The Australian Cattle Dog is a breed of herding dog originally developed in Australia for droving cattle over long distances across rough terrain. It has either red or black hair distributed fairly evenly through a white coat, which gives the appearance of a "red" or "blue" dog. An Australian Cattle Dog in good condition weighs around 40–55 lb.
Like other working breeds the Australian Cattle Dog is intelligent and responsive and demands a high level of physical activity. The term ‘Heeler’ came from the fact that they were initially bred to herd cattle, and they did so by nipping at their heels. They were first known as Australian Heelers then later as Australian Cattle dogs. Average lifespan is 13.41 years give or take 2 years
“Dogs never bite me. Just Humans”
The Australian Cattle Dog demands a high level of physical activity. Like many other herding dog breeds, the Cattle Dog has an active and fertile mind and if it is not given jobs to do it will find its own activities. It will appreciate a walk around the neighbourhood, but it needs structured activities that engage and challenge it, and regular interaction with its owner. While individual dogs have their own personalities and abilities, as a breed the Australian Cattle Dog is suited to any activity that calls for athleticism, intelligence, and endurance
Among the most popular activities for an Australian Cattle Dog is dog agility. It is ideally suited for navigating obstacle courses, since as a herding dog it is reactive to the handler's body language and willing to work accurately at a distance from the handler. Agility has been used by Cattle Dog owners to instil confidence in their dogs, and enhance their performance in training and competition.
The Australian Cattle Dog thrives on change and new experiences, and many handlers find training the breed challenging for this reason.
An Australian Cattle Dog can excel in obedience competition. It will enjoy the challenges, such as retrieving a scented article, but the breed's problem-solving ability may lead it to find solutions to problems that are not necessarily rewarded by the obedience judges.
Grooming for a Cattle Dog
Known as a "wash and wear" dog, the Australian Cattle Dog requires little grooming, and an occasional brushing is all that is required to keep the coat clean and odour-free. Even for the show ring it needs no more than wiping down with a moist cloth. It is not a year-round shedder but blows its coat once a year (twice in the case of intact females) and frequent brushing and a warm bath during this period will contain the shedding hair. As with all dogs, regular attention to nails, ears and teeth will help avoid health problems
Like many working dogs, the Australian Cattle Dog has high energy levels, an active mind, and a level of independence. The breed ranks 10th in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs, rated as one of the most intelligent dogs ranked by obedience command trainability. The Cattle Dog needs plenty of exercise, companionship and a job to do, so a non-working dog might participate in dog sports, learning tricks, or other activities that engage its body and mind.
When on home ground, the Australian Cattle Dog is an affectionate and playful pet.
It can be socialized to become accustomed to a variety of people from an early age as a family pet. It is good with older, considerate children, but will herd people by nipping at their heels, particularly younger children who run and squeal. By the time puppies are weaned, they should have learned that the company of people is pleasurable, and that responding to cues from a person is rewarding.
The bond that this breed can create with its owner is strong and will leave the dog feeling protective towards the owner, typically resulting in the dog's never being too far from the owner's side. The Australian Cattle Dog can be the friendliest of companions although it is quick to respond to the emotions of its owners, and may defend them without waiting for a command. The ACD was originally bred to move reluctant cattle by biting, and it will bite if treated harshly. The Australian Cattle Dogs protective nature and tendency to nip at heels can be dangerous as the dog grows into an adult if unwanted behaviours are left unchecked
There are two accepted coat colours, red and blue.
Blue dogs can be blue, blue mottled, or blue speckled with tan on the legs and chest and white markings and a black patch or "mask" on one or both sides of the head.
Red dogs are evenly speckled with solid red markings and similarly to the blue dogs can have a brown (red) patch "mask" on one or both sides of the head and sometimes on the body.
Both red dogs and blue dogs are born white (except for any solid-coloured body or face markings) and the red or black hairs show from around 4-weeks of age as they grow and mature. The distinctive adult colouration is the result of black or red hairs closely interspersed through a predominantly white coat.
History of the Australian Cattle Dog
George Hall and his family arrived in the New South Wales Colony in 1802. By 1825, the Halls had established two cattle stations in the Upper Hunter Valley, and had begun a northward expansion into the Liverpool Plains, New England and Queensland. Getting his cattle to the Sydney markets presented a problem in that thousands of head of cattle had to be moved for thousands of kilometres along unfenced stock routes through sometimes rugged bush and mountain ranges. A note, in his own writing, records Thomas Hall's anger at losing 200 head in scrub.
A droving dog was needed, but the colonial working dogs are understood to have been of the Old English Sheepdog type, commonly referred to as Smithfields. Descendants of these dogs still exist, but are useful only over short distances and for yard work with domesticated cattle. Thomas Hall addressed the problem by importing several of the dogs used by drovers in Northumberland, his parents' home county. At that time dogs were generally described by their job, regardless of whether they constituted a breed as it is currently understood. In the manner of the time, the Hall family historian, A. J. Howard, gave these blue mottled dogs a name: Northumberland Blue Merle Drovers Dog.
Thomas Hall crossed his Drovers Dogs with dingoes he had tamed, and by 1840 was satisfied with his resulting progeny. During the next thirty years, the Halls Heelers, as they became known, were used only by the Halls. Given that they were dependent on the dogs, which gave them an advantage over other cattle breeders, it is understandable that the dogs were not distributed beyond the Hall's properties. It was not until after Thomas Hall's death in 1870, when the properties went to auction with the stock on them, that Halls Heelers became freely available
By the 1890s, the dogs had attracted the attention of the Cattle Dog Club of Sydney, a group of men with a recreational interest in the new practice of showing dogs competitively. None were stockmen working cattle on a daily basis, and initially they were interested in a range of working dogs, including the Smithfield. They reportedly adopted the term "Australian Cattle Dog" to refer to the dogs being bred from bloodlines originating from Thomas Hall's "heelers", and prominent members of the group concentrated on breeding these lines.
Here is a short video with information about the Australian Cattle Dog. Be sure to check out the wide assortment of Australian Cattle Dog products on our website:
We have a nice selection of Australian Cattle Dog Product. They are very popular on both of my sites, This one and on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SolemanStudios
Australian Cattle Dog blog 3