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Australian Cattle Dog

Country/Date of Origin: Australia/1800s

The first records of the Australian Cattle Dog date back to about mid 19th Century Australia. In the tropical north a robust, short coated dog was needed to herd large half wild cattle in the outback. Beginning with British foundation stock, primarily the Smithfield Heeler, the Aussie stockmen added Dingo blood and a dash of Kelpie for tractability and intelligence. The result is a "no frills" work dog. Not the most handsome canine, the Aussie Cattle Dogs survives for one reason - they are good at their jobs. No other breed could drive such rambunctious cattle such long distances in such heat. The Australian Cattle Dog is as tough as the land that formed it. Quick to be recognized in its homeland the breed was entered in the stud book in 1903. It was not until 1979 that it was given status with the American Kennel Club.

Other Names Body Type Personality Coat Health Concerns

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Queensland Heeler, Queensland Blue Heeler

AKC Group: Herding

Breed Club: Australian Cattle Dog Club of America, Inc.

Rescue Club: Amy Berry, (760) 366-3593, California [email protected]

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Body Type:

  • A sturdy, compact medium size dog with a square muscular build
  • Height: 17-20 inches
  • Weight: 35-45 pounds
  • The tail hangs in a slight curve and is not altered
  • The ears are erect and are not altered


  • One-person dog
  • Not friendly to strangers
  • A natural and determined guard
  • Totally unbribable
  • A serious minded working dog; not given to frivolities
  • The stocky body is deceptive; this is an athlete


  • Rough, moderately short double coat
  • Permissible colors are mottled blue, with or without markings in black, blue or tan; or speckled red with or without darker red markings
  • Moderate grooming

Health Concerns:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Some genetic deafness
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Tasty Tidbits:
  • Long lived; the Guinness Book of Records lists an Australian Cattle Dog as living longer than any other dog. Bluey worked cattle and sheep for twenty years before dying at the age of 29 years and 5 months
  • In Australia, these dogs ride with the jackaroos (cowboys) on motorcycles and jump from the moving bikes to work the cows
  • "Heelers" work cattle by nipping at the heels and dropping to the ground or leaping nimbly out of the way before the animals can kick
  • Australian Cattle Dogs are prized for their snake killing abilities; they seem to have a particular hatred for the reptiles
  • A tendency to nip at moving things makes this breed unsuitable for children

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