Australian Cattle Dog

Seemingly tireless even after a long day's work out on the range, this powerful breed had an important role as a cattle driver during Australia's early history. It retains a touch of wilderness today.

This Aussie icon has a compelling drive and determination. With its high intelligence they are adept at herding, obedience training and guarding. Keep this breed's mind and body active with challenging obedience classes and constant physical activity.


Working dogs imported into Australia from other countries initially proved good for smallholdings or family farms. However, in around 1813 after the Great Dividing Range had been crossed, the settlers had hundreds of smallholdings with thousands of square miles that were often unfenced. Not surprisingly, cattle were quite difficult to control on such properties.

Accepted by the AKC in 1979, this breed dates back to the 1840s. This dog was required to chase, herd. It instinctively knew to get out of the way when the herd was on the move, so as not to spook them.


To the drovers on the old stock routes, color had a very practical value. A dark dog was almost invisible at night and could patrol a mob of cattle virtually without being seen.

A lighter colored brush on the tail gave the watchful stockman an indication of where his dog was. Very pale dogs were more visible at night and during the day, and hence more likely to be kicked by cattle. The Australian Cattle Dog is a dog that exemplifies normality and lack of exaggeration. A good specimen of the breed has a correct balance between skeletal structure and structural relationships. It is a dog of moderation, orientated towards maximum exercise, tolerance and without physical exaggeration.

Its head is wide, with strong muzzle; its ears, set apart and upright, are erect when the dog is alerted; its eyes are medium sized and dark; and it has a sturdy neck. A thick, broad chest is supported by muscular limbs that thicken at the thighs. Usually the tail hangs down, but when the dog is active, it stands up. There is also a stumpy-tailed cattle dog which has no tail.

This fine guard dog, known to challenge other dogs as well as strangers; however, it is not a good breed for young children, as it has been known to attack them when pestered.

Height: 43-51 cm at the shoulder.

Weight: 23-27 kg.

Coat and Grooming

Grooming requirements are minimal. The short, water-resistant double coat comes in speckled blue or red. A weekly brush is needed to remove dead hairs.


It is generally free of any major hereditary defects, like hip dysplasia and other hereditary ailments that often affect larger dogs.

Lifespan is generally 12-15 years.


Cattle Dogs make wonderful guard or watchdogs and they can also be extremely loyal friends. They make perfect companions and are becoming increasingly popular as pets, but they require a definite quantity of physical and mental exercise for their own well-being.

Environment and Exercise

Very energetic, as it has been bred for extended hard labor, the Australian cattle dog needs a long, vigorous walk at least twice a day.

The Australian Cattle Dog originally a farm dog, so only a large property will do. Couple this with daily mental and physical activity. Challenge this breed with obedience and agility sessions, games and strenuous exercise. A long jog or run will do as walking is too boring. Ensure each day is different for this dog.

Compatibility with Kids and other Pets

The Australian Cattle Dog tends to nip at the heels of running children in a bid to herd them. Visiting children need constant supervision with this territorial breed. As a dominant dog, it is not very friendly with other pets. Strange dogs and animals may be viewed with aggression.

Puppies and Training

A litter of four to eight all-white (harking back to Dalmatian blood in their heritage) puppies is usual. Early, thorough training of the very aggressive puppies is necessary to get them to adjust to life around people.

Gallery of Australian Cattle Dog