Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dogs are high-energy, intelligent and active. Not content with sitting around the house for hours on end, these dogs will encourage you to take them outside for exercise, play and work.

Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dog Pictures

  • Australian Cattle Dog dog named Marlys
  • Australian Cattle Dog dog named Ferdinand
  • Australian Cattle Dog dog named Ringo
  • Australian Cattle Dog dog named Miles D
  • Australian Cattle Dog dog named Anjing (DOG in Malay)
  • Australian Cattle Dog dog named Molly
 
see Australian Cattle Dog pictures »

Quick Facts

  • 30 - 35 pounds
  • 17 - 20 inches

Ideal Human Companions

    • Singles
    • Active, sporty types
    • Families
    • Hunters
    • Cattle breeders

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Trademark Traits

    • Alert and protective
    • Intelligent and cunning
    • Easily bored
    • Hard-working
 

What They Are Like to Live With

Being herders, Australian Cattle Dogs can be one-person dogs. They also have a unique independence, not requiring much in the way of cuddling or affection. Though tough and resolute, they will definitely appreciate praise and good treatment. Sometimes their herding instincts come into play at home. They may “herd” family members or nip lightly at heels if they want something.

Not particularly loud, they are still very protective of the home. Australian Cattle Dogs can be cautious and wary—qualities that make them excellent watchdogs.

Things You Should Know

Australian Cattle Dogs need activities, tasks and lots of room to run; therefore, they are probably not suited for apartment living. Without open spaces and jobs to do, they can get into mischief and destructiveness. Easily trained, they need a firm hand controlling them so that they don’t bond with another dominant dog in the neighborhood.

Some Australian Cattle Dogs may have the urge to nip. A toy can solve this problem. Just be sure it’s a tough one: These dogs can tear a typical dog toy to shreds in one sitting.

Unless you live on a ranch, plan on keeping your Australian Cattle Dog on a leash. They are very curious and love to run and roam. Also, they can have issues with dogs they don’t know very well.

A healthy Australian Cattle Dog can live as long as 15 years. Common health issues can include eye problems, hip dysplasia and deafness.

Australian Cattle Dog History

Australian George Elliott, by crossing native Dingoes with Collies and other herding dogs, developed the Australian Cattle Dog in 1840. Australian cattlemen were impressed with the breed’s toughness and work ethic, and they quickly became popular as cattle herders. Called Australian Heelers, Blue Heelers and Queensland Heelers for a time, they eventually became known as Australian Cattle Dogs. Registered by the AKC in 1980 after years categorized as a miscellaneous breed, Australian Cattle Dogs continue to be popular with ranchers and cattlemen as well as regular pet owners.

The Look of a Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dogs are solid, sturdy and compact dogs with an alert, ready-to-work stance. Slightly longer than tall with curved, hanging tails, they have muscular legs and strong necks and broad, somewhat rounded heads with pointy ears. Their dense, weather-resistant coats come blue speckled or red speckled—both with possible dark or tan markings.

Talk About Australian Cattle Dogs 

A very smart, inquisitive dog

My Australian Cattle Dog, Woody, watches me while I'm driving and while we walk. He will look up and look me in the eyes. He is always aware of everything. He will watch a plane go by. He wants to communicate and be communicated with. It's a challenge keeping him busy and occupied!

~Spike A., owner of an Australian Cattle Dog


An awesome working dog

I rescued Australian Cattle Dogs for many years and cannot emphasize enough how important it is for possible owners to really understand the qualities of the particular dog they are looking at. Ninety percent are rural working dogs, but the other 10 percent are "porch pigs" (a Catahoula owner's opinion and quite right).

If you are online and new to rural dogs it is only this 10 percent that will work out for you. Ranchers and horse folks know what these dogs are capable of. Remember the phrase "the dingo ate my baby"? Well, keep in mind that the dingo is the foundation of this cattle dog and draw your conclusions from there. Good luck, think carefully and you will have a companion unlike anything else in dogdom.

~Maureen H., owner of Australian Cattle Dogs


The best dog I ever had

My Aussie, Tango, was the best, easiest trained, smartest dog I ever had and I have had dogs all my life. I had to put him down in January 2011, and that was the saddest day I can remember. He was 14 and a half. He definitely needed a lot of walking and directed (throwing and retrieving balls) play. If you are not going to be able to spend an hour at least twice a day for quite a few years, don't get this breed. But if you can and do, they are amazingly smart and loyal. My son grew up with Tango and Tango loved him his whole life. I just adopted a Catahoula Leopard dog. He is a great dog so far too!

~Ed S., owner of an Australian Cattle Dog


A well-loved companion

We found our Australian Cattle Dog, Corkey, running scared along a freeway underpass in Oregon when he was 6 months old. He was a fantastic dog, loyal and protective of our family - affectionate but not overly-needy. He was wary of strangers (especially men, but we believe he had been abused before we found him), but loved children. He was good with our smaller terrier (we got her as a puppy when he was 3 yrs) but was aggressive towards other dogs.

He was actually of moderate energy, was happy to guard the yard and lay out in the sunshine most of the day. He was very intelligent, and you could tell he truly cared for our family as his own and felt it was his job to keep us all safe. They are very much a "one person" type of dog from my experience - loyal and loving but not necessarily too adaptable. Corkey lived to be nearly 16 yrs old, was healthy as an ox for his entire life. He will always be remembered as one of my favorite pets. I would get another Aussie Cattle Dog, but I'd be sure to give him/her room to run and intense socialization with strangers and other dogs at a very young age.

~J. Rutherford, owner of an Australian Cattle Dog


The best breed I have come across

I currently have a six-year-old Australian Cattle Dog (Phantom) and a one year old (Cowboy). During the first couple years of their lives you must be ready and able to provide them with adequate exercise everyday or you may not have a home left. Once they are a little older you can slack off a bit, but only a bit. I love the breed even if sometimes I'd rather watch television than play fetch for an hour.

I work in rescue and have lots of different dogs come through my home and they are great with them. They are also great with my cats. Phantom is trained to herd our goats and works a little with our cattle. Phantom is wary of male strangers, but Cowboy doesn't know what the word stranger means. He is always ready to be friends with anyone. This is the smartest most loyal breed I have ever worked with. They do much better with active owners, but they are worth every bead of sweat.

~Heidi D., owner of an Australian Cattle Dog


Our Cattle Dogs

We've had two cattle dogs, a Red Heeler, and a blue one.

Our first, Laylu, was remarkably bright and so tuned into me that it seemed at times she could read my thoughts. She was independent yet her bonding to our family, including autistic son, was firm; she was fiercely protective of us. In family pictures, she insisted upon being in the center and every time, she struck a pose.

Our second, Coventry, who lived to be well over 17, was quirky. On her own she was fearful and timid, but with us she was another creature entirely - a bold protectress. She was extraordinarily healthy and stoic about any difficulty. Covvy had been a working dog for about four years, was bred at every heat, and raised many litters before she "retired" from herding and puppy raising and came to live with us. Her eyes shone with that trademark Queensland light, sly and knowing.

Both Laylu and Covvy had an uncanny, intuitive understanding of our emotional states. We loved them beyond words and miss them beyond measure.

~Karen H., owner of two Australian cattle dogs, and currently a Jack R


Taking command very well

I have owned Queenslands now for about twenty years, and they are the most awesome dogs on the planet. My last three lived to 19, with good health to the end.

As puppies, they are no problem and easy to train. They bond with children and watch out for them. They do not bother my cat at all. They are protective around men they do not know, and sweet to all women.

My female loves to play ball while my male runs the property to protect. Together they are a great team. They love being with you and take command very well.

When they are babies make sure they have things to chew on, like cow hooves -- this will help with their need to nip at heels. They are very clean and do not have a bad smell to them like some dogs. Living with them is a reward because they make life fun.

~Jewelene R, owner of two Australian Cattle Dogs


You have to be stronger-willed than the dog

We received our little gift from God when her brothers were caught roaming the neighborhood. We brought them back and found out that the litter was going to be put down if they could not find homes. Mara was the only girl. We had an adult male dog already. We took her, not knowing what breed she was. Those floppy ears soon stood up, and we finally knew what she was: a beautiful cattle dog.

I had surgery right after we got her, so she sat with me most of the time and was not socialized. That was a big mistake. She hates all other dogs and won't let anyone near me. She is so smart -- she knows what I am about to do just by my first movement. She has had some back leg surgery, so her body will not do as much as her mind would like.

I don't know what I would do without her. Mara has been with me through so much, knowing and loving me all the way. She makes me laugh endlessly with her unique ways. Anyone who is considering owning this breed should be active and stronger-willed than the dog. As the other owners stated, they are worth it all!

~Kathy B., owner of an Australian Cattle Dog