Introduction to the Australian Cattle Dog
Australian Cattle Dogs are a breed also often refered to as: Heelers, Blue Heelers, Red Heelers, Queensland Heelers, Queensland Blue Heelers and Queensland Red Heelers.
The Australian Cattle Dog is *NOT* the same thing as an Australian Shepherd !!
The breed was developed in the mid-to-late 1800's in Australia where the stockmen were desperately in need of a dog that had the stamina to withstand the rigors of the harsh conditions in their country. While there is great controversy over the breeds actually used in the development of the ACD we know today, some of the breeds reported to have been used are: the Native Australian Dog (Dingo), Smooth Haired Scotch Merle Collies (reported to be a cross between the Rough Haired Scotch Collie and the Blue Italian Greyhound), the Dalmatian, the Bull Terrier and the Australian Kelpie. All fanciers of the breed have their theories and all are as stubborn as the breed in insisting that THEIR theory is the correct one.
The Australian Cattle Dog is a relatively hearty, healthy breed that has an average lifespan of twelve to fifteen years. They are a medium sized muscular dog that stands 17 to 20 inches (43 to 51 cm.) at the withers (shoulders). Their weight range is variant around their general build but on average falls between 30 and 50 pounds (14 to 23 kg). The Australian Cattle Dog comes in two colors: Blue or Red.
Australian Cattle Dogs are born white with whatever face and/or body patches they will have in later life. As ACD pups age, their blue or red coloring gradually emerges. The correct Australian Cattle Dog coat is what is known as a "double coat". The short, straight outer coat is protective in nature, keeping the elements from the ACDs skin while the undercoat is short, kinky and dense. Australian Cattle Dogs are not year-round shedders, instead they "blow" their coat once a year (sometimes twice in the case of intact females) just before the summer months. While the week or two an ACD is blowing his or her coat can lead to hair everywhere, many people find it preferable to constant shedding.
While many ranchers dock the tails of Australian Cattle Dogs, to do so is an INCREDIBLE disservice to the breed. Just watching an ACD at work shows one how much they rely on their tails to act as "rudders" as they quickly manuever around the livestock. Such quick maneuvers have also been known to be important when chasing tennis balls (VBG).
The Australian Cattle Dog personality is often reserved with strangers and even FIERCELY protective when they perceive that their property and/or persons are being threatened. The ACD is intelligent, but can certainly often be described as hard-headed and stubborn. Once an ACD has befriended you, they are a friend for life....but that friendship must often be earned. Australian Cattle Dog are often refered to by their owners as "velcro" or "shadow" dogs...because wherever you go, there they are!!
The Australian Cattle Dog is an EXTREMELY active breed, with mental stimulation being of paramount importance. A bored Cattle Dog is a destructive Cattle Dog !! The Australian Cattle Dog is a social breed that NEEDS to be with "its people". This is NOT a breed to leave chained or penned in the back yard....such isolation will lead to SERIOUS personality problems !! Because the Australian Cattle Dog is an active breed, a firm commitment must be made to exercise. ACDs make excellent running or biking companions although care must be taken not to over exert the young dog. Because of their intelligence, ACDs make WONDERFUL obedience prospects (although their intelligence can actually be a hinderance in this ring also). Australian Cattle Dogs are also known to excell at Dog Sports such as Flyball, Agility and Frisbee competition. The sky is the limit when your companion of choice is an ACD !!