An Australian Cattle Dog smiles for the camera.
An Australian Cattle Dog smiles for the camera.

Australian Cattle Dog

avatarAlanna Mallory, BS, LVT, VTS (SAIM)

Height17 - 20"
Weight35 - 45 lbs
TypeHerding
Life Expectancy13 - 15 years
Area of OriginAustralia

Energy Level

Playfulness

Friendliness to dogs

Friendliness to strangers

exercise requirements

affection level

friendliness to other pets

watchfulness

Grooming Requirements

Vocality

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

Playfulness

Friendliness to dogs

Friendliness to strangers

exercise requirements

affection level

friendliness to other pets

watchfulness

Grooming Requirements

Vocality

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.

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.

Care

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.

Caring for an Australian Cattle Dog

What Kind of Diet Does an Australian Cattle Dog Need?

How Much Grooming Does an Australian Cattle Dog Need?

Are Australian Cattle Dogs Healthy?

How Much Training Does an Australian Cattle Dog Need?

How Much Exercise 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.

What Are the Physical Characteristics of an Australian Cattle Dog?

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.

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.

The Australian Cattle Dog is a durable breed, known for its sturdy build, deep chest, and well-muscled neck.

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.

The forelimbs are straight with dense bones, and feet have round, arched toes and hardy paw pads.

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.

The hind legs of an Australian Cattle Dog are well-muscled, parallel, and strong.

Australian Cattle Dog Facts

1

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.

2

Heeler dogs are born white, and their distinctive markings and colors develop about a month after birth.

3

Cattle Dogs have been instrumental in the success of the Australian beef industry, since their herding abilities provide much needed assistance to ranchers.

Other Breeds to Explore

Australian Shepherd
Border Collie
Choosing a Belgian Sheepdog

References

  • Morris, Desmond. Dogs: The Ultimate Dictionary of Over 1,000 Dog Breeds. Trafalgar Square, 2002.
  • American Kennel Club. The Complete Dog Book. Random House Digital, Inc., 2006.
  • Wilcox, Bonnie and Chris Walkowicz. The Atlas of Dog Breeds of the World. T.F.H Publications, Inc., 1995.
  • Australian Cattle Dog Dog Breed Information. American Kennel Club, 2020.
  • AIS/PennHIP FAQ. ANTECH Imaging Services, 2016.
  • What is Canine Hip Dysplasia?. Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. 2020

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