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Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog: Info, Pictures, Facts & Traits

Written by: Brooke Billingsley

Last Updated on July 8, 2024 by Dogster Team

Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog in lying on the grass outdoors

Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog: Info, Pictures, Facts & Traits

The name of the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog may automatically make you think of the Australian Cattle Dog. However, these are two distinct dog breeds, and the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is not the same thing as an Australian Cattle Dog (ACD) with a docked tail. In fact, the Stumpy Cattle Dogs and ACDs have notable differences in their breed standards. Not only that, but the ACD has become quite popular in the US, while the Stumpy is rarely seen outside of Australia.

Breed Overview


17–20 inches


32–45 pounds


12–15 years


Blue, red, blue mottled, blue speckled, red speckled, red mottled

Suitable for:

Active people, people interested in canine sports, farms and ranches


Alert, loyal, active, reserved

Although the Stumpy and ACD are two separate dog breeds, they are related to each other, with both breeds sharing origins in the Halls Heeler, a now-extinct Australian dog breed. While the ACD has thrived as a popular dog breed, the Stumpy was near extinction until the 1980s when a breeding program was put in place to save the breed. Interestingly, one of the notable differences between the Stumpy and ACD is that the Stumpy breed standard does not allow for tan markings, while the ACD standard does. In the Stumpy, tan markings are considered to be an indicator of a dog not being a purebred Stumpy.

Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog Puppies

Since they are rarely seen outside of Australia, you will likely struggle to find a Stumpy in the United States. If you do manage to get your hands on a Stumpy pup, you can expect an energetic, curious, biddable pup that will bond closely with its people.

Training should start early, though, because the Stumpy can be stubborn and hardheaded, making them difficult to train without structure and routine. Early socialization is also key with this breed. As adults, they tend to be reserved around strangers and are not the most social dogs, so it’s important to socialize them to ensure an even-keeled adult dog.

Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog Breed Origin & History

It’s unclear exactly when the Stumpy breed was developed, but it is a descendant of dogs that were brought to Australia in the late 1700s. The naturally docked tail is actually an inherited defect, but it has been bred into the breed as part of the standard and is not associated with medical concerns.

In the 1950s, legal challenges threatened the future of the Stumpy breed. At that time, Iris Heale, owner of Glen Iris Kennels, became the only registered breeder of the Stumpy. She held a strong monopoly on the breed for decades, refusing to sell her registered dogs. However, it became apparent that when Heale passed away, the breed was likely to go with her. In the late 1980s, a breeding program was initiated with the blessing of Heale, saving the breed.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog

The Stumpy is an intelligent dog breed that is strongly driven by an instinctual desire to herd and protect. They’re active dogs that require lots of exercise every day, and for many of them, they do best with a job to perform daily. This is not a suitable dog for homes without a fenced yard or high-energy activity every day. Although extremely loyal to their people, this is not an overly loving breed. In fact, they’re quite independent. They tend to be reserved and aloof with strangers as well.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

No, the Stumpy is not typically considered to be a good option for families, especially those with small children. The independence level of this breed means that they aren’t likely to be playful and gentle with children, and their reserved nature with strangers makes them a poor choice for a house dog in a home with frequent visitors. Also, because of their strong herding instincts, the Stumpy, like many other herding breeds, is known to herd anything it can, including children and other pets.

stumpy tail cattle dog face potrait looking happy
Image Credit: Julia Wilso, Shutterstock

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

Although Stumpies can get along with other dogs with proper socialization, this is an independent breed that isn’t overly interested in other dogs. They are usually a good option to have around livestock, thanks to their herding and protection instincts. In a home, you can expect a Stumpy to attempt to herd the other animals, including cats, which can create stress and grief between the animals. This is not a suitable breed if you’re interested in a dog that will do well at the dog park or sitting on a restaurant patio.

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Things to Know When Owning an Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

This is a high-energy breed, so they need a high-quality food that can provide them with enough nutrition and energy to keep them going. For working dogs, a sport or working dog food is likely appropriate. For the average Stumpy who gets moderate exercise every day, regular adult dog food is likely to meet their nutritional needs. Aim for a dog food that meets WSAVA guidelines, and talk to your vet about their recommendations.

Exercise 🐕

The Stumpy needs plenty of exercise every single day. For a working dog, this is unlikely to be an issue since they’ll keep themselves busy with their job. For a pet, you should be prepared to provide lots of daily exercise. Running, hiking, bikejoring, and canine sports are excellent options for this breed, as well as providing lots of mental exercise via the use of enrichment tools and toys to keep your dog’s brain busy.

Training 🎾

Training a Stumpy should begin when the dog is still young. It’s necessary to maintain a routine training schedule to help your pup understand that you’re in charge and help them learn the necessity of listening to your commands. This can be a stubborn breed, and because they’re so instinctually driven, your training may be fighting against your dog’s instincts, making it a delicate balance to properly train your dog without making the situation stressful for them. Use training sessions as an opportunity to build trust between the two of you.

Australian Cattle Dog playing in the forest
Image Credit: Daniyal112, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

This breed has a short coat that requires minimal maintenance. Brushing the coat once every week or so, especially during shedding seasons, will help to maintain the health of the skin and coat. If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, then a bath every month or so may be necessary to keep them clean and healthy. Too much bathing can dry out the skin, so you may have to rely on the assistance of a waterless pet shampoo between baths.

Thanks to their prick ears, the Stumpy is not a breed that is overly prone to ear infections, but it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the ears, especially if your dog spends a lot of time outside or in the water.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Minor Conditions
  • Deafness
  • Cryptorchidism
  • Skin allergies
  • Ear infections
Serious Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Rod-cone atrophy
  • Primary lens luxation
  • Cleft palate
  • Spina bifida
  • Degenerative myelopathy

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Male vs. Female

In general, male Stumpies are slightly larger than females, with males reaching up to 20 inches in height and 45 pounds in weight, while females typically don’t exceed 19 inches tall and 35 pounds. Same-sex aggression seems to be more common in females than male Stumpies, and females tend to be more independent and reserved than males. Male Stumpies are more likely to be friendlier and sweeter than females.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog

1. They Are Relatively New to the AKC

While not considered an official AKC breed, they were recently added to the Foundation Stock Service of the AKC in May of 2018.

2. They’re Award-Winning Dogs

One of the AKC’s first recipients of the Canine Paw of Courage Award went to a male Stumpy named Betcha. He was a member of the Vermont Sheriff’s Department.

3. They Can Be Born With Long Tails

While it’s normal for these dogs to be born with short tails, as is in the name, it’s not impossible for them to be born with long tails.

Australian Stuby Tail Cattle Dog playing outdoor
Image Credit: everydoghasastory, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is a sturdy, adaptable dog breed that has many excellent qualities. It’s not well-suited for everyone because of its high exercise requirement and strong instinct to herd. This breed can be difficult to find outside of Australia, and its cousin, the Australian Cattle Dog, is far more well-known and popular in the US than the Stumpy.

If you’re looking for a breed for farm work, whether it’s herding or livestock guarding, then the Stumpy may be the perfect breed to meet your needs. This breed is a hard worker who will love to show up and do a job every day..

Featured Image Credit: Yana Tinker, Shutterstock

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