Australian Cattle Dog (AKA Blue Heeler)

australian cattle dog with brahman cattle
Australian Cattle Dogs were bred in Australia
to herd cattle! Who'd have thunk it?
The Australian Cattle Dog (AKA Blue Heeler, Red Heeler, Queensland Heeler) is a medium-sized, short-coated breed from the herding group of canines. They are most often seen with a blue coloring in their fur, which can be mottled or speckled throughout, or red-colored fur, which can also be speckled and is also really, really cool. The blue color can often be very dark, making them look black in those areas, and another color that can be seen is a light cream color. ACD's are very easy to groom, and although they shed once to twice a year, a good brushing and a rare bath is all they need to keep up with their easy grooming. They have a double coat, like some of the other more rough coated breeds, and therefore should not be shaved if owners decide to groom them.

Australian Cattle Dogs can weigh as much as 60+ pounds, and although they are not exactly gigantic, they are very powerful, and highly active. The breed standard for cattle dogs is that they have full, natural, un-docked tail, and ears that are tall and pricked. In the case of the ears, some Australian cattle dogs do have ears that flop over.

Australian Cattle Dogs were bred first in New South Wales, Australia. The breed was made by crossing a dog used by cattle droving dogs that were imported from Northumberland England (called at that time, Northumberland Blue Merle Drovers dogs), with tamed dingos, to make the strong, medium-sized breed we know today. The ACD was bred to be used to move herds of cattle over long distances, and cattle dogs have a natural instinct to nip at the heels to get something where they want it to go. So owners must be careful, as this could include kids, or maybe even their owners, if the dogs are not well trained!

The breed was first bred by a man called Thomas Hall, and it took him from around 1825 to 1840 to get the result he wanted. After that time, he and his family were the only ones to use the Australian Cattle Dog for herding, until the death of George Hall in 1870. At that time his lands were sold off, along with the livestock and dogs, and the dogs began being used more widely throughout Australia. For many years, the breed was known as Hall's Heelers! ACD's are thought by many to be the best cattle herding breed, although certain other herding dogs may disagree (luckily, dogs rarely write complaint letters).

As pets, Australian Cattle dogs need strong training and lots - we mean LOTS - of exercise. They are happiest when they have a job and would not typically make a good apartment dog, unless your apartment is about the size of a football field!

Any owner will want to be sure to train well, establish themselves as leader of the pack, and give the dog lots of activities. The cattle dog is good in many kinds of competition such as obedience, rally, agility, and of course, herding competition. They get bored easily and like changes in training often. They are intelligent and very loyal, although they tend to stick to a close knit group and typically don't like to be part of a larger pack of dogs. They are independent and can be very protective of their human families and their puppies, making them efficient guard dogs.

Due to the aforementioned tendency to nip at heels, Australian Cattle Dogs may not be suitable for people with young children or other pets, until they have been well trained.


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  2. If you are one of those more experienced pet parents, an Australian Cattle Dog is worth owning. They are athletic, energetic, and really intelligent dogs that’s why these amazing features can be a bit overwhelming for a starting pet parent. Found a great article showcasing this breed and I’m definitely sharing it: