© TABLE ROCK AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOGS.

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ABOUT THE AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG

Appearance

The Australian Cattle Dog, also known as the Australian Heeler, Hall's Heeler, Queensland Heeler and the Blue Heeler, is a sturdy, compact working dog, well-muscled, powerful, yet very agile. The body is a bit longer than high with a slightly curved tail reaching approximately to the hock. The front legs should be perfectly straight when viewed from the front. The head is broad and slightly rounded between the widely set, moderately pointed pricked ears. The oval eyes are dark brown. The teeth should meet in a scissors bite. The weather-resistant double coat consists of a short dense undercoat and a short straight outer coat. It comes in blue or red speckled. The blue speckled is with or without black, blue or tan markings on the head with tan points. Black markings on the body are not desirable. The red speckle variety should be evenly speckled all over, but may have darker markings on the head.

History

In the early 1800s, vast land areas in Australia became available for grazing cattle. The cattle raised on these lands became so wild and intractable that the traditional European herding breeds that had proved satisfactory on tamer cattle were no longer suited for the job. A dog was needed that could withstand traveling long distances over rough terrain in hot weather and that could control cattle without barking (which only served to make wild cattle wilder). In 1840, a man named Hall bred some smooth blue-merle Highland collies to dingos, producing a strain known as Hall's heelers. One particularly influential stud was a dog named Bentley's dog, who is credited with stamping the white blaze found on the head of Australian cattle dogs today. Other breeders crossed their Hall's heelers with other breeds, including the bull terrier, Dalmatian and, later, black-and-tan kelpie, a sheep-herding breed. The result was a dog with the herding instincts of the collie and kelpie; the endurance, ruggedness and quiet style of the dingo; and the horse sense and protectiveness of the Dalmatian, all with a distinctively patterned coat. As the dogs became increasingly vital to the cattle industry of Queensland, they gained the name Queensland blue heeler. They later became known as Australian heeler, and then Australian cattle dog. A standard for the breed, emphasizing its dingo characteristics, was drawn up in 1897. The Australian cattle dog was slow to catch on in America, however, perhaps because it bore little resemblance to established herding breeds. When given a chance, it proved its merits and was welcomed as a herder and pet. The AKC recognized the breed in 1980, and it has since become a capable show dog, without sacrificing its functional makeup

Temperament

Smart, hardy, independent, stubborn, tenacious, energetic and untiring — these are all traits essential to a driver of headstrong cattle, and all traits of the Australian cattle dog. This dog must have a job to do or it will expend its efforts on unacceptable jobs of its own. Given challenging mental and hard physical exercise daily, it is among the most responsive and obedient of dogs, an exemplary partner in adventure. It tends to nip at the heels of running children.

Care / Grooming

The short-haired, weather-resistant coat needs little care and is very easy to groom. Just comb and brush with a firm bristle brush, and bathe only when necessary. This breed tends to shed their coats once or twice per year (depending on sex status and region).

Health

The breed can be prone to hip dysplasia, PRA, and deafness.