Australian Cattle Dog

Breed History

Australian Cattle Dog puppy

Australian Cattle Dog, or ACD, is a medium sized built dog that is known for their superior herding abilities. Smart, driven and alert are all the qualities a working dog needs to excel at their job.

They come from the Australia which is a Country that consists of six states and the ACD is known to occupy this entire land. These dogs were instrumental in the production of beef on this continent and they are forever indebted to the Australian Cattle Dog for their service.

George Hall is the person responsible for creating a better herding dog than they had available at the time. These dogs are unique because they were crossbred with the Dingoes that are native to the same land with some other imported dogs that specialize in herding.

Much of their early development occurs in the 19th century. Their name came in the 1800’s as well and has been a staple for their description while they also go by red heeler, blue heeler, and Queensland Heeler. Nipping on the heels of animals to make them move is the reason they got this nickname.

There are several myths regarding crossbreeding with Dalmatians and even Bull Terriers to explain the coat colors that this dog has but no one knows. Many of these theories are far fetched and breeders didn’t document which dogs were bred to produce the coat they host.

They have been in America since the early 20th century but it took several decades before breeders would set up the parent Kennel Club and trace the DNA of the blue heelers from Australia’s Kennel Club back into their Kennel Club.

Registration

In 1980, you will find they were finally given official recognition by the American Kennel Club. A long time would pass before they were a breed that could receive papers in America. Before you could only get them from their homeland.

Top 50 in popularity they are one of the most popular dogs in the United States. Many farmers still need either a pet or a herding dog for personal use. Commercial farming has made it to where these dogs aren’t in need as much as they use to for herding purposes.

All major Kennel Clubs all put them in the Herding or Working Group. Here are the breed standards from different popular Kennel Clubs around the world.

Size

Male Height: 18-20 inches

Female Height: 17-19 inches

Male Weight: 40-50 pounds

Female Weight: 35-45 pounds

Boys and girl dogs are around the same size in general.

Litter Size

6 puppies are the average litter size for the Blue Heeler. Breeders should prepare for a lot of puppies to care for during the eight-week transition. Mothers can deliver natural without any c-section procedures unless due to rare circumstances. Consult with your vet to determine if they are good to go.

Colors

  • Blue – mottled and speckled
  • Red – mottled and speckled
  • Markings – tan, black, red

Black markings on the body is undesirable and any color that takes over the blue coat appearance.

Price

$1,000-$3,000 is the average price for a Queensland Heeler. Queensland Heelers prices can vary depending on location, currency, supply, demand and all kind of factors.

Papers will trace their bloodline back to their homeland and give you a high-quality puppy that matches the breed standards. Paying a higher price due to this quality is something you should expect.

Without papers suggests that one of more of the parents may have crossbreeding in their bloodline and the quality of the puppy goes down significantly. Expect to pay a much lower price for these dogs without papers. A few hundred at best.

Grooming

Every grooming sessions should come after an hour-long exercise session. Putting them in the right state of mind to be nice and calm during the session. Beginning this ritual will help the dog submit to the process

  1. Brushing
  2. Combing
  3. Bathing
  4. Ears
  5. Nails
  6. Professional Help

Brush the dog at least once every few weeks to keep the coat in great condition. During shedding season this is a great practice to remove excess hair.

Combing this type of coat from the skin is the best method. Again, during the shedding season, you can remove a lot of extra hair in a faster manner.

Bathe the dog as you see fit. After a long exercise session, it is easier to get the dog calm. I would suggest using a leash until you get better behavior from the dog.

Ears should be clean at least once a week to avoid any infections the dog may get from dirt build up and moisture. No reason not to save this money when its preventable.

Trimming the nails should happen when you are exercising the dog. Whenever you don’t exercise, which we don’t recommend, then you will need to buy nail clippers.

Professional help is not a recommendation for this breed.

Life Span

13-16 years is the life span for an Australian Cattle Dog. These dogs live a long time and any potential owner should be aware of the commitment they’re making to keep them for the next 15 years possibly. That’s a big commitment everyone should take seriously.

Because they live so long people should really consider adopting one of these dogs. As an adult you can still own the dog for a decade or longer.

Health Issues

Hips – are a major issue with these dogs and their kennel club recommends that you get the hips an examination at some point early in their life. Whenever you notice the dog limping or favoring a leg you need to take them to get an x-ray right away.

Elbows – growth on the elbow can cause the dog discomfort and affect their ability to exercise pain free. When you see stiffness and other symptoms take them to the vet for further evaluation.

BAER testing – sometimes the hearing from this dog will be an issue for them in one or both ears. BAER testing will help determine if the dog is deaf or can hear properly. Following the guidelines given by the professional for future testing.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy – eye issues affect many dogs and they may suffer from PRA. Degeneration of the retinal can lead to partial or complete blindness. Multiple diseases are put into one category.

Breed Group

Australian Cattle Dog is a member of the Herding Group. All these dogs have been wonderful contributors to society with herding animals for farmers. Before commercial farming they were in use tremendously especially this dog in Australia.

Every dog in this category has this in common with one another.

Here are some of the dogs in the Herding Group

Exercise Needs

Australian Cattle Dog needs a lot of exercise and a job to do. When you look at their history you see a dog with a daily job because the cattle would need to come out every day and need to be put back into their place at the end of the day.

Knowing this history, we should be able to understand that not giving them anything to do or letting them figure it out can have undesirable consequences.

Boredom and dogs are a bad mixture and will lead to excessive barking, aggression, digging, nipping, biting and other behaviors that are not ideal. Over excitement or jumping are the first signs the dog lacks exercise.

Daily exercise is the best medicine and sometimes two sessions a day will help channel some of this energy into more productive activities.

Here is a basic recommendation we would give anybody to start

Morning: Hour (run, walk, or treadmill)

Evening: 30 minutes (run, walk, or treadmill)

Two session is the holy grail for exhausting the dog out and try to do these as many days as possible. Bare minimum gets them out once on bad day and take breaks when the dog seems to need a recovery day or two.

Younger dogs will need more runs and more two session days than older dogs. They will need to run and get it all out of their system. Adult dogs will need more of a balance between runs and walks.

Adult dogs will see a decrease in energy as the years pass. Less two sessions a day will be of use in this stage of the dog’s life around 3-5 years of age.

Training

  1. Exercise program
  2. Commands
  3. Socialization
  4. Corrections
  5. Give them a job

Stay committed to daily exercise and you will have a great dog that you spend one to two hours with every day outside blazing the trail with a run or walk every day. Nothing you can do will produce more results. Less excitement, calmer, and listening to you for hours every day will help train the dog in a more natural manner. After a while the dog will understand to rest inside of the house, and they will get all they need and more outside many days out the week. Expect to spend 365-700 hours a year if you’re a great owner and watch the fruits of your labor appear.

Commands are a smaller part of the program because you will teach them, and it will go on autopilot. These commands can be taught, and the dog can still be out of control without step one.

Socializing the dog should always happen after you start the journey of step one and the dog gets a long session before they meet other people or dogs. Before the dog park get in a 30-minute run and then take them to sniff around.

Corrections are normal in a dog’s life. They teach the dog the rules of the house. Verbal corrections will happen more often than any physical ones. Only time you need to touch the dog is when the dog is not paying any attention to the owner. Low touches can get the dogs brain back into listening to the owner. Anything more we don’t recommend. Lowest level on intensity.

Are Australian Cattle Dogs Aggressive?

No, there are no dog that is born aggressive. Boredom and lack of exercise will be the root cause most of the time. Give them a long daily run, while you are on the bike, to release any negative energy and that will teach them to channel that energy into exercise.

When you correct aggression, we recommend finding a dog trainer that specializes so that you don’t get hurt. Instead focus on things you can do to solve other problems like frustration and pent up excess energy.

Additional Resources