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Australian Cattle Dog


Smart, hardy, independent, stubborn, tenacious, energetic and untiring — these are all traits of the Australian Cattle Dog. Given challenging mental and hard physical exercise daily, it is among the most responsive and obedient of dogs, an exemplary partner in adventure.


There is great debate over the origin of the Cattle Dog, with stories of its development in both New South Wales and Queensland. You may also refer to them as Queensland Blue Heelers or Blueys. No records of the original breeding are left, although it is suggested that Blue Merle Collies and perhaps even Bull Terriers were used. The dogs were bred for endurance, toughness and herding abilities. 

While Australia’s cattle industry was developing these dogs were well suited to the wild terrain and the feral elements of the cattle. Over the years they have been less and less useful because of their roughness. These days cattle are more quiet and dogs such as Kelpies and Border Collies are far more adept at handling livestock in a quiet way. Australian Cattle Dogs rarely find a place as a working dog anymore. 

Despite their waning appeal as working dogs, the Australian Cattle Dog remains a lasting representation of Australian bush culture. They are instantly recognisable and are still one of the most popular dog breeds owned in Australia.


The Australian Cattle Dog is a strong, compact and sturdy dog, enabling him to combine great endurance with bursts of speed and the extreme agility necessary in controlling unruly cattle. They give the impression of a dog that is tough, alert and capable of quick and sudden movement.

They have a strong head and broad face with upright ears. It is normal for dogs to have an initial cautious glint or look in the eye. 

Cattle Dogs come in blue or red, with distinctive patterns of mottling and block colour. The dogs have short powerful legs and a rudder-like thick tail that helps the dog balance and turn when moving around quickly.

The weather-resistant coat consists of a short, dense undercoat and moderately short, straight outer coat of medium texture. 

  • Height: Male 46–51 cm, Female 43–48 cm
  • Weight: Male 15–16 kg, Female 14–16 kg

For the Australian Cattle Dog Standard, please visit Dogs Australia


Australian Cattle Dogs are loyal, courageous and devoted and possess a natural aptitude in the working and control of cattle. 

Australian Cattle Dog herding cattle
They are suspicious of strangers and will protect the family and possessions with their life. 

They are not naturally aggressive but if provoked they will not back down without a fight. 

 Australian Cattle Dogs love nothing better than to be able to spend time in the company of their owners, doing whatever is asked of them. Although they can sometimes be very stubborn or mischievous, an owner should always be firm without being cruel as the Australian Cattle Dog does not learn through harsh treatment.

The Australian Cattle Dog is best described as intelligent, energetic and fiercely loyal. They have been known to bite a stranger and some can be quite unstable: biting people if they look at the dog or get between the dog and its owner. 

A good breeder will produce dogs specifically for their temperament with breed standards an important, but secondary, consideration.

Training & Exercise

Even though the Australian Cattle Dog is a working dog, it does well in a suburban household as long as its exercise requirements (this includes mental stimulation) are met. Obedience training of Australian Cattle Dogs is a must, as their brain needs stimulation of the right sort so that they don’t think things up for themselves - like digging, pulling your washing from the line, landscaping, jumping fences etc.

Cattle Dogs are extremely intelligent and easy to train. Their only demand is for consistency. Firmness without severity or loud voice will bring out a complete understanding between master and dog. 

It is recommended that Australian Cattle Dogs receive obedience training from an early age and, if they are to be a family dog, they should be immediately introduced to family members and allowed to mix with other people as soon as possible. These dogs can be trained to do almost any kind of task as they relish the opportunity to please.

Australian Cattle Dogs also do extremely well at canine sports including agility, obedience, flyball and flying disc competitions.

Australian Cattle Dog competing in Agility

House Pet Potential

The Australian Cattle Dog can be very active and vocal at times so from the beginning, your dog should be taught that unnecessary barking is not allowed. While not usually a fence jumper, the Australian Cattle Dog can jump, so if you have low fences then perhaps a pen or run could be built for the dog for those times when he is left home alone. 

This breed must be socialised with other animals and people from an early age and throughout their life.


The Australian Cattle Dog is very low maintenance and owners say they need very little brushing and can be bathed once in a while. 

Health & Lifespan

Bluey (1910-1939) was the
longest living Cattle Dog

Cattle Dogs are usually hardy and healthy and do not have any significant health problems. 

A Cattle Dog called Bluey is credited as being the longest living dog ever. He lived to 29 years of age and worked sheep for 20 of those years. 

Most Australian Cattle Dogs will live for about 10 to 13 years.

Recommended For

Australian Cattle Dogs are best suited for those who can allow the dog to be a constant companion. The dogs must have constant contact with people if they are to remain manageable. Families are most suitable provided they buy a dog with proven temperament and give the dog obedience training, activity and lots of companionship.

For more information on the breed, please contact:

Australian Cattle Dog Society of NSW
Australian Cattle Club of VIC
Australian Cattle Club of QLD

If you'd like to re-home an Australian Cattle Dog, visit:
Australian Cattle Dog Rescue

There's also an Australian Cattle Dogs for Rehoming Facebook group.

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