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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do cattle dogs and cats get along?

Cattle dogs and cats can get along well together, but there are some things you need to know. Cattle dogs are very protective of their owners and their property, so they may growl at or even attack a cat if they feel like their owner is threatened. This can be dangerous for your cat, as cattle dogs have powerful jaws that can do serious damage. Cattle dogs also tend to be very territorial, so if your cat is already in the habit of marking its territory by spraying or urinating around the house, it could get into trouble with your dog.

What dog breeds get along best with cats?

Many dog breeds get along well with cats. In general, any breed that is not aggressive and does not chase or attack cats will do fine. Some of the more popular breeds include Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, and Poodle.

Do Queensland Heelers get along with cats?

In general, Queensland healers get along well with cats. However, it is important to know that any new pet should be introduced slowly into the home environment. It is also important to make sure that there is a safe area where the cat can go if it feels threatened by the dog.

What dogs are not cat friendly?

Dogs that are not cat friendly are typically dogs that have a high prey drive and a high energy level. These dogs will often chase cats, and some will even hurt or kill them. These include Bulldogs, Pugs, Chihuahuas, and Dachshunds. These dogs should never be allowed near cats as they could kill them without warning.

How do you tell if a dog will be good with cats?

The best way to tell if your dog will be good with cats is to watch them together. If they seem to get along, there's a good chance they'll continue to do so. You can also consider the personality and breed of the dog. Some breeds are naturally more aggressive than others, and some dogs that may not be naturally aggressive might become aggressive as they age or if they're sick or injured.

How do you introduce a hyper dog to a cat?

Introducing a hyper dog to a cat will require you to be patient and consistent. You'll want your dog on a leash at all times until he learns how to interact with your cat safely, which could take weeks or months depending on how old he is. During this time, you should have both animals in separate rooms so that they can get used to each other's scent without being able to see one another.
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

More on Australian Cattle Dog

Characteristics of Blue Australian Cattle Dog
Stop Australian Cattle Dog Nipping And Growling
Australian Cattle Dog's Thin Patch Of Hair

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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