Australian Cattle Dog
This compact, medium-sized, muscular dog stands at 46-51cm (males) and 43-48cm (females) when fully grown and weighs from 17 to 23kg. The coat comes in blue; blue and tan; blue, black and tan; blue speckled; red; red and tan; or red speckled. For full details, see the breed standard.
- Category size: Medium
- Grooming requirements: Once a week
- Shedding: Moderate
- Allergies: No
- Noise: Not too noisy
- Dog Group Kennel Club: Pastoral
- Alone: 1 to 3 hours
- Other pets: Medium
- Stability as a guard: High
Collies accompanied English stockmen to Australia in the 1800s but a tougher dog was needed for the harsh conditions and difficult cattle, so various dogs with specific abilities were crossbred over 60 years, including the Dingo, various collies and sheepdogs, the Kelpie, Dalmatian and Bull Terrier. Finally, by the end of the 19th century, a dog was produced that could herd cattle (by nipping their heels), work with people, use his own initiative and endure all the elements – whether it be extreme rain, cold or heat.
The Australian Cattle Dog is naturally wary of strangers and has strong guarding instincts, so early, thorough socialisation is particularly important. Early work on bite inhibition is advisable, too, as some might nip when overexcited. Although devoted to his family, he can be a handful and is not an ideal first-time breed, requiring more experienced owners.
The Australian Cattle Dog is generally an extremely hardy breed with few health problems. As with many breeds, occasionally hereditary eye disorders, and hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems) can arise. Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore advised.
The Australian Cattle dog needs about two hour's exercise a day including mental stimulation, though he will happily accept more and has great stamina and endurance. Be warned that he is very agile and can jump quite high – enabling him to steal food from counters or jump inadequate garden fences. Don't let him become bored, or he'll provide his own entertainment!
Your dog's diet needs to have the right balance of all the main nutrient groups including a constant supply of fresh water. It's important to conduct regular body condition scores to ensure you keep your dog in ideal shape and remember to feed him at least twice daily and in accordance with the feeding guidelines of his particular food.
The smooth, double-coat is low-maintenance, requiring a brush through once a week. The top coat is harsh and straight; the undercoat, short and dense. The breed's hair is around 2.5 to 4cm long, short on the head and longer on the tummy and behind the legs.
Is this the right dog breed for you?
All dogs have their own, unique personality, but some instincts and behaviours they’re born with. Try our breed selector and find out which dog breeds better match your preferences and lifestyle. If you and your dog enjoy similar things, you will be more likely to live a happy, fulfilling life together.
What to Consider next
It is incredibly fulfilling to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or rescue organization. It often means offering them a second chance in life. There are many dogs waiting for a loving family, a forever home. Reputable centers will be very careful about matching the right people with the right dogs. Staff learns all they can about the dogs they take in, and will spend time getting to know you, your family and your lifestyle, before they match you with any of their dogs. They’ll also be happy to give you advice and answer any questions you might have before and after the adoption.
Finding a good breeder
If your heart is set on a pedigree puppy, then your best bet is to find a reputable breeder. Contact The Kennel Club or a breed-club secretary who may have a list of litters available, or should be able to put you in contact with breeders in your area. Try to choose a breeder who is part of the Kennel Club’s assured breeder scheme.Visit dog shows to meet breeders in person and inquire about availability of pups of your chosen breed.
Welcoming your dog home
Whether you’re bringing home a tiny puppy or rehoming an adult dog, this is a hugely exciting time for everyone. While you’re waiting for the big day you might need to distract yourself, so luckily there are a few things you need to sort out before you welcome your new arrival. Click here for more information