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Adopt an Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dog Dog Breed

Picture: Yann Arthus-Bertrand/Corbis


livestock, herding

Area of origin:


Original function:

cattle herding

Average size of male:

Ht: 18-20, Wt: 35-45

Average size of female:

Ht: 17-19, Wt: 35-45

Other names:

Queensland heeler, blue/red heeler

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    Friendliness towards dogs

  • Friendliness towards other pets

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    Friendliness towards strangers

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    Ease of training

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    Watchdog ability

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    Protection ability

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    Cold tolerance

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    Heat tolerance

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Australian Cattle Dog Dog Temperament

Smart, hardy, independent, stubborn, tenacious, energetic and untiring, these are all traits essential to a driver of headstrong cattle, and all traits of the Australian Cattle Dog. This dog must have a job to do or he will expend his efforts on unacceptable jobs of his own. Given challenging mental and hard physical exercise daily, he is among the most responsive and obedient of dogs, an exemplary partner in adventure. He tends to nip at the heels of running children.

Australian Cattle Dog Dog Care

The Australian Cattle Dog was bred to be active and tireless. This dog needs a lot of physical and mental activity, more than a simple walk on a leash can provide. A good jog or long workout, coupled with obedience lessons or other intellectual challenges, is essential every day. The Australian Cattle Dog is happiest when he has a job to perform. The Australian Cattle Dog needs brushing or combing weekly to remove dead hairs.

Australian Cattle Dog Dog Health

Major concerns: CHD, OCD, deafness, PRA
Minor concerns: none
Occasionally seen: cataract, lens luxation, PPM, vWD
Suggested tests: hip, hearing, eye
Life span: 10-13 years

Interested in the history of the Australian Cattle Dog dog breed?

In the early 1800s, vast land areas in Australia became available for grazing cattle. The cattle raised on these lands became so wild and intractable that the traditional European herding breeds that had proved satisfactory on tamer cattle were no longer suited for the job. A dog was needed that could withstand traveling long distances over rough terrain in hot weather and that could control cattle without barking (which only served to make wild cattle wilder). In 1840, a man named Hall bred some smooth blue-merle Highland Collies to Dingos, producing a strain known as Heelers. One particularly influential stud was a dog named Bentleydog, who is credited with stamping the white blaze found on the head of Australian Cattle Dogs today. Other breeders crossed their Heelers with other breeds, including the Bull Terrier, Dalmatian and, later, black-and-tan Kelpie, a sheep-herding breed. The result was a dog with the herding instincts of the Collie and Kelpie; the endurance, ruggedness and quiet style of the Dingo; and the horse sense and protectiveness of the Dalmatian, all with a distinctively patterned coat. As the dogs became increasingly vital to the cattle industry of Queensland, they gained the name Queensland Blue Heeler. They later became known as Australian Heeler, and then Australian Cattle Dog. A standard for the breed, emphasizing his Dingo characteristics, was drawn up in 1897. The Australian Cattle Dog was slow to catch on in America, however, perhaps because he bore little resemblance to established herding breeds. When given a chance, he proved his merits and was welcomed as a herder and pet. The AKC recognized the breed in 1980, and he has since become a capable show dog, without sacrificing his functional makeup.

Copyright © 1998, 2005 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. based on

Shelters with Australian Cattle Dog Dogs

Some animal welfare organizations with Australian Cattle Dogs ready for adoption:

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