This time, The Jaded Dog Trainer discusses the Australian Cattle Dog. "My Australian cattle dog is herding everything there is under the sun... and even biting people. She’s always trying to herd my kids and it has become a regular challenge." After receiving this question, the Jaded Dog Trainer couldn’t wait to get into it.
What Is An Australian Cattle Dog?
Let’s first decode the Australian Cattle Dog’s breed description and take a look at what it really means. Often referred to as “Blue Heeler or Queen’s Heeler,” the Australian Cattle Dog is a popular herding dog and a favorite breed among handlers of working dogs and K9s.
This breed’s humble beginnings started out with the relationship between the British and Anglo-Australians. During the early 1800s, as these new settlers moved inland from the coastal regions of the Australian continent, they needed exceptional herding dogs to help with their cattle. The Australian Cattle Dog’s origins begin with the British-native breed, the Smithfield. This herding dog wasn’t well suited for Australia’s harsher landscape and climate, so crossbreeding experimentation began.
The Smithfield was crossed with the feral Australian Dingo to help improve their adaptability to the more extreme landscape, and then with both the Scottish Highland Collie and the Black and Tan Kelpie to further enhance herding instincts and overall toughness. Surprisingly, they were also cross bred with Dalmatians for their temperament, as well as a variety of other breeds suited towards this type of cattle herding work. Eventually, these settlers arrived at the durable, hardworking, Australian Cattle Dog.
As word spread about the success of this European-imported, mixed-breed, cattle dog’s abilities, it wasn't long before they became a favorite as a working dog across many disciplines. The Australian Cattle Dog breed is suited for any type of obedience work, is ideal for guard dog work, and performs exceptionally well as K9 unit and military service working dogs. They are highly intelligent and obedient dogs that perform well in competition and show.
The Jaded Dog Trainer’s Hot Take On The Australian Cattle Dog
Ultimately, the Australian Cattle Dog has it all. The first thing you’ll notice about their breed description is that they are “Loyal, famously smart, ever-learning, wary of strangers, easily get bored, and gets into mischief. You must keep them regularly exercised, and physically fit."
So let’s break down what that really means.
"Wary of strangers" means that the odds are very good your Heeler has already met everybody it wants to know in the world during the first eight weeks of their life. After that, she/he does not care about anybody else that they meet.
In fact, there's a good chance that it may bite the "intruder" everywhere but the bottom of their feet... and even with that, you've got about a 50-50 shot. Cattle dogs are famous for fun stuff like this. I own one of these dogs myself and that's the way she is too. Just all kinds of fun.
"Boundless energy" also means mischief. Holy crap, this breed is like a mischievous cat. I’m not even joking, you bought a dog that’s part hyena... When they say boundless energy, that's what they really mean. Your herding dog will jump on the counter and it'll crawl across your couch. This breed is going to do all kinds of crazy stuff because of the boundless energy they have.
If you’re going to get one of these dogs or if you already own one, then you’re going to need to “regularly exercise them to keep them both mentally and physically fit.” What that means is they're going to get fat if you don't do stuff with them, and "mentally challenging them with activities" means they're probably going to eat your furniture if you don't give them plenty of stuff to do.
Advice On Your Blue Heeler
So, now that you own this intense herding Blue Heeler, you need to understand the genetics of the Australian Cattle Dog and why it was bred for these specific traits. Again, for the last, however many bazillion years (a couple of centuries at least), the Australian Cattle Dog has been crossed with things like the dingo, and I'm pretty sure if they could have found a way to breed it with wild cats, they would have.
Honestly, there are a lot of different breeds that were cross-bred to build this amazing working dog to do a very specific job: herding. And these dogs are among the very best in the world. They literally herd anything and everything, which as we can see from the initial question, also includes children.
What we have is a dog that's unbelievably loyal and a spectacular animal. It will herd cattle like a machine. It does all kinds of stuff and it is extremely obedient. Which means it’s also highly trainable.
Which is what you should do. Right now. Go and train your Australian Cattle Dog!
The Australian Cattle Dog is an ultra-high energy dog, but also prone to gaining weight rapidly if they aren’t getting enough exercise. And they're gonna eat everything they can possibly eat. I mean, my herding dog gets fat by just looking at a bowl of kibble dog food.
So be sure to keep her busy. Because genetically we've bred them to be tough, intelligent working dogs that will defend their herd against wild animals while keeping cattle in line. Heelers have got to be hard-ass dogs doing the work they do.
So if you don't want a hard little tough-ass dog, you got the wrong dog and you need to reevaluate your life choices. Since you already have the dog, you should get your dog training equipment today and begin turning things around!