Australian Cattle Dog.

Other Names:

ACD, Cattle Dog, Blue Heeler, Red Heeler, Queensland Heeler

Size:

Medium

Dog Group:

Herding

Coat Length:

Medium

Energy:

High

Kid Friendly:

Medium

Life Expectancy:

13-15 years

Available in these colours:

Blue

Red Speckle

Characteristics & Tendencies:

TENDENCY TO DIG10%

10%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

SNORING10%

10%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

DROOLING10%

10%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

EXERCISE NEEDS93%

93%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

GROOMING NEEDS10%

10%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

BARKING10%

10%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

APARTMENT FRIENDLY

HYPOALLERGENIC

About the Australian Cattle Dog

Gentle and affectionate, the Cocker Spaniel makes an easy-going, family-friendly companion. The medium-sized breed has a regal appearance, with long, feathered ears and a back that slopes towards its tail. It has a long, silky coat that comes in a variety of colours (which does require a fair bit of grooming!) But don’t let that deter you from its loving, merry nature, being a particularly great pet for owners who like to lavish affection on their pets. 

Cockers are eager playmates for kids and are easily trained as companions and athletes. They are highly intelligent, and love to please. These active dogs also love to swim, so take care when water is in the vicinity to ensure their safety. As they were originally bred as hunting dogs, they love staying active. Cocker Spaniels are large enough to be sporty, but compact enough to be portable.

FEEDING

How much do Australian Cattle Dogs eat?

1.5 – 2.5 cups of food a day

READ MORE

TEMPERAMENT

Are they kid-friendly?

More suited for older children

READ MORE

EXERCISE

How much exercise?

2 hours daily exercise

READ MORE

LIVING

Do they need a lot of space?

Needs plenty of space

READ MORE

Top health issues

What are the most common health issues for Australian Cattle Dogs?

  • Deafness and blindness
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Hip Dysplasia

IN DETAIL

Common Australian Cattle Dog diseases & conditions, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment in detail:

Deafness and blindness
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Hip Dysplasia
Deafness and blindness

Vision and hearing issues are common among Australian Cattle Dogs, which are often hereditary. The ACD carries recessive piebald alleles that produce white in the coat and skin, which are linked to these congenital hereditary issues. Most hearing or eye problems will be more evident later in the dog’s life, usually around eight to ten yrs of age. Fewer than 15% of ACD’s are known to be deaf in one ear, and less than 3% are deaf in both ears. Careful breeding is generally the most effective way to eliminate these issues.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a late onset, inherited eye disease affecting many breeds of dogs. It affects the retina, which is the picture screen at the back of the eye, and causes the blood vessels of the retina to atrophy and die. The first symptom noticed is usually dilated pupils – a ‘glow’ or increased ‘eye shine’, and the dog may appear to have difficulty seeing in the dark or dusk (“night blind”). Breeds commonly affected include Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Labrador and Golden Retrievers and Rottweilers. There is no cure for PRA, however an eye exam by a registered Ophthalmologist will diagnose the disease. DNA testing for late consent PRA is available, and is done by taking a cheek swab of your Border Collie. The PRA DNA test identifies one type of PRA, which is related to night blindness. There are another two types of PRA, for which there are currently no DNA tests available.

Hip Dysplasia

Due to their active lifestyles, hip dysplasia is not a rare occurrence in Australian Cattle Dogs. Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease that causes the hip joints to form improperly and is the primary cause of painful hip osteoarthritis in dogs. It generally occurs in large or giant breed dogs, however can also occur in smaller breeds as well. It is usually affected by factors such as excessive growth rate, types of exercise, improper weight and nutrition. Symptoms of hip dysplasia may show in dogs when they are as young as four months of age, whilst for others the disease may develop in conjunction with osteoarthritis as they age. These symptoms may include decreased activity, difficulting or reluctance rising, jumping or running, lameness in the hind end, loss of thigh muscle mass, pain and stiffness.

Hip dysplasia is diagnosed radiographically by the presence of degenerative changes and/or subluxation of the hip joint(s). There are multiple treatment options ranging from lifestyle modifications to surgery. These may include physical therapy, joint supplements or anti-inflammatory medications, or common surgeries such as double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO), femoral head ostectomy (FHO) or total hip replacement (THR).

Feeding

How much does an Australian Cattle Dog eat?

ACD’s should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval.

Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) and adjustments will be required as their needs change with age. Some dogs are prone to getting overweight so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

It’s recommended that a puppy have 3-4 meals per day and adult dogs have 1-2 meals per day.

Shedding

How often does the fur fall off?

The ACD sheds his undercoat twice a year. During shedding season, every few days he will need a thorough brushing-out to remove the dead hair, using a short-bristle brush and possibly a comb as well. As with all breeds, the Australian Cattle Dog’s nails should be trimmed regularly.

Grooming

Are Australian Cattle Dogs high maintenance?

The Australian Cattle Dog was bred to work outdoors and has a smooth, double-layer coat that protects him from the elements. This coat has no odour or oily residue, so an Australian Cattle Dog generally needs just a quick brushing once a week and an occasional bath.

Known as a “wash and wear” dog, the Australian Cattle Dog requires little grooming, and an occasional brushing is all that is required to keep the coat clean and odour-free. Even for the show ring it needs no more than wiping down with a moist cloth. As with all dogs, regular attention to nails, ears and teeth will help avoid health problems.

Exercise

How much exercise does an Australian Cattle Dog need?

The Australian Cattle Dog is a very active, high-energy dog who needs more than just a quick walk and playtime in the yard.

Heeler puppies love to take part in any kind of exercise including agility, chasing balls and Frisbees. He makes the perfect jogging companion.  If the Blue Heeler isn’t given enough exercise he will become bored, destructive and may be prone to excessive barking due to their temperament.Going on runs every day is a good outlet for his energy.

The Cattle Dog needs plenty of exercise, companionship and a job to do, so a non-working dog might participate in dog sports, learning tricks or other canine activities such as obedience, herding and agility which will help to channel the breed’s drive, abundant energy and help to engage its body and mind.

Vet Visits

How often should an Australian Cattle Dog visit the vet?

Veterinary care is essential to a dog’s health and wellbeing, however the frequency of treatment and checkups will depend on the dog.

Scheduled six-monthly health check visits with your vet are important to ensure your [dog breed] is healthy and happy throughout all life stages. In these annual visits, your vet will complete a physical examination, take your dog’s temperature and check his heartbeat, among other things. Routine maintenance for your dog gives you a chance to track your dog’s growth and development and discuss any concerns with your vet, and forms a key part of preventative care.

Family Suitability

Are Australian Cattle Dogs kid-friendly and sociable with humans?

The Australian Cattle Dog is a good family dog, but he does best with children if he is raised with them and accepts them early on as members of his household. In such cases, he’s very playful and protective. The breed’s tendency to be mouthy — even to nip and bite — can be a problem with kids, however. He may want to herd them with sharp nips, or bite when youngsters play too roughly.

An adult Australian Cattle Dog who has had little exposure to children will not know how to treat them and may be too rough. Some dogs are suspicious of children; because they don’t act like adults, dogs sometimes perceive them as threatening. Most problems can be solved by carefully socialising the Australian Cattle Dog puppy to children, and by teaching him bite inhibition.

Trainability

Are Australian Cattle Dogs difficult to train?

ACD’s are well structured to training, particularly if the training is interesting and challenging. Australian Cattle Dogs are intelligent and responsive – both of these traits can be an advantage in training where a structured, varied program is followed, but may lead to unwanted outcomes if training is not consistent, or is repetitive and boring. The Australian Cattle Dog is biddable, and responds well to training.

Compatibility with other pets

Do Australian Cattle Dogs get along with other dogs or cats?

ACD’s respond well to familiar dogs, but when multiple dogs are present, establishing a pecking order may trigger aggression. It is not a breed that lives in a pack with other dogs.

The Australian Cattle Dog gets along with other dogs in his household, especially if he’s been raised with them from puppyhood. However, because he is so devoted to one person in a family, there can be jealousy or squabbles between the Australian Cattle Dog and other dogs.

He’s fascinated by squirrels, cats, and other small animals. If the Australian Cattle Dog is raised from puppyhood with other pets, including cats, he can be trusted to live peacefully with them in his home. He’s likely to consider those outside his household to be fair game, though.

Need for company

How often do they need to be around humans?

The Australian Cattle Dog is a “shadow” dog – intensely devoted to his owner, and does not want to be separated from him or her.

Once he bonds, he likes to go wherever his owner goes. In fact, punishment to the Australian Cattle Dog is physical separation from those he loves.

Menu