An Australian Cattle Dog smiles for the camera.

Australian Cattle Dog

17 - 20"
35 - 45 lbs
Life Expectancy
13 - 15 years
Area of Origin
The Australian Cattle Dog is an extremely energetic herding breed known for its distinct color and markings. They originated in Australia as a result of many rounds of crossbreeding, and count the Dingo as one of their many ancestors. They are silent workers with incredible endurance, a sharp sense of smell, excellent hearing, and tremendous heat tolerance. They are also extremely protective and loyal dogs, enjoying being a part of the family as much as their Dalmatian ancestors. As a true herding breed, the Australian Cattle Dog requires a lot of exercise and is best suited for families with an active lifestyle. If they get bored or are not properly exercised, they can become very destructive. They're a clever breed and easy to train, but they can be very cautious around strangers and unfamiliar animals.
Energy Level
Friendliness to dogs
Friendliness to strangers
exercise requirements
affection level
friendliness to other pets
Grooming Requirements

How Was the Australian Cattle Dog Created?

The Australian Cattle Dog is the result of crossbreeding that began around 1840 by several different Australian landowners. Their goal was to create a breed that could silently and effectively herd wild cattle. One landowner, Thomas Hall, crossed a smooth-haired Blue Merle Border Collie with a Dingo. The resulting dog breed possessed the work ethic of the Collie and the appearance of the Dingo, acquiring the title “Hall’s Heelers” and becoming a prized possession among Aussie cattlemen.

Breeders in Queensland furthered the experiment, breeding Dingo/Merle Collie hybrids with Dalmatians, sheepdogs, and Kelpies. The resulting breed is the one known today, possessing the characteristic blue or red speckled body, tan markings, dark eye patches, and white foreheads.

The breed entered the American Kennel Club Stud Book in 1980 as a working breed and moved to the Herding Group 3 years later.

Caring for an Australian Cattle Dog

What Kind of Diet Does an Australian Cattle Dog Need?

What Kind of Diet Does an Australian Cattle Dog Need?

Australian Cattle Dogs need a diet appropriate to their highly active lifestyle. However, they should not be allowed to overeat, since they are prone to obesity.

How Much Grooming Does an Australian Cattle Dog Need?

How Much Grooming Does an Australian Cattle Dog Need?

Heelers require minimal grooming. Brushing should be done weekly, except during shedding season, which occurs twice yearly and requires additional attention. Bathing and nail trimming should be done as needed.

Are Australian Cattle Dogs Healthy?

Are Australian Cattle Dogs Healthy?

The Australian Cattle Dog is a healthy breed with very few medical concerns.

They are predisposed to hip dysplasia. This is a hereditary malformation of the hip joints that can lead to pain, lameness, and arthritis. Weight management and avoiding overexertion can help decrease the symptoms of hip dysplasia.

They are also prone to cataracts, which occur when there is loss of transparency in the lens of the eye, which can lead to blindness. Monitor your pet for blue, gray, or white color changes within the eye, loss of vision (bumping into things), redness, irritation, squinting, or discomfort. There is no medical treatment for cataracts, but some pets may be candidates for surgical correction. Routine eye examinations by your veterinarian are recommended.

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is another ocular disease associated with this breed. PRA is a genetic disease that causes retinal degeneration, which can lead to blindness. They are also prone to lens luxation, which occurs when the lens is dislocated within the eye. Routine physical and eye examinations can help detect these ocular diseases.

This breed has a life span of 12 – 15 years.

Australian Cattle Dogs are predisposed to: hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, lens luxation, and deafness.

How Much Training Does an Australian Cattle Dog Need?

How Much Training Does an Australian Cattle Dog Need?

This breed is incredibly smart and easy to train. However, they are wary of strangers and may bite when defending their territory.

Firm training with positive reinforcement methods and early socialization will help the Australian Cattle Dog become a loyal family member.

How Much Exercise Does an Australian Cattle Dog Need?

How Much Exercise Does an Australian Cattle Dog Need?

The Australian Cattle Dog is a lively breed that requires constant exercise. They are fantastic agility and sporting dogs that love to keep busy, enjoying long walks/runs and exercises that fulfill their herding instincts. They can exhibit destructive behavior if not probably engaged.

What Are the Physical Characteristics of an Australian Cattle Dog?

How Big Are Australian Cattle Dogs?
The Australian Cattle Dog is compact and muscular, much like the Dingo. Typically, they stand 17 – 20 inches tall and weigh 35 – 45 pounds. Their physical movements are quick and purposeful, which suits their herding tendencies.
What Color Eyes Do Australian Cattle Dogs Have?
Heeler eyes are dark brown in color and oval in shape. The vigilant look in their eyes can transform into a warning if confronted by strangers or unfamiliar animals.
Are Australian Cattle Dogs Strong?
The Australian Cattle Dog is a durable breed, known for its sturdy build, deep chest, and well-muscled neck.
Do Australian Cattle Dogs Have Tails?
Unlike the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog, the Australian Cattle Dog is born with a tail. It is bushy, medium in length, and slightly curved at the tip.
Australian Cattle Dog Front Legs
The forelimbs are straight with dense bones, and feet have round, arched toes and hardy paw pads.
What Colors Are Common for Australian Cattle Dogs?
Heelers are blue or red speckled with contrasting light and dark markings on their faces and heads. Blue Cattle Dogs typically have blue, tan, or black markings.
Australian Cattle Dog Back Legs
The hind legs of an Australian Cattle Dog are well-muscled, parallel, and strong.

Australian Cattle Dog Facts

The longest living dog in history, as verified by Guinness World Records, was an Australian Cattle Dog name Bluey. Bluey lived a total of 29 years and 5 months.
Heeler dogs are born white, and their distinctive markings and colors develop about a month after birth.
Cattle Dogs have been instrumental in the success of the Australian beef industry, since their herding abilities provide much needed assistance to ranchers.

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