Australian Cattle Dog


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Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

12 to 16 years



Maintenance Level:


Shed Level:



Whip SmartHard-WorkingAdventurous

Coat Color:

BlueBlue MottledBlue SpeckledRed SpeckledRed Mottled
Blue Ribbon

Best For

Australian Cattle Dogs are best for active, experienced pet parents and families who can provide lots and lots of exercise and mental stimulation. Also known as Blue Heelers, these energetic dogs also thrive in homes with large yards where they can run around. Oh, and they love a good, long hike!

Australian Cattle Dog Traits

Australian Cattle Dog Temperament

Australian Cattle Dogs were bred to be working dogs and are classified as members of the herding group (dogs born to herd livestock). Most of these dogs are at their happiest when working—or at least staying busy. As such, this breed thrives in active households and hates being bored.

Because they’re herders, raising an Australian Cattle Dog means training and socialization are important. This is an independent breed who doesn’t want to share. So, start introducing your pup to people, other dogs and situations while they’re young to help them be accepting of new experiences as they grow up. When it comes to obedience training, consistency is important. Regular training sessions will help this tenacious breed be a well-behaved family member. Australian Cattle Dogs may sound like a handful, but with confident pet parents to channel their energy the right way, these dogs are unstoppable.

How to Care for a Australian Cattle Dog

The Australian Cattle Dog breed has hard work and people-pleasing in their DNA, but that doesn’t make the breed low maintenance. Daily activity and training will take more time than grooming, but they’re happy to take up exercising with you as a substitute for farm life.

Australian Cattle Dog Health

While the Australian Cattle Dog breed is known to have a sturdy constitution and a robust life expectancy of 12-16 years, there are some health issues to look out for in the breed. 

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): Australian Cattle Dogs are at higher risk for late/adult-onset PRA. Initially, PRA presents itself as retinal deterioration, and over time, it can lead to a total loss of vision in your dog. Common symptoms include difficulty seeing at night and widened pupils. Sometimes the development of cataracts may occur in the degeneration’s late stages. Unfortunately, there are no effective treatments for PRA. If this happens, dogs with vision loss can still live happy lives with the love of parents who help them navigate the world around them. 
  • Hip Dysplasia: Australian Cattle Dogs are also susceptible to hip dysplasia. This inherited condition arises when the hip joint’s ball and socket fail to fit snugly together. Common symptoms include limping, “bunny hopping” (especially when running) and trouble jumping. Pet parents may be happy to know that there are various treatments for hip dysplasia, ranging from lifestyle changes (e.g. dieting and weight loss) and medications to surgery. 
  • Deafness: Deafness in heelers is typically an inherited condition. This impairment can vary widely from dog to dog. Common indications of deafness include excessive barking and a lack of reaction to normal noises. Currently, there is no treatment for deafness in dogs. Again, pet parents are encouraged to help their pups navigate the world as best they can. Australian Cattle Dogs are extremely intelligent and highly trainable, so teaching them hand signals can be very useful as they lose their hearing. 

Australian Cattle Dog History

The origin of the Australian Cattle Dog began in the 19th century when the British brought the Smithfield sheepdog to Australia. This dog, however, did not fare too well on the rough terrain and sweltering heat, so Australian settlers quickly sought to create a herding breed to thrive in that environment.

Initially, Smithfields were bred with dingoes as well as the Scottish Highland Collie. The Blue Heeler we know today is a cross between a mixed dingo-Collie breed and Dalmatian.

While their history began in Australia, the breed first came to America in 1950. Australian Cattle Dogs were admitted to American Kennel Club in 1980, and they became a charter member of AKC Herding Group at its inception.

When looking for information on the Australian Cattle Dog, you’ll find this breed has plenty of aliases, including the Queensland Heeler (a nod to its origins) and Blue Heeler. The term heeler came to be associated with them as a clever reference to their herding style of nipping at the heels of cattle to move them along, while the term blue refers to their popular blue-gray speckled coats.

If you’re looking for an Australian Cattle Dog puppy, you can find reputable breeders at the American Kennel Club’s website. You can expect puppies to cost between $600-$1,000, but they can go upwards of $2,000 for championship lines. For that price, you’re likely getting a pup who’s been screened for health and temperament issues and may come with pedigree papers. If you’d like to adopt a pup, reach out to Blue Heeler rescues or keep an eye out for the breed at your local animal shelter. You can also search Chewy’s database of adoptable dogs in your area.


How long do Australian Cattle Dogs live?

Australian Cattle Dogs live anywhere from 12-16 years. They are a hearty dog breed, and they have relatively few health issues in comparison to other dogs. This breed requires a great deal of exercise so that helps keep plenty of health issues at bay.

Do Australian Cattle Dogs shed?

Yes, Australian Cattle Dogs do shed. These double-coated pups have a smooth top coat and a short, dense undercoat. And while they’re not big shedders, they tend to blow their undercoats twice a year. These dogs require a good brushing at least once a week, but you may want to brush them more frequently when they’re blowing their coats.

How big do Australian Cattle Dogs get?

When fully grown, Australian Cattle Dog males get to be between 18-20 inches tall, and females stand 17-19 inches tall. They are a medium-sized breed and tend to weigh between 35-50 pounds.

What are the most common Australian Cattle Dog mixes?

The most common Australian Cattle Dog mixes are:

Note: These are not purebred dogs but mixed breeds.


Top Takeaways

Australian Cattle Dogs are loyal, high-energy pets who make great companions. Pet parents should know these dogs need lots of exercise to stay happy. If you keep them close and take them with you on your adventures, it’s sure to be a rewarding experience for both of you.

Expert input provided by Rendy Schuchat, M.A., Owner/Founder and Certified Head Dog Trainer at Anything Is Pawzible; and Matt Beisner CPDT-KA, star of “Dog: Impossible” on Nat Geo Wild and Disney+.

Breed characteristic ratings provided by veterinarian Dr. Sarah J. Wooten, DVM, CVJ, a veterinarian at Sheep Draw Veterinary Hospital in Greeley, Colorado; dog trainer and behavior consultant Irith Bloom, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA, CDBC, owner of The Sophisticated Dog, LLC, in Los Angeles; and certified animal behavior consultant Amy Shojai, CABC, in Sherman, Texas.

The health content was medically reviewed by Chewy vets.

Search for Adoptable Australian Cattle Dogs Near You

Top Australian Cattle Dog Names

These are the top Australian Cattle Dog names as chosen by Chewy's pet parents!

Female Names

  • Luna
  • Pepper
  • Daisy
  • Bella
  • Ruby
  • Sadie
  • Willow
  • Nova
  • Lucy
  • Stella

Male Names

  • Bandit
  • Hank
  • Cooper
  • Blue
  • Max
  • Milo
  • Ranger
  • Tucker
  • Loki
  • Koda