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Australian Cattle Dog


Australian Cattle Dog Facts

  • Group
  • Herding
  • Affiliations
  • Height
  • 17" - 20" (43 - 51cm)
  • Weight
  • 35 - 50lbs (15.8 - 22.6kg)
  • Lifespan
  • 14 years | Add yours

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  • Exercise Requirement
  • High - This breed requires vigorous daily activity
  • Training Requirement
  • Difficult to Train
  • Grooming Requirement
  • Easy
  • Colors
    • Blue-Tan
    • Blue
    • Blue-Merle
    • Red
  • Breed Characteristics
    • Can be trained as a watch dog or guard dog
    • Can be trained for defense
    • Ok outdoors
    • Should sleep indoors

True Cost Of Ownership

Alternate Names

The Australian Cattle Dog is also known as Cattle Dog, Blue Heeler, Hall's Heeler, Queensland Heeler, Red Heeler, Heeler, or ACD.


The Australian Cattle Dog is the result of 6 decades of cross breeding, originating in Australia.

Date Of Origin

The modern Australian Cattle Dog was created in 1840 and has been bred pure since 1893.


Thomas Smith Hall, an Australian pioneer, wanted a dog similar to the (now extinct) Blue Heeler, which was used to herd sheep and cattle in Britain. The dog also had to be robust enough enough to withstand the intense hardships of droving cattle in 19th century Australia.

The Australian Cattle Dog's immediate ancestor was the Hall's Heeler, Tomas Hall's creation, developed from a cross of the dingo and the smooth-coated Highland collie. Around 1860, the Hall's Heeler was crossed with the Bull Terrier, Dalmatian, blue merle Collies and the Kelpie.

These dogs were exceptional in the field and gave the Hall family an advantage over other cattle breeders and during the next 30 years, the Hall's Heelers were used exclusively by the Hall family. It was not until the properties (including stock and dogs) went to auction after Thomas Hall's death in 1870, that Hall's Heelers became freely available to the public.

By the 1890s, the dogs, known simply as Cattle Dogs, had attracted the attention of several Sydney dog breeders with interests in the show ring. Robert Kaleski, of Moorebank, a young associate of Harry Bagust, wrote the first breed standard for the Australian Cattle Dog in 1893. This breed standard for the Australian Cattle Dog was published with photographs, by the New South Wales Department of Agriculture in 1903.

The Australian Cattle Dog was recognized by the AKC in 1980 and by the UKC in 1985.


The Australian Cattle dog is a medium sized, sturdy and muscular dog that is longer than it is tall. It has a strong broad head and a medium length, tapering muzzle. The almond shaped eyes are brown and the large nose is black. The medium sized ears are naturally erect. This dog has a muscular neck, deep chest, and muscular hindquarters. The brush tail is long. The double coat has a dense undercoat and a smooth, hard outer coat. It is medium length, longer at the thighs and neck.

The Australian Cattle dog is born white, which is an oddity inherited from the Dalmatian.


The Australian Cattle Dog is a loyal and protective dog that is wary with strangers but easy going with those it is familiar with. It tends to be a one person dog. The cattle dog is alert and watchful, with high drive, energy and intelligence.

The Australian Cattle dog is wary by nature, and must be introduced to other animals and people at an early age. While wary of strangers, the Australian Cattle Dog bonds closely to its family, the owner must take care to establish themselves as the pack leader early in the relationship. Early socialization and training will help teach the Australian Cattle Dog good habits and, in pet dogs, household rules allowing for a well-adjusted companion. The Australian Cattle Dog is, however, first and foremost a herding dog.

Due the the high level of activity required for the Australian Cattle Dog, owners will need to make a firm commitment to daily exercise. Although long, brisk walks will be helpful, the Australian Cattle Dog requires much more activity to remain satisfied and out of trouble. Jogging along a bicycle, herding training, actual herding work, agility training, or flying disc will also be needed to curb this enthusiastic breed. Without enough exercise, the Australian Cattle Dog will become bored and possibly destructive.


For years, the Australian Cattle Dog has been an indispensable aid on Australian farms as both a hardy and agile herd dog and as a guard dog. It is accustomed to working in large spaces and covering longer distances than most other herding breeds. People planning to keep the Australian Cattle Dog as a pet will need sufficient time to exercise this extremely high-energy breed with any of the athletic canine sports.

Health Concerns

Potential health issues for the Australian Cattle Dog include deafness, hip dysplasia, and PRA

Additional Information

The Australian Cattle dog can be a difficult breed for the first time dog owner, due to the breed's tendency of being hard-headed and stubborn. This dog has a very high energy level and needs constant stimulation or ranch work to be successful. The Australian Cattle dog has an atavistic (instinctual) habit of biting at the heels of cows and sometimes people.

Grooming the Australian Cattle dog is easy and will require brushing twice weekly during regular seasons and daily brushing during shedding season - in spring and fall.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Simon & Schusters Guide to Dogs

Publisher: Simon & Schuster inc, 1980

Website: http://www.simonandschuster.com

Author: Elizabeth Meriwether Schuler

Dog Bible

Publisher: BowTie Press, 2005

Website: http://www.bowtiepress.com/bowtie/

Authors: Kristin Meuh-Roe, Jarelle S. Stein

The Howell Book Of Dogs

Publisher: Wiley Publishing Inc, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Author: Liz Palika

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