Dog Breed 101: Australian Cattle Dog

Written by Dr. Muqeet Mushtaq DVM, MS ABG (Animal Breeding and Genetics)
Introduction
The Australian Cattle Dog, a vigilant and intelligent dog, is wary of owners and strangers. This breed is very energetic and requires a vast area to exercise; hence it is not suitable for living in an apartment. Australian cattle dogs live happily when they have a job. When bored, they become destructive.

History

The Australian Cattle Dog was a real adventure in creation. As we know them today, this type is the culmination of a great deal of experience in Australia to create the ideal dog for herding beef cattle. The need for a suitable dog arose in the early 1800s when settlers began to move westwards from Sydney to use the vast grazing land. Here, the landholdings were often hundreds, even thousands, square miles of unstable land. At that time, English cattle dogs used for grazing could not handle high temperatures, rough terrain and long distances. Their excessive barking is undesirable for herding sheep and cattle and causes a stampede in wild stock.

There were many genetic tests and errors. Finally, a winning formula was discovered. Smooth-haired, blue Merle Highland Collies imported from Scotland and crossed with local wild dingo dogs to prepare Hall Healers. Healers were crossed with imported Dalmatians. The result was a compact dog, which looked like a dingo but thickset (later named Australian Cattle Dog). Both blue and red varieties were developed, the former gaining more popularity.

Personality

The red Australian cattle dog is alert, intelligent, vigilant and brave enough to do the job required. Extremely reliable and trustworthy, they have a strong sense of duty. Loyal to their masters and cautious of strangers, they are strictly protective when used as a watchman, even though they are not barking. The Australian Cattle Dog is aggressive with other dogs and can show dominance and herding over children.

Companionship

These dogs are very passionate and need plenty of time to exercise. Australian Cattle Dogs are suitable for any climate. They shed once or twice a year. Weekly brushing is recommended to keep the coat healthy. 

Breed Characteristics

  • Weight Range: Male: 35-45 lbs. ; Female: 35-45 lbs.
  • Height at Withers: Male: 19 in.; Female: 18 in.

Other Features: 

  • Ears: Upright (naturally)
  • Exercise Requirements: >40 minutes/day
  • Tendency to Bark: Low
  • Energy Level: Very energetic
  • Longevity Range: 10-13 yrs.
  • Tendency to Dig: Low 
  • Tendency to Drool: Low 
  • Bred For: Livestock herding
  • Tendency to Snore: Low
  • Social/Attention Needs: Moderate

Coat Characteristic

  • Length: Short
  • Characteristics: Double coat, straight
  • Colours: Blue or blue-mottled with or without another marking, red speckled
  • Overall Grooming Needs: Moderate

Club Recognition

  • AKC Classification: Herding
  • UKC Classification: Herding Dog
  • Prevalence: So-so

The Australian Cattle Dog is robust, compact and has solid legs. This breed has a strong and slightly curved head, resemble with Dingo lineage. The cheeks are muscular, and the jaws are strong in appearance. Their medium-sized, pricked ears, dubious shine and strong teeth make Australian cattle dogs look a little scary.

The neck of an Australian cattle dog is unusually muscular and somewhat flattened. The shoulders are broad and deep in the chest. The tail is kept low and hangs on the surface of the hawks.

 


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