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Australian Cattle Dog breed profile

Lounging isn’t an Australian Cattle Dog’s favorite pastime.

Whether your dog is a purebred Australian Cattle Dog or an Australian Cattle Dog mix, learning about the breed can explain a lot about your pet's personality, habits and overall health. Or maybe you're looking to adopt an Australian Cattle Dog and want to do a bit of research first — we can help with that.

You might know the Australian Cattle Dog by one of their many names: Blue Heeler, Red Heeler and Queensland Heeler. Whichever name your pup goes by, the Australian Cattle Dog breed is up for being your best companion.

“This dog loves to learn and do new things,” Dr. Elizabeth Devitt, DVM, a general practice veterinarian and veterinary consultant for Fetch, says. If this sounds like your pet or the pup for you, keep reading for more fun facts about this spirited breed.

Australian Cattle Dog history

Through and through, the Australian Cattle Dog is a herding breed. “They were bred in the early 1800s for driving cattle across the unforgiving Australian landscape,” Dr. Devitt explains.

Originally a cross between the domestic herding pup and the wild Dingo, today’s beloved Australian Cattle Dog is thought to share genes with Collie, Dalmatian and Bull Terrier breeds. 

‍What do Australian Cattle Dogs look like?

“These unique-looking dogs are often all-white before they develop their blue or red color patterns,” Dr. Devitt shares. Then, puppies grow into blue pups with black, blue or tan markings on their heads or speckled red dogs with dark red markings.

This breed typically grows from 17 to 20 inches high at the shoulder, with females being a little lighter and shorter than their male counterparts. “At 35 to 50 pounds, these dogs may not look big, but they’re built strong and sturdy,” Dr. Devitt adds. 

Do Australian Cattle Dogs shed?

Australian Cattle Dogs are double-coated, which means they’ll shed their relatively smooth coat twice a year. "Their grooming needs are mostly related to bathing them after they have rolled in something they consider ‘interesting,’” Dr. Devitt notes.

RELATED: Cocker Spaniel dog breed profile

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Australian Cattle Dog temperament

These dogs are no couch potatoes. "Herding, running, dog sports, trails and hikes — this is the dog for you," Dr. Devitt says.

Australian Cattle Dogs are smart, curious and energetic. Paired with their striking good looks, it's no wonder they've been loved for hundreds of years.

The breed needs a job to do — or they'll find one to do. "It might not be what you had in mind," Dr. Devitt warns. "They'll herd your kids, chickens and guests for a barbecue." After all, the name "heeler" comes from their knack for nipping at cattle's heels.

With wicked smarts and energy for days, these pups are fast-and-eager learners. Continuously trainingsocializing, exercising and mentally stimulating your dog will reward you with a loyal, well-mannered companion.

‍What health issues do Australian Cattle Dogs face?

These pups are prone to hip dysplasia and some ear-and-eye hereditary disorders, Dr. Devitt explains.

When adopting an Australian Cattle Dog, asking questions about any known family history can be helpful when it comes to inherited diseases. Already have one of these dogs? Ask your veterinarian about recommended care and prevention at your next visit.

“The best approach to giving any dog a full life is to maintain their healthy body by feeding a complete and balanced diet, ensuring they get the exercise and attention they need and providing routine veterinary care,” Dr. Devitt shares.

Australian Cattle Dog adoption

Are you interested in rescuing an Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Cattle Dog mix or any pet at all? Check out our shelter partners to find your new best friend.

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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