Australian Cattle Dog Information


The Australian Cattle Dog was developed in Australia for the purpose of herding cattle over rough terrain for long distances. They bear the nick name "Red Heeler", (or "Blue Heeler" according to their color)as they nip the heels of reluctant cattle to urge them to move on. It is a working breed dog, and as with all working dogs it has a high level of energy, devotion and intelligence. Because of it's breeding, it has been known to nip at children who are running. However, it is fiercely protective of its owner and the owner's possessions. Classified by the AKC in the Herding Dog group, this dog is courageous, loyal and hard working. Its determination shines through as it never gives up driving herds of stubborn cattle. Today the Australian Cattle Dog is also used in sporting events.

Australian Cattle Dog
Basic Info
NameAustralian Cattle Dog
Other NameACD, Cattle Dog, Blue Heeler, Red Heeler, Queensland Heeler
Size Type Medium Dog Breeds
Breed Group Herding Dog Breeds
Life Span 13 -15 years
TemperamentEnergetic, Protective, Brave, Cautious, Obedient, Loyal
HeightMale: 18–20 inches; Female: 17–19 inches
Weight44 to 62 pounds
Colors Blue, blue mottled, blue speckled, red mottled, red speckled
Puppy Price Average $500 - $600 USD

Australian Cattle Dog

Physical description

Body Type

The Australian Cattle Dog is medium-sized with the length from the breastbone to the buttocks just a little longer than its height. It is a very muscular dog with a strong head, neck, forequarters and hindquarters. The muscular neck broadens to blend in with the body and is free from throatiness. The shoulders are strong and well angulated to the upper arm. The forelegs have a strong, round bone that extends straight and parallel to the feet when viewed from the front. The hindquarters are strong and muscular, in balance with the rest of the body. The feet are round with short toes. The set of the tail is low and follows the contours of a sloping croup, reaching closely to the hock. At rest, the tail hangs in a slight curve and carries a good brush.

The head is balanced proportionally to the rest of the body with a broad skull curved slightly between the ears. It then flattens to a slight, definite stop. Cheeks are muscular and the underjaw is deep and strong. Its broad fore-face is well filled in and tapers to a medium-length powerful muzzle. Its skull and muzzle lie on parallel planes. The medium-sized eyes are oval in shape and neither sunken nor prominent. The ears are medium-sized, with breeders preferring them to be more on the smaller side, set wide apart and pricked when the dog is alert. The teeth are strong and evenly spaced for heeling or biting stubborn cattle.


The Cattle Dog is one of two colors, blue or red speckle. The blue is mottled or speckled either with or without other markings. Permissible markings by standards are blue, black or tan markings evenly distributed on the head. The forelegs are tan halfway up the front to the throat and breast. Tan markings are on the jaws, inside of hindlegs and thighs. The tan color shows down the front of the stifles and spreads to the outside of the hindlegs from hock to toes. Tan on the undercoat is permissible by standards as long as it doesn't show through the outer coat. Black markings are undesired.


The Cattle Dog has a smooth, double coat with the undercoat being short and dense. The close outer coat has straight hairs that are hard and lie flat so as to be rain-resistant. Underneath and behind the legs, the hair is longer, forming a mild form of breaching near the thigh. The hair is short on the head, inside the ears and on the front of the legs and feet. The hair along the neck is thicker and longer. On average, body hair is between 2.5 and 4 cms. long.

A coat of red speckle should be even all over including the undercoat and the head. Standards don't allow any white or cream. Red markings are permitted but not desirable.

Good with Kids
Cat Friendly
Dog Friendly
Hypoallergenic  No


The Cattle Dog is called a "wash and wear" dog meaning coat maintenance is relatively easy. Regular brushing and an occasional bath works well. Use a shampoo formulated for a "harsh" canine coat. These steps, along with good nutrition ensure a healthy, shiny coat.

Nails should be clipped short in order to remain strong. Pads should be checked daily for cuts or foreign matter. The inside of the ears should be kept clean, and teeth should be cleaned regularly.


Australians began breeding the Cattle Dog in the 1800s by crossing the Dingo-blue Merle Collies with black and tan Kelpies and Dalmations. Thomas Hall, a New South Wales cattle farmer cross-bred dogs used by drovers in Northumberland, the home county of his parents. The dogs were informally called Halls Heelers.

Thomas Hall died in 1870, and the dogs became available outside the family and associates. They were later developed into two separate breeds known as the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog and the Australian Cattle Dog. Robert Kaleski influenced the development of the Cattle Dog and wrote the first standards. The Cattle Dog has been hailed as very beneficial to cattle herds in Australia by increasing the number of cattle in herds dramatically.


Energetic, protective and intelligent, the Cattle Dog is happiest when working. It forms a strong bond with its owner and is loyal. This breed responds to structured training if the training is interesting and challenging.

These dogs like wide open spaces and must be kept busy herding or training for sporting events or to work as assistance dogs. They are a little wary of strangers. They have a streak of independence and display a high level of energy.

Interesting Australian Cattle Dog Facts

  • Moves cattle in open and confined spaces
  • Has a lifespan of up to 14 years if kept in good health
  • Most common heath problems are inherited deafness and progressive blindness.
  • Can make a happy, affectionate pet