Australian Cattle Dog: AKA Blue Heeler
Male: 18-20 inches
Female: 17-19 inches
About The Breed
The compact but muscular Australian Cattle Dog, also called Blue Heeler or Queensland Heeler, is related to Australia’s famous wild dog, the Dingo. These resilient herders are intelligent enough to routinely outsmart their owners. Standing between 17 to 20 inches at the shoulder, the Australian Cattle Dog is a sturdy, hard-muscled herder of strength and agility. The ACD is born with a white coat that turns blue-gray or red. Both coat varieties feature distinctive mottling or specking patterns. ACDs have immense work drive and excel at hunting, chasing, and, of course, moving livestock. Their boundless energy and supple gait make them excellent running partners. ACDs are true-blue loyal, famously smart, ever alert, and wary of strangers. If an ACD isn’t challenged, he easily becomes bored and gets into mischief. It is recommended that ACD owners participate with their dog in some work, sport, or regular exercise to keep him mentally and physically fits.
The Australian Cattle Dog originated when a cattle farmer named Thomas Hall from New South Wales cross-bred dogs that were being used as drovers in Northumberland, possibly smooth coated collies, with tamed dingoes. The dogs that resulted from this cross-breeding were named Halls Heelers.
Children & Other Pets
The Australian Cattle Dogs are herding dogs. It is their herding habit and instinct that they tend to nip the toes in order to “herd”. Therefore, they may not be suitable if you have children around. Although, if trained properly from an early age, that habit can considerably be kept under check. However, children should not be left unsupervised around this breed because of their herding instinct. Around other pets, if introduced properly, they will do just fine. However, it might take them time to get accustomed to other dogs or cats. If you happen to have an older heeler and try to introduce a new puppy or other dogs in the family, the heeler might not take it easily in the beginning, but it will eventually learn to be around them.
Caring for the Australian Cattle Dog: AKA Blue Heeler
A responsible breeder will screen breeding stock for health conditions such as deafness; progressive retinal atrophy, or PRA, which causes vision loss; and hip dysplasia. An ACD’s ears should be checked regularly to remove foreign matter and avoid a buildup of wax, and his should be brushed regularly.
The Australian Cattle Dog was bred to work outdoors and has a smooth, double-layer coat that protects him from the elements. This coat has no odor or oily residue, so an Australian Cattle Dog generally needs just a quick brushing once a week and an occasional bath. Keep in mind, though, that the ACD sheds his undercoat twice a year. During shedding season, every few days he will need a thorough brushing-out to remove the dead hair, using a short-bristle brush and possibly a comb as well. As with all breeds, the Australian Cattle Dog’˜s nails should be trimmed regularly.
A very active, high-energy dog, the Australian Cattle Dog needs more than just a quick walk and playtime in the yard. ACDs really need a job in order to remain happy and healthy. On a working farm, this may not be an issue, especially if there are animals to herd. In other living situations, going with his owner on runs every day, or nearly every day, is a good outlet for his energy. An ideal choice is participation in dog sports, where the Australian Cattle Dog and owner take part in canine activities such as obedience or agility that channel the breed’s drive and abundant energy in a fun way.
Early socialization and obedience training are a must for the Australian Cattle Dog. The ACD is a highly intelligent, energetic breed that is only really happy when on the job. Therefore, continuing training and participation in activities such as obedience, herding, or agility is highly recommended. This can represent a large time commitment on the part of the owner, but participation together fosters a bond between you and your dog, and it’s fun for both of you. Remember, an intelligent, energetic dog who is not kept occupied will become bored, and a bored, energetic dog can be destructive.
The Australian Cattle Dog should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Australian Cattle Dogs are very athletic, active canines, so be mindful that your dog is getting good nutrition to meet his needs. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.