The Australian Cattle Dog is a new name for an older breed. You may have known these dogs as Australian Heelers, Blue Heelers, Red Heelers, Queensland Heelers or Hall’s Heelers depending on where you are living. They are a unique dog with a very well defined personality and a determination that is legendary in the herding breeds.
Not surprisingly these dogs were bred in Australian to be able to stand up to the unique terrain and weather conditions. Originally a cross between many different breeds they have ancestors that include Smithfield Collies, a now extinct breed, as well as Dalmatians, Bull Terriers and Kelpies, which are another Australian herding breed. They were historically named heelers because, like the Corgi, these dogs will bite the animals they are herding on the heels to get them back with the herd.
The Australian Cattle Dog has a short, dense coat that can be slightly bristly to the touch. Colors can range from red to blue speckled to blue mottled or more of a solid overall blue color. White markings on the feet, chest and face are common but in show rings black markings are not ideal. Interestingly all Australian Cattle Dogs, like Dalmatians, are born white and then develop their color as they mature.
Like the Border Collie the Australian Cattle Dog is a high energy breed that needs lots of exercise per day and also needs a job to do to be happy. These are great companion dogs for joggers and will never tire no matter how many miles you may want to run per day. They are ideal for agility and obedience work and excel at herding competitions. They can also be trained as great Frisbee and Flyball dogs and they can learn to understand an amazing number of words and phrases.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy or PRA is found within the breed as it is in most of the Collie breeds. This is an inherited degeneration of the retina of the eye that will lead to gradual and eventual blindness. Testing for PRA before breeding is important as this can be prevented by careful breeding programs.
Although a wonderful pet this dog needs an active home with older children that will be consistent in working with the dog. They need lots of regular socialization as they can be dog aggressive and very protective of their territory. A natural watchdog and guard dog the Australian Cattle Dog is a true protector. They are not prone to problem barking and typically only bark when they are agitated or feel there is a threat in the area.
The Australian Cattle Dog may be shy or aloof around new people unless they are regularly socialized. They need to be trained with cats and other household pets and only left unsupervised with these pets when owners are sure the dog has accepted them as part of the pack.