Are you an active person looking for the perfect companion? Do you need a herding dog that can help you with farm animals?
If so, then I have the perfect dog for you: the Australian Cattle Dog.
The Australian Cattle Dog, also known as Queensland Heelers, are a very peculiar breed.
They are strong, loyal to their owners and are considered one of the best herders out there.
So get ready, because I’m going to teach you all of the Australian Cattle Dog Breed Info, so that you’ll see why this breed is so special!
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Quick Facts About the Australian Cattle Dog
- Breed Group: Herding Group
Cattle Dogs are a herding breed, through and through.
They are an extremely active and have a natural protective instinct and also have a tendency to nip and bite quite a lot, especially at the heel, which is where they got their nickname “Heelers”.
They bond very quickly and deeply to the person who they interact with the most.
All There is to Know About Cattle Dogs
Before adopting an Australian Cattle Dog, you should know that they are very energetic dogs.
That being said, if you’re looking for a calm and quiet dog, then you should stop right here, as they are not the best option for you.
As a herding breed, the Australian Cattle Dog has an instinct to nip cattle, children and pretty much anything that moves!
If you adopt one as a pet, then you’ll need to watch and correct his behavior, otherwise disasters may occur (such as ruines table corners or shoes. A LOT of shoes).
- Australian Cattle Dog
- Cattle Dog
- Blue Heeler
- Red Heeler
- Queensland Heeler
- Hals Heeler
So, Where Did the Australian Cattle Dog Come From?
Do you know where this noble breed comes from? It’s quite easy to guess, considering it’s right in their name: Australia!
This breed is a very peculiar one, as they were mixed with “a little of this and a little of that”, including Collies, Dingoes, Bull Terriers, Dalmatians, and Black and Tan Kelpies, to come up with the medium-size dog with a high endurance.
By 1980s, the breed was recognized and accepted as a breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
The Australian Cattle Dog is a sturdy dog, with a broad skull, muscular body, black nose, medium-size prick ears, and a very strong jaw.
Their necks are muscular and their chests are deep.
The tail usually hangs in a slight curve when at rest (which is something that doesn’t happen very often).
Male: 18–20 inches (46–51 cm)
The male Cattle Dogs have a wider and lengthier body than females, but they are not much taller than them.
An adult Australian Cattle male dog is usually 18-20 inches tall.
Female:17–19 inches (43–48 cm)
As I’ve mentioned already, the females are usually smaller (but not much smaller) than the male Cattle Dogs.
They have a more slender chest and are usually 17-19 inches tall.
Puppies : 5–6 inches (12–15 cm)
The puppies of Australian Cattle Dogs are born white, getting their definitive color only when they are about a year old.
At 3 months old, they are about 5 to 6 inches tall.
Male: 33–50 pounds (15–22 kg)
The Australian Cattle Dogs size as a pup determines whether it will grow big or small, but most adult males weigh between 33 to 50 pounds.
Female: 28–43 pounds (12–19 kg)
A female adult Australian Cattle Dog usually weighs about 28 to 43 pounds.
They are usually small pups and develop slowly, but then at 12 months old they start growing faster, hitting their peak at 20 months old.
Puppies : 13–15 pounds (6–7 kg)
Blue Heelers’ growth rate is rather slow and so at the age of 3 months old, they weigh only about 13 to 15 pounds.
It’s not until the 8th month that they start growing at a faster pace.
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Australian Cattle Dog Breed Purity: PureBred or Mixed?
This breed has a long history of mixes with other dog breeds, in order for it to develop into the current medium-sized dog, with an incredible amount of stamina.
Despite this fact, the American Kennel Group has recognized it as a pure breed.
So there you have it: the Cattle Dog is definitely a pure breed.
If you’ve been paying attention so far, then you already know the answer to this question! These dogs are definitely a pure breed.
However, there are some cases of cross-breeding with other dog breeds (which resulted in the most adorable pups!).
Behavior And Temperament
As dogs that were bred to perform some really physically demanding tasks, they have become an alert, intelligent and bold animal.
They are very loyal and reliable, which is possibly one of the reasons why they have a great sense of duty.
They are fiercely protective which makes them perfect as watchdogs.
The Australian Cattle Dogs are always on the alert, as they feel a necessity to protect their family and so may be very wary when it comes to strangers, but they are not an aggressive breed.
Australian Cattle Dogs tend to be one-person dogs.
They bond to one person and remain loyal to that person no matter what.
This doesn’t mean that they don’t like other people, because they do in fact, get along nicely with other, so long as they are acquainted with them.
It just means they’ll get attached to one person more than the others.
Red Heelers have a natural tendency to bite and nip, so if you’re a person that doesn’t tolerate that, then this dog is not for you.
This tendency to bite and nip doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily hurt you, but nevertheless, you should train them to correct this behavior.
You probably already noticed by now, but Cattle Dogs are incredibly smart.
It’s no wonder they have been used as working dogs for a long time.
They love a good challenge, whether it’s a physical or mental one.
Are Australian Cattle Dogs an outgoing breed? Well, the answer to that question is: No, they are not the most outgoing dogs in the world.
They trust very few people and are usually very wary of strangers.
They tolerate other people and animals, so long as they are introduced to them by someone they trust.
Intelligent, tough, energetic and independent. These are the traits of the Australian Cattle Dog.
They have a natural instinct to herd and are very glad when they get to do just that.
AS they have very high levels of energy, they love being active at all times and absolutely loathe being still.
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This breed’s coat is very characteristic and beautiful. It is smooth and short.
But they are a breed that was made to endure the harsh Australian weather, so they have two coats: an undercoat to keep them warm and a top coat that protects them from the rain and also dirt.
Australian Cattle Dogs come in two main distinct coat colors: red and blue, which is mainly the reason they are known as Red Heelers and Blue Heelers.
And if you’re thinking that the coat color is accidental, then you’re wrong. Their coat serves a purpose.
Apparently, they have a dark coat to make them “invisible” at night, to prevent farm animals from being spooked.
The Australian Cattle Dogs are known to have dark brown, oval-shaped eyes.
When they’re born, they have a light-toned eye color, which slowly becomes one of many dark brown tones.
These dogs usually have either a dark brown or completely black nose.
And, as it happens with many other herding dogs, they have a tendency to have a dry nose.
This dryness can range from just a bit dry by the nostrils to the extreme form of dryness.
Your Australian Cattle Dog should have a long, undocked tail, usually with a solid color spot at the base of the tail and a white tip.
Like most other dogs, their tails tend to hang low when at rest and higher when excited.
Litter Size : 4-8 number of Puppies
If you have an Australian Cattle Dog that has recently given birth to some pups, then you’ve probably noticed that they are born white with some color patches that will be appear stronger as they age.
An average and ideal litter size for this breed is 4-8 puppies.
The life expectancy of this breed is between 12 and 14 years.
They are known as very healthy dogs who age well and outlive other dog breeds of the same weight class.
Some of them even maintain their sight and hearing until their final days.
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Keeping your Australian Cattle Dog Happy
Blue Heelers do not require much special care.
Your main focus should be to keep it active and make sure it satisfies its physical activity needs.
Keep in mind that light walks will NOT be enough for this dog!
They need wide open spaces so they can run and play.
As with all dogs, the Cattle Dog needs a regular attention to its nails, ears and teeth, in order to avoid unnecessary health issues.
Other than that, a weekly brushing to remove dead hair is more than enough.
You can use either a bristle or slicker brush.
Cattle Dogs LOVE exercise and structured activities, like herding trials, Frisbee and fetch.
You also might want to think about giving them a chew toy that it can use (just so you won’t come home to a chewed pillow).
You should also take some time to take your dog on long walks.
If you don’t have the time to do that, but have an open field or big yard, then just take off your pet’s leash and let it run free.
It’s important that you learn about all health issues that may affect your new dog, as in some cases, they can be entirely avoided by proper health testing.
Some of this dog breed’s characteristic diseases can be avoided by doing regular health tests, such as:
- Hip Evaluation
- Elbow Evaluation
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
- BAER Testing (Hearing)
- PRA Optigen DNA Test
- PLL DNA Test
Taking Care of your Australian Cattle Dogs
If your Cattle Dog is well taken care of, with basic care and a lot of physical activity, it will likely live a long and healthy life.
However, like I mentioned above, there are some disease they are prone to.
But rest assured, if you do the proper health tests with the regularity that the vet recommends, then you’ll have yourself a healthy companion.
Cattle Dogs have a natural instinct that leads them to bark, chew, chase and dig, but they can be taught to ignore those instincts with proper training.
But, of course, you’ll need lots and lots of treats, if you’re planning on getting their attention.
Training Care Requirements for Australian Cattle Dogs
Well, I’ve already mentioned this, but it’s never too much to hear this: Australian Cattle Dogs are NOT couch potatoes.
You’ll do well to remember this, otherwise you’ll regret it.
If they get their daily need for exercise satisfied, they’ll get bored and start entertaining themselves by doing naughty things, like digging holes, chewing furniture, among other things.
That being said, I beg you to free up an hour or two of your day, in order to spend time exercising your Cattle Dog.
You can even train with them, by going for a run or biking through a calm park ou field.
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Physical and Behavioral Aspects of your Australian Cattle Dog
Australian Cattle Dogs have upright ears, short fur, and an athletic body. They have a natural herding instinct, are very intelligent and are very loyal dogs.
They are protective of their family and territory and tend to be wary of strangers.
Blue Heelers have a natural instinct to protect their territory, so it may cost them a bit to change to a different place entirely.
Nonetheless, if you give them time, they’ll adjust to the new environment.
You should, however, know that they will need to be introduced to the new environment and to its neighbouring animals, in order not to become aggressive towards them.
Other Dog Friendly
This breed needs a certain time to adjust to new animals, including dogs, but once they do, they can be very friendly.
However, a certain caution is necessary, as they have a tendency to bite, nip and herd.
This means that his instincts may kick in and he’ll start nipping or herding other dogs, which is something the other dogs may not like.
Red Heelers have two coats: and undercoat to protect them from the cold, and a topcoat that is water and dirt resistant.
They shed twice a year which is not much, but I still recommend that you brush them during their shedding period, in order to help with the hair change.
As I’ve mentioned before, Cattle Dogs are very affectionate towards one person.
They can get along nicely with others, but they’ll bond deeper with one person.
They connect so deeply, that their humor is known to change according to that person’s humor.
These dogs are very demanding when it comes to exercise. They are not lazy dogs who like sleeping all day.
They have a lot of energy and like putting it to use.
So if you’re thinking of adopting one, then you need to prepare yourself to take him on daily walks or runs, in order for it to spend all of the energy it needs to release.
If you don’t do this, then you’ll soon find out that they’ll start finding their own way to exercise, by chewing furniture, digging holes, ripping out blankets,…
So my advice to you is: Adopt this dog only and I mean ONLY if you can provide it with the daily exercise it needs to stay happy and healthy.
Cattle Dogs can be the best of companions, but they do need to be given proper socialization as puppies, as their natural instinct tells them to be wary of outsiders.
If they are not given a proper socialization, then there is a possibility that they can become violent to other people or animals.
These dogs are highly energetic and need a lot of space to tire themselves out.
That means they are definitely NOT suited to living in small apartments or yards.
They adapt easily to any climate and shed once or twice a year.
We’ve finally arrived at one of the most difficult point of the article… Grooming. As you already know by now, Cattle Dogs are extremely active.
This means you’ll have a hard time brushing your dog, as it won’t sit still for long.
They love getting pet, but can only hold still for a few moments, before getting bored.
At this point, one of two things can happen: either it starts biting the brush or nipping at your hand, or it’ll get up and run away towards something more fun.
Red Heelers are not the most friendly dogs when it comes to strangers.
They have a very small circle of trust and are very wary of those they do not know.
So if you are someone who has a lot of visitors, then it is important that you carefully introduce them to your dog, before letting them inside the house.
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Some breeds tend to bark more than others.
This breed is not exactly one of those breeds that like barking and howling for no apparent reason.
When an Australian Cattle Dog barks, then it’s usually because they’ve noticed some strange or suspicious activity near their territory.
These dogs have certain diseases that are characteristic to their breed.
They can develop Patellar Dislocation, which is the displacement of the knee joint (this is a very painful disease that causes movement difficulty), or Atrophy Progressive Retinal Detachment, which can eventually lead to blindness and congenital deafness.
But don’t be frightened, just because they are specific to this dog breed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your pet will have them, but most can be treated or even prevented from happening in the first place.
It might not come as a shock to you, but Australian Cattle Dogs ARE VERY TERRITORIAL.
They have an instinct to protect what’s theirs, so they do not take kindly to strangers.
They are great watchdogs, but if that is not what you wish to see in a pet, then perhaps you should look for another dog breed.
Cattle Dogs can be very loving and social animals.
They have no problem living with other animals, provided that you give them time to adjust.
They can befriend cats and even other small animals easily, but prepare yourself, as you’ll often find your dog trying to herd the family’s cat.
Intelligence is a strong point of this dog breed. This is a good thing and a bad thing.
It’s a good thing as it means they can learn a lot from you, and it can be a bad thing as they’ll naturally establish themselves as the alpha.
Here, you have two options: either you let him be the alpha and watch as he slowly starts taking control (if this happens, it will be very hard to get him to obey you) or you can take control and show your Cattle Dog that YOU are the alpha.
Just like other herding breeds, the Australian Cattle Dog is intelligent and responsive to commands.
My recommendation to you is that you make training a fun thing for your dog.
Cattle Dogs are quick learners, who will very likely always remember the commands they are taught.
They love a good mental challenge and so they consider training a fun activity.
But then again, all dogs love treats, and the Cattle Dog is not an exception, so prepare some healthy treats for your dog.
These dogs are full of personality and love, and are generally good with children.
They get along will children quite nicely, though you’ll start noticing that they will try to herd your kids as if they were sheep!
Keep in mind that you’ll need to introduce your children to your dog first, so that it can accept them as part of the family.
As very active and energetic dogs, they love anything related to playing or even just moving around.
They love playing with toys, such as balls, frisbees or even sticks and they love doing so with the ones they trust.
The Australian Cattle Dogs are always on the alert, as they feel a necessity to protect their family and so may be very wary when it comes to strangers, but they are not an aggressive breed.
The Australian Cattle dog breed has a strong prey drive, so you need to be careful when introducing new animals into your household.
You should also take some time to introduce other animals to your dog, when he is a just a pup.
That way you’ll have a very social and friendly dog.
The Australian Cattle Dog has no specific nutritional needs and, therefore, can be fed any quality dog food.
They may start developing flaky skin, in which case you should probably switch to a different diet that is high in Omega 3 and Vitamins A and E.
Australian Cattle Puppies
Small puppies have tiny tummies, but big appetites, so you can’t just fill their bowl at the beginning of the day and expect them to know when to stop eating.
That means you’ll need to set up a feeding schedule, feeding little but often.
And when you considering a dietary change, remember that you should do so gradually. That way you won’t upset the stomach.
Australian Cattle Dog Adults
Grown Cattle Dogs need to be fed according to their size and activity level, same as every other living creature.
However, it goes without saying that a highly active dog will need a lot more food than a lazy dog that sleeps all day long.
An adult will need to be fed twice a day. Do NOT overfeed your dogs, as it can cause health issues later on.
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Famous Australian Cattle Dogs
Cattle Dogs are loved all around the world, but some of them have actually gotten to Hollywood’s Hall of Fame:
“Dog” was an Australian Cattle Dog that was hired to be the co-star in the 1979 movie “Mad Max”, starring Mel Gibson.
Originally he was going to be put down, when the scriptwriter George Miller threw a rock and the dog fetched it and returned it back to Miller.
He became adored by the public due to his amazing acting in this movie. He was later on adopted by the stunt coordinator Max Aspin.
Another Australian Cattle Dog, “Chico” participated in the 2004 drama movie “Secret Window”, starring Johnny Depp.
This movie that depicts violence against this dog.
In this movie, Chico lives with a writer in a remote lodge, with an imminent threat of a bad neighbour. Chico is his only company and protection.
“Koko” was an Australian Cattle Dog who was the main character in a movie called “Red Dog”, a comedy-drama movie, based on true events about the incredible life story of Koko.
This dog’s owner had left the house to go to work and ordered the dog to stay. Unfortunately there was an accident and Koko’s owner passed away.
But days later, his family went to visit the house, only to find Koko still waiting where his owner told him to stay.
This goes to show how loyal and obedient they are.
Brokeback Mountain was yet another movie that showed how amazing Australian Cattle Dogs are.
Two horsemen couldn’t possibly herd sheep by themselves without any help, so they get help from two very well-trained Cattle Dogs. NOMES!
“Garcia” is yet another dog that became popular.
Not because he was in movies, but because his best friend, an american actor named Owen Wilson, adopted him and has dedicated a lot of time of making memes about him.
Famous actor Matthew McConaughey is known for his love of animals. He has recently acquired a lovely Australian Cattle Dog named “Foxy”.
Foxy is now famous for being his best pal and companion, always running around with him, from one place to another.
They even go surfing together!
Adopting an Australian Cattle Dog
So you’ve decided that you’re up for the challenge of adopting an Australian Cattle Dog That’s amazing!
Now, I’m gonna help you find your new best friend:
- Animal Rescue Websites: websites like Adopt-a-Pet or American Kennel Club will help you find the perfect dog as befitting of your requirements.
- Local Experts: speak to veterinarians, dog walkers and even groomers. They will provide you with important information that you wouldn’t acquire otherwise.
- Breed Rescue Group Leaders: Rescue Groups are always available to help you finding the perfect companion for you. They also tend to be honest about health conditions the dogs may have.
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How Much Does a Australian Cattle Dog Cost?
The cost of an Australian Cattle Dog depends on many factors:
- Parentage: If the puppies’ parents were some sort of national or even international champions of some sort, then it will cost you dearly.
- Breeder: I bet you want to adopt a puppy from the best breeder in the country. However, this will come with a high price, as they provide better conditions for the dogs, which also means they spend a lot of money on them.
- Temperament: Breeders will sell ill-tempered dogs are a lower price, as they wish to get rid of the black sheep of the family as soon as possible.
Herding Dogs are very special as they have an innate ability to control other animals’ movements.
They usually have a very high stamina and possess great intelligence.
Most of them are used as working dogs, whether it’s as a herder at an animal farm or as a watchdog.
Herding Dog Breeds
Herding dogs come in many sizes and shapes.
You have the Belgian Sheepdog, the Collie and Beauceron who are big dogs and then you have the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Swedish Vallhund, who are small-sized dogs.
There are many herding dog breeds, will all characteristics you can think of!
National Breed Clubs
- Australian Cattle Dog Club of America
- Carolina ACD Rescue and Rebound
- Arizona Cattle Dog Rescue
- Pacific Northwest Cattle Dog Rescue
So, Is a Blue Heeler Right For Me?
It is a big decision getting a new dog, no matter what breed you choose.
Australian Cattle Dogs can be a wonderful companion and family dog if you can meet not only their physical but also mental needs.
So tell me, did this article help you in any way? Do you feel like you’ve learned more about this breed, or did you already know most of these topics?
Either way, now you really have all of the Australian Dog Breed Info, so now you can decide whether or not this dog is a good fit for you!
Let me know in the comment section below if you liked this article, and don’t forget to share it with your friends and other dog lovers!