Australian Cattle (Blue Heeler) Dog
public domain.TTaylor 2006
A "Blue Heeler", an Australian Blue Cattle Dog, Harry, aged
The Australian Cattle Dog (ACD) is a breed of herding dog
originally developed in Australia for droving cattle over long
distances across rough territory. Today it is an adaptable breed: a
brave and untiring worker, a clever and active companion and an
affectionate and lively family pet.
Tattoo playing with an old volleyball
Video, Movie, Film, Clip. Mpeg, Wmv
They can bite "if roughly treated", they tend to nip heels to
herd people, and they can be hostile with other dogs. Still they are
faithful and biddable, and react well to training.///
Comment "i have a australian cattle dog in brooklyn new york and she is just like one of the family i had got her @ the animal shelter..............."
Have your say
The Australian Cattle Dog is a medium-sized short-coated dog
which occurs in two main color forms. The dogs have either brown or
black hair distributed fairly evenly through a white coat which
gives the appearance of red or blue dogs.
They have been nicknamed “Red Heelers” and “Blue Heelers” on the
basis of this coloring and their practice of moving reluctant cattle
by nipping at their heels.
Dogs from a line bred in Queensland, Australia, which were
successful at shows and at stud in the 1940s were called “Queensland
Heelers” to differentiate them from lines bred in New South Wales
and this nickname is now occasionally applied to any Australian
Help and advice
needed on your dog
I have a blue heeler
his name is diesel he is so cute and blue heelers are
very smart dogs but my dog instead of herding the farm
animals he bites them and gets kicked, how do I get him
to do his job? Please give me so tips because he can't
go outside with us and run around because we have farm
animals all over our farm.
If you have the answer
or any advice to give or want to ask further questions please use the
Have your say
While there is a good deal of mythology surrounding the origins
of breed, in recent years information technology that enables the
manipulation of large databases, and advances in the understanding
of canine genetics has allowed a clearer understanding of the Halls
Heeler, its dispersal through eastern Australia, and its development
into two modern breeds: the Australian Cattle Dog and the Australian
Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog.
|Honey Crumbs the ACD sent in by Tasman - Thanks
This Here is Honey Crumbs, There are lots of pictures on her
page. She is going on 7 years old and I have had her for a year and a half. I was wondering if you think there is any Kelpie in her or if she’s full on red healer?
Thanks for the nice website! All the best, Tasman
As with dogs from other working breeds, Australian Cattle Dogs
have a good deal of energy, a quick intelligence and an independent
They respond well to structured training.
They are not aggressive dogs, but they form a strong attachment with
their owner and can be very protective of them and their
They are easy dogs to groom and maintain.
The most common health problems are deafness and progressive
blindness, both hereditary conditions, and accidental injury,
otherwise they are a robust breed with a lifespan of twelve to
Australian Cattle Dogs participate in a range of activities from
obedience, agility and herding competitions, to participating with
their owners in hiking, flying disc, and endurance events, and
working as therapy or assistance dogs.
|Bob the ACD sent in by Jennifer - Thanks
Our new 4 year old ACD named Bob.
Australian Cattle Dogs are sturdy, compact dogs that give the
impression of agility and strength. They have a broad skull that
flattens to a definite stop between the eyes, with muscular cheeks
and a medium length, deep, powerful muzzle. The ears are pricked,
small to medium in size and set wide apart, with a covering of hair
on the inside. The eyes are oval and dark with an alert, keen
expression. The neck and shoulders are strong and muscular; the
forelegs are straight and parallel; and the feet round and strongly
arched, with small toes and strong nails.
They should have well-conditioned, hard muscles, even when bred
for companion or show purposes. Ideally, their appearance is
symmetrical and balanced with no individual part of the dog being
exaggerated. They should not look either delicate or cumbersome as
either characteristic limits agility and endurance which is
necessary for a working dog.
Female Australian Cattle Dogs measure approximately 43 to 48 cm
(15 to 17 inches) at the withers, and males measure about 46 to
51 cm (18 to 20 inches) at the withers. The dog should be 10% longer
than tall, that is, the length of the body from breast bone to
buttocks is greater than the height at the withers, as 10 is to 9.
Australian Cattle Dogs in good condition weigh approximately 20 to
28 kg (44 to 62 pounds).
Coat and colour
Australian Cattle Dogs exhibit two accepted coat colours: red and
blue, though the miscolours of chocolate and cream do occur. Blue
dogs can be blue, blue mottled or blue speckled with or without
black, tan or white markings. Red dogs are evenly speckled with
solid red markings. Both colours are born white (save for any solid
colored body or face markings) and the red or black hairs grow in as
they mature. The distinctive adult colouration is the result of
black or red hairs closely interspersed through a predominantly
white coat. This is not a roan or merle colouration, but rather the
result of the ticking gene. A number of breeds show ticking, which
is the presence of color in the white areas with the flecks of color
being the same as the basic color of the dog, though the effect
depends on other genes that will modify the size, shape and density
of the ticking.
In addition to the primary colouration, Australian Cattle Dogs
also display some patches of solid or near-solid colour. In both red
and blue dogs the most common markings are solid colour patches, or
masks, over one or both eyes; a white tip to the tail; a solid spot
at the base of the tail, and sometimes solid spots on the body,
though these are not desirable in dogs bred for conformation shows.
Blue dogs can have tan midway up the legs and extending up the front
to breast and throat, with tan on jaws, and tan eyebrows.
Both colour forms can have a white 'star' on the forehead called the
'Bentley Mark' after a legendary dog owned by Tom Bentley.
Common miscolours in Australian Cattle Dogs include black hairs in a
red-coated dog, including the extreme of a black saddle on a red
dog; and extensive tan on the face and body on a blue dog, called
The mask is one of the most distinctive features of ACDs. This
mask consists of a black patch over one or both eyes (for the blue
coat colour) or a red patch over one or both eyes (for the red coat
colour). Depending on whether one eye or both have a patch, these
are called, respectively, single (or 'half') mask and
double (or 'full') mask. Dogs without a mask are called
plain-faced. Any of these are correct according to the breed
standard, and the only limitation is the owner's preference. In
conformation shows, even markings are preferred over uneven
Australian Cattle Dogs have a double coat: the short, straight outer
'guard hairs' are protective in nature, keeping the elements from
the dog's skin while the undercoat is short, fine and dense.
The breed standard of the Australian, American and Canadian
Kennel clubs specify that Australian Cattle Dogs should have a
natural, long, un-docked tail. They will often have a solid colour
spot at the base of the tail and a white tip. The tail should be set
moderately low, following the slope of the back. At rest it should
hang in a slight curve, though an excited dog may carry its tail
higher. The tail should feature a reasonable level of brush.
In the USA, tails are sometimes docked on working stock. They
have never been docked in Australia as the tail serves useful
purpose in increasing agility and the ability to turn quickly.
Australian Cattle Dogs should not be confused with Australian Stumpy
Tail Cattle Dogs, a square-bodied dog born with a naturally "bobbed"
tail. The Stumpy Tail resembles the Australian Cattle Dog, but has a
taller, leaner conformation. Where these dogs have a natural tail,
it is long and thin, but most are born without tails.
Like many working dogs, Australian Cattle Dogs have high energy
levels and active minds. The breed ranks 10th in Stanley Coren's The
Intelligence of Dogs, rated as one of the most intelligent dogs
ranked by obedience command trainability. Cattle Dogs need plenty of
exercise, companionship and a job to do, so non-working dogs need to
participate in dog sports, learning tricks, or other activities that
engage their body and mind.
When on home ground, Australian Cattle Dogs are happy,
affectionate, and playful pets.
However, they are reserved with strangers and naturally cautious in
new situations. Their attitude to strangers makes them perfect guard
dogs, when trained for this task, and family pets can be socialized
to become accustomed to a variety of people from an early age. They
are good with older, considerate children, but are known to herd
people by nipping at their heels, particularly younger children who
run and squeal.
By the time puppies are weaned, they should have learned that the
company of people is pleasurable, and that responding to cues from a
person is rewarding, bringing a friendly voice, a pat, an
interesting activity, or food.
The bond that this breed can create with its owner is very strong
and will leave the dog feeling very protective towards the owner;
typically resulting in the dog's never being too far from the
owner's side. Aggression in Australian Cattle Dogs is more likely to
be directed at strangers than owners or dogs.
Video, Movie, Film, Clip. Mpeg, Wmv
To relieve the urge to nip, the dogs can be encouraged to pick up
and chew a toy or carry objects such as a ball or a basket, and they
can be taught bite control from an early age. They are ‘mouthy’ dogs
that will use their mouths to attract attention, or to occupy
themselves. Any toy left with them needs to be extremely robust if
it is to last.
WhWhile Australian Cattle Dogs generally work silently, they will
bark in alarm or to attract attention. They have a distinctive
intense, high-pitched bark which can be particularly irritating.
Barking can be a sign of boredom or frustration; however research
shows that pet dogs increase their vocalization when raised in a
Australian Cattle Dogs respond well to familiar dogs, however the
establishing of a pecking order in a multi-dog household can result
in a few scuffles. If a Cattle Dog is put in any situation where it
feels threatened or challenged, it can respond with aggressiveness
towards other dogs.
Known as 'wash and wear' dogs, Australian Cattle Dogs require
little in the way of grooming, and an occasional brush is all that
is required to keep the coat clean and odour-free. They are not year
round shedders but blow their coats once a year (twice in the case
of intact females) and frequent brushing and a warm bath during this
period will contain the shedding hair. As with all dogs, regular
attention to nails, ears and teeth will help avoid health problems.
Apart from this they require little attention, and even for the show
ring don't need more than a wipe down with a moist chamois cloth.
InIn a very small sample of 11 deceased dogs, Australian Cattle
Dogs had a median longevity of 11.7 years (maximum 15.9 yrs).
The median longevities of breeds of similar size are between 11 and
There is an anecdotal report of a Cattle Dog named Bluey, born in
1910 and living for 29.5 years, but the record is unverified.
Lifespan varies from dog to dog, however Australian Cattle Dogs
generally age well, with many members of the breed well and active
at 12 or 14 years of age, and some maintaining their sight, hearing
and even their teeth until their final days.
AAustralian Cattle Dogs carry recessive piebald alleles that
produce white in the coat and skin and are linked to congenital
hereditary deafness, though it is possible that there is a
multi-gene cause for deafness in dogs with the piebald pigment
2.4% of ACDs in one study were found to be deaf in both ears and
14.5% were deaf in at least one ear.
The Australian Cattle Dog is one of the dog breeds affected by
progressive retinal atrophy. They have the most common form,
Progressive Rod/Cone Degeneration (PRCD), which causes the rods and
cones in the retina of the eye to deteriorate later in life, and the
dog becomes blind. PRCD is an autosomal recessive trait and a dog
can be a carrier of the affected gene without developing the
gene mutation has been mapped to canine chromosome 9 and the
mutation can be identified, if present, through DNA testing. It is
thought that the incidence of carrier dogs could be as high as 50%.
Hip dysplasia is not common in the breed,
though it occurs sufficiently often for many breeders to test their
breeding stock. They are known to have a number of inherited
most of these are not common. Based on a sample of 69 still-living
dogs, the most common health issues noted by owners were
musculoskeletal (spondylosis, elbow dysplasia, and arthritis) and
reproductive (pyometra, infertility, and false pregnancy), and
A study of dogs presenting at Veterinary Colleges in the USA and
Canada over a thirty-year period described fractures, lameness and
cruciate ligament tears as the most common conditions in the ACDs
Argus and Diesel the Australian Cattle Dogs
Two dogs with bags of character
Australian Cattle Dogs demand a high level of physical activity.
Like many other herding dog breeds, they have active and fertile
minds and if they are not given jobs to do they will find their own
activities – which might not please the owner. They will appreciate
a walk around the neighbourhood, but they also need structured
activities that engage and challenge them, and regular interaction
with their owner. While individual dogs have their own personalities
and abilities, as a breed Australian Cattle Dogs are suited to any
activity that calls for athleticism, intelligence and endurance.
KKennel Club sponsored herding trials with a range of events suit
the driving abilities of the Cattle Dog and other upright breeds,
while sheepdog trials are more suited to the ‘eye’ breeds such as
the Border Collie and Kelpie. Australian Cattle Dogs were developed
for their ability to encourage reluctant cattle to travel long
distances, and may be the best breed in the world for this work.
However, some working dog trainers have expressed concern that dogs
bred for the show ring are increasingly too short in the legs and
too stocky in the body to undertake the work for which they were
Non-competitive herding tests organised by kennel clubs assess a
dog's instinct for and interest in herding,
and cattle dogs also enjoy herding games, where rules such as
'stay', 'get it' and 'that'll do' are applied to fetching a ball or
chasing a yard broom.
Among the most popular activities for Australian Cattle Dogs is
dog agility. They are ideally suited for agility, since as herding
dogs they are reactive to the handler's body language and willing to
work accurately at a distance from the handler. Agility has been
used by owners with dogs that have become bored with other forms of
dog training, as a means of instilling confidence in their dogs,
enhancing their performance in breed or obedience competition or
making their dogs more biddable pets.
Australian Cattle Dogs thrive on change and new experiences, and for
this reason, many handlers find training them to be challenging.
Where training is made rewarding Australian Cattle Dogs can excel in
obedience competition. They enjoy the challenges, such as retrieving
a scented article, but their problem solving ability may lead them
to find solutions to the problem at hand that are not necessarily
rewarded by the obedience judges. Cattle Dogs have reportedly left
the ring to share a spectator's hot dog, or retrieve a bag of
Many find more success with rally obedience which offers more
interaction with the owner and less repetition than traditional
Australian Cattle Dogs have been successful in a range of dog
sports including weight pulling, flyball and schutzhund. They are
particularly suited to activities that they can share with their
owner such as canicross, disc dog, and skijoring or bikejoring.
Hikers could not ask for a better companion, as the Australian
Cattle Dog will enjoy the trails as much as its human companion and
will not wander off; few of them are interested in hunting and they
prefer to stay by their owner's side.
Most ACDs also love the water and are excellent swimmers.
They are not hyperactive dogs, and once they have had their exercise
they are happy to lie at their owner's feet, or to rest in their
beds or crates while keeping an ear and eye open for signs of
pending activity. They are adaptable dogs that can live well under
city or indoor conditions, if their exercise and companionship needs
Australian Cattle Dogs can also be put to work in a number of
ways; many are service dogs for people with a disability or are
therapy dogs, some work for customs agencies in drug detection, some
as police dogs, and others herd pest animals from geese to muskox
for city or state agencies.
GGeorge Hall and his family arrived in the New South Wales Colony
in 1802. By 1825, the Halls had established two cattle stations in
the Upper Hunter Valley, and had begun a northward expansion into
the Liverpool Plains, New England and Queensland. Getting his cattle
to the Sydney markets presented a problem in that thousands of head
of cattle had to be moved for thousands of kilometres along unfenced
stock routes through sometimes rugged bush and mountain ranges. A
note, in his own writing, records Thomas Hall's anger at losing 200
head in scrub.
A droving dog was desperately needed but the colonial working
dogs are understood to have been of Old English Sheepdog type
(commonly referred to as Smithfields, descendants of these dogs
still exist) useful only over short distances and for yard work with
domesticated cattle. Thomas Hall addressed the problem by importing
several of the dogs used by drovers in Northumberland, his parents’
home county. At this time dogs were generally described by their
job, regardless of whether they constituted a ‘breed’ as it is
currently understood. In the manner of the time, the Hall family
historian, A. J. Howard, gave these blue mottled dogs a name:
Northumberland Blue Merle Drovers Dog.
Thomas Hall crossed his Drovers Dogs with dingoes he had tamed
and by 1840 was satisfied with his resultant breed. During the next
thirty years, the Halls Heelers, as they became known, were used
only by the Halls. Given that they were dependent on the dogs, which
gave them an advantage over other cattle breeders, it is
understandable that the dogs were not distributed beyond the Hall's
properties. It was not until after Thomas Hall's death in 1870, when
the properties went to auction with the stock on them that Halls
Heelers became freely available.
By the 1890s, the dogs, known simply as Cattle Dogs, had
attracted the attention of several Sydney dog breeders with
interests in the show ring, of whom the Bagust family was the most
influential. Robert Kaleski, of Moorebank, a young associate of
Harry Bagust, wrote “in 1893 when I got rid of my cross-bred cattle
dogs and took up the blues, breeders of the latter had started
breeding ... to fix the type. I drew up a standard for them on those
lines”. This first
Breed standard for the Cattle Dog breed was published, with
photographs, by the New South Wales Department of Agriculture in
Kaleski's Standard was taken up by breed clubs in Queensland and
New South Wales and re-issued as their own, with local changes. His
writings from the 1910s give an important insight into the early
history of the breed. However dog breeder and author Noreen Clark
has noted that his opinions are sometimes just that, and in his
later writings he introduces some contradictory assertions, and some
assumptions which are illogical in the light of modern science.
Unfortunately some of these have persisted as ‘truths’. For example
he saw the red Cattle Dog as having more dingo in it than the blue
colour form, and there is a persistent belief that reds are more
vicious than blues. The most enduring of Kaleski's myths relate to
Dalmatian and Kelpie infusions into the early Cattle Dog breed.
Through the 1890s, Cattle Dogs of Halls Heeler derivations were
seen in the kennels of exhibiting Queensland dog breeders such as
William Byrne of Booval, and these were a different population from
those shown in New South Wales. When Royal Shows began again after
World War II, Sydney exhibitors saw Little Logicc offspring
for the first time and these dogs and their sires' show record
created a demand in New South Wales for Little Logic's
lineage. By the end of the 1950s, there were few Australian Cattle
Dogs whelped that were not descendants of Little Logic or his
best known son, Logic Return
The prominence of Little Logic and Logic Return
Wooleston Blue Jack is ancestral to most, if not all, Australian
Cattle Dogs whelped since 1990 in any country.
In the USA
In the late 1950s a veterinarian in Santa Rosa, California, Jack
Woolsey, was introduced to Lougher’s dogs. With his partners, he
bought several dogs and started breeding them. The breeders
advertised the dogs in Western Horsemen stating they were
guaranteed to work and calling them Queensland Heelers. Woolsey
imported several pure-bred Australian Cattle Dogs to add to his
breeding program; Oaklea Blue Ace, Glen Iris Boomerang and several
Glen Iris bitches were imported from Australia. The National Stock
Dog Registry of Butler, Indiana, registered the breed, assigning
American numbers without reference to Australian registrations.
Australian Cattle Dogs had been in the Miscellaneous
classification at the American Kennel Club since the 1930s, but in
order to get the breed full AKC Championship recognition, the AKC
required that a National Breed Parent Club be organized for
promotion and protection of the breed.
The AKC Parent Club members began researching their dogs,
including exchanging correspondence with McNiven, and discovered
that few of them had dogs that could be traced back to dogs
registered in Australia. The AKC took over the club registry in 1979
and the breed was fully recognized in Sept. 1980. The Australian
Cattle Dog Club of America is still a vital force in the promotion
of the breed and the maintenance of breed standards.
The National Stock Dog Registry continued to recognise Cattle
Dogs without prerequisite links to Australian registered dogs, on
the condition that any dog of unknown parentage that was presented
for registry, would be registered as an "American Cattle Dog" and
all others would still be registered as "Australian Cattle Dogs."
Australian Cattle Dogs have been featured in a number of movies,
appearing alongside Mel Gibson in Mad Max 2Secret Window, Tom Berenger in Last of the Dogmen,
Billy Connolly in The Man Who Sued God, and Alex O'Loughlin
in Oyster Farmer. Australian Cattle Dogs also feature
prominently in The Blob and Welcome to Woop Woop. In
Babee, they are used by the men who attempt to steal sheep
from Babe's owners, and they also are used to herd sheep by the main
characters in Brokeback Mountain. Additionally, Australian
Cattle Dogs appear in the three Fallout videogames; once as a
companion to the Vault Dweller in the original Fallout and
the Chosen One in Fallout 2, and once as companion to the
Lone Wanderer in Fallout 3.
In the new
- Ben, an Australian cattle Dog from Adelaide, was the primary
witness involved in gaining a conviction in the murder of his
owners, Karen Molloy and Jeremy Torrens. When the major crime
detectives declared themselves baffled, neighbours reported
surprise that Ben, who was known to be very protective of the
property, had not raised the alarm. Ben was missing, and when he
was found days later, ten kilometres away, detectives told the
media that he might hold the key to the mystery. His acceptance
of the intruder led police to suspect Karen's son Dennis Molloy,
and an investigation of the suspect's vehicle, clothes, and home
uncovered around four hundred stray hairs (usually forensic
scientists have fewer than four hairs to work with). Dennis
Molloy had owned the car for only two weeks, and declared that
he had not visited his mother's house in that time. However the
hairs were identified as the distinctive multi-toned hairs of a
cattle dog; there were individual black, white and tan hairs and
hairs that were banded black/white and black/white/tan. The
forensic investigation continued for some months and determined
that the hairs on Dennis Molloy's car and sweatshirt were the
result of a 'primary transfer' from Ben. With the suspect's
denial, the absence of witnesses and the lack of crime-scene
evidence, it was the distinctive hair of a cattle dog that
ultimately linked Dennis Molloy to the crime.
- Blue, an Australian Cattle Dog from Fort Myers, Florida,
stood guard beside Ruth Gay, his 83-year-old owner who had
fallen and injured herself. As she lay beside a canal, Blue
launched repeated attacks against an alligator, receiving around
thirty lacerations consistent with alligator bites. When the
rest of the family returned home at 10:00pm, Blue met the car
and led them to where Ruth lay.
Blue was awarded for his heroism, which was no surprise to those
who know the breed. Tasmanian breeder Narelle Hammond-Robertson
said "It wouldn't have mattered if the alligator had been an
elephant, these dogs will protect their masters, win, lose or
- Another Blue, described in press reports as a Queensland
Heeler, is credited by the Yavapai County, Arizona Sheriff's
Office with keeping a little girl safe after she spent the
overnight hours in 30-degree temperatures near Cordes Lakes, 36
miles east of Prescott. She was rescued with the dog on February
19, 2010. The ranger who located the girl and her dog said, "The
dog which had protected the girl all night seemed to know help
had arrived. You could see the dog's expression almost turn to a
smile. It came right to the helicopter and jumped right in, no
problems at all."
- Molly Minogue, an 18 month old Australian Cattle Dog, fell
from a ute near the small Victorian town of St. James. For 7
days "Molly" lay by the road waiting for the return of her
owner. She reportedly lay in the shade of a town hall and would
only move with the shade. After a thorough search by the owners,
Molly was found a week later. Her wait for her owner is
representative of the owner loyalty of the breed. "Molly knew
that if she waited we would come back for her," her owner John
Minogue stated. Her story was reported in the "Man's Best
Friend" column of the Shepparton News on 12 March 2008.
Australian Cattle Dog herding sheep
Pictures and stories of
your dog wanted
Send a picture of your dog attached to this
Email, tell us a little about him or her and we will show it
i have a australian cattle dog in brooklyn new york and she is just like one of
the family i had got her @ the animal shelter i use to work @ i love her shes
very good with the children & she is very playful & she is my favourite dog
I have just lost a Red Heeler to bone cancer. Most people should never own one
of these guys. I just happened to be a match. My red baby was funny, energetic,
loving and constantly thinking. he would wait while I dressed in the morning. If
I didn't move quickly enough he bumped me with his nose and barked until I
moved. He then accompanied me down the stairs. Misja left his mark on the house.
I'm still finding toys all over the house.
I am very pleased with your page! I love my Heeler like she is one of my
children. She is ultimately the best dog I have ever had!
Yeah i would say it is possible.. its like humans i guess..
both the mum and dad could have say red hair..but yet the kids might have black
Hi, my name is Angie. My Red Heeler bitch has just had pups
for the 3rd time. The father of the pups is also Red.
Her 1st and 2nd litter were all Red pups. This litter, there are 3 pups that
have black markings and 1 pup has brown markings. The pups with the Black
markings seem to be turning blue. Is it possible to get blue pups out of Red
parents?. My email is computercat_68 @ hotmail.com. Could someone please email
me back as I'm very curious about this.