Choosing to bring a dog into your home is a big decision that should not be taken lightly. In order to find your perfect pet, you should make sure you select the breed that is appropriate for your lifestyle and personality. If an Australian Cattle Dog is the breed you are considering, you are probably looking for a medium-sized dog with lots of energy and personality.
History of the Breed
The Australian Cattle Dog, as the name suggests, was originally bred to herd cattle. The breed is actually a mixture of Dalmatian, Bull Terrier, Blue Collie and Dingo. They are often referred to as "Blue Heelers," due to the specks of blue often found on their coat as well as their tendency to nip at people's heels.
Size and Activity Level
Although this breed is medium-sized - about 17-20 inches tall and 35-50 pounds - don't let its size fool you. Australian Cattle Dogs are extremely active. In fact, these dogs are often more energetic than much larger breeds. As a result, potential owners must be willing to give this dog the exercise it needs. Apartments, therefore, are not recommended. At a minimum, you must be willing to take this breed on 2-3 daily walks. It is preferable, however, to give the dog a "job" such as obedience training or dog sports. Australian Cattle Dogs are known for their agility and stamina, which makes them great Frisbee players and jogging partners.
In terms of personality, a more loyal dog is difficult to find. The breed is very easy to train and aims to please its master. At the same time, however, Cattle Dogs are usually a "one-master" type of dog, meaning they tend to bond more closely with one owner than another. Yet despite their loyalty and eagerness to please, the Australian Cattle Dog is a very cautious breed. They are highly suspicious of strangers and tend to bark a lot. Although these traits make them superb watchdogs, they can become aggressive toward strangers.
Relationship to Other Pets and Children
If you're looking for a companion for your current dog, the Australian Cattle Dog should be considered only if you're purchasing him or her as a puppy. Adult Cattle Dogs usually do not interact well with other dogs unless they have known them since puppyhood. The same is true for children.
Although the breed has short, coarse hair, they are fairly heavy shedders. Individuals suffering from canine allergies, or those who simply do not like the thought of dog hair all over their home, should refrain from purchasing an Australian Cattle Dog. On the plus side, the breed has minimal grooming needs and aside from occasional bathing, needs only to be brushed during shedding seasons.
Australian Cattle Dogs typically live about 12-15 years, which is consistent with similarly-sized breeds. The breed's most frequent health ailments are blindness, arthritis and reproductive problems.
Overall, the Australian Cattle Dog is an ideal pet for active owners who want an exercise companion, does not mind barking or shedding and is willing to give this dog the attention he or she needs.
If, however, you're looking for a lapdog that doesn't require much energy, you should definitely steer clear of the Australian Cattle Dog.