Australian Cattle Dog Breed

By: Chewy EditorialPublished:


Australian Cattle Dog Breed

The Australian Cattle Dog has maintained its popular place as a working dog because of its soft but assertive bite with cattle, its exceptional problem solving abilities and its impressive level of intelligence.

Australian Cattle Dog Physical Characteristics

The Australian Cattle Dog has a medium yet stocky build. It ears are large and triangular, and its tail is long and bushy.


The Australian Cattle Dog’s coat — which comes in a variety of colors, including black, blue tan and red with white — is typically spotted or mottled.


Short to medium.

Australian Cattle Dog Personality and Temperament

Activity Level



The Australian Cattle Dog is loyal and loves to play and work.

Things to Consider

The Australian Cattle Dog tends to be unwelcoming toward strangers.

Australian Cattle Dog Care

Ideal Living Conditions

The Australian Cattle Dog fares the best in the country.

Australian Cattle Dog Health

The following conditions are commonly seen in Australian Cattle Dogs:


Australian Cattle Dog History and Background

Australian Cattle Dogs were earlier known by the breed names Queensland Blue Heelers and Australian Heelers. They are often still referred to as Australian or Blue Heelers. Their beginnings can be traced to the 1800s, when cattle herders that had emigrated from Britain to Australia found that the sheep herding dogs they had brought with them were not adjusting to the harsher environment of the outback.

The Smithfield dogs, as they were called, had thick coats that had suited them well back in London, but that weighed too heavy on them in Australia. Ranchers complained as well that the Smithfields bit too hard and barked too much, making their cattle anxious and prone to lower weights. The need for a dog that could survive under harsh conditions in the rough tracts and manage the cattle without getting too rowdy or rough with the cows led to a long period of breed experimentation, beginning with a man named Timmins who crossed the Smithfield with the native Australian Dingo. It was not a successful pairing, as the resulting progeny was too aggressive, but it was the beginning of the recreation of the Dingo as a working companion. More successful was Thomas Hall, of New South Wales, who crossed the Dingo with the Blue Smooth Highland Collie. The offspring proved mush more useful here and came to be known as Hall’s Heelers.

Along the way, subsequent cattlemen bred other dog breeds into Hall’s Heelers in order to strengthen the breed and improve upon it, most notably the Bull Terrier, which lent its tenacious nature. Brothers Harry and Jack Bagust bred the Dalmatian with one of Hall’s Heelers, which added an affection for human companions, and further on added the Black and Tan Kelpie to the line, for its working ability. It was at this point that the Australian Cattle Dog breed truly took shape.

The first breed standard was spelled out in 1902 by breeder Robert Kaleski. The best results were used to further the breeding program, until the breed could be considered pure. It is from this line of pure Australian Heeler’s that today’s Australian Cattle Dog can be traced. It is the addition of the Dalmatian that causes Australian Cattle Dog puppies to be born white, but otherwise, the breed bears little resemblance to this “blood relative.”

Heelers gained popularity in U.S. very slowly, finally receiving recognition from the American Kennel Club in 1980. Since then, the Australian Cattle Dogs have shown great merit as a show dog.

By: Chewy Editorial


By: Chewy EditorialPublished:

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