Is an ACD the right breed of dog for you?
The first Australian Cattle Dogs were developed in their homeland of Australia around the mid 1800's. Having a need to move and control range cattle throughout the rugged terrain and harsh climates of Australia, the settlers needed a dog with great stamina, strength, and intelligence. Through many generations of crossbreeding, it was the combination of the Blue Merle Smooth-Coated Collie, Dingo, Australian Kelpie, Dalmatian, and Bull Terrier that resulted in today's Australian Cattle Dog (ACD). ACD's are also known as Blue Heelers, Queensland Heelers, and Red Heelers and there is no distinction between the different names.
For more information on History, please check out the following websites:
Color: ACD's come in two colors, blue or red. There are a wide variety of shades in between that you will see today. There is no such thing as a "blue merle" or "red merle" coat coloration in Cattle Dogs. The colors can be classified as either "blue" or "red" or "blue or red speckle" or "blue or red mottle". Here are the official AKC designations:
BLUE, BLUE MOTTLED, BLUE SPECKLED, RED SPECKLED, or RED MOTTLED
TAN MARKINGS, RED MARKINGS, or BLACK & TAN MARKINGS
Cattle Dog puppies are born all white with the exception of any major body spots (black in coloration) that they will have always. They gradually change from white to blue or white to red as they mature.
Coat: The coat is a double coat with a short and dense top coat and a thick, soft undercoat. It is easy to maintain with regular brushing at least once a week to control any shedding. Depending on who you ask, breed fanciers will tell you that they shed only once a year, I, on the other hand, will tell you that mine shed year round.
For more information about correct coat color please visit a wonderful website by Noreen Clark based on her book, A Dog Called Blue. This site presents a wealth of knowledge on true colartions of the ACD and some beautiful photos, so go take a peak and then come back to us!
Here is one more site for even more information on color and some beautiful pictures of beautiful ACD's, go check out Kobinalong Australian Cattle Dogs, but don't forget to come back!
Size: Average weight and size ranges from 35 to 50 pounds and 17 to 20 inches at the shoulder
Tail: Yes, they are supposed to have tails!! ACD's are born with a beautiful tail that is very important in their maneuvering techniques during herding and chasing the occasional ball or rope toy. Some "breeders" (usually backyard breeders) have taken up the practice of "docking" the tail at birth. They use many excuses why they continue with this practice, but the truth of the matter is that a "true" Cattle Dog should have their tail.
The ACD is a very loyal and intelligent companion. They tend to be very wary and reserved with strangers and can be very protective and territorial if they feel that their person or family is being threatened. Along with their intelligence, they can also certainly be described as hardheaded and stubborn. They are one of the most intelligent breeds around and when a Cattle Dog puts his/her mind to doing something, you better bet that they will do it to the very best of their ability. Some ACD's have even been said to be able to read your mind. They require training and continual socialization to help keep them from running your home. This is not a breed for the weak or shy. They need a strong and just as stubborn owner.
Once an ACD has bonded with you they are a friend for life, but you will need to earn their trust. With that bonding they have earned the nickname of "velcro" dogs, because they will follow you everywhere. They typically make awesome off-leash dogs due to their "sticky" nature. It is still very important to do the appropriate training to ensure their safety off-leash.
They can get along with children, cats and other dogs as long as they are properly socialized with them. Because their herding instinct is so strong, it is sometimes hard to find a Cattle Dog that won't chase kitties. With small children, the round 'em up mentality is often par for the course with a Cattle Dog around. They are a mouthy dog and need to be taught at an early age that biting and nipping are not allowed.
For more in-depth information, please read our brochure that we put together on the ACD Personality. It will help you get a better understanding of the breed.
IS AN ACD RIGHT FOR YOU?
ACD's are very ACTIVE both physically and mentally and it is EXTREMELY important that you can keep both their psyche and body active and entertained. This is NOT a dog that can just be thrown into a backyard and ignored. This can be very detrimental and cause an unstable temperament. They need to be with "their people" which means as a part of the household living inside with the rest of the family. They make awesome house dogs as long as you exercise their brain and body. These dogs make excellent hiking, biking, running, and rollerblading companions. ACD's are also known to excel in activities such as fly ball, agility, service work, tracking and Frisbee competition. There is no limit to their versatility when choosing an ACD as your companion.
The questions you need to ask yourself when selecting an Australian Cattle Dog are:
- Can I commit the time and energy to properly train and stimulate an ACD for its' lifetime?
- Can I commit to proper socialization with other dogs and people for the lifetime of the Cattle Dog?
- Can I handle the strong ACD personality? Do I have the strong, dominant personality required?
If you truly commit yourself with these principles, then you can't ask for a more loyal, dedicated, and loving friend than an Australian Cattle Dog.