Australian Cattle Dogs

Australian Cattle Dogs

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Breed Notes

In 1831, vast grazing lands were opened in Australia for settlement. This led to the need for a herding dog that could manage sheep and cattle that ranged across the vast territory. They had to have stamina and be able to work quietly around the semi-wild animals in their charge. Over the years, through cross breeding various types of dogs, the current Australian Cattle Dog was created. Included in its ancestry are the smooth haired blue merle Highland Collie of Scotland (known as a hard working herding dog), the Australian Dingo (for its ability to work in silence and not spook the animals it was herding), the Dalmatian (for its love of horses and faithfulness to its master), and the Black and Tan Kelpie (also a sheepdog and the breed which gives the Australian Cattle Dog its distinctive coloring.) At first, this new breed was known as the Blue Heeler or Queensland Blue Heeler. The Australian Cattle Dog was first shown in 1897 and the standard was set with the Cattle and Sheep Dog Club of Australia and the Kennel Club of New South Wales in 1903. The breed was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1980.
The Australian Cattle Dog is extremely intelligent, alert, watchful, trustworthy and loyal. It has a strong devotion to duty and to the protection of man and property. It gives the impression of great agility, strength and endurance. It's movement should be supple and tireless.
The Australian Cattle Dog should be sturdily built and compact with substance, power, balance and muscular condition. The shoulders and hindquarters are broad and muscular. The chest is deep. The legs are straight with round well-arched toes. The tail is well furred, set low and forms a brush. The head has a broad skull with a deep, rounded muzzle and well-developed underjaw. The bite should be scissor. The eye are dark brown and of medium size with an expression of alertness and intelligence. The ears are moderate to small in size, set wide on the skull, and pricked. The coat is a double coat with a short, straight outercoat and a dense undercoat. These dogs may be either dark blue bodied with light blue speckles over the body or dark red with red speckles. They might have tan markings on their legs, chest and head. of the U.S. writes:

Who needs to pay for a bodyguard when you have a Heeler?
I've had Heelers for the last eight years and I can't say enough good things about them. As a single woman who travels and lives in remote areas, my Heelers provide me with the ultimate protection. This breed has the utmost loyalty to its owner, its pack, and anything it considers to be theirs and will defend accordingly. My red Heeler won't let anyone she doesn't know within 30 feet of my truck and I've opted to post a "Beware of Dog" sign in the front windshield to mitigate liability problems. These dogs can be great around children if they are exposed to children in their adolescent stages &shyp; even protecting them while in the yard. My blue Heeler will "herd" children back into their yard just like cattle to a pen. Often I'll be working in the high country on horseback for weeks at a time and my Heelers will follow along tirelessly. While they are fabulous for pushing livestock, they are also the ultimate sport dog. Extremely trainable and willing to go whenever you give them a nod towards the truck. Their training capabilities are limited only to your imagination. Mine will ride atop mules and horses that are accustomed to it, too. They act as silent alarms at night if they hear something/someone in the vicinity by waking me up without barking. All they need is a command from me to "speak up" and they will sound out a vicious alarm that will send the intruder hightailing it in the opposite direction. All said, this breed is a perfect match for an active, adventure-oriented lifestyle.

Name withheld by request of California writes:

My constant companion and loving friend.
I currently have the pleasure of sharing my life with three Cattle Dogs. They brighten up my days and give me motivation when I need it, because I know that they will always be there for me. My red heeler is my constant companion. He even does laundry with me and will gladly accompany me to the restroom if I let him. I got him when he was eight months old from a woman who didn't have time for him, she told me that he was learning how to harass her goat. He was a total terror and had already been run over once when I answered the ad in the paper, all this naughtiness by the time he was eight months old. I was a little shocked, but undeterred. Needless to say he came home with me and I haven't regetted a single day. We've had our share of rough spots, but overcame them. He is one of the best dogs I've had the privilege of living with, but I wouldn't recommend them to just anyone. They need an active life full of challenges to truly be happy, and a firm, but loving owner. I've trained mine in obedience and people always remark on how well-behaved they are, but I have to explain to them how much work it took, because I can see their little minds spinning, thinking they would like to have such a dog. Cattle Dogs are wonderful companions, but not a dog for everyone. of Chicago, IL writes:

Expect to be astonished.
Despite all the warnings I had read about the breed, in 2000 we took the plunge and got our first ACD. He has turned out to be the best dog I have ever owned. We continue to learn new things every day. Mostly I learn never to underestimate how much love this dog can give, and what incredible things it can do. of Mesa, AZ writes:

Great dogs, but not for the inexperienced dog owner.
Australian Cattle Dogs, aka, Queensland Heelers, Red Heelers, Blue Heelers, Dingo, Heeler ... and maybe some I have not heard. This breed is a hardy dog bred to work. High energy and smart as a whip. My girl will drive anyone crazy with her energy level. She must always be doing something, a game of ball or Frisbee, agility training, anything as long as it requires speed and brains.
ACDs are also a one-person breed. This is not to say they will not love everyone in the family, but they will "pick their person." Australian Cattle Dogs are very devoted to "their person." Many Cattle Dogs will be standoffish toward strangers and prefer not to be touched by people they do not know. Mine will play ball or Frisbee with anyone she meets and will take treats from most, but she will pull away from them if the same person tries to pet her.
ACDs will make rules of their own and you must be aware of these rules as they can cause problems if you are unaware. Mine, as many ACDs, does not like a strange dog in her face. She will give a warning, but if an over-eager dog or pup does not back off she will snap right in their face. This is a somewhat common trait in ACDs, but mishaps can be averted if you learn what your dog's comfort levels (boundaries) are and learn to read their body language.
For the experienced dog owner I feel there is no better breed. Austalian Cattle Dogs will give you their heart and soul. An ACD will do anything and then some for their owners. There is no limit, other than your imagination, to what you can teach one of these dogs. ACDs are intelligent and love to learn. They need their brains stimulated as well as their muscles. You would be amazed at how quick an ACD can learn a new trick or job. If you do not create "jobs" for your ACD they will become unhappy and can become destructive. Jobs does not mean they cannot be a family dog and they must herd as they were originally bred to do. A job can be fetching, searching, agility, flyball, herding clinics, pulling, etc.
I have a very strong love for this breed, but I will be the first to admit they are not for everyone. If they were there would not be so many in the pound. PLEASE, if you do not have the experience, you do not have the time to "work" with your dog, or you do not plan on sharing your home, DO NOT chose an ACD. We do not need anymore in the pounds. If you have time, want a dog to share your home and be your shadow, and already have a love and understanding of high-energy dogs, the Australian Cattle Dog is the BEST!

Name withheld by request of Texas writes:

My favorite dog ever!
The most fun, loyal, and exhausting dog I've ever had! We got our ACD when he was six weeks old and my heart has been his since. He is extremly smart and curious. Not an average dog at all, it's like having a two-year-old! I always have to wonder what he is up to. ACDs need lots of attention and time; not for someone who is gone all day. Mine loves to play with his many toys and rarely gets tired. They require lots of attention, but the devotion, loyalty, and laughter ACDs bring make the effort worthwhile. of Ohio writes:

A life changing event.
The reason I say, "A life changing event," is that's what I encountered two days after I brought home my ACD. She is so childlike, this is not a normal breed. She is as complexed as any person. She is so intelligent, I constantly have to acknowledge her presence. She has been destructive and intolerable at times, but she is sweet, kind, and very loyal. I urge anyone who purchases this breed to truly understand what a commitment this is, the dog will become your child. If you have a sense of humor this is an amazing animal who you cannot help to form an amazing bond with. of Albuquerque, NM writes:

These are the best dogs I've ever had.
You can take it from the horse's mouth: ACDs are VERY loyal. Keep in mind these are energetic herding dogs. It is most likely that your puppy will bite your heels and hands just the way ours did. These dogs are great at a number of four-legged sports agility: flyball, obedience, herding, of course, and any other thing you want to teach them. These dogs are very good with children, but must be taught to be gentle. I love this breed and it is #1 on my top ten list!

Name withheld by request of Arlington, TX writes:

Smart, loyal, need to work and be the only dog.
Our Blue Heeler was one of the most loyal dogs ever. She was extremely obedient becaue she wanted to please us so much and was very protective of us and our property. We did not give her "work" to do and I think some of her behavioral quirks were a result of that. She was high-strung and wanted/needed to be around us whenever possible. She was jealous of anything or anyone who took our attention away from her. She did NOT get along with our other dog and would attack her unprovoked. I think Heelers make GREAT pets for people who lead a solitary life, have only ONE dog, and a lot of time and energy to spend with them. They will be your loyal companion and will love you unconditionally. of England writes on 10/11/00:

Blue Heelers are excellent.
My Blue Heeler was a rescue dog, he first belonged to a girl I used to know (who I have nothing to do with now) she brought him over from Dublin in 1996, she had been using him for begging on the streets. She said if people see a cute puppy they are more likely to give you money. She hadnt been feeding him properly so he was completely emaciated and he looked so ill. I managed to snatch him off her (long story) and i took him straight to the vet, he said that he was probably 9 months old although he looked about 4 months old because he was so skinny. He also said that he had distemper and he didnt think there was much hope for him. He gave chance antibiotics and we all hoped for the best. One week later chance was running about like a normal healthy puppy, the vet was amazed that he managed to pull through but luckily he did, we had him vaccinated and he was put on a special diet and now 4 years on he looks great and is such a happy dog. He needs loads of walks and runs in the park because of all his energy but he is definately the most loyal and intelligent dog i have ever been lucky enough to own, I will never be without Blue Heelers. of Ocala, FL writes on 4/11/00:

Great, loyal dogs for the active family in a rural setting.
Welcome to the world of the ACD! Your life will never be the same after owning one ... or allowing one to own you! These are great family pets, but keep one thing in mind. They have very distinct needs, which when not met can turn your ACD into a pesky creature indeed. Think of getting a cattle as adopting a "child" ... in their "terrible twos" ... but once you get past that you will have joy for the rest of their lives. Cattle Dogs are the smartest and most loyal breed I have ever owned or worked with. They learn quickly and live to please you...but you have to do your part. Provide them with lots of attention, lots of room to run and play and lots of work to do. If you're not a cattle rancher...then develop a "job" for them. This can be practicing obedience (they are great at agility), playing frisbee, running with you, or cleaning up the house like ours do...after playtime...all the toys have to be picked up and put in the toy basket! These are not apartment dwellers ... and if you live in the suburbs, plan lots of time for exercise. Bottom line ... before you get an ACD make sure you are ready for a lifestyle change, just as would before having a child...but remember ... the rewards can be wonderful! of Chicago, IL writes on 12/17/99:

It's hard to be humble when you own one.
Australian Cattle Dogs are one of the best dogs I have ever owned. I have had other breeds, but none has effected me the way that this breed does. Their devotion, emotion, and intelligence are so incredible. I remembering watching a program with a ACD and it got both of it's legs on one side amputated by farm equipment and that dog pulled through and learned to walk with its two good legs on one side of it's body. I remember being so moved by that and after owning them I can see why
that dog made a complete recovery was that it wanted to please his owners that much. They are not a breed for everyone, but for me there is no other that is better. They are wonderful pets and fun to play frisbee with. You can look into their eyes and really see that they are thinking out something. That's why it's hard to be humble when you own a Australian Cattle Dog! of Minnesota writes on 10/11/99:

The friend you always dreamed about.
The Australian Cattle Dog, known as the ACD, is the most loyal companion dog I have ever had. Theya re what Lassie signified as man's best friend. They are very intelligent, almost to a fault. You have to give them a job and a goal in life or they will become bored. I personally think they are the most tuned-in dog to their owners. Mine goes everywhere with me. She follows me and is always nearby. It does not matter where you go, an ACD will constantly be checking on you and hever be far from their owner. They can have an edge toward other dogs and they are not for the soft dog owner. They can do everything. They are excellent in obedience work, fantastic in agility and herding and are a compact, easily-kept house pet. The best part of being owned by an ACD is the intense love they have for you. You are totally consumed with admiration and love. They cannot get enough of you. They are not pushy or clingy about their love - in many ways it may seem stoic. It is the intensity of their love that lets you know that you are always theirs. It is a great feeling. They are fantastic!

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