The Australian Cattle Dog is among the more popular dog breeds around, especially in Australia where they originated. These dogs are categorised in the Kennel Club’s Herding Group. And while they’re at home on farms and properties, they are can also be great companions dogs.
If you’re looking for a high-energy, friendly and intelligent dog, then the Australian Cattle Dog (ACD) might just be the perfect breed for you.
Characteristics & Traits of the Australian Cattle Dog
Life Expectancy: 12-16 years
- Height: Male: 46–51 cm, Female: 43–48 cm (Male: 18-20 inches, Female: 17-19 inches)
- Weight: 15–22 kg (35-50 pounds)
- Colours: blue, blue mottled, blue speckled, red mottled, red speckled
Care / Grooming Requirements:
Coat: Short double coat
- Australian Cattle Dogs generally need just a quick brush once a week to keep them neat and tidy. Their coat has no odour or oily residue.
- The Australian Cattle Dog sheds their undercoat twice a year. During shedding season, these dogs will need a thorough brushing every few days to remove the dead hair and prevent matting or hot spots.
- Bathing the Australian Cattle Dog is only as needed – usually when they’ve gone and made themselves really dirty.
- It’s recommended to brush your Australian Cattle Dogs teeth at least two times a week to prevent tartar buildup.
- Trim your Australian Cattle Dogs nails once a month or as needed. This can vary with the amount of activity they undertake and the surface they spend the majority of their time on.
- Check your dogs ears once a week for any signs of infection.
History of the Australian Cattle Dog
Country of Origin: Australia
Other Names: ACD, Cattle Dog, Blue Heeler, Red Heeler, Queensland Heeler
History: The Australian Cattle Dog was originally bred by settlers in Australia. They crossed their various breed (and some suggest some dingo bloodlines) to create a unique, tough, hard-working cattle dog. One that’s ideally suited to the tougher, warmer Australian conditions and outback. Other breeds involved in the mixing process were the Dalmatian and Collies. The Australian Cattle Dog is largely credited for using its expertise to help farmers efficiently expand the Australian beef industry.
Dog Group/Type: Herding group
Temperament & Personality of the Australian Cattle Dog
- Bred to perform demanding tasks, the Australian Cattle Dog is extremely alert, intelligent, watchful and courageous.
- The breed is also considered to be highly trustworthy and reliable. And they have a tenacious sense of duty.
- Australian Cattle Dogs are loyal to their owners and wary of strangers. They can be fiercely protective when used as a watchdog, although they are not generally known to be barkers.
- The Australian Cattle Dog can be aggressive with other dogs if they have limited interactions with them.
Australian Cattle Dog Living & Exercise Requirements
The Australian Cattle Dog is energetic and generally not considered well suited for apartment living. As an athletic dog they need more than just a quick walk or a short burst of playtime in the backyard. They are going to thrive in homes where they get regular exercise and have a fenced area or property to run and play.
You can meet Australian Cattle Dog’s exercise requirements through activities and games like:
- Running, biking, or skating
- Flying disc and flyball
- Make use of a dog treadmill
- Self-play with interactive and puzzle toys
- Visit dog park and play with other dogs
- Backyard agility
The Australian Cattle Dog is highly intelligent. They love when they have a job to do. They have a tendency to become destructive when bored or confined without activity and company. Early socialisation and obedience training are considered a must for these dogs. They are going to especially enjoy any training that incorporates their natural talents like herding or agility.
Like all dogs, Australian Cattle Dogs need exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences during puppyhood. Start training as early as possible, ideally when the pup is between 8-12 weeks of age. Our Puppy Socialisation Checklist is a great starting point if you’re welcoming a new Australian Cattle Dog puppy.
Australian Cattle Dogs are playful dogs and enjoy playing with their human family. They are known to be gentle and friendly with children where appropriate interactions, introductions and training have occurred. They should, however, be supervised, especially during playtime, where they may display their natural dominance herding or nipping behaviours toward children.
A healthy and nutritious diet is going to contribute significantly to the overall health of your Australian Cattle Dog. As active canines, they are going to need good nutrition to meet their needs and appropriate to their dog age, metabolism and physical activity.
Australian Cattle Dogs are generally healthy but are prone to certain health issues. It’s important to be aware of the following health conditions that the Australian Cattle Dog is more susceptible to having:
- Hip Dysplasia
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Celebrity Australian Cattle Dogs
- Movie stars Matthew McConaughey and Owen Wilson are Australian Cattle Dog parents.
- Mike Wolfe of the TV show “American Pickers” owns an Australian Cattle Dog.
- If you look closely, you’ll find Australian Cattle Dogs in the movies, Mad Max and Brokeback Mountain.
- The Australian Cattle Dog is rated as one of the most intelligent dogs, ranking 10th in Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs.
- If you like clean and neat, the Aussie Cattle Dog could be the perfect choice for you. As the breed requires little grooming, they are known as a “wash and wear” dog. And they have very low drooling potential.
- The Australian Cattle Dog doesn’t usually have high wanderlust potential. However, if they become bored, their curiosity and intelligence can lead them to become escape artists.
Australian Cattle Dog Fun Facts
- Australian Cattle Dog puppies are born all white. This trait is believed to come from some Dalmatian heritage. Puppies start getting their colours by six weeks.
- The name “Heeler” comes from the fact that they nip at the heels of cattle. While the Blue and the Red with Heeler comes from the blue and red coat colours found in the breed.
- The Guinness Record for the oldest dog is held by an Australian Cattle Dog. Bluey, who lived with Les Hall of Rochester, Victoria, Australia had a record-breaking lifespan of 29 years and 5 months.
- The Australian’s Cattle Dog’s unique coat is water-resistant, keeping them dry in the rain.
- Australian Cattle Dogs love to chew more than normal. Be prepared to get tough toys and large bones to keep them entertained.
- One nickname for Australian Cattle Dogs is “shadow dogs”. This comes from how close they want to stay to their owners.
- The Australian Cattle Dog made its way to the United States after World War 2 when soldiers who were stationed in Australia fell in love with the breed.
Your Australian Cattle Dog
If you like vigorous outdoor exercise, an Australian Cattle Dog could make a great canine companion. Just remember that these are intelligent dogs who need stimulation. Don’t expect them to keep themselves entertained all of the time.
We’d love to photograph your Australian Cattle Dog for Project Dogalogue™ and hear some personal stories about life with these Australian Cattle Dogs! Register them for our pawsome project here!
Kerry is 'Top Dog' here at Puppy Tales. With her own adored dogs, she completely gets that your four legged furry buddy is absolutely part of the family. That they sleep on the bed, that you want to take them everywhere, that you plan holidays so they’re included & that their presence makes your life incredible.