The Red Heeler, AKA Australian Cattle Dogs, Make Ideal Working Partners

Posted by Christy Caplan
Australian Cattle Dog

The Red Heeler, also known as the Australian Cattle Dog, is a herding dog hailing from New South Wales, Australia.

These smart and high-energy dogs, are considered America's 54th most popular dog breed, and have been recognized by the American Kennel Club since 1980.

A crucial player in the development of Australia's beef industry, the ACD is a unique dog with an interesting history stretching back to the mid-1800s. If you're looking for an athletic, incredibly intelligent dog to add to your family, the ACD might be for you.

Australian Cattle Dog history

In 1840, a Queensland, Australia man, George Elliott, began breeding Dingo-blue merle Collie crosses in the hopes of creating a good working dog. He succeeded. The puppies he produced turned into such able working dogs, that cattlemen began purchasing Elliott's puppies for themselves.

This new dog was a compact, thicker set version of the Dingo in body type, with unique, speckled markings in either red or blue. These were the predecessors of today's ACD. The blue variety earned the name "Blue Heeler" or "Australian Heeler," and in Queensland, where it was so important to the success of the cattle industry, "Queensland Heeler," "Red Heeler," or "Queensland Blue Heeler."

CertaPet tells us that the difference between the red and blue heeler dogs is simply the color of the their coats:

"This is purely a reference to the color of the dog, rather than indicating different breeds. The reddish-brown Queensland heelers are referred to as red heelers, and those that have a greyish or black coast are blue."

Personality and activity level

These are active dogs suitable for active adults or farmers!

Their energy levels are off the hook so be prepared to keep their herding instincts busy during the day. These dogs will become destructive if they're bored. They'll start nipping if they don't get enough exercise. Plan to involve them in agility training, obedience training, flyball, and any dog sports you think you'll both enjoy.

Why are Red Heelers good working dogs?

All Things Dogs, tells us that these dogs and Red Heeler puppies are not suitable for someone that isn't active:

"They need a rigorous exercise regime to stimulate them in both mind and body, a cattle dog should also have access to your garden (when old enough) so they can self-exercise."

They're a working breed and their activity level reflects this. They enjoy driving and chasing things.

They need space! 

Red Heelers will need to spend a lot of time participating in activities suitable for their breed. These are herding dogs! They really don't make a great family pet if you can't hike, involve them in dog sports or have the space that allows them to herd livestock.

Border Collies and Kelpies are similar.

Do you know anyone that lives with a cattle dog breed? Let us know what characteristics you love about this breed!

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The Red Heeler, AKA Australian Cattle Dogs, Make Ideal Working Partners