Characteristics of Blue Australian Cattle Dogs

Characteristics of Blue Australian Cattle Dogs

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Blue Australian Cattle dogs are loyal and protective of both their family and property, possibly becoming aggressive if they think they are defending their "pack." Learn more about this breed here.

Blue Australian Cattle Dogs are defined by the color of their coats, but their official breed name is simply the Australian Cattle Dog. Often times the breed is informally called a Heeler, Blue Heeler or Red Heeler. This compact, rugged breed was developed by Australian ranchers in the 19th century to meet the need for a high-endurance cattle driver. Bred to be active working animals, Australian Cattle Dogs don't fit into every household. Their high energy levels, herding tendencies and other behavior characteristics can be hard for owners to handle, particularly first-time dog owners.


Australian Cattle Dogs are devoted to their family, wanting to be involved in human lives. Many quickly become one-person dogs, buddies that don't want to stray far from that person's side. This attachment requires a corresponding commitment from the dog's owners. They are sometimes called "velcro dogs" because of that trait. Bred to protect cattlemen and their herds, Australian Cattle Dogs are generally alert, watchful and wary. They are loyal and protective of both their family and property, possibly becoming aggressive if they think they are defending their "pack." Most Australian Cattle Dogs are naturally suspicious of strangers.

Sociability with People

Because Australian Cattle Dogs have a natural tendency to be reserved around strangers, it's essential to start socializing these dogs very early in life to accustom them to being around a variety of people. Consider taking your dog to puppy training classes, to parks, and into stores that welcome pets, to get the dog used to behaving well around strangers. Australian Cattle Dogs have strong herding instincts, and under certain circumstances will even try to round up small children. This behavior can be terrifying to young children, while older children can learn how to deal with it. It is important to take steps to prevent herding behavior, such as teaching basic obedience commands and giving your dog plenty of exercise to release extra energy.

Sociability with Other Animals

Members of this breed can be bossy and pushy with other dogs, especially when trying to establish a rank order. Australian Cattle Dogs typically get along well with family cats that they've been raised with since puppyhood, but their natural herding instinct means that any cats not from their household will be fair game. Australian Cattle Dogs will also chase and often kill small animals such as rabbits, ferrets and members of the rodent family, so it's not a great idea to have those animals for household pets if you have an Australian Cattle Dog.

Energy Levels

Australian Cattle Dogs require constant physical and mental activity. These dogs need vigorous daily exercise, such as running the agility course, taking obedience lessons, competing in flying disc competitions or running alongside their owner's bicycle. Without sufficient activity, an Australian Cattle Dog tends to become bored and destructive. Because of this, Australian Cattle Dogs aren't well-suited to small houses or apartments, and many end up in rescues when their owners conclude they can't meet the dogs' needs. Australian Cattle Dogs do best when they can work off excess energy in a large yard.


Australian Cattle Dogs are smart and clever, but also possess an independent streak and like to think for themselves. You must be a firm, consistent leader and provide your dog with a lot of positive feedback. Make your training sessions challenging and fun to keep your Australian Cattle Dog interested and motivated. These dogs have a natural toughness, and will keep training or competing even when injured. Be mindful of their health and keep a close eye on your Australian Cattle Dog so you can notice any injuries and stop the activity.

References & Resources
The Howell Book of Dogs: The Definitive Reference to 300 Breeds and Varieties; Liz Palika
Australian National Kennel Council, LTD: Australian Cattle Dog
Australian Cattle Dog Rescue Association: Living With an ACD

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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.

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Australian Cattle Dog

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