Bred for Herding, The Australian Cattle Dog

The Australian Cattle Dog is an extremely alert, active, and loyal dog. They are very high energy as they were originally bred as a working dog on large, cattle ranches. They are protective of their people and wary of strangers. This breed can make a good family pet, but is not recommended for first time dog owners.

Australian Cattle Dogs or ACDs are a medium-sized dog that stands 17-20 inches at the shoulder, depending on sex, with females being smaller. On average, they can weigh between thirty-five and fifty pounds. Their average life span is from twelve to sixteen years. Being naturally curious and highly intelligent, they need to be kept mentally stimulated to keep boredom at bay.

Australian Cattle Dog laying in grass

Boredom can lead to mischief. It is best if they participate in hard work, a sport like agility or flyball, or regular extreme exercise to keep them mentally and physically fit. They need something to do on-a-daily basis, to tire them out. As a working dog, they need a job to do to stay happy and healthy.

Australian Cattle Dog History

The Australian Cattle Dog was bred to herd cattle in the fledgling continent of Australia. Nineteenth century settlers quickly found the herding dogs from England, the Smithfield Sheepdog, was not suited to the hot, arid climate and challenging terrain of Australia. Smithfield Sheepdogs were bred with Australia’s wild dog, the Dingo, in an attempt to find a hardier herding dog.

Subsequent Australian settlers crossbred other dog breeds with the dingo and with the Smithfield/dingo crossbreed; including the Black and Tan Kelpie, Scottish Highland Collie and Dalmatian. In 1903, The Kennel Club of New South Wales approved the standard for the Blue Heeler (that is now known as the Australian Cattle Dog) established by Robert Kaleski. The breed, also referred to as the Australian or Queensland Heeler, was admitted to the American Kennel Club in 1980.

The word “heeler” refers to the method in which they herd. They nip or bite at the heels of the cattle. These dogs were instrumental in growing the beef industry in Australia. Without the development of this breed, the beef industry would not have been possible as it is now. All the other breeds brought from abroad were not up to the task of ranching in the new continent.

Strong, agile and sturdy these pups easily handle traversing the rugged, rocky and arid topography of the Australian Outback where these large cattle ranches can be found. Their short, smooth double-layer coat gave them protection from the sun and was short to prevent overheating.

ACD Grooming

Their undercoat sheds in tufts twice a year. During this two to three week period, they will need to be brushed with a short bristled brush or comb every couple of days. The rest of the year they require minimal grooming. They just need a weekly brush and occasional bath when they get smelly.

Australian Cattle Dogs are born white and grow into their colorings. They will either turn a “red” or “blue”. The “red” colored dogs are white with brown showing through, giving them a red appearance. The “blue” dogs are white with black showing through, giving them a blue appearance. They are sometimes referred to as the Red Heeler and Blue Heeler respectively.

The ACD or Australian Cattle Dog has gone by many names over the years, but has always been a hard-working, intelligent, fiercely loyal, energetic breed. They are happiest with a mentally stimulating physical task to do to ward off boredom. They are pleasant, muscular dogs that like to spend time with their owners and need lots of exercise. They do not make good first-time pets and recommended for experienced pet parents. Expect to be active and kept on your toes with this breed in the house.

PlexiDor Dog Doors reminds you to consider adopting from a shelter or rescue when choosing a dog. There are rescues specifically for Australian Cattle Dogs who need a good home because their previous owners were not able to care for them for some reason. When getting a dog from a breeder be sure to check references and papers. Only buy from reputable breeders that have bred healthy dogs.

The ACD would need either a medium or large PlexiDor Dog Door depending on his or her size. Our doors come in standard and electronic models designed for walls, exterior doors, French doors, glass house doors, and sliding glass doors. Contact our Customer Service Department with any questions or call 888-PETDOOR to find out more.

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