Breeds 101

Australian Cattle Dog


The versatile and fearless Australian Cattle Dog is the result of six decades of cross breeding. Breeds involved included the Red Bobtail, Scotland's blue-merle Collie and the Dingo.

In Great Britain, the now-extinct Blue Heeler was used at docks to heard sheep and cattle onto boats. Although its origins are radically different, the Australian Cattle Dog closely resembles the old dockyard breed. An Australian pioneer, Thomas Smith Hall, wanted a similar dog, but robust enough to withstand the hardships of driving cattle in 19th-century Australia. Exploiting the Dingo’s ability to creep up silently on prey before biting, Hall created a dog very similar to today’s Cattle Dog.

The breed is wary by nature and must be introduced to other animals and people when it is young.

Though the breed was slow to catch on in the U.S., it has proved an untiring and effective herder. The AKC recognized the breed in 1993.

Medium, 35 to 45 pounds; females 17 to 19 inches; males 18 to 20 inches.

Blue or red (mottled or speckled), with or without black, blue, or tan markings.

Intelligent, independent, tenacious, energetic, hardy, and untiring. Loyal and protective; suspicious of strangers. Needs a job. Herds children, sometime with nips.

High energy level.

Active owners with time and energy for hard, daily exercise; a family with older children and a fenced yard are best owner for Australian Cattle Dog.

A lot of physical and mental activities (more than a walk — think agility course and obedience lessons), opportunities to herd, regular brushing.

Life expectancy: 10 to 13 years.