Australian Cattle Dog

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Is the Australian Cattle Dog right for you?

Species group:

Other name(s): Australian Blue Heeler; Queensland Blue Heeler; Queensland Heeler; Red Heeler; Australian Heeler; AC

The basics:
The Australian Cattle Dog was developed to herd cattle in the wide open spaces and sometimes harsh or high temperatures of Australia. A wide mix of breeds went into its DNA, including the wild dog of Australia, the famous Dingo. The result is a tireless and highly intelligent working dog with energy to burn. All herding dogs enjoy solving problems and working alongside their humans, but this breed has a special need to get out in the great outdoors with an active owner.

This is not the choice for an apartment pet or the family who prefers to kick back on the couch. The Heeler does have a powerful drive to nip or herd cattle, which could be a problem around children or even fragile adults. You need to bring your best dog psychology to channeling this breed's energy into positive channels. If you are not capable of providing consistent guidance to your pet, this dog might run right over you.

They can be a great companion on a farm or ranch.

Appearance / health:
The Australian cattle dog has unique markings and it is physically close to the Dingoes of Australia. Striking in appearance, these dogs often have a dark red patch or black patch over one (single mask) or both (double mask) eyes. Some dogs have a white blaze called a Bentley on their foreheads, similar to many horses. The tail is low and hangs in a slight curve.

Known as a "wash and wear breed," the Australian Cattle Dog requires little grooming, as it does not shed throughout the year, but only once or twice a year for a period of two weeks. In this period, these dogs shed their undercoat in massive clumps. Brushing the body regularly is required to keep the coat healthy. Bathing with a quality mild shampoo does not affect the dog's coat.

Australian Cattle Dogs demand a lot of exercise and find ways to meet this need. Their energy needs an outlet through either work or exercise in the form of running, games, or swimming otherwise, they become noisy and destructive.

The Australian Cattle Dog is prone to hip dysplasia, a condition in which the hip is not formed properly and eventually may cause lameness. Complications involving the eyes, kneecaps, and thyroid might arise. Deafness occurs in some dogs.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), an inherited disorder which effects the retina of the eye is unfortunately becoming more common in the breed, and can cause blindness beginning at a very early age. The Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) is a registry foundation which tracks heritable eye disorders. Responsible breeders know the PRA status of the parents and each of the puppies in the litter, and selective breeding is being done to eliminate the problem from the breed.

Behavior / temperament:
Extremely enthusiastic and hardworking, these dogs do not tire out easily. Always watchful and alert, these dogs need to be busy; else, they become cautious and timid or destructive. They are wary of strangers.

Their tendency toward heeling is strong and can cause problems if not trained properly. They are fast learners who like varied training sessions to cater to their energetic minds.

They are quite noisy.


herding instinct, good ranch dogs, great watchdogs, all-round family dog, energetic


intense socialization, excessive barking, tough demeanor, stimulation, small backyard, constant shedding


strong herding instinct, awesome hiking buddy, herding, strong work, tough cookie, high energy levels

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