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Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dog

The ‘Aussie’ Cattle Dog is a compact, muscular and robust medium-sized dog with an intelligent expression and alert, pricked ears. Their coat is close and dense, offering excellent protection against weather and scrubby undergrowth.

The need-to-know
  • Dogs suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys one to two hours of walking a day
  • Medium dog
  • Minimum drool
  • Requires grooming once a week
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks, alerts and may be physically protective/suspicious of visitors
  • Could have issues with unknown dogs but gets along with known dogs
  • May need additional training to live with other pets
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a small garden
  • Best suited to countryside
  • Can be left alone with training
Generally healthy breed

The Australian Cattle Dog can be prone to: 
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia 
- Portosystemic shunt which is a condition where the blood does not pass through the liver normally, which leads to toxin build-up. 
- Congenital deafness
- Eczema which is a problem where the skin can become sore and itchy, often triggered by an allergen.
- Glaucoma¹ which is a painful condition where the pressure in the eye builds up. 
- Progressive retinal atrophy which is an inherited disorder where part of the eye degenerates and wastes away which can result in blindness. 
- Urolithiasis which is when stones form in the urinary tract and can cause pain.

Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing: 
- DNA test for progressive retinal atrophy which tests whether or not a dog has the potential to be affected by this condition.
- Eye screening scheme

¹D. A. J. Johnsen, D. J. Maggs & P. H. Kass, 'Evaluation of risk factors for development of secondary glaucoma in dogs: 156 cases (1999–2004)', October 2006, Vol. 229, No. 8, Pages 1270-1274, Abstract Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association,  https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.229.8.1270 

Key Facts

Lifespan: 13 – 15 years
Weight:  17 – 23kg 
Height:  43 – 51cm 
Colours:  Blue, blue and tan, blue black and tan, blue speckled, red, red and tan or red speckled
Size:  Medium
UK Kennel Club Groups: Pastoral

Ratings

Family-friendly: 4/5
Exercise needs: 5/5
Easy to train: 5/5
Tolerates being alone: 3/5
Likes other pets: 4/5
Energy level: 5/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 3/5
Australian Cattle Dog running in the field

Personality

Smart and quick to react, the Aussie is a very fast learner, but their tendency to use their teeth to move other animals (including humans) can be an issue. Early socialisation and training to encourage a softer mouth is necessary. Naturally wary of strangers and very willing to guard and alert via barking, this is a breed that needs plenty of training and experienced owners, but will reward that by being a loyal, hard-working companion. 

Australian Cattle Dog lying on the grass with leaves

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Australia

Australian stockmen in the late 1800’s found that the Collies imported to Australia were not tough enough for the harsh conditions and bold livestock. Over 60 years of crossbreeding, including Dingo, collie, sheepdog, Kelpie, Dalmatian and Bull Terrier went into producing the Australian Cattle dog. These efforts produced a clever yet biddable dog who could use their own initiative when needed, working tough livestock in very difficult conditions. 
Australian Cattle dogs also go by the name ‘Heeler’ which refers to their working practice of nipping at the heels of the cattle they are driving. 

did you know?

Did You Know?

  • The Australian Cattle dog is one of very few breeds to have intentionally been bred using the wild Australian Dingo. In attempting to produce a dog tough enough to work Australian cattle, initial crossbreeds proved to be too tough, biting stock too hard, and the breeds creators had to try again using smoother Collie blood until they found the right mixture. 
  • They have water-resistant double coats which allows water to bead and fall right off them, keeping them dry and happy when in the field. 
  • Their ties to the Dingo mean that they have impressive stamina and many owners report that they have seemingly endless energy! 
  • One of the oldest dogs in the world was an Australian Cattle Dog called Bluey, he lived to an astonishing 29 years of age and was happily chasing sheep for almost 20 years. 
  • In 2009, an Australian Cattle Dog called Sophie was thrown off a boat she was on with her family off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Astonishingly, the strong-willed pup then swam five miles back to shore and ended up on St. Bees Island. She survived by hunting feral goats until she was eventually found by a ranger who reunited her with her family. 

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