The Australian Cattle Dog is a working dog, first bred to herd cattle back in the 19th century. Intelligent, loyal and energetic, these dogs make great companions and are fiercely protective of their families.
These Aussie dogs originate from the outback where English settlers bred their herding dogs with Australian wild dingoes in the 1800's. The settlers needed a dog capable of rounding up cattle across the rough Australian terrain, and so the dogs were bred to be tough, trainable and brave.
Modern Australian Cattle Dogs are still as energetic and intelligent as their ancestors, needing lots of space, exercise and stimulation to keep them happy. As such, they’re much better suited to rural homes with lots of open land to explore rather than city apartments.
These dogs bond closely with their families but their wariness of strangers can make them very protective. Their herding instincts and tendency to bite the heels of cattle can make them difficult to keep with small animals and children, but if you raise them together your dog should see them as just another member of the pack.
However, remember to never leave a young child alone with any breed of dog, regardless of how well bonded they seem.
Perfect for high-energy families
- Medium (43-50cms)
- Typically weighing between 13kg and 23kg
- 12 to 15 years life expectancy
Exercise and nutrition
Australian Cattle Dogs are very active and easily-bored, so must be given plenty of physical and mental exercise to keep them happy. At least 2 hours of physical exercise is required every day, ideally in a wide, open space where they can run off that energy. These dogs can become destructive if kept in a small space or not exercised enough, and some owners mistake their boredom and frustration for naughtiness.
As a high-energy breed, Australian Cattle Dogs need a diet rich in protein and fat. Look for high quality dog food with plenty of nutrients to support their joints. How much you feed your dog will depend on their size, age and activity; if you’re uncertain then ask your veterinarian for advice.
Common health problems and illnesses
Australian Cattle Dogs are incredibly robust dogs, bred for weathering the tough Outback terrain. However, they still have their share of hereditary conditions and a tendency to hide their pain which means problems can go undiagnosed for longer. For that reason, it’s important that your dog is regularly checked over by a vet to ensure they’re not hiding any serious problems.
It’s recommended that you insure your Australian Cattle Dog as a puppy to ensure that they’re covered for any problems that arise in later life. Find out more about why it’s important to insure puppies here.
Australian Cattle Dogs are more prone to inherit deafness, and often litters of puppies are tested for the condition. Deaf puppies can be difficult to sell and cannot be used for breeding, and so unfortunately many end up in dog shelters despite making excellent pets.
This is a common problem in medium and large dogs and may require corrective surgery to put things right. The condition means that your canine’s thigh bone doesn’t fit into the hip joint properly, and it can be painful for your furry friend.
A condition which causes blood flow to bypass the liver and other abdominal organs, it prevents the organs from growing and doesn’t give the liver a chance to remove toxins from the body. This can be a birth defect in some dogs or can develop in later life.
Causing a gradual deterioration of the retina, PRA diseases eventually lead to blindness in your dog. The condition is hereditary and unpreventable but thankfully isn’t painful for your pooch. Your vet may recommend antioxidants to slow deterioration and help keep your pet’s sight for longer.
- An Australian Cattle Dog held the Guinness World Record as the oldest dog to ever live. Bluey was born in 1910 and was sadly put to sleep at 29 years and 5 months old.
- Australian Cattle Dogs are born white. Red or Blue hairs will grow through as they get older to give them their distinct colouring.
- Australian Cattle Dogs are also known as Blue Heelers, Red Heelers or Queensland Heelers because of their knack for nipping at the heels of cattle to get them moving.
- It’s thought that these dogs played a big part in the expansion of the Australian Beef industry.
- This breed is one of the top 8 most likely to be found in a dog shelter, possibly because owners underestimate just how much exercise these dogs need.