Australian Cattle Dogs are medium-size dogs known for being exceptional cattle herders. These dogs are red or blue and may have a speckled or mottled pattern. They may or may not have black, tan, or blue markings. Their bodies are strong, compact, and well built with a muscular, medium-length neck and strong head. The breed has a smooth, double coat with dense undercoat. The outer coat is close, straight, flat laying, and rain-resistant. Australian Cattle Dogs measure 17 to 20 inches at the shoulder and weigh 44 to 62 pounds. This breed generally lives up to 14 years.
They are very intelligent dogs and are happiest in open spaces, playing and running and herding.
These highly energetic dogs are strong, agile, and determined and require a lot of physical activity. This makes them unsuitable for sedentary families. They are very intelligent dogs and are happiest in open spaces, playing and running and herding.
Australian Cattle Dogs tend to think of themselves as invincible and are very prone to injury as a result. They may jump from high places, recklessly chase cars and other animals, or otherwise put themselves in harm's way.
Australian Cattle Dogs are protective, playful, adaptable, and child-friendly animals. They get along with cats and other dogs under the right circumstances, but they may nip at and attempt to herd children and small animals unless trained otherwise. They bond easily and are highly intelligent and social, traits that make them great companion animals for families, but their energetic nature and need for activity mean they are unsuitable for life in a small apartment.
These dogs are wary of strangers and tend to be protective and territorial. Regular contact with other humans and animals can minimize this behavior and encourage the breed to relax.
Australian Cattle Dogs need to be with a family that is very active; daily walks are not nearly enough exercise for these dogs. Ideally, this breed should have plenty of opportunity to join their family while running, bicycling, hiking, or engaging in similar activities. Australian Cattle Dogs also need a lot of mental stimulation and enjoy playing with toys. Just make certain any toys offered to these dogs can withstand vigorous chewing.
Australian Cattle Dogs are a generally healthy breed, but these dogs are at risk for certain health conditions that require veterinary evaluation and treatment. Hip dysplasia and patellar luxation are more common in Australian Cattle Dogs than in some other breeds, and these dogs are also prone to genetic deafness, portosystemic shunts, which are vascular anomalies, and progressive retinal atrophy, an inherited disease of the retina that leads to blindness. To reduce the risk of congenital disorders, make sure the dog's line is clear before purchasing or adopting.
Australian Cattle Dogs like adventure and are prone to injuries as a result. While there is likely no way to completely prevent accidents and injuries in this breed, it's important to perform regular examinations of these dogs to look for hidden wounds and broken bones.
With routine veterinary care, standard vaccinations, proper nutrition, and regular exercise, Australian Cattle Dogs often live 10 to 13 years.
Although Australian Cattle Dogs are known for being intelligent, stubborn, and independent, they are trainable and make great companion animals with early socialization and training. They learn quickly and respond well to consistent, firm training methods and positive reinforcement. Socializing this breed with many well-mannered dogs early in life will ensure the Australian Cattle Dog is able to tolerate other animals later in life.
These dogs have a tendency to be mouthy and may attempt to push their human companions around. This behavior cannot be tolerated. Owners must establish themselves as pack leaders from the beginning in order to earn and maintain the respect of this breed. Giving these dogs a job to do will help keep barking and other negative behaviors under control.
Australian Cattle Dogs do well with just about any dog sport, including flyball, herding, and tracking. Herding, obedience, and agility are good choices for structured activities. If not given an outlet for excess energy, these dogs will chase cars or people on bikes. They are also prone to digging and may become destructive or chew on furniture if left along for too long. They can do a lot of damage in a very short period of time. Australian Cattle Dogs can be left outdoors part of the time but they need time inside with family, too.
The Australian Cattle Dog's smooth short coat is easy to care for and rain and dirt resistant. Brushing once or twice weekly with a bristle or slicker brush is generally sufficient to remove dead hair. This breed will shed the undercoat once or twice each year, but a comb and undercoat rake will help manage the coat during these times. More frequent brushing is also beneficial during shedding seasons.
One benefit of this breed's coat is its resistance to dirt. Because of this, these dogs require only occasional baths unless they really put effort into getting dirty. Bathe Australian Cattle Dogs with a shampoo that is designed specifically for dogs.
Trim the nails once per month for adult dogs and about once per week for puppies, or as needed. Keep the ears clean and dry to prevent infections. Treat at the first sign of infection with a vet-approved product. Brush the teeth as often as possible to prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.
During the 1800s, Australian breeders crossed Dingoes, Australia's native dogs, with blue merle Collies, Dalmatians, and other dogs. The resulting dog was very similar in build to the Dingo. This new breed was a good worker and became a tremendous asset to the beef industry in Australia, making it possible for farmers to keep large herds. The Australian Cattle Dog was originally called the Blue or Australian Heeler. Robert Kaleski first began showing Australian Cattle Dogs in 1897.
Australian Cattle Dogs are excellent cattle herders and are able to control and move cattle under all conditions, seemingly effortlessly. This has led to the breed's reputation as an elite herding animal.
The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Australian Cattle Dog in 1980.