Australian Cattle Overview

Dog Breed:
Australian Cattle
Breed Group:
Alert, watchful, courageous, protective and loyal
Males, 18-20 inches and females 17-19 inches
35 - 50 pounds
Life Span:
Up to 16 years
Coat Colors:
blue and red
Area of Origin:
Best For:
Experienced owners/keen interest in training/access to open spaces for exercise
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for Australian Cattles
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for Australian Cattles

Australian Cattle Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Australian Cattle

The Australian Cattle Dog has tremendous stamina combined with high levels of intelligence. This means that they need owners who can channel that energy while also finding an outlet for their dogs to get a regular mental workout. 


These are unlikely to be an ideal dog for a first-time owner, knowledge of training techniques, and understanding the needs of a working dog are essential. An Australian Cattle Dog is likely to be the sole focus of an owner’s spare time, so a passion for the breed is a must. 

Australian Cattle Breed History

  • Bred to be a strong cattle mover with immense stamina

  • The first ACD's were crosses of Smooth Haired Collies and Dingoes

  • Also known as the Red, Blue or Queensland Heeler

The Australian cattle industry needed a strong dog, who would bite when needed, have immense stamina, and was courageous enough to move wild cattle. Despite dogs being imported from Great Britain to carry out the job, it turned out they couldn’t cope with the harsh landscape, the breeds of cattle, and the climate.

Although there is little history of which breeds were crossed to develop the Australian Cattle Dog we know today, it’s thought that the first cross was of Smooth-Haired Collies and the Dingo. Later on, Dalmatians and Kelpies were added to the breeding. 

The cattle dog works independently, and it moves stubborn livestock by coming in low from behind and biting the backs of their legs. They need to be quick though, to duck the kick from the cattle, which often then follows. The tenacious Australian Cattle Dog doesn’t however become discouraged, it just becomes even more determined to get the job done! he breed is known by several other names, including the Blue, Red or Queensland Heeler. When purebred, these are all the same dog with the Australian Cattle Dog being the name recognized both in Australia and by the American Kennel Club.

Australian Cattle Size & Weight

  • Males: 18-20 inches

  • Females 17-19 Inches

  • Weight 35-50 pounds


With the Australian Cattle dog being bred for its working ability rather than a show ring presence, there is quite a wide range of variation in size and weight

Males should be between 18 and 20 inches at the withers and 17-19 inches for females. Weight can be anything between 35 to 50 pounds. The Australian Cattle Dog structure is often described as broad, strong and muscular, creating a real powerhouse of a breed. 

Australian Cattle Personality & Temperament

  • Protective nature

  • Suspicious of strangers

  • Become strongly bonded to owners


The protective nature of the Cattle Dog can make it a self-appointed guardian to their owner and home. This means that they are often suspicious of strangers and can be unsociable towards other dogs; these are not the social butterflies of the dog world. 

However, they can also be a very loyal and devoted family dog. Good with children, but supervision is essential as when excited, the instinctual trait of nipping at heels can appear.

Cattle Dogs are often called ‘Velcro dogs.’ This is because they bond very tightly to their family, and they want to be involved in everything that’s happening. This does mean though that they do not thrive when left alone for long periods or when living in a back yard. 

Australian Cattle Health & Grooming

  • Parents should be assessed for hip dysplasia

  • Testing for sight and hearing issues is essential

  • Minimal grooming needed


The Australian Cattle Dog is a sturdy, healthy breed. However, there are some potential health issues that new owners should be aware of. 

  1. Parents of pups should have had their hips and elbows x-rayed to ensure there are no indications of dysplasia. Good breeders will be able to show you the certificates from the testing
  2. Blindness can be a problem in Cattle Dogs. Detection of the condition progressive retinal atrophy can be undertaken through a DNA test before the dogs are bred. 
  3. Eye testing should be carried out by a veterinary ophthalmologist to check for the potential presence of other inherited eye diseases. 
  4. There is the risk of genetic deafness in this breed. Both pups and adults can be tested to check that they can hear in each ear. 

Grooming requirements are minimal. Occasional baths as needed and a weekly groom to remove dead hair is all that’s required. 

As with any dog, if exercise is minimal, then it’s likely that your dog will put on weight. The Australian Cattle Dog often needs less food than is recommended by feed manufacturers, so care is necessary not to overfeed

Australian Cattle Training

  • Highly intelligent breed

  • Positive training techniques will get the best results

  • Early training needed for pups to reduce the nipping tendency

As an extremely intelligent breed, training will be a regular feature of your dog’s life. An Australian Cattle Dog left to their own devices and without appropriate mental stimulation is likely to get up to all kinds of trouble!

In general, positive methods are the best option for this breed, and this also makes training more enjoyable for the owner. When training is fun for the dog, then they’ll be motivated to learn more. Clicker training can be a great option to really stimulate the Australian Cattle Dog’s mind.

Physically harsh training methods are unlikely to get the best results.  They can also be very detrimental to the relationship you have with your dog, and so are not recommended.

Puppies will need to learn how to control their desire to nip, especially when they become excited. Some bite inhibition is learned from littermates, but you may need to focus on this as your pup grows up. A good puppy socialization class will provide help and advice on ensuring that your cattle dog grows up to be a well-mannered adult dog. 

As a herding breed, there will be an instinctual desire to chase. This can be countered by having an excellent recall and ensuring that your dog is kept on a leash around livestock. 

Australian Cattle Exercise Requirements

  • Highly intelligent breed

  • Positive training techniques will get the best results

  • Early training needed for pups to reduce the nipping tendency


This is a breed that can work all day long. That means that they’re going to need more than a quick walk or a game in the yard no matter the weather outside.

Exercise levels need to be built up slowly, allowing your pup’s joints to fully form before strenuous exercise is considered. During this period, exercising your pup’s brain with training, and puzzle toys will provide the workout they need.

As an adult dog, canine sports such as agility and scent trials are a perfect choice. These combine a mental workout with physical exercise and also provide an excellent opportunity to develop the bond between you and your dog.

Australian Cattle Diet & Feeding

  • Your veterinarian should be the first point of contact for dietary advice

  • Look for quality protein sources within the food

  • Avoid feeds with additives and colorings


Do seek out your veterinarian’s advice if you need some help with your dog’s feeding requirements. Your local pet stores will have a wide range of puppy feed options but do look for good quality protein sources and foods which are free of additives and colorings. 

Most dogs move on to an adult feed at around 6 months of age. Do consider your dog’s energy levels when selecting a feed, one designed for working dogs is unlikely to be suitable for most pet dogs.

You may also be interested in:

Australian Cattle Rescue Groups

The Australian Cattle Dog Rescue Association provides lots of great advice on living with this breed while also providing details of dogs needing new homes.

There are also many state-based rescues including:

The Texas Cattle Dog Rescue

Arizona Cattle Dog Rescue

Carolina Australian Cattle Dog Rescue


Additional Information on the Australian Cattle Dog


The American Kennel Club