Breed Profile – Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler)

Related to Australia’s wild dog, the Dingo, the Australian Cattle Dog are compact, muscular herders who are very smart and are known for routinely outsmarting their owners.

The Australian Cattle Dog is also known as the Blue Heeler or the Queensland Heeler. ACDs are born with a white coat that then morphs into a red or blue gray color varieties. 

Both of these varieties have speckling or mottling patterns. Many people are curious as to why these dogs are referred to as “heelers.” This name is used because these dogs were bred to herd cattle by actually nipping at their heels.

These hard working dogs stand between 17 and 20 inches at the shoulder. Developed by Australian settlers, these dogs are excellent at herding, moving livestock and hunting. As a family pet or personal companion, they are outstanding running companions, because they have boundless energy.

Although usually wary of strangers, these dogs form strong attachment bonds to their owners, to the point where they can be quite protective of their humans and even their possessions.

ACD owners really should be prepared to engage with their dogs in some sort of regular exercise, work, or sport to prevent boredom and to keep the dog both physically and mentally fit. Their coats don’t require much maintenance other than brushing during their shedding season.

Generally robustly healthy, the Australian cattle dog’s most frequent health problems include two hereditary conditions: deafness and progressive blindness. Their lifespan is generally between 12 to 14 years. 

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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