Breed Group: Herding Group
Shoulder Height: 17-20 in.
Weight: 33-49 lb.
Life Span: 13 years
Colors: Blue and red, either mottled or speckled
- The Australian Cattle Dog was developed to work well in the thick and prickly growth of the Australian scrub. The breed's ancestry includes Dingo, Collie, Dalmatian and Kelpie.
- The breed arrived in the United States following WWII by soldiers who brought home Cattle Dogs from their service in Sydney and the Coral Sea.
- The crossbreed between the Australian Cattle Dog and the Australian Shepherd is known as the Texas Heeler, a popular breed on cattle ranches in Texas and the Southwest.
The Australian Cattle Dog, one of the only breeds actually to emerge from the country-continent, is a vibrant and joyous dog with tremendous energy and a bright mind. Typical of many herding dogs, they have a propensity towards intelligence, but aside from that, they are unlike any other herding dog you might encounter.
Cattle Dogs are loving and affectionate house pets that quickly endear themselves to their people. Bonds are developed quickly — so much so that the breed can be very protective. They are cautious around strangers and will look after you if they sense that you are in some kind of distress. Proper social training can make them more personable, but they will often stay aloof when introduced to new people.
One thing that can make people quickly tire of Cattle Dogs is their bark. They have a very distinctive bark that, if left uncontrolled, will become a nuisance to you and to the neighbors. While they are usually pretty quiet, they will let you know if somebody is approaching the house; this makes them good watchdogs. The Cattle Dog also has a reputation for "herding" people, especially young children, by nipping on their heels. This instinct is not easily trained out, so this breed may not be suitable for young ones.
Their short and coarse coat means that they do not require much grooming. High energy levels and intelligence do dictate a need for regular physical and mental exercise; without it, the Cattle Dog can become bored and destructive.
Australian Cattle Dogs are sturdy dogs, and they do not suffer from many physical maladies. However, they are still prone to some hereditary conditions.
- Congenital deafness can occur in the breed. It can affect one or both ears, and pups can be tested for deafness at a young age.
- Progressive retinal atrophy is another common ailment that affects the eyes and causes blindness.
- The breed can suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia.
- Bluey, who died in 1939, was an Australian Cattle Dog who lived to the age of 29 years and five months, and was the world's oldest dog at the time. In February 2013, he was outlived by a Beagle, Dachshund and Terrier-mix named Max, who lived 29 years and 282 days.
- Australian Cattle Dogs have featured in a few action and adventure films including Mad Max 2 with Mel Gibson, and Last of the Dogmen starring Tom Berenger.
- Matthew McConaughey keeps one named Foxy, which was bred on a ranch in Texas. Actors and brothers Owen and Luke Wilson also keep Australian Cattle Dogs.
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