History & Overview
The Australian Cattle Dog is a relatively new breed, and it is a manufactured breed. The terrible heat, dusty and arid conditions found in many parts of Australia require far more stamina in both man and dog than the wind, rain, snow in the UK.
One species of dog that had lived and hunted with the aboriginal people was Dingo. Thomas S. Hall crossed the Dingo with two Blue Merle Highland Collies of proven working ability. The early cattle ranchers of Australia required a tough dog with great stamina and able to bite that would be capable of controlling large herds of cattle that grazed on unfenced properties and rugged bushland. They managed to create an ideal working dog that is tenacious, agile, and hardy.
Today, the Australian Cattle Dog is a strong, healthy breed that herds cattle by nipping at their heels but without the nonstop barking common to many other herders.
Wary by nature, the Australian Cattle Dog needs early obedience training and social contact with both people and other animals. The breed is extremely intelligent, alert, watchful, trustworthy, and loyal. It has a strong devotion to duty and the protection of man and property. His scenting ability makes it a perfect candidate for drug and explosives detection as well as search-and-rescue work. They are also proving that they can be wonderful therapy dogs.
This Australian Cattle Dog breed’s heritage equips it to work in blistering sun or freezing winds. It innately knows what to do and how to do it. Do not expect the Australian Cattle Dog to harness physical and psychic energy and keep it in reserve until its owner is ready for a restrained walk around the block.
There is no such thing as a cattle dog that has nothing to do. If a cattle dog’s owner does not provide the dog with assigned duties, the dog will create its own activity schedule and, rest assured, more often than not the activities involved will seldom please the owner. On the other hand, if the prospective owner of an Australian Cattle Dog is an active person who also derives as much pleasure from training a dog, this person will undoubtedly join the ranks of the thousands of cattle dog owners who consider the breed one of the most trainable and intelligent in existence.
If an activity calls for speed, endurance, athletic ability and intelligence, the Australian cattle dog is a great candidate. There is such a wide array of events this breed is capable of competing in that it is highly unlikely that even an owner with energy and athletic ability will exhaust this breed’s potential. The wonderful thing about all this is that the more involved and the more proficient your dog in any or all of the above, the better it will become at being your best buddy and companion.
Australian Cattle Dogs & Children
If you have small children and you decide to bring an adult Australian Cattle Dog, consider the factor that the dog may have never been exposed to or interact with small children. The first sight of these “miniature people” can be very perplexing to the inexperienced dog, especially loud and very active children. When children run and play, the herding and heeling instinct in the dog may be aroused, perhaps leading to nipping at the children’s feet and ankles. It may take considerable time and patience to overcome this inborn instinct.
In yards when groups of children play, the Australian Cattle dog will push them into a tight circle. There are many stories about these dogs saving toddlers from running into traffic, or from straying away from the family property by gently herding them back home.
This is an intelligent breed that will constantly try to increase their status in your family “pack.” Care must be taken to be sure that the children maintain their status above the family dog. Some dogs will perceive roughhousing as a threat.
Known Health Risks
Although the breed is known to be hardy, still you will be well advised to make sure that the breeder made every effort to produce puppies from the stock that has clearances for the following inherited diseases: