The Australian Cattle Dog was originally bred for just that purpose, herding cattle. It has also been known as Blue Heeler, Queensland Heeler or Red Heeler. It is an interesting dog with unique markings and coat colours. It is a fabulous working dog, but not necessarily a great family pet. They require quite a bit of training to get them out of the herding phase. This should be kept in mind when deciding if this is the right type of dog for your situation or family.
The Australian Cattle Dog has a coat with a variety of markings, usually blue and red flecks. For dog shows these marking should be even, and solid coloured markings are undesirable. However, for most dog owners the markings are interesting no matter what, and they are happy with them. The mask is one of the most distinctive features of this breed. They have a mask covering one or both eyes of either red or black, depending on whether it is a red or blue speckled dog. However not all the dogs have a mask. Many of these dogs have a blaze of white fur on their foreheads. The dog will be approximately 45 cm or 18 inches in height, and weight roughly 20 kg or forty pounds.
Like most dogs bred for herding, the Australian Cattle Dog is intelligent and well tempered, as well as highly energetic. They need lots of exercise and activities, such as dog sports or learning tricks, activities that work their minds and their bodies. Otherwise these dogs will seek entertainment in more destructive ways. A varied training approach is better than a consistent one, because the dog will become bored with repetitiveness and the training will not be effective. These dogs are naturally wary of strangers and my nip at them as they get older.
These dogs have a strong work ethic, and will complete any task you put to them. They are fairly easy to train to do various work tasks, as long as you keep things interesting so that they don’t get bored. However, the dog’s first and foremost instinct is for herding, so you will want to keep this in mind when designing tasks for the dog to accomplish.
The only trouble with the Australian Cattle Dog is that it has an inherent need to herd. Left to its own devices it may try to herd ducks, cats, or other animals. It may also try to herd people by nipping at their heels. This means that these dogs do not make great pets for families with children, because the dog will try to herd the children and could inadvertently injure them.