The Australian Cattle Dog was bred in Australia, as the name implies, during the time British settlers came to the area. People needed a strong, hardy, and intelligent dog with a large, muscular build, which could endure all the hardships in a new place and serve as a reliable support in various undertakings.
These dogs are called by different names – Australian Heeler, Queensland Heeler (due to the huge popularity among farmers in the Queensland area of Australia), Blue Heeler, or Halls Heeler. Officially, however, this breed is known as the Australian Cattle Dog. And the nickname Heeler came from the fact that the dogs were raised in a herd of cattle, and they grazed the cattle by biting them on the lower part of their legs.
The Australian Cattle Dog today is the result of many years of breeding and crossbreeding, which began in 1893, and already in 1897 Robert Kaleski showed the first results of his work to the public. Robert Kaleski developed the first standard based on native dingoes, rightly believing that these animals were naturally suited to the Australian wild.
Moreover, the dogs that were taken from England by settlers (for example, terriers) were poorly suited for the climate and semi-wild life in Australia, and all of them were later crossed and improved in order to obtain more advanced breeds.
The Australian Cattle Dog today is very similar to the dingo dog, although it has a different color coat. It has been eligible for screening in the Working Group since September 1980. The breed moved to the herding group in January 1983. The Kennel Club of New South Wales gave its approval for the breed standard in 1903.
The Australian Cattle Dog is a large dog with a broad, powerful chest and a muscular build. The muzzle is square, ears are erect. The limbs are medium length, proportional and muscular, the tail is medium, and the coat is long. The color can be blue, blue with black or brown spots.
The Australian Cattle Dog has a somewhat stubborn, independent but at the same time very open and friendly character for their owners. These are very smart dogs that always draw their own conclusions, perfectly understand a person, and are distinguished by excellent resourcefulness. In addition, they are extremely enduring and can live in the most diverse climates and in general in the most diverse conditions without experiencing any internal discomfort.
Their endurance is also reflected in their attitude towards pain – initially, they were trained and bred in such a way that they could perform the assigned tasks even in spite of physical injuries, bites, bruises, etc.
The Australian Cattle Dog developed in close contact with humans, and to this day the breed retains this important quality. The dog is extremely attached to his master and is ready to follow him anywhere, even to the end of the world. This dog will survive anywhere and help its owner survive.
Naturally, hunting instincts are also extremely strong, and all small animals, including smaller dogs, cats, squirrels, and rodents, are potential prey. However, they can be trained to live with a cat if done correctly from an early age. Keep in mind that all other cats, except for your own one, will still be prey.
The Australian Cattle Dog perfectly fulfills the function of a guard dog, and responsibly, and selflessly protects its territory from anyone, be it a person or a stray dog. The same is true with the protection of its owners. The Australian Cattle Dog has a very high energy level and does not understand how one can spend the whole day lying on the couch – and even if he had to do this, he would most definitely not like it.
But if you need to go on a hike, overcome tens of kilometers, or do any kind of work, he will be happy to help its owner. Idleness and lack of activity cause longing and sadness in this breed, that’s when they become destructive. Then, the first thing that will suffer is your furniture, door frames, curtains, shoes, etc.
The Australian Cattle Dog perceives children well but they also feel the responsibility to care for them as a herd. This cannot be unlearned. Also, the instinct to bite is quite strong in these dogs, and therefore you should always have toys since it is extremely important to direct this instinct in the right direction.
Strangers are treated neutrally, as long as they are not trespassers or aggressive towards the dog or its owners. If you live in a house, it is better to have a fence with a concrete foundation, since this breed may make a hole and go on a short trip. Also, beware of trash cans – the desire to dig through garbage and find his own food is inherent in these dogs.
Stubbornness and a desire to do things his own way is a hallmark of this breed. But it is possible to work with them. If the dog recognizes you as a leader and loves you, he will obey. Accordingly, you need to, first of all, put yourself in the role of a leader, as well as teach the animal basic commands and ensure that they are strictly followed even in the presence of distractions.
You need to train this breed consistently, and actively, have variation in your training sessions, and be patient, kind, very positive, and, when necessary, a strict owner. If the dog is guilty, he does not receive his toy. And if he gets a treat or a toy, then only after he executes your command.
The Australian Cattle Dog needs to be brushed about twice a week. Trimming hair is not required. Bathe your pet once a week or more. Ears should be cleaned two to three times a week, eyes daily, or as needed. Nails are trimmed three times a month.
The Australian Cattle Dog is prone to some diseases, although he is generally very healthy:
- Hip dysplasia;
- Dysplasia of the elbow joint;
- Von Willebrand disease;
- Progressive retinal atrophy;