collie (not the smooth collie known today), were not able to handle the long distances and inhospitable climate of the new continent. The Australian Cattle Dog was developed by pioneer settlers in the 1800s by crossing Dingo-blue merle Collies with Dalmatians and Kelpies.

Some sources say that the English Bull Terrier breed may have been added as well. The result was dogs who were excellent workers, herding cattle on large ranches. The dogs worked the stock quietly yet forcefully, willing and able to drive cattle across vast distances under harsh, hot dusty conditions. With superior stamina, it was well suited to Queensland.

Both its guarding and herding instincts are very strong. In 1893 a man named Robert Kaleski wrote a standard for the breed. In 1903 the standard was approved in Australia. The Australian Cattle Dog has also been known as the Australian Heeler, Hall's Heeler, Queensland Heeler or Blue Heeler. "Heeler" refers to its herding skill of snapping and biting cattle's heels. Its talents are retrieving, herding, guarding, agility, competitive obedience, and performing tricks.

 

Description

The Australian Cattle Dog, also known as the Australian Heeler, Hall's Heeler, Queensland Heeler and the Blue Heeler, is a courageous, tireless, robust, compact working dog. The dog is agile, well-muscled, and powerful and determined while working. The length of the body is a little longer than it is tall. The tail is held moderately low hanging at a slight curve.

The front legs are straight, strong, round bone, extending to the feet. The feet are round and the toes are short. The skull is broad is slightly curved between the ears, flattening to a slight but definite stop. The ears are wide-set, moderate in size, and pricked when alert. The nose is black.

The dark brown, medium-sized eyes are oval in shape. The teeth should meet in a scissor-bite, with the lower incisors closing behind and just touching the upper. The ACD has a smooth double coat with a short dense undercoat. Coat colours include red speckled, blue, blue-mottled or blue speckled with or without other markings. Black markings are not desired in the show ring. Puppies are born white because of a gene they inherited from the early Dalmatian crosses. You can sometimes tell the adult colour by looking at the paw pads.

 

Temperament

The Australian Cattle Dog is a loyal, brave, hardworking, breed that is a dog used for herding live stock. One of the most intelligent breeds, they are not the kind of dog to lay around the living room all day or live happily in the garden with only a 15 minute walk. They need much more exercise than that and something to occupy their mind daily or they will become bored and can develop issues and bad behaviour.

They need action in their life and will do best with a job. This alert dog is excellent in the obedience ring and will excel in agility and herding trials. Can be obedience trained to a very high level. Firm training starting when the dog is a puppy and an understanding that the master is the leader along with daily walks and plenty of exercise will produce a wonderful and happy pet. Protective, they make an excellent watch dog as they naturally guard their territory. It is absolutely loyal and obedient to its master. They are sometimes suspicious of people and dogs they don't know.

They can be very dog aggressive if allowed to be pack leader, for its dominance level is high. Teach your Australian Cattle Dog that you are the pack leader and you will not tolerate him fighting with other dogs. Well balanced Cattle dogs are good and trustworthy with children. Some will nip at people's heels in an attempt to herd them and an owner needs to tell the dog this is not acceptable behaviour. If you are adopting a pet, avoid working lines, as these dogs may be too energetic and intense for home life.

Australian Cattle Dogs will learn quickly and must have a firm hand as behavioural issues can arise with meek owners, and or owners who do not provide the proper amount and type of exercise. This breed does best with a job to do. If you do not have time to extensively work with and exercise your dog, or do not fully understand how dogs live within a pack and their natural ways this is not the breed for you.

Height, Weight

Height: Dogs 43-51cm. Bitches 43-48cm
Weight: Dogs 15-16kg. Bitches 14-16kg

Health Problems

Prone to hip dysplasia and PRA. The merle colored dogs are prone to deafness.

Living Conditions

Not recommended for small dwellings or living in flats and does best with at least a large garden. Does best with a job to do and lots of interaction.

Exercise

These animals have incredible stamina and will enjoy all the activity you can give them. Exercise is of paramount importance - without enough they can develop problems and behavioural issues. Exercise cannot simply be tossing a ball. While they will enjoy this ball play, their brains need to be stimulated daily. Does best with a job to do and lots of interaction. They need to be taken out where they can run freely at least twice a day. The breed makes an excellent jogging and running companion. Do not allow this dog to walk ahead of you on the walks. He needs to be beside or behind you to re-enforce the human is alpha.

Life Expectancy

About 12-15 years.

Litter Size
1 - 7 Average of 5 puppies

Grooming

The short-haired, weather-resistant coat needs little care and is very easy to groom. Just comb and brush with a firm bristle brush, and bathe only when necessary. This breed tends to shed their coats once or twice per year (depending on sex status and region).

Group

Working

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