|Sensitivity to strangers|
|Affection for family|
|Suitable for first-time owners|
|Ease of grooming|
The Australian Cattle Dog, also known as Australian Heeler, Blue Heeler, Queensland Heeler, or Halls Heeler, is a sturdy breed.
The Australian Cattle Dog originated as a sheepherding dog, it was bred for this purpose by Australian ranch owners. It can be courageous and relentless, but it is also known for its sweet affection for its owner. The Australian Heeler, as it was called at first, loves life outside, but could also adapt to an apartment life.
It was literally born to be a working dog at the ranches, herding the cattle; but it is also fit to defend its territory. The Australian Cattle Dog may be subject to some hereditary diseases, such as hereditary deafness, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and hip dysplasia. The ideal owner is a drover (a person whose job is to keep, guide and tend to livestock) or at least someone with a determined character used to an active life. It loves and protects children with care and dedication. The Australian Heeler is not aggressive towards other dogs, although it may be territorial and wary of strangers.
Australian Cattle Dog: History
The Australian Cattle Dog, included in group 1, as a shepherd or herding dog, originated in Australia, where a famous stockman, McHall, crossed the Collie Blue Merle with the Dingo (native Australian dog), resulting in the birth of this breed. Initially, the breed was called Heeler, which comes from heel, since it refers to his herding style of nipping at the heels of cattle in order to move them along.
Physical Traits of the Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian Cattle Dog has a medium-to-small size and its color may be:
1- Blue mottled:
- Blue mottled,
- Blue with tan markings.
Spots and permitted mottles may be black, blue and fire red. The black spots in the body are not desirable.
2- Red speckle; color should consist of small red spots regularly distributed all over its body, with red spots, darker in the head or without them altogether.
It has a short and straight weather-resistant outer coat and a dense undercoat. It is a muscular and tireless animal, enduring hard work, but also gentle and easy to train. The Australian Cattle Dog is a canine breed with males’ height of around 18 and 20 inches (46 to 51 cm) and a weight that starts at 48 lb (22 kg). Females’ height varies from 17 to 19 inches (43 to 48 cm) and weighs around 37 lb (17 kg).
Australian Cattle Dog: Temperament
The Australian Cattle Dog is very affectionate towards its owner and also reliable around kids, because, as all herding dogs, it has a strong protective instinct. It is not prone to biting, even with cattle, but it can bite the heels to ask for attention.
The Australian Cattle Dog (Heeler), however, is also quite stubborn, it should be trained firmly and consistently. Vigilant, attentive and smart, the Australian Cattle Dog is very fond of life outdoors and loves to visit and explore new places. Courageous and fearless, it is the perfect working dog.
The Australian Cattle Dog is a working dog with an active and tireless nature. Its “perfect day” consists of being busy all day, with plenty of exercise. It may adapt to a life in an apartment. Nevertheless, the Australian Cattle Dog’s abilities would be wasted if not used as a working dog, or, in any case, with a healthy life outdoors.
Australian Cattle Dog: Use
Given its origin, the Australian Cattle Dog is a herding dog. The best life it could have is one of hard work: in fact, it is a tireless dog, with a strong protective instinct.
The Australian Cattle Dog, or Heeler, also turns out to be suitable as a guard dog, due to its protective instinct, which leads him to be watchful against anything he considers dangerous to his owner or children, with whom he is affectionate, loving and trustworthy.
In short, the Australian Cattle Dog seems to be the typical dog one finds in a ranch, farm or field, where there is hard work and everybody contributes to everybody’s well-being.
Australian Cattle Dog: Health
The Australian Cattle Dog may suffer from inherited deafness. More than 2% of Heelers suffer bilateral deafness, while more than 14% are deaf in one ear. The herding dog may also have progressive retinal atrophy, which may cause vision loss in dogs aged 4 to 8 and hip dysplasia, which may be the result of inherited or external factors, like swelling from trauma.
In this case, the Heeler or Australian Cattle Dog may require physical therapy or surgery. As to the ordinary grooming, the Australian Cattle Dog should not be brushed too frequently (just once or twice a week) and a bath is rarely needed.
Australian Cattle Dog: The Bond with the Owner
The Australian Cattle Dog, despite being sturdy and hardy, is not suitable for irresponsible owners who look for a “toy” pet. In fact, other than being not aesthetically attractive, due to its short compact body, this herding dog needs to be guided and trained firmly, curbing its stubbornness.
The Australian Cattle Dog also has a really long life expectancy: some Heelers have lived up to 29 years! Therefore, the moment you choose your dog, you should consider the responsibilities and chores demanded for years to come.
Australian Cattle Dog: Relationship with Kids
The Australian Cattle Dog is a trustworthy dog for kids, they can rely on being protected by him. For this reason, the herding dog will be devoted to and affectionate towards children, while being firm and sweet. It is easy to imagine this dog following a kid’s every step when exploring the family farm.
Australian Cattle Dog: Relationship with other Dogs
The Australian Cattle Dog is not prone to fighting, though it is watchful and protective of its territory. For this reason, the herding dog will generally display wariness towards other dogs, let’s remember he is prone to biting and might resort to fighting if an intruder enters its territory. To sum up, the Australian Cattle Dog’s protective nature will always prevail over its curiosity towards other dogs.
Australian Cattle Dog: Breeders
The Heller’s origin comes from the stockmen’s need to herd livestock across recently colonized Australia’s virgin lands in the 19th century. This land was characterized by its bush, the Australian landscape that combines hills and bushes.
This herding dog is therefore tireless in long walks, but also hardy and small enough to get in and out of the low vegetation. The Australian Cattle Dog is not a widespread breed in United States, Canada and United Kingdom, but the number of Heeler dogs is growing slowly and constantly.
Australian Cattle Dog: Price and Puppies For Sale
An Australian Cattle Dog costs almost 1200 dollars, around 1100 English pounds. It is also possible to buy specimens at 900 dollars, around 800 English pounds. The latter are not easy to find and the cost problem comes from demand.
This should not be an excuse to not demand medical certificates and proper pedigree papers to the Australian Cattle Dog seller. It is essential you buy from a trustworthy seller so you can be sure your puppy has been:
- Bred to have good health and temperament;
- Well selected (its parents were chosen without genetic diseases);
- Duly socialized, so it is not too fearful or aggressive;
- Vaccinated and well taken care of.
If you adopt a puppy, a trustworthy breeder will give you a veterinary certificate, specifying the animal has been dewormed and is completely healthy when delivered.
You can always ask for the pedigree, which is essential: it allows you to prove the purity of the dog’s breed. An animal with pedigree has certain characteristics, breed traits that differ from others.
Now that all major aspects have been cleared you can go on and find your new 4-legged friend, who is surely waiting for you.
You may be interested in reading another article related to other dog breeds such as:
- French Bulldog
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Australian Cattle Dog
- Boston Terrier
- English Bulldog