The Australian Cattle Dog, also known as the Blue Heeler, Queensland Heeler, or simply Cattle Dog, is a robust, agile, and intelligent breed with a deep-rooted history in herding. The Australian Cattle Dog was developed during the 19th century in Australia for driving cattle over long distances across rough terrain. Early settlers had initially used the Smithfield breed, but these dogs could not handle the harsh environment. The settlers bred a series of dogs to suit their needs, leading to the creation of the Australian Cattle Dog. The breed is believed to be a result of selective breeding involving dogs such as the Dingo-blue merle Collie crosses, Dalmatians, and Black and Tan Kelpies.
Australian Cattle Dogs can be affected by neurological conditions such as degenerative myelopathy and eye disorders such as progressive rod-cone degeneration. Genetic testing for conditions such as cystinuria type II-A, myotonia congenita, late-onset neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL-12), and neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis 5 (NCL-5) and 8 (NCL-8) can assist veterinarians with diagnosis and proactive care, as well as help breeders identify affected and carrier dogs.
The Australian Cattle Dog is known for its intelligence, energy, and independent spirit. They are extremely loyal to their owners and can be protective, making them good watchdogs. They have a natural instinct to herd and will sometimes attempt to herd other pets or even their owners.
These dogs are very active and require plenty of physical exercise as well as mental stimulation. They excel in activities such as obedience, agility, and herding trials4. If not provided with adequate exercise and stimulation, they can become bored and potentially destructive. Australian Cattle Dogs can be reserved with strangers and early socialization is crucial. It helps them develop into well-rounded dogs, comfortable with different environments, and people.
The Australian Cattle Dog was accepted by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1980, and has since become a popular breed.
The Australian Cattle Dog has a history of adding to the success of Australia's beef industry, a benefit that continues to this day.
The breed is known for its affinity for obedience and agility work.