The Australian cattle dog

Are You Planning to Get an Australian Cattle Dog for a Pet?

Also known as just a 'CattleDog,' the Australian Cattle Dog is a herding dog breed developed originally for cattle-droving in across rough terrain for distances that are long in Australia.

This dog occurs in 2 color main forms, has a short coat and is medium sized. It has black or brown hair fairly distributed neatly in a coat that is white, which offers the look of either a 'blue' or a 'red' dog. For this reason, it has been named Blue Heeler or Red Heeler.

The nickname is also because of its method of moving cattle that is reluctant by a nip at the heels.

The Queensland, Australia breed line has attained success at studs and shows and these were called QueenslandHeelers to make a distinction from the New South Wales bred line. Currently this term is applied occasionally to any Cattle Dog from Australia.


In the nineteenth century, Thomas Hall, a cattle farmer from NewSouthWales crossed over dogs in the Northumberland home county of his parents with his tamed dingoes. The dogs that resulted were called HallsHeelers.

After his demise this breed had availability other than from the family of Hall and was developed subsequently into 2 breeds today including the Australian Stumpy Tail CattleDog & the Australian CattleDog. For the early development of the CattleDog, RobertKaleski had influence and had written the 1st breed standard.

This breed of dog has a quick intelligence, a lot of energetic levels and a streak of independence, as most working breeds to. They respond well to challenging and interesting structured training.

Bred to bit, this dog is not very aggressive and because of the way it gets attached to its owner, it can be quite protective of their owner's possessions and their owners as well. During the shed period, there is a bit of brushing required but otherwise, this breed is not very hard to maintain or groom.

The health problem most common is progressive blindness and deafness, both of which are hereditary.

Otherwise, this is a breed which is robust with a twelve-fourteen year lifespan. There are a range of activities that Australian Cattle Dogs now include in more than just being herd dogs. This includes work as assistance dogs and competing in sporting events with their owners.


There are high levels of energy when it comes to the Australian Cattle dog including a level of independence and an active mind. This dog ranks tenth in The Intelligence of Dogs by Stanley Coren and has a rating of being one of the dogs most intelligent ranked in trainability for commands of obedience.

There are a lot of exercise requirements for this dog as well as needs for companionship. Activities that engage mind and body as well as learning tricks and dog sports are highly recommended.


At home, the Australian Cattle Dog is a playful, affectionate and happy pet. It has natural caution in situations that are new and reserved with strangers. This makes them great as dogs for guarding when training for these tasks. However if socialization occurs from a young age as pets, it will be good with considerate older children as pets.


Once you wean these pups, they should know that it is pleasurable to be in with people and that it is rewarding to respond to people's cues. The bonds these breeds create with their owners are solid and usually leave the dog with feelings of protectiveness towards their owners.

This results in the dog never going too far away from their owner's side. Australian Cattle Dog aggression is usually focused strangers rather than other dogs or their owners. Keep in mind that when treated harshly, this dog will bite.


Although a silent working dog, Australian Cattle Dogs bark to get attention or to create alarm. This breed has an intense, distinct bark that is high-pitched.

This indicates frustration or boredom. Some studies also show that dogs raised in environments that are noisy tend to increase their vocalizing.

Australian Cattle Dogs respond admirably when they see other dogs that are familiar. On the other hand, when there are many dogs at one time present, aggression can be triggered by the establishment of a leadership order. These are not breeds that live with different breeds in packs.


Since Australian Cattle Dogs require minimal grooming they are sometimes called 'wash&wear' dogs. All that is needed to keep their coats free of odors and clean is a brushing once in a while.

Even in the ring for shows all they need are to get wiped using a slightly wet cloth. Blowing their coat once a year, these dogs are not year round shedders. Intact females shed twice a year.

A warm bath and brushing frequently during this time will help the shed hair. To avoid health problems, care for teeth, ears and nails is recommended.


Australian Cattle Dogs were created for their being able to get cattle which are reluctant to travel lengthy distances and for this work, may just be the best breed on the planet.

However some trainers for working dogs have been vocal about their worry that dogs bred for showrings are more and more too short-legged with bodies that are too stocky to do the work they were originally bred for.


In sports, this breed has been quite successful especially in Schutz hund, fly ball and weight pulling. In particular, this breed is suited to activities that owners share with dogs including bikejoring, skijoring, disc dog and canicross.

They are great companions for hiking since they have endurance that is natural. Generally, they also have a lack of interest in hunts and prefer staying by the side of their owners.


Australian Cattle Dogs thrive on new experiences and change and most handlers find that to train this breed can be quite a challenge.

They can excel in competitions of obedience and will enjoy retrieval of scented articles but the ability for finding solutions of this breed may not necessarily be rewarded by judges of obedience.

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Comments 3 comments

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

What a great hub and I vote up plus bookmark.

Take care

Eddy.


Kristen Haynie profile image

Kristen Haynie 3 years ago from Modesto, CA

I have a Heeler, and she is by far the best dog I have ever had. She is incredibly responsive to my commands and even the slightest hints I give her. Training her was a breeze, as she quickly picks up an idea with hardly any effort on my part. I do not use her for herding, but she is a very active dog, and loves to go wherever I go.

I would say her only drawback is that she's pretty hostile to strangers. Although she's never bitten anyone, she does freak out if anyone tries too get too close to me (until I call her off, of course). That, and she's sometimes too smart... there's no fooling her!

Do you have a Heeler? I found this hub very interesting, and the information about the breed is spot-on from my experience.


elle64 profile image

elle64 3 years ago from Scandinavia Author

No I dont, but I wouldnt mind one, but my daughter has astma so....Thanks for stopping by

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