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Australian Cattle Dog Breed Summary

High-Energy, Independent, Devoted and Loyal

The Australian Cattle Dog originates from Australia, where even to this day they remain highly prized working dogs, mainly due to their immense stamina and fantastic temperaments. They have since become a popular choice of pet both in Australia and across other parts of the world, particularly here in the UK.

Often, they are referred to as Heelers, a reference to their habit of nipping livestock at the heels when they were herding them. These dogs can, however, be slightly suspicious of strangers and are often protective over their hooman families, though they are very loyal by nature.

Fun Fact: One Australian Cattle Dog, called Bluey, lived until he was 29 years old! He herded sheep for more than 20 years of his life before retiring.

Kennel Club Group Pastoral
Lifespan 12 - 14 Years
Height (at the withers) Males 46cm – 51cm, Females 43cm –48cm
Weight Males 15kg – 22kg, Females 15kg – 22 kg
Coat Smooth, Double Coats. Undercoat is Shorter and Much Denser
Colour Blue, Blue & Tan, Blue Black & Tan, Blue Speckled, Red, Red & Tan, Red Speckled
Eye colour Dark Brown
Common health issues Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Hip dysplasia, Elbow dysplasia, Congenital deafness
Other Names ACD, Cattle Dog, Blue Heeler, Red Heeler, Queensland Heeler

Unlike other lazier breeds, Australian Cattle Dogs are extremely high energy and independent, so need a home that can allow them to run around and play with their owners. If these dogs are unable to direct their energy, they will resort to entertaining themselves, such as digging up gardens and emptying bins, so it's vital that both the doggy and 'hooman' share high-energy passions! These dogs are also highly loyal and devoted to their families, often creating a specific bond with one person, giving them the nickname of 'Velcro dogs'. Because of their past, where they would nip cattle in order to herd them, they are prone to biting during play, so they must be trained and socialised correctly, to avoid unwanted and potentially dangerous behaviour. They are also a very tough breed and have been bred to keep working on, even if in pain or injured so owners must pay careful attention to their dogs and make sure they stop working, in the event of this happening. Overall though, they are generally very friendly and protective of their 'hoomans', and when trained correctly, make a lovely family pet.

These dogs, as the name may suggest, were originally bred in the 19th century to herd cattle. They also actually helped to put Australian Beef on the map! But the Australian Cattle Dog breed that we see today, would be quite different from the ones in the 19th century and has since become a lot smaller due to innumerable breeding by ranchers. This breed does come in two colours; tan and blue, but ranch owners seemed to prefer the blue-coloured dogs and the dogs were eventually nick-named 'the blue heelers'. In-fact, still to this day, this breed is used as a herding dog, due to the animal's love of having a job to do! And on the side, they can be seen competing in categories such as agility, obedience and flying disc competitions.