Australian Cattle Dog


History & Origin

The first Australian Cattle Dog was bred in Australia in the 1800s. The new farmers on the continent wanted a dog able to herd cattle in the heat and across the vast distances. The dogs they brought with them from Europe were simply not up to the task of tracking and protecting cattle in the desert-like conditions of the Australian continent.

Many pioneers tried to breed the perfect cattle dog for the conditions of Australia. Many efforts were unsuccessful. Breeding with the native wild dog of Australia, the Dingo, produced mixed results. But Thomas Hall of New South Wales managed to cross the Dingo with the Blue Smooth Highland Collie for a less aggressive, highly intelligent and tough dog able to work hard – and play hard.

The Australian Cattle Dog contains the blood of Collies, Kelpies, and Dalmatians and this has interesting implications. For instance, puppies are born white, just like Dalmatian pups. The Australian Cattle dog is also known by the names Red Heeler, Blue Heeler or simply Heelers and the Queensland Heeler for their habit of nipping at the heels of the cattle to get them into line.

Robert Kaleki is credited with writing the first standard for the breed. Australian Cattle Dogs were officially approved in 1903 in Australia. The AKC fully recognized the breed in 1980.

Australian Cattle Dogs are highly trainable and respond well to instructions. This may explain why a number of Australian Cattle Dogs even made it into the movies! If you look carefully in films like Mad Max 2, Secret Window, Last of the Dogmen and The Silver Stallion you will see Australian Cattle Dogs in several scenes.

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Your Australian Cattle Dog puppy is an extremely intelligent, active and busy boy (or girl)! The breed is rated as one of the most intelligent. This means that it will require stimulation to prevent it become bored – and up to no good!

The dogs are known for loyalty and strength of character as well as being stubborn and dominant. Don’t expect your puppy to be content with lying about the house all day! The Australian Cattle Dog can be bossy. Show him that you are in charge from the word go.

This dog is not a good choice for dog owners living in apartments or flats. Your Australian Cattle Dog puppy likes a big garden or yard where it can run around and explore. This is a very energetic dog breed and requires an owner willing to stimulate and interact with it.

The Australian Cattle Dog is a popular choice for those with families. It can be a lovely family dog but perhaps more so when the children are older. The Australian Cattle Dog may want to “herd” small children and run around them, trying to control them. It may nip at smaller animals as well as children. But with the correct training, your Australian Cattle Dog puppy will fit in well.

This dog can be wary around strangers but it is very loyal to its family. It is a very good guard dog as it is alert and courageous. Many Australian Cattle Dogs bond with a particular family member and follow them around all day, never leaving their side.

The Australian Cattle Dog puppy is playful and lively and needs a lot of attention. Failure to interact with your puppy from early on may result in destructive behavior like digging, barking and aggression towards other dogs.

australian cattle dog


nutrition and feeding


Your Australian Cattle Dog puppy does require special care, especially in the beginning.


You have to think about the proper feeding and nutrition for your Australian Cattle Dog puppy before you even bring it home. Puppies require the correct balance of protein, carbohydrates, and minerals to ensure that the brain and body grows and develops as it should. A good diet ensures a healthy adult dog.

There are many good dog foods available on the market. The more expensive brands are usually better as they are nutritionally more balanced and complete. Many dog owners prefer to give their puppies real food. If you choose to go this route with your Australian Cattle Dog puppy, be sure that you are feeding the right amount of protein.

Protein is crucial for your puppy’s development. It helps to grow bones and muscle and is also a source of energy. There are 22 amino acids in proteins and your puppy must get all of those amino acids the body cannot manufacture itself. The best source of protein for your Australian Cattle Dog is eggs, followed by fishmeal and milk. But you need to be careful with milk. It can cause discomfort and result in loose stools.

Many dog owners believe in a raw food diet. This kind of diet consists of the meat of chicken or beef, given raw. Educate yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of diet. It mimics the diet of wolves and is extremely tasty to most dogs. It may be expensive and time-consuming, however, to ensure there is always good, rare meat about.


You will feed your Australian Cattle Dog more frequently in the beginning. Its tummy is still small and can only process a bit of food at a time. When your puppy is around 10 weeks old, you will probably feed them three to four meals a day.

But as it grows older, you should decrease feeding times to twice a day. Your Australian Cattle Dog may appear to be voraciously hungry every time you appear to feed it. This is normal! Don’t keep feeding your puppy because you think it is hungry and needs more food. Veterinarians say that if you can just about feel your puppy’s ribs, then it is the right weight.

Keep to the prescribed amounts of food. Your dog is considered a puppy until it is one year old. In this time you should continue to feed your dog a high-quality diet. If you are feeding store-bought kibble, you may add real meal treats or food from the table.

But bear in mind that dogs cannot eat everything human beings can. Some foods are very bad for dogs. These include chocolate, grapes, raisins, tomatoes and apple seeds.

coat and grooming


Size and Coat

The Australian Cattle Dog is classified as a medium-sized dog breed.

You may expect your Australian Cattle Dog puppy to reach a height of 46-51 cm if it is a male dog and 43-48cm for a female dog. In terms of weight, adult dogs usually weigh around 16kg.


The Australian Cattle Dog does not require much grooming in terms of its coat. Your adult doggie will have a short-haired, thick coat that is dark in color and speckled with white. There is an undercoat as well as an overcoat, ensuring that the dog is able to withstand extreme temperatures.

It does mean that you will have to brush your Australian Cattle Dog puppy every couple of days with a firm brush. The breed is also known to shed its hair. So get ready for lots of dog hair on your clothes and couches – unless you are prepared to brush your dog regularly to get rid of old hair.

Another aspect to keep in mind is dental care. You should brush your Australian Cattle Dog puppy’s teeth regularly. This may seem like a pain but many adult dogs have dental problems. Looking after your dog’s teeth is one way to prevent this.



Exercise, Energy, and Activities

It must be said that the Australian Cattle Dog puppy has lots and lots of energy. It was bred for stamina and perseverance and is able to run for miles every day without getting tired. Its body is compact and muscular and those legs need to be given a daily workout.

You should begin to exercise your Australian Cattle Dog puppy right away. Buy your little guy a leash and a collar and start walking around the house. When your dog is three to four months old, you may start taking him outside for five to ten-minute walks. As your puppy grows older, increase the length of your walk.

This is the kind of dog that will develop behavioral problems if it is not given enough exercise and stimulation. So it is vital that you make time every day, at least once a day, for a long and decent walk. Running with your dog will be good for him as well as you!

Training and Sleep/Rest

The Australian Cattle Dog is easy to train and learns quickly. It is the kind of dog that responds very well to instructions. Because it is eager to please its master, training is strongly recommended for this kind of breed.

The first kind of training you will introduce your puppy to will be housetraining. Learning to do its business outside is a process of several weeks. Be patient and consistent. Remember they are still very small. Don’t scold them for accidents but praise them when they successfully made a wee outside.

At the age of around eight to ten weeks, you will begin to socialize your puppy. Go to a socialization class with your Australian Cattle Dog puppy. After learning to get along with other dogs, you have to begin teaching him commands like sit and stay. Afterward, you may choose more obedience training for your pup. This will strengthen the bond between you and result in a well-behaved adult dog.

You may be concerned to see your Australian Cattle Dog puppy lying around and sleeping most of the day. Don’t worry; this is normal for a very small dog. As your pup grows older, it will sleep less and play more. Growing up is hard work!

By the time your Australian Cattle Dog puppy is four months old, you will already notice how much more alert it is. Nap times will be much less. By the time your dog is eight to nine months old, it will probably sleep after walks.

This is not a sleepy dog so don’t expect it to lie passively around the house! If you find that your dog is too busy and driving you mad with barking or digging, you may need to exercise your dog more. A good way to introduce your dog to some quick exercise is to chase them up and down the stairs a few times!



Health Issues

Australian Cattle Dogs can live up to ten to 13 years of age.

To ensure that your Australian Cattle Dog puppy grows up into a healthy adult dog, you must focus on getting the basics right. Feed them a top quality diet and exercise them properly and regularly. This is the foundation for any dog’s health. So many of the health problems that adult dogs face are caused by dog owners who don’t realize how much harm they are doing.

The Australian Cattle Dog is a hardy breed with not too many health concerns. But there are a few health issues you need to be aware of. One of the health conditions that may affect your Australian Cattle Dog puppy is progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).

PRA has an early onset and begins with night blindness. The dog’s vision slowly deteriorates and it is eventually completely blind. While not painful, progressive retinal atrophy is often more distressing to the dog owner than the dog. As vision is lost slowly, the dogs adapt to their changing eyesight. If you are worried about your puppy’s chances of having PRA, check his parents and find out about their history.

Other health concerns include deafness as well as hip dysplasia, con Willebrand’s Disease, cataracts, lens luxation and Persistent Pupillary Membrane (PPM).

To Sum Up

The Australian Cattle Dog is a wonderful companion and an extremely loyal and protective watchdog. Puppy owners love the Australian Cattle Dog fiercely and they appreciate the dog’s independence and intelligence, preferring it above all other dog breeds.

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