Dog Health & More
The Australian Cattle Dog is an extremely intelligent, active, and sturdy dog breed. Developed by Australian settlers to handle herds of cattle on expansive ranches, he's still used today as a herding dog. He thrives on having a job to do and on being part of all family activities. He is loyal and protective of his family, though wary of outsiders. Besides herding work, the Australian Cattle dog does well at canine sports, including agility, obedience, rally, flyball, and flying disc competitions.
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You might be familiar with this breed by one of his other common names: Australian Heeler, Blue Heeler, Queensland Heeler, or Halls Heeler. Officially, however, he's the Australian Cattle Dog; the "heeler" moniker comes from the fact that the dogs were bred to herd cattle by nipping at their heels.
The Australian Cattle Dog is a high-energy working dog. He is not a couch potato — we repeat: he is not a couch potato. He wants to be active and busy most of the time. His energy must be directed, or he'll become bored and will resort to entertaining himself, usually by doing something you consider naughty, like digging in the trash or digging up your flower garden.
The Australian Cattle Dog is also highly devoted to his owner and family. He usually attaches himself closely to one person and bonds less closely with others. He's often called a "Velcro" dog because he attaches so firmly; he likes to be in close physical contact with his chosen person all the time.
Because the Australian Cattle Dog was bred to herd, and herd with force, by biting, he is a mouthy dog. His instinct is to nip cattle, children, pets, cars, anything that moves. He has a strong tendency to bite, even in play. This tendency must be properly directed with socialization and training when he's a puppy, or it can turn into dangerous behavior.
Another part of the breed's instinct is his strong prey drive. He's fascinated by squirrels, cats, and other small animals. If the Australian Cattle Dog is raised from puppyhood with other pets, including cats, he can be trusted to live peacefully with them in his home. He's likely to consider those outside his household to be fair game, though.
The Australian Cattle Dog is generally friendly, but he is protective of his family and home turf, and he tends to be wary of strangers.
There is a toughness about the Australian Cattle Dog — he had to be tough to handle the high temperatures, rough terrain, and long distances involved in his job on ranches — that makes him both highly tolerant of pain and intensely focused. He'll keep working even when he's injured. Owners must pay careful attention to this breed to make sure he stops working or competing if he gets hurt.