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Australian Cattle Dog

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Highly active dogs with amazing stamina, Australian cattle dogs will run you ragged! They are friendly souls, at least when it comes to people, but don’t tend to like other dogs. Bred to range enormous distances, they relish life outdoors and excel at agility tests. They can be wonderful pets but only for active people who can accommodate their exercise needs.

Which breed group is the Australian cattle dog in?

Breed group: Pastoral

Australian cattle dog breed history

When immigrants arrived in Australia during the 19th century, they discovered that their dogs couldn’t cope with working in the extreme conditions on the enormous ranches. In order to evolve a dog capable of herding cattle over huge areas, the imported dogs were crossed with a variety of breeds including dingos, kelpies and bull terriers. The first breed standard was established in 1903. ACDs soon garnered a reputation for being highly intelligent and capable of working independently.

Australian cattle dogs are perfectly adapted to working on ranches but have also found popularity as pets. The dogs were first imported to the UK in 1979 and the breed is now recognised by the Kennel Club.

Australian cattle dog breed characteristics

Robust and compact, ACDs boast broad heads, dark oval eyes and an intelligent look. They are nicely balanced, muscular dogs with sloping shoulders and level toplines. Their feet are round and feature arched toes. Tails are held slightly raised. ACDs have smooth double coats with dense undercoats and coarser topcoats. Hair on the head and neck is slightly longer. The acceptable colours are blue, blue & tan, blue, black & tan, red, blue speckled, red & tan and red speckled.

Courageous and intelligent, Australian cattle dogs are loyal by nature and can be suspicious of strangers. They are diligent workers and excel at canine sports.

  • Lifespan: 12-14 years (occasionally much longer)
  • Height: up to 51cm
  • Weight: up to 22kg
  • Nicely balanced
  • Large heads
  • Sloping shoulders
  • Smooth double coats
  • Courageous
  • Intelligent
  • Hard working
  • Loyal
  • Energetic
  • Territorial
  • Can be aggressive to other dogs

Health issues with Australian cattle dog

The Australian cattle dog is known to be predisposed to the following conditions:

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Hip dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia

Congenital deafness

What is the Australian cattle dog bred for?

This breed was evolved to herd cattle over huge distances and in challenging conditions.

What sort of owners does Australian cattle dog suit?

As these dogs were bred to cover long distances on enormous ranches, they are best suited to owners who spend much of their time outdoors. They are demanding dogs in that they need a great deal of exercise and they are easily bored. ACDs are loyal and protective pets which are friendly but they do tend to nip at heels which makes them poor choices for families with young children.

Australian cattle dogs are often aggressive towards other dogs and so should be the only dog in the family. Experience of training dogs would be an advantage for owners as AWDs possess a stubborn streak and can be excessively territorial. They need to be taught their place in the family hierarchy but if they are, they can be rewarding pets and outstanding performers in agility competitions.


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