Australian Cattle Dog

Other names: ACD, Cattle Dog, Blue Heeler, Red Heeler, Queensland Heeler

Australian Cattle Dog
Australian Cattle Dog

The Australian Cattle Dog (ACD) is a breed of herding dog native to Australia. It was originally bred for its ability to drive cattle across the vast plains of the Australian continent but is now more commonly seen as a companion pet. The ACD is said to be one of the most intelligent dogs of all. 


Key facts about the Australian Cattle Dog

  • Life expectancy : Between 13 and 15 years
  • Temperament : Playful, Intelligent
  • Size : Medium
  • Type of coat : Short, Hard

FCI Group

FCI Group

Group 1 - Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)


Section 2 : Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)

Physical characteristics of the Australian Cattle Dog

Adult size

Female dog Between 17 and 19 in
Male dog Between 18 and 20 in


Female dog Between 44 and 66 lb
Male dog Between 44 and 66 lb

Coat colour

The ACD is found with a coat of blue, blue and tan, black, blue and tan or red and tan.

Type of coat

The Australian Cattle Dog has a double coat comprising a short, straight top coat and a short, fine and dense undercoat. 

Eye colour

Dark brown 


A sturdy and muscular dog of great agility; the powerful muzzle and strong haunches belie a gentleness of character. The ears are medium sized and pricked.



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The Australian Cattle Dog is extremely affectionate and forms a very close bond with its owner. 


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The ACD is playful with people it knows although it may try to herd and dominate.


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The Australian Cattle Dog is not a nervous dog and does not easily scare. 


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The ACD’s exceptional intelligence lends itself to excellent obedience and responsiveness. 


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Australian Cattle Dogs are herding dogs. They do not have an instinct to track prey but they will enjoy herding other animals and people. 

Fearful / wary of strangers

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The Australian Cattle Dog is wary of strangers; the dog’s want to protect the family comes to the fore when meeting unfamiliar humans. An owner’s gentle encouragement is required.


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This dog is in all respects independent, so much so that it is likely to try to dominate others of the household if it sees a chance to do so.

Behaviour of the Australian Cattle Dog

Tolerates solitude

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The Australian Cattle Dog will tolerate solitude but only in small doses. 

Easy to train / obedience

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A strong-willed animal is the Australian Cattle Dog and one that is easy to train. However, being independent the Australian Cattle Dog requires a stronger-willed leader who is confident and consistent. 


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This dog is known for its excessive high-pitched barking. 

Tendency to run away

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Reinforcing the ‘recall’ command is always worthwhile with this dog even though the dog is, on the whole, exceptionally obedient.  


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The Australian Cattle Dog can be destructive if it is stressed or lonely. 

Greedy / Gluttony

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These dogs lean towards obesity if not exercised enough and fed the wrong kind of food.

Guard dog

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The alertness of the Australian Cattle Dog makes this breed a worthwhile watchdog. They are exceptionally protective of their owner. 

First dog

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The ACD needs to be challenged both physically and mentally in order to stay out of trouble. They should be trained by someone who has experience with the needs of a highly intelligent and energetic dog.


Australian Cattle Dog in a flat

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The happiest Australian Cattle Dogs are those that live in the countryside and are able to roam freely. A flat or small outside garden will not do for this dog. 

Need for exercise / Sporty

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The Australian Cattle Dog is an active dog that is accustomed to endless solo explorations

Travelling / easy to transport

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Once trained, Australian Cattle Dogs are comfortable with travelling.


Australian Cattle Dog and cats

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The Australian Cattle Dog will tolerate a household cat but only if the dog is taught (and reminded about) how to behave.

Australian Cattle Dog and dogs

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Australian Cattle Dogs interact well with other dogs but can exhibit dominance. 

Australian Cattle Dog and children

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This dog is boisterous at times, and due to its size, it is liable to knock over small children. The Australian Cattle Dog will also try to herd children and may nip at them to try to bring them into line. 

Australian Cattle Dog and the elderly

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The Australian Cattle Dog is a good choice of dog for someone of senior years, as long as it can be sufficiently exercised. 


This breed will cost you between £600 and £800 to buy and between £40 and £80 per month to keep.


The Australian Cattle Dog has a coat that is very easy to maintain. Occasional brushing is all that is required to keep the coat clean and shiny.  


The Australian Cattle Dog coat sheds twice throughout the year.  

Nutrition of the Australian Cattle Dog

It is always worthwhile to feed an Australian Cattle Dog a high-quality and specially formulated dog food rather than human food. 

Health of the Australian Cattle Dog

Life expectancy

The ACD carries a recessive gene that is known to cause deafness. Selective breeding should prevent deaf offspring. Life expectancy is 11 to 13 years. 

Strong / robust

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This particular breed is hardy and adventurous.  

Withstand heat

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The coat of the ACD allows the dog to tolerate hot weather. 

Withstand cold

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The double coat of the Australian Cattle Dog keeps the dog warm even when it walks in the rain and snow.

Tendency to put on weight

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Weight gain can be a feature of the Australian Cattle Dog. If your ACD is not exercised as regularly as it should be and is fed too much human or substandard food it will become obese.

Common illnesses

Good to know

This breed has been popular among famous dog-parents, including Matthew McConaughey and Mel Gibson.

Origins and history

The Australian Cattle Dog first arrived in the UK from Australia in 1980. Its popularity gave rise to an influx of the breed from countries other than down under. The breed was soon recognised by the Kennel Club and its popularity as a pet has steadily risen ever since. 


Sydney, Aussie, Barbie, Joey

Find out more dog name ideas here


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