HISTORY OF THE BREED
Australian Cattle Dog (ACD), also known as the Queensland
Heeler, Blue Heeler, and Red Heeler, is a herding
dog developed in Australia for controlling cattle.
It is a medium-sized dog with a lot of energy, intelligence and an independent
precise origins of the "Blue Heeler" are not known, but they appear to
have been a distinct breed as early as 1897.
began when Smithfields were originally used in Australia for herding cattle, but
they were noisy and bit too hard, so they were bred with the Dingo,
or wild dog prevalent in Australia, and were then called “Timmins Biters,”
which were quieter, but still bit hard. Border
Collies and Smooth-coated
Collies, used for herding sheep, and the dingo were then bred with each
other. In 1840, Thomas Hall bred a couple of Blue Smooth Highland Collies with
dingoes and got the “Hall’s Heeler”.
in the 1870’s Fred Davis bred some Bull
Terrier into them to make the dogs more aggressive. These were relatively
common as sporting and guard dogs in the late 19th and early 20th century. The
resulting Cattle Dog was of a slightly heavier and more muscular build than the
Border Collie and of less temperamental nature, with good herding ability, the
stamina to withstand extremes of temperature and the resourcefulness to forage
and to feed itself on an omnivorous diet like a wild dog.
the "Heeler" has inherited a big broad head and strong jaws from the
Bull Terrier. From the Dingo comes the distinctive sandy colour of the legs,
rather large pricked ears, and the tendency to regard a kennel as something to
be sat on like a rock, or burrowed under, but almost never lived in, unless the
rain is pouring down.
Corgi, the "Heeler" is fearless with cattle and has a tendency to
nip their heels to keep them moving, when herding. This trait is undesirable
when the dog applies to humans, and also to horses. In order to create a breed
that had a strong natural affiliation with horses, the Cattle Dog was crossed
with the Dalmatian,
which although not a working dog, was popular during the 19th and early 20th
century as a carriage dog, running beside the horses.
resultant dog was one which was friendly to horses and would work cooperatively
with a horse, in a herding situation. This breeding with the Dalmatian led to
the spotted colouration valued in "Blue Heelers", the light colour
being the somewhat greenish black of the collie.
Cattle Dog's coat comes in two basic colours (blue and red) and a variety of
markings and coat patterns, sometimes quite striking. The solid blue coat has a
bluish appearance, caused by the mottling of black, gray and white hairs all
over the dog's body. The solid red coat is distinctly red, generally with some
variable percentage of white hairs frosting the coat.
the exception of solid colouring for a mask or a few body spots, the rest of the
dog is covered with hairs which are alternately coloured and white, like the
hair on a roan
horse. This roaning is also found in collies that are merle in colouration. But
unlike merle collies, this colour in Cattle Dogs should not be accompanied by
odd-coloured eyes and irregular albino patching. The coat of a cattle dog should
show an even disposition of colour, same in the coat patterns of 'speckle' and
Dog puppies are born white, and grow darker as they mature.
more common colour of the Cattle Dog is generally blue, with ginger feet,
ginger spots on the legs, and some of the ginger color on the face and
alternate, but rare genetic colour is red. A red Cattle Dog should have
no blue whatsoever, although they can occasionally appear with black saddles.
Its body is flecked with red and white, its mask is red and if it has patches on
the body, they are red also.
Cattle Dog with a single mask, showing red points, blue speckles and intelligent
brown eyes of a good ACD
mask is one of the most distinctive features of an ACD. This mask consists of a
blue-black patch over one or both eyes (for the blue coat color) or a red patch
over one or both eyes (for the red speckle coat color).
The blue variety should also show some red on the face. Depending on
whether one eye or both have a patch, these are called, respectively, single
mask and double mask. ACDs without a mask are called plain-faced
and may have small red "eyebrows".
of these is correct according to the breed standard, and the only limitation is
the owner's preference.
Australian Cattle Dogs have a stripe or spot of white hair in the center of the
forehead, usually 1/2 inch to 1 inch by 2 inches to 3 inches (about 2 cm by 7
cm) called the Bentley Mark. This is similar in appearance to the blaze
or star markings sometimes found on horses.
mark can be traced to a purebred dog owned by Thomas Bentley. According to
legend, a popular dog owned by Tom Bentley passed on this distinctive mark to
all Australian Cattle Dogs. They also frequently have a white tip to the tail
and a small white patch on the chest.
female Australian Cattle Dog should measure about 17 to 19 inches (43 to 48 cm)
at the withers.
A male Australian Cattle Dog should measure about 18 to 20 inches (46 to 51 cm)
at the withers.
An ACD is a well-muscled, compact dog with a dense coat of coarse, rather oily
hair with a slight ruff and fine, almost wooley, winter undercoat. An ACD in
good condition should weigh roughly 35 to 50 pounds (16 to 23 kg).
ACD finding a scent article as part of obedience competition.
dogs, Cattle Dogs have high energy levels and active minds. They need plenty
of exercise and a job to do, such as participating in dog
sports, learning tricks, or other activities that engage their minds. Some
individuals find repetitive training frustrating and dull, so owners should aim
to make training sessions varied and more exciting in order to keep their dog
Dogs who do not receive the appropriate exercise and entertainment will invent
their own, often destructive, activities.
dogs are, by nature, wary. They are naturally cautious, and grow more so as they
age. Their cautious nature towards strangers make them perfect guard dogs, when
trained for this task.
Dogs drive cattle by nipping at their heels, but they have also been known to
herd other animals, such as ducks, chickens and flocks of ground-feeding parrots
without instruction when left to their own devices.
relieve the urge to nip, the ACD can be encouraged to pick up and chew a toy or
stick that is thrown for them. The ACD, given a toy that would last another dog
for an extended time, will happily sit down with the object between its paws and
skilfully shred it into small pieces. An ACD will remove the fuzz from a tennis
ball as neatly as it would skin a rabbit. Any toy left with the ACD needs to be
extremely robust if it is to last.
need and enjoy any activity, such as diving and swimming.
ACD is gregarious to other dogs with whom it is familiar, working well in
combination with other ACDs, Kelpies, and Border Collies. Because of their
plucky nature, the establishing of an order can result in a few scuffles and
is important for an owner to quickly establish a hierarchy in which they are the
dog's pack leader, otherwise the young ACD may bond to a senior dog, rather than
to its owner. As an urban pet, if the young ACD is allowed to bond too strongly
with some senior dog in the neighbourhood, it can be very difficult for the
owner to then establish control.
unknown dogs, particularly males, the ACD can be aggressive and fearless.
young ACD at the top of a dog agility A-frame
Cattle Dogs not only tolerate a high level of physical activity, they almost
demand it. Like many other herding
dog breeds, they have active and fertile minds that turn mischievous if not
properly channeled. ACDs are highly intelligent and can be very bossy. When not
active, an ACD can be kept occupied with mental puzzles. Among the most popular
activities for Australian Cattle Dogs is dog
agility. While the ACD is ideally suited for this work, since it is a herding
breed and thus very reactive to the handler's body language, some ACDs
become hardly frustrated at the repetition and routine necessary to hone agility
for many breeds, frequent brief training sessions are more effective than
infrequent long training sessions. For this reason, many handlers find training
an ACD to be challenging. It is important to always change the methods and
exercises and not allow the dog or handler to get into a rut. ACDs thrive on
change and new experiences.
ACDs enjoy the challenge of obedience
such as retrieving a scented article, the majority of ACDs are easily bored with
precision drilling. ACD's are expert Frisbee catchers, with just a little work
they can master this activity and enjoy it for a lifetime.
red ACD takes a break from her herding responsibilities
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