The Australian Cattle Dog has more aliases than most wanted felons. This breed is also known as the Heeler, Red Heeler, Blue Heeler and Queensland Heeler. The Australian Cattle Dog is the ‘official’ AKC breed name for this member of the Herding group. These dogs are called heelers because they were developed in Australia for controlling cattle. They were trained to herd by nipping and biting at the heels of cattle and horses in order to control the movement of the herd.
The origins of The Australian Cattle Dog are not known, but we do know that the ancestors of the Australian Cattle Dog are Collies, Dalmatians and the native Australian Dingo. The resulting Australian Cattle Dog is heavier and more muscular than the Border Collie and has good herding ability. These dogs have been working on Australian ranches since early in this century.
The Australian Cattle Dog is a sturdy, compact herding dog, with well-developed muscles. The breed is very powerful, strong and agile. These dogs are medium sized, weighing in at 32-35 pounds, with a height of 17-20 inches.
Since the breed was bred to withstand extreme temperatures and develop the resourcefulness to forage to feed itself like a wild dog, it is no wonder that the Australian Cattle Dog makes a very independent pet. If you are looking for a cuddler that idolizes you, you will be disappointed.
Still, Australian Cattle Dogs are good with children because they are naturally protective. However, this breed tends to frighten small children with its tendency to ‘herd’ them like cattle by nipping at their hands and feet. The Cattle Dog is loyal, very protective, alert and is absolutely obedient to its master, but it is something of a one-person dog. The Australian Cattle Dog is not suitable for apartment life.
This breed needs room to roam. They do best in a large open yard. Also, the Australian Cattle Dog is a noisy animal and barks at any change in their environment, which would annoy your neighbors. The Australian Cattle Dog requires a lot of daily attention. A bored dog will find something to keep him busy, which will result in destructive behaviors.
To keep your dog happy, you will have to spend time giving it regular exercise and training with positive reinforcement. The Australian Cattle Dogs are very quick to learn and extremely eager to please. Firm training from the start will produce a happy, obedient companion. Of course, you should allow the puppy time to adjust to new surroundings before serious training begins.
This breed has a double coat that is resistant to the elements. The top coat is smooth. These dogs shed constantly and require regular brushing. You should also brush your dog’s teeth and trim its nails.
The Australian Cattle Dog does have some genetic health problems. These problems include deafness, progressive retinal atrophy, hip dysplasia and temperament abnormalities. Attention deficit disorders are also common in this breed, which can make ownership extremely frustrating for anyone who has limited patience.
However, with all the breed’s faults, few Cattle Dog owners complain of loneliness or lack of companionship. The Australian Cattle Dog will follow you wherever you go, including the restroom, bedroom and kitchen. It just won’t spend its time fawning over you. This breed is a brave and trustworthy guard dog and a good choice for a best friend.