Otherwise known as the Blue Heeler or the Red Heeler (depending on colouring), the Australian Cattle Dog is a very popular breed of working dog that also makes for a great, loyal companion. Very intelligent, it is an active and sturdy breed of dog that was developed to handle cattle herding and droving on Australian stations and farms.
The Aussie Cattle Dog we see today is the result of a deliberate program of breeding over sixty years. Ranchers in the 1800s needed a strong and hardy dog for the harsh Australian climate. Dogs brought from Britain proved to be no good for the job, so various European breeds were mixed with the Australian Dingo with various levels of success. Eventually cattle farmer Thomas Hall bred what we know to be the Australian Cattle Dog.
What you Need to Know
- A muscular and compact medium-sized dog, he is strong, alert and agile. The coat may be red or blue, yet both are born predominantly white.
- This is an extremely active dog that needs a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. If he doesn’t receive both, he can be destructive. He can be stubborn and wilful and is not suited to apartment living. These dogs need a securely fenced yard at the very least.
- Natural instinct is to chew, nip and bite, so proper socialisation and training is critical from an early age.
- Australian Cattle Dogs are intensely bonded with and devoted to their owner – they don’t like to be separated from him or her at all. Where you go, he will wish to go too. Physical separation from the humans he loves is punishment to an Australian Cattle Dog.
- These dogs are best raised with children from a young age so that they get along with them. A well-trained dog raised as a pup with kids will be protective of them; it is much harder to introduce these dogs to kids once he’s an adult. He will want to herd them with nips and bites. All dogs need to be supervised with small children at all times.
- Note that these dogs will protect their territory and be reserved with strangers.
- Australian Cattle Dogs will perceive cats and other small animals as prey unless he is raised with them from puppyhood. The devotion of this dog to his owner can result in jealousy of other pets, including other dogs.
- Generally healthy, this is a dog that will gain weight if not exercised enough. They are prone to some genetic diseases, including deterioration of the eyes, deafness, and hip and elbow dysplasia with resultant arthritis.
This dog is delighted to have a job to do, and thrives on being included as part of the family. Fiercely loyal and protective of his family or “pack”, he forms strong bond and he can be wary of outsiders until he knows they are friend and not foe. He needs plenty of dog walking but not a lot in the way of professional dog grooming – just a bath as needed, brushing and claw clipping. Teeth need to be cleaned from time to time as well – ask your vet for advice.