Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian Cattle Dog has an amazing work drive and a very high level of intelligence, which places them near the top of list for farmers and ranchers.
Their origin can be found in their name. The Australian Cattle dog is thought to be a crossbreed of the Dingo, which is a direct ancestor of the Hall’s Heeler, the progenitor of the Cattle Dog. Other ancestors include the Scottish Collie, Australian Kelpie, and the Dalmatian.
Australian Cattle Dog named Bluey lived to be 29 years old (making him 132 years old in human years)! According to the 2004 edition of Guinness World Records, "Bluey worked hard herding cattle and sheep on a ranch and didn’t retire until he was 20 years old."
Ranchers at Heart
During the mid-19th century, Australian Cattle Dogs debuted on ranches throughout the Outback. They were bred to drive cattle and herd sheep, and they have the stamina and endurance to do both over long distances. Historically, they've also been valued for their natural protective inclinations with the livestock as well.
Remember: This is a full-on working breed. If they aren't given a job of some sort, they will get bored and wreak havoc on a household.
Sturdy As They Come
The Cattle Dog’s height ranges from 17 to 20" and can weigh between 33 and 62 pounds. They are a medium-sized breed and extremely muscular.
The Cattle Dog has a broad skull with a medium length muzzle. Their eyes are almond shaped and are usually brown. Their nose is large and black, and their ears are tall and naturally erect (no ear cropping here). They are equipped with a muscular neck and shoulders, a deep chest, and strong hindquarters. Their tails are long and bushy.
Playful, but Nippy
The Cattle Dog is a joyful, playful and loving breed that naturally nips at the heels of the livestock. Unfortunately, they also tend to exhibit this same behavior with children. To avoid this, proper socialization and corrections should be undertaken from an early age.
Australian Cattle Dogs have a high activity level, and I can’t stress enough that they are a working breed that will require a purpose, proper training, and consistent interaction with their handler. They need 3 to 4 walks at a minimum of 45 minutes a day, preferably with a backpack to help out with any chores. They make a good running partner too, if that's more your style.
Because of their high intelligence, work drive, and energy Australian Cattle Dogs are perfect for herding trials, agility, and fly ball. Also, they won’t do well with basic obedience training; this breed needs a level up such as learning tricks - and more than just teaching them to “Sit."
The Cattle Dog has a double coat that is dense underneath and smooth on top, with it being longer at the thighs and neck. They're considered "wash-'n-go" dogs, so grooming is a no-brainer. The coat coloring of a Cattle Dog is very unique and may include any of the following combinations: blue, mottled/specked, with or without black, blue, or tan markings, red speckled with or without darker red markings.
This breed is famously loyal, but can be wary of strangers and will often feel it is their duty to protect their livestock and their families. They tend to be one-person dogs, so other family members may feel emotionally neglected. They're fiercely independent, but they usually work very well their handler when given the proper training.
Health concerns related to the Australian Cattle Dog include:
- Rrecessive piebald alleles
- Congenital hereditary deafness
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
- Hip dysplasia
- Hereditary polioencephalomyelopathy (although uncommon)
- Elbow dysplasia
- Reproductive issues
The typical life span of an Australian Cattle Dog ranges from 12 to 14 years.
Consider looking for an Australian Cattle Dog through rescue organizations first. Every year, there are millions of dogs being euthanized - not because they are bad dogs, but because there is no home for them and insufficient resources to care for them at rescue agencies. By adopting a dog, you are truly saving a life!
At the very least, NEVER purchase any dog from a pet store. Unfortunately, those puppies almost always come from puppy mills. Instead, look for a reputable breeder to work with.
On a final note, it is important to spay and neuter your puppy by 6 months old to have a healthy and happy pet for many years to come!
If the Australian Cattle Dog sounds like the high-paced, energized companion you've been waiting for, grab your running, hiking, or biking shoes, and meet your new best friend!
Original Dog Bible, by Kristin Mehus-Roe