If you can spot the Dingo stance in the Australian Cattle Dog it’s because this wild canine was likely one of its ancestors. Strength and speed are combined in this wolfish-looking family friend who has a tireless endurance and love for hard work. Spot the distinctive colours of red and blue in the Australian Cattle Dog’s beautiful coat? They’re not just a pretty face – this wild-looking breed is often called the Australian Heeler, a moniker gained from nipping at cattle’s feet as a way of herding them into formation. Round up and check out what makes this dog breed special.
Breed Group: Pastoral
Coat length: Short
Exercise: Two hours plus per day
Grooming required?: Once a week
As the name suggests, the Australian Cattle Dog was bred in Australia to drive cattle over long distances and across rough terrain. In the early 19th-century a chap called Thomas Hall had a challenge to contend with. Getting thousands of his cattle across thousands of kilometres of harsh landscape was no mean feat. Traditional herding dog breeds were better suited to short distances so he began to cross-breed his Drovers Dogs with some wild dingoes he had tamed. The result was the beautifully distinctive Australian Cattle Dog, or the pack of ‘Halls Heelers’ as they became known, due to their tendency to nip the heels of the cattle. The Australian Cattle Dog was officially recognised by the Kennel Clubs in the 1980s.
Australian Cattle Dogs live for an average of 11 years, although some have been known to live up to 15. The Cattle Dog carries a pigmentation gene which can cause deafness. They can also be affected by blindness later in life, although this can be tested for.
Like many Pastoral dog breeds, the Australian Cattle Dog is full of energy. Leisurely strolls may not satisfy this hungry hound’s need for exercise and without a full roster of activities, they can become destructive. Interactive games such as fetch, frisbee and catch are ideal pastimes for the Cattle Dog who will love to impress you with a game or two. They’ll love living on a farm or place with tons of space nearby to romp and rollock in the great outdoors.
An affectionate pet
Despite its outdoorsy roots the Cattle Dog loves companionship and will be both playful and affectionate in equal measure. When socialised from an early age, they can make a great family pet. Just watch out for this Australian Heeler’s teeth – they might nip the feet of unsuspecting owners or children who look (to them) like they’re in need of rounding up.
Sharp as can be
As well as being highly active, the Cattle Dog is known for its intelligence and the breed ranks 10th in Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs. It’s a breed that needs mental and physical stimulation to remain in tip-top health. Make the Australian Cattle your faithful friend by always ensuring it has a job to do, whether that’s agility, helping you to look after the kids or running household errands.
Australian Cattle Dogs are very strong willed (their ancestors were wild dogs, after all!) so they need a calm and consistent hand to help them learn. Firm and fair methods of training that use positive reinforcement will help the Cattle Dog to learn the correct behaviours for a family home. The Cattle Dog has an independent streak so watching them work in training can be entertaining. They’re naturally ambitious and will often find new creative ways of completing tasks.
ACDs are known for their intelligence, which should make housetraining fairly easy.
Where to find the Australian Cattle Dog
See the Cattle Dog come all the way from the Australian planes to these more local breed groups.
Australian Cattle Dog Society of Great Britain https://australiancattledogsociety.co.uk
Yarraman Australian Cattle Dogs http://www.yarraman.co.uk
Champ Dogs http://www.champdogs.co.uk/breeds/australian-cattle-dog/breeders
Make sure you get your perfect pet by using this list of Kennel Club assured breeders (KCAB).
Adopt an Australian Cattle Dog
Teach an old Australian Cattle Dog new tricks, by choosing one from the rescue centres below.
Australian Cattle Dog Society of Great Britain https://australiancattledogsociety.co.uk/rescue/
UK Australian Cattle Dog Rescue http://australiancattledog.rescueme.org/uk