Swift, intelligent and eager to please, the Australian Cattle Dog is a working dog if there ever was one. As its name states, the Australian Cattle Dog was originally developed in Australia to assist herdsman in driving their cattle across the vast expanse of the Australian continent.
Medium-sized, hard-muscled and adaptable, the Australian Cattle dog is at home in the red dirt of the outback or in an upscale apartment in Sydney. Blue Heelers, as they are often called are alert, curious and very independent. It forms a strong bond with its family and may be suspicious of strangers.
Not to worry, ACDs make great family pets. They are high energy and smart, but also easily bored, which means they need regular exercise and mental stimulation to avoid getting into trouble. Australian Cattle Dogs respond well to particularly if training it finds interesting and enjoys.
Click to see other breeds with similar traits:
Australian Cattle Dog Puppies are born in litters of 5 to 7 and in a variety of coat colors and patterns, though red and blue ACD puppies are born white, and grow red and black hairs as they mature.
Australian Cattle Dog puppies are incredibly cute, curious and mischievous. Their inquisitive nature can make them a handful, so puppy proofing your home is essential. Australian Cattle Dogs are strong, independent and smart; new owners should not underestimate their little guys ability to find mischief.
Like all puppies, we recommend that new owners begin training their Australian Cattle Dog puppy as soon as it is possible. It’s very important that ACD puppies learn that the company of people is pleasurable, and that responding to cues from their owner is rewarding.
The Australian Cattle Dog belongs to the Herding Dog breed group. Herding dogs are bred with certain physical characteristics, or trained in specific styles of working that enhance their ability to perform pastoral tasks.Herding behavior is, in fact, predatory behavior that has been modified through selective breeding.
In the case of the Australian Cattle Dog, its predatory instinct has been modified so the it no longer thinks of herd animals as prey, while it's natural hunting skills have been honed to create an incredibly effective herding dog.
Herding dogs, like the ACD, are referred to as Heelers. Along with the noble Corgi, the Australian Cattle Dog (aka: Blue Heeler) herds cattle in the desired direction by nipping at their feet.
A breed standard details the appearance and temperament of an officially recognized breed.
The pedigree of the Australian Cattle Dog is formally recognized by all breed experts and kennel clubs and therefore subject to a detailed breed standard.
The Australian Cattle dog is medium-sized, compact, and gives the impression of agility strength. Its build is muscular and sturdy with a strong neck and shoulders. Its skull is broad and flattens between the eyes, which are oval and dark.
ACDs are born with one of two accepted coat colors, red and blue with some patches of solid or near-solid colour; most commonly masks over one or both eyes and a white tip of the tail.
Neither delicate or cumbersome, the Australian Cattle Dog is an athletic, well-conditioned canine with substance, power, and balance. Independent and highly intelligent, its temperament is that of a keen, alert working companion, and loyal family pet.
Australian Cattle Dogs possess a broad skull that curves slightly and flattens between the ears. Ears are pricked, set wide apart and incline outwards. Its head is in balance and proportion with its body. Cheeks are muscular. Jaw is strong and well-developed.
Eyes are oval-shaped, medium-sized and taper gradually toward a medium-length muzzle and a black nose. Often characterized as suspicious, the Australian Cattle Dog’s expression is that of a protective herding dog; bred to watch and defend its herd and family.
The Australian Cattle Dog’s body is muscular, with powerful sloping shoulders. Its chest is deep, broad and muscular. Ribs are well sprung but not barreled. The length of its body is only slightly greater than its height at the withers. Its back is strong, and topline level.
The Australian Cattle Dog’s forelegs are straight and parallel. Upper arms are muscular and well angulated but not set too close at the point of the withers. Feet are straight and parallel when viewed from the front, but should show a slight angle at the forearm when viewed from the side. Toes are small, with short, sturdy nails.
The Australian Cattle Dog’s tail is set moderately low, and follows the contour of the croup, reaching almost to the hock. When at rest the tail should lay in a slight curve. When excited the tail should be raised, with no part carried beyond a vertical line drawn to the root. Tails are often a solid color, with a spot at the base and a white tip.
The Australian Cattle Dog’s double coat is short with straight outer guard hairs to keep out the elements, and protect its skin. Undercoat is short, fine and dense. ACDs are born with one of two accepted coat colors, red or blue.
Red ACDs display even speckling and solid red markings. Blue ACD’s may, or may not display blue mottled, speckles, and markings in black, tan, or white.
Both red and blue ACDs are born white. As they age the red or black hairs grow into a distinctive adult colouration. Many Australian Cattle Dogs display patches of solid color, or masks over one or both eyes. Masks may be consist of black patch over one or both eyes, or a red patch over one or both eyes.
Australian Cattle Dog males stand 18 to 20 inches tall and should weigh between 39 and 49 pounds. Female Australian Cattle Dogs stand 17 to 19 inches tall and should weigh no more than 49 pounds.
The Australian Cattle Dog is one of the most intelligent dogs when ranked by obedience command trainability. Independent and highly intelligent, its temperament is that of a keen, alert working companion, and loyal family pet. When at home and comfortable the Australian Cattle Dog is friendly, affectionate and playful.
Naturally cautious to new situations, it’s very common for an Australian Cattle dog to be reserved and suspicious of strangers. Australian Cattle Dogs are known to form very powerful bonds with their owners, never allowing themselves to be too far from the owner's side.
They are also quick to respond to the emotions of their family, and may defend them without waiting for a command. Though this attitude makes the ACD a great watchdog and guard dog, aggression is never a desired behavior and should be strongly discouraged.
The Australian Cattle Dog is generally considered a healthy breed, more susceptible to injury than disease or medical disorder. However, like every breed, the Australian cattle dog is susceptible to a range of health issues.
Australian Cattle Dogs are known to be especially long-lived, often living to the ripe old age of 13 to 15 years old. The oldest dog reportedly on record was an Australian Cattle Dog named Bluey, who lived to an amazing 29.5 years old.
Australian Cattle Dogs are smart, adaptable and energetic dogs. They are both terrific workers and amazing family pets. However, they do require a significant amount of care to accommodate their high energy and protective instincts.
Australian Cattle Dogs are as intelligent as they are stubborn, which can make training a challenge, but also a rewarding experience for you and your ACD.
Australian Cattle Dogs also need plenty of social, physical, and mental activity to ward off boredom, which can lead to destructive behavior. If you think you can keep up with their high energy lifestyle, than an Australian Cattle Dog will stand by your side for their entire life.
The Australian Cattle Dog’s need a protein-packed diet to fuel their high energy lifestyle. Feed your Australian Cattle Dog a nutritious brand of dog food twice per day. Steer away from dog foods that contain artificial ingredients, preservatives and fillers like grain, wheat and brewers rice.
Australian Cattle Dogs are very smart, and love to play. Try hiding your ACD’s food around the house or in a food puzzle toy to feed their mind and their brain. Owners should never allow their Australian Cattle Dog to become obese. We recommend implementing a feeding schedule starting at 8 weeks.
It’s essential that Australian Cattle Dog puppies learn that food will no longer be provided constantly throughout the day. Start your Australian Cattle Dog puppy on moistened dry puppy food, 3 to 5 times per day for no longer than 10 minutes per feeding. Remove their food after 10 minutes.
When it comes to grooming, Australian Cattle Dogs are fairly low maintenance. Their double coat repels dirt and only needs to be brushed once or twice per week. Weekly brushing can also reduce shedding, which the ACD does twice per year. A bristle or slicker brush works best.
The Australian Cattle Dog’s coat repels dirt, and only needs to be bathed when they have become visibly dirty. However, you will need to check your ACD’s ears often for signs of ear wax, or infection. Groom away any dirt or debris that has been caught up in/on its ears.
Australian Cattle Dogs also commonly grow hair in the inner ear which can cause discomfort. These hairs should be plucked, never cut. If you notice your ACD pawing at its ears it may be time for a visit to the vet.
Australian Cattle Dogs who receive frequent outdoor exercise wear down their nails on hard surfaces like sidewalks. Indoor dogs will require regular nail clippings to prevent pain, discomfort, and possible infection.
Australian Cattle Dogs are smart, and full of energy, which means they need a lot of physical exercise and mental stimulation to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and ward of boredom and destructive behavior.
Play time and interactive games are a great way to help your Australian Cattle Dog burn excess energy and stimulate its mind. Play time also strengthens the bond between you and your dog, and demonstrates that you are someone that the naturally suspicious dog can trust.
When exercising your puppy outdoors remember that puppies will always need a leash. ACDs have a very herding drive. They may chase and nip at small children who run by them.
Australian Cattle Dogs are highly intelligent dogs that require a strong, patient and consistent leader to teach them how to behave in society. Like all dogs, it's important to enforce household rules from an early age. No puppy is too young to begin training.
Many owners find that clicker training works particularly well with Australian Cattle Dogs. Others have found that an abundance of chew toys helps their ACD alleviate its instinct to nip and chew.
However you decide to train your Australian Cattle Dog, be sure to use positive reinforcement. Australian Cattle Dogs are smart, independent, and fairly proud. They may lash out if struck or if they feel unsafe. Calm consistency is key to ensuring a smooth training process.
Housebreaking an Australian Cattle Dog is surprisingly simple. Start by introducing your new puppy to its new environment slowly for its first few days in its new home.
Keep a sharp eye on your puppy for the first few weeks as it gets acclimated to its new home. If you notice unusual behavior or symptoms of a potential disorder be sure to consult a trained veterinarian.
It takes lots of practice for your puppy to learn where to go potty. Consistency is key to housebreaking a Australian Cattle Dog puppy. Use the same words and phrases to indicate when, where and how you want your puppy to do its business.
Watch for signs that your dog needs to go potty like pacing, sniffing, and squatting. Calmly and quickly hustle your puppy outside and to the correct spot. When your puppy is about to do its business say something similar to “go potty.”
Once your ACD puppy does its business in the correct area praise them and offer a treat. With practice, your puppy will learn what “go potty” means, then you’ll be able to tell your Australian Cattle Dog where and when to go.
Australian Cattle Dogs grow very attached to their owners, and even get offended when left alone for long periods of time. ACD’s are also easily bored, and a bored Australian Cattle Dog is a mischief magnet. Training your Australian Cattle Dog puppy to sleep in a crate at night, and while your away ensures you will find your home intact when you get back.
The Australian Cattle Dog’s intelligence and herding instinct make it an independent and adaptable companion. However, the same intelligence and independence can quickly turn into undesirable behavior unless the dog is socialized.
Owners should begin socializing their Australian Cattle Dog as soon as possible after adoption, especially homes with small children. ACD’s have a tendency to herd small children, which may include nipping.
Australian Cattle Dogs can learn to live with children but should be given time to adjust to their new environment.Start by slowly introducing them to children and pets. Separate them from other animals with a baby gate to allow the dog and children to get used to each other's presence. Small children should never be left unsupervised with an Australian Cattle Dog.
Australian Cattle dogs are often shy and can be aggressive towards strangers. We recommend taking your ACD on as many car trips as you can to let them experience a variety of sights, sounds, smells, and people in a safe environment.
Australian Cattle Dogs make fantastic working dogs because they are very smart and highly trainable. They easily learn new basic commands like “sit,” “come,” “lay down, and “stay.”
Australian Cattle Dogs get bored easily. To ease the training process, we recommend switching back and forth between two commands. Australian Cattle Dogs aksi tend to respond differently to your commands, so you will want to rotate how you offer the command.
More important than commands however, is showing your dog the proper behavior in society, and rewarding them when they get it right. Owners should always discourage mouthing or nipping.
Say “no” and walk away every time your ACD nipps at anything. Be sure to ignore them before returning so they learn that nipping is a bad behavior.If you notice your ACD mouthing you or others, provide them with a chew toy so they can get their urges out on the toy and not on you.
Is an Australian Cattle Dog a good family dog? Yes, Australian Cattle Dogs make phenomenal pets. When trained and socialized, Australian Cattle Dogs are fun, friendly and incredibly loyal to their family. You might even have trouble getting them to leave you alone.
Are Australian Cattle Dog aggressive? Australian Cattle Dogs who have not been properly socialized or adequately trained are likely to be suspicious of strangers, and possibly aggressive toward other pets.
Do Australian Cattle Dogs suffer from separation anxiety? Yes. Puppies need lots of socialisation before being left on their own, otherwise owners increase the risk of separation anxiety, which can result in destructive behaviour like excessive barking.
Puppies also need to relieve themselves more often than an adult dog, at least once an hour when housebreaking. The recommended maximum length of time you leave any dog alone is 4 hours. Australian Cattle Dogs should not be left in a small crate for long periods and must have access to fresh drinking water at all times.
Are Australian Cattle Dogs stubborn? Australian Cattle Dogs are highly intelligent. Inherent with a high level of intelligence is a sense of canine pride, which is often misinterpreted as stubbornness. An Australian Cattle Dog is unlikely to obey you if it does not believe you to be its leader. The key to alleviating the “stubborness” is to demonstrate to the dg that you are its leader through consistent, positive reward-based training.
What is the difference between an Australian Cattle Dog and a Blue Heeler? None. They are the same dog. Australian Cattle dogs are also known as the Australian Heeler, tand the Queensland Heeler.
Is an Australian Cattle Dog the same as an Australian shepherd? No. Besides differences in coat, size, and temperament the Australian Shepherd is, in fact, not from Australia.
At what age do Australian Cattle Dogs stop growing? Medium-sized dogs, like the Australian Cattle Dog, typically reach their full-size around 15 to 18 months old and their full adult weight around two years old.
Are Australian Cattle Dogs hard to train? Australian Cattle Dogs are incredibly intelligent, independent and stubborn which may prove challenging for new owners. However, with patience, consistency and a lot of love, and Australian Cattle Dog can be trained to be the perfect family pet.
Do Australian Cattle Dogs bark? Australian Cattle Dogs are bred to herd and protect livestock, which means they can be fiercely protective of their family. They will bark to alert the family when a stranger is nearby. When properly socialized, however, an Australian Cattle Dog can be dissuaded from barking too often.
Are Australian Cattle Dogs cuddly? Yes. Australian Cattle Dogs love to cuddle up to their family.
Do Australian Cattle Dogs swim? They typically love the water and are excellent swimmers, but don’t try and force swimming on your ACD if they seem hesitant around water.
How much should I feed my Australian Cattle Dog puppy? Starting at 6 to 8 weeks, puppies should be gradually transitioned from their mother’s milk to solid food over a period of 3 weeks. From 8 weeks on, it’s essential that your Australian Cattle Dog puppy learn that food will no longer be provided constantly throughout the day.
Start your Australian Cattle Dog puppy on moistened dry puppy food, 3 to 5 times per day for no longer than 10 minutes per feeding. After 10 minutes remove their food even if they haven't finished.
Do Australian Cattle Dogs run away? The Australian Cattle Dogs herding instinct is high. It will naturally try to heard anything that runs past it, like small children. Owners are strongly advised to keep their Australian Cattle Dogs on a leash when it’s not fenced in.
Like its name suggests, the Australian Cattle Dog’s history is inseparable from the history of Australia itself. In the early 19th century, Australian breeders began crossing the native dingo with the Blue Merle Collie, a dog brought from England and put to work on cattle drives.
The result was the modern Australian Cattle Dog, also known as the Blue Heeler. Australian Cattle dogs proved to be excellent workers, and phenomenally skilled at the task of herding cattle.
In later years the Australian Cattle Dog was crossed with the Dalmatian, which is believed to have changed the ACD’s merle coloring to red or blue speckle. The working ability of the Australian Cattle Dog was outstanding. It retained the quiet heeling skills and stamina of the Dingo and showed the faithful protectiveness of the Dalmatian.
Word spread of the the ACD’s ability to work cattle and they soon became highly sought after by property owners and cattle drivers. Australian Cattle Dogs became indispensable to the owners, and soon became popular family pets. The Australian Cattle Dog was finally accepted for registration by the American Kennel Club in 1980.
Need help finding your perfect puppy?
A member of the PuppySpot pack can help!Contact Us