Australian Cattle Dog.jpg
Breed Group Group 10: Pastoral and Stock Dog Breeds
Sub-group 10-C: Medium Pastoral Dogs
Origin Country Australia
Weight Males: 33-50 pounds. Females: 33-50 pounds.
Height Males: 18-20 inches. Females: 17-19 inches.
Other Name(s) Australian Heeler, Australischer Treibhund, Blue Heeler, Bouvier Australien, Boyero Australiano, Hall’s Heeler, Queensland Heeler, Red Heeler
Breed Type Pure
click here for FULL BREED STANDARD
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Australian Cattle Dog

Breed Group Group 10: Pastoral and Stock Dog Breeds
Sub-group 10-C: Medium Pastoral Dogs
Origin Country Australia
Weight Males: 33-50 pounds. Females: 33-50 pounds.
Height Males: 18-20 inches. Females: 17-19 inches.
Other Name(s) Australian Heeler, Australischer Treibhund, Blue Heeler, Bouvier Australien, Boyero Australiano, Hall’s Heeler, Queensland Heeler, Red Heeler
Breed Type Pure
click here for FULL BREED STANDARD

Breed Spotlight

Origins

Sixty years in the making, the Australian Cattle Dog has lived up to his name. The cattle industry of Australia faced a number of challenges during its early years in the 1800s. Rugged, dry, wild, and barren land, harsh conditions, extreme elements, and violent rivers all stood as obstacles for cattlemen to drive their herds through. To push reluctant cattle through these conditions required a gritty biting dog with great endurance, stamina, persistence, strength. This was a tall order that the first imported shepherd’s dogs, used to herding sheep and cattle through far less rugged conditions, simply could not fulfill. To address the issue, some cattlemen decided to create their own strain possessing all the traits they needed in a tenacious cattle dog.

In 1840, a cattleman by the name of Thomas Hall crossed his blue smooth Collies to the feral Australian Dingo. This gave him a dog that could withstand some of the harshest elements of Australia. He was happy to find that the resulting cross produced mostly silent dogs, reluctant to bark, that worked the heels of the cattle and were quick to avoid being kicked. These initial crosses were known as Hall’s Heelers.

It is also known that even though other breed and type crosses were tried, most were unsuccessful. However, some dogs form the crosses may have been retained and infused into the mix. Other breeds that are also believed to be included in some of these early crosses include the ancestors of today’s Bull Terrier and the Dalmatian, although due to poor record keeping, it is unclear when. The Bagust brothers further improved upon Hall’s Heeler’s when they crossed them to the black and tan Australian Kelpie, eventually resulting in the creation of four basic types of cattle dogs: the red ticked (also referred to as the red heeler), the blue ticked (sometimes called blue heelers), the stumpy-tailed red, and the stumpy-tailed black. These four types formed the bases of the true Australian Cattle Dog: the American version sometimes called the Queensland Heeler, and the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog. The first breed standard was written by Robert Kaleski in 1902, and it was approved by the New South Wales Kennel Club in 1903.

The majority of ACDs in the United States are actually the result of a later cross not recognized by the Australian Royal Agricultural Society Kennel Club. In the 1940s the ACD was crossed to the German Shepherd breed and the Kangaroo Hound type dogs (a type of sight hound), and again to the Kelpie and Dingo by a Sidney veterinarian by the name of Alan McNiven. McNiven exported several of these crossed dogs to a man by the name of Greg Lougher in California, where they originally called them Queensland Heelers. These dogs were bred back to purebred ACD imports, and both the crosses and the purebred imports were eventually recognized as the Australian Cattle Dog by most officiating registries.

Breed Characteristics

Head: Mesaticephalic skull-type, moderate in size, and shaped like a blunt wedge in profile or from above. It is always in proportion to the rest of the body. The topskull is broad, being as broad (measured from one side to the other, right in front of the ears) as it is wide (from occiput to stop). The topskull is just slightly arched between the high-set ears. The head is powerfully, yet never profusely, muscled throughout, giving the impression of substance and strength. The head is clean-cut without excess skin or wrinkle.
Eyes: Moderate in size, oval to almond in shape, and medium to dark brown in color. Eyes may be lighter in non-standard color varieties. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented. The eyes are never bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes.
Ears: The ears are moderate in size, with smaller ears preferred to larger ears. They are thick leathered, triangular, held firmly pricked when alert, and pointed. They should be set wide apart on the skull, inclined just a bit slightly outward between. The ears are never long, overly large, or broken.
Muzzle: The muzzle is medium in length, being equal in length to the topskull. It is broad, strong, well-developed, and slightly tapering to form a blunt wedge-shape. Upper and lower jaws have good bone substance. Upper and lower jaws strong and well developed, never appearing snipey or weak.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black in standard colored dogs, or may be self-colored according to the coat in non-standard color varieties. The nostrils are well-opened.
Neck: Moderate length to allow for excellent range of motion, powerfully muscled with a slight arch. The neck tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. The neck is clean-cut, without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep, broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows.
Body: Compact, solid, and good substance. The body is never racy or refined. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Feet: Oval to round, compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.
Tail: Set somewhat low on the croup, thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. Carried in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level, but never tucked or carried up over the back. Tail is of a medium length, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints when held down. The tail may be straight or gently curved.
Movement: The action is energetic, powerful, agile, tireless, effortless, and efficient. The characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither moving in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the center line of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.
Temperament: The Australian Cattle Dog is a naturally loyal, intelligent, hard-working, and protective breed. He assumes the responsibility of self-elected guardian over all of his family’s property and possessions, and sometimes even a little beyond that. Controlling and managing unruly cattle requires a certain amount of gumption, a can-do attitude, and an element of control without any quit. So when the ACD locks on to something, it may be difficult to steer him elsewhere. Exercise, training, socialization, and a job are all important aspects of this breed’s quality of life. In fact, when the ACD has something to do, many behavioral issues can be avoided. When the ACD doesn’t have something to occupy his mind, he may resort to employing himself with such task as; ridding the property of any and all mail men and delivery people, warding off all passing cyclist, intimidating any suspicious (or completely harmless) power-walkers, or otherwise finding every potential flaw in his owner’s method for containing him (you’re welcome). However, with proper exercise, training, and stimulating work, this breed can make a wonderful companion that is quite long-lived. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed. Keep in mind that “unprovoked” is relative to the ACD.
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Breed Standard

BREED GROUP 10: Pastoral and Stock Dog Breeds

Proportions: The Australian Cattle Dog is a slightly off-square breed, with the length of the body measured from the point of the chest to the point of the rump being just greater than the height at the withers. The ideal body length to height ratio is between 10:8 and 10:9. Females may be slightly longer. The body is well put together. Substance is sturdy and medium boned.

Head

General Appearance: Mesaticephalic skull-type, moderate in size, and shaped like a blunt wedge in profile or from above. It is always in proportion to the rest of the body. The topskull is broad, being as broad (measured from one side to the other, right in front of the ears) as it is wide (from occiput to stop). The topskull is just slightly arched between the high-set ears. The head is powerfully, yet never profusely, muscled throughout, giving the impression of substance and strength. The head is clean-cut without excess skin or wrinkle.
Expression: Alert, watchful, intelligent, and anticipatory toward his handler, suspicious toward strangers.
Stop: The stop is slight yet defined.
Skull: The ideal muzzle-to-skull ratio is 1:1, with the topskull being equal in length to the muzzle.
The ideal muzzle-to-skull axis is parallel.
Muzzle: The muzzle is medium in length, being equal in length to the topskull. It is broad, strong, well-developed, and slightly tapering to form a blunt wedge-shape. Upper and lower jaws have good bone substance. Upper and lower jaws strong and well developed, never appearing snipey or weak.
Lips or Flews: Lips are clean and fit tightly over the teeth and jaws.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black in standard colored dogs, or may be self-colored according to the coat in non-standard color varieties. The nostrils are well-opened.
Cheeks: Muscular and powerful with some padding of the cheek is present. The cheeks should not appear chiseled or coarse.
Dentition and Bite: Forty-two strong, clean, white teeth. Bite may be level or scissor. Contact must be made between the top and bottom incisors. Missing or broken teeth as a result of routine work is not to be penalized.
Eyes: Moderate in size, oval to almond in shape, and medium to dark brown in color. Eyes may be lighter in non-standard color varieties. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented. The eyes are never bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes.
Ears: The ears are moderate in size, with smaller ears preferred to larger ears. They are thick leathered, triangular, held firmly pricked when alert, and pointed. They should be set wide apart on the skull, inclined just a bit slightly outward between. The ears are never long, overly large, or broken.

Body and Tail

General Description: Compact, solid, and good substance. The body is never racy or refined. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Neck: Moderate length to allow for excellent range of motion, powerfully muscled with a slight arch. The neck tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. The neck is clean-cut, without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep, broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows.
Topline: Level from slightly prominent withers to croup. The back is broad, strongly muscled, and straight, yet supple. The loin is taut and level with the back. The topline is never swayed or roached.
Croup: Somewhat long and gently sloped.
Underline: Slight tuck up is present. The underline is taut and firm, without any indication of sagging or excess weight.
Ribs: Long, well-sprung, well-laid-back, oval-shaped, never barrel-chested or slab-sided.
Tail: Set somewhat low on the croup, thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. Carried in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level, but never tucked or carried up over the back. Tail is of a medium length, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints when held down. The tail may be straight or gently curved.

Forequarters and Hindquarters

Forequarters: Forequarters are always in balance with the hindquarters. Forequarters are well-angulated with well-laid-back shoulder blades. Shoulder blades are approximately equal in length to the upper arm and forearm.
Elbows: Elbows are close to the body. The point of the elbows is approximately half the dog’s height at the withers.
Forelegs: Frontal View: Straight, of good muscle and bone, and parallel to one another.
Side View: The forelimbs appear straight with strong pasterns.
Pasterns: Never weak or broken.
Hindquarters: Upper thigh and lower thigh are equal in length, strong, sturdy, of good bone, and well-muscled.
Rear View: When viewed from the rear, the rear pasterns are parallel to one another.
Side View: Good angulation will allow the rear toes to align with the point of the rump or within one paw-length behind the point of the rump, with the rear pasterns remaining perpendicular to the ground and parallel to one another.
Stifle Joint: Well-angulated with a good bend to well-let-down rear pasterns.
Angulations: Angulation of hindquarters is always in balance with angulation of forequarters.
Feet: Oval to round, compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.

Coat

Skin: Well-fitted, yet supple. The skin should never obstruct the outline of the dog.
Coat Type: Weather-resistant, straight, smooth, flat-lying outer coat, short, dense, soft undercoat. Longer and thicker on neck, under the body and behind legs with mild breeches. Short and close on head, face, front of legs and on feet. 1.5-2.5 inches in length.
Coat Color or Pattern: CKC recognizes two color varieties of the Australian Cattle Dog breed: the standard color and nonstandard color variety.
Standard coat color variety:
Blue heelers - Black mottle, speckled, roan, or ticked, all with or without mottled tan points, and solid black patches of color.
Red heelers - Red mottle, speckle, roan, or ticked, all with or without solid red patches of color.
Non-standard coat color variety: Liver, blue, gray, Isabella, and slate mottle, speckle, roan, or ticked, all with or without mottled tan points, mottled creeping tan, or mottled saddle pattern. All with or without solid patches of color. Fawn (red with black mask), sable, or cream (very light tan or red) mottle, speckle, roan, or ticked. Solid white with well-pigmented eye rims and nose.

Movement

The action is energetic, powerful, agile, tireless, effortless, and efficient. The characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither moving in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the center line of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.

Temperament

The Australian Cattle Dog is a naturally loyal, intelligent, hard-working, and protective breed. He assumes the responsibility of self-elected guardian over all of his family’s property and possessions, and sometimes even a little beyond that. Controlling and managing unruly cattle requires a certain amount of gumption, a can-do attitude, and an element of control without any quit. So when the ACD locks on to something, it may be difficult to steer him elsewhere. Exercise, training, socialization, and a job are all important aspects of this breed’s quality of life. In fact, when the ACD has something to do, many behavioral issues can be avoided. When the ACD doesn’t have something to occupy his mind, he may resort to employing himself with such task as; ridding the property of any and all mail men and delivery people, warding off all passing cyclist, intimidating any suspicious (or completely harmless) power-walkers, or otherwise finding every potential flaw in his owner’s method for containing him (you’re welcome). However, with proper exercise, training, and stimulating work, this breed can make a wonderful companion that is quite long-lived. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed. Keep in mind that “unprovoked” is relative to the ACD.

Faults

All dogs should be in proper healthy condition, free from disease or defect. Any departure from this description is considered a fault. Unless altered, all male dogs should have two fully descended testicles.