Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dog

17 February 2023

Let’s talk about… Australian Cattle Dogs: What are they?

  • Australian Cattle Dogs, which unsurprisingly hail from Australia, have been around since the 1800s but didn’t come to the UK until the late 1970s.
  • They were used to handle herds of cattle on ranches and get the name “Heeler” as they would nip the heels of livestock to guide them.
  • They can make great family pets for responsible owners who understand how much time is needed to give to this breed.
  • They are a medium breed growing up to 51cm in height for males, and 48cm for females.
  • They should weigh between 17 and 23kg.
  • They have an average life expectancy of 12-14 years, but can be more as the current Guinness World Record for the oldest dog went to Bluey who was an Australian Cattle Dog who passed away at the age of 29 and a half years old!
Australian Cattle Dog  Exercise Needs 5/5 Grooming Ease 4/5 Trainability 4/5

What is the temperament of Australian Cattle Dogs like?

  • This breed is very loyal, highly intelligent and courageous. Their loyalty does mean they are attached to their families, but they may struggle to be comfortable with strangers. As with lots of breeds, if socialised well as pups and are given time and space with new people, they should become more comfortable with others.
  • As they were bred to nip during their herding responsibilities, they can do this when they get overexcited, especially with children. If you are considering owning an Australian Cattle Dog, do keep this in mind that this should be a priority when training.
  • Some Aussies can bark quite a bit, as they like to act as guard dogs.
Bandit, the Australian Cattle Dog

What kind of exercise do Australian Cattle Dogs need?

  • They are a working breed and are extremely high energy dogs. Adults need over 2 hours of exercise per day and are suited to people who can provide them with this level of physical exercise.
  • As well as their physical needs, they require a lot of mental stimulation to keep them entertained. If they get bored they can get up to mischief!
  • They enjoy going on hikes and exploring nature, agility classes, playing fetch with a ball or a frisbee and when at home engage them with brain puzzles, and treat finding games!

Do Australian Cattle Dogs need a lot of grooming?

  • The colours of their coats include blue, blue speckled, with or without black, blue with tan markings and speckled red.
  • Weekly brushing to get rid of dead hair and dried on mud, and washing them when they are particularly dirty should be enough grooming for the average Australian Cattle Dog.
  • They have water-resistant double coats
  • They can cast some hair around the house.
  • Like any dog, regular tooth brushing with a dog-specific toothpaste twice daily is ideal.  If you can’t manage that often, just do it as often as you can.
Douglas, the Australian Cattle Dog

Are Australian Cattle Dogs easy to train?

  • The fact that this breed is typically very intelligent and eager to please means they are usually rather easy to train.
  • That said, they are best trained by someone who is familiar with the breed, who can be confident with them, so they aren’t recommended for first time dog owners.
  • It’s very important to be consistent when training an Australian Cattle Dog and be very patient with them. If they get bored try to change up sessions a bit to keep them mental stimulating, or take a break.
  • They can really benefit from a lot of socialisation at a young age - so be sure to get them used to different people, dogs, animals, sights and sounds.
  • They will often instinctively want to herd the group, but be sure to work on preventing them nipping, like they may have done traditionally with the cattle they drove.
Irwin, the Australian Cattle Dog

What do Australian Cattle Dogs eat?

  • Australian Cattle Dogs should be fed a good quality dog food twice daily.
  • They should be given puppy food until they are around 12 months old, but as each brand of dog food varies, they should be able to advise on the best time to make this gradual food change.
  • Unless working, or exercising to a high level, although traditionally “working dogs”, if your Australian Cattle Dog is more of a pet, they should not need the extra calories of a working dog food.
  • They are quite prone to being overweight, so be sure to watch the treats and how much dinner they are getting. If you have concerns about your dog’s weight you should check in with your vet.

Are Australian Cattle Dogs healthy?

In general Australian Cattle Dogs are healthy dogs, but like any breed, there are certain conditions they are more prone to than others.  These include:

Bones and Joints

  • Hip dysplasia - a condition where the thigh bone and pelvis do not sit together properly at the hip joint
  • Elbow dysplasia - this condition is where there is an issue with how the bones fit together at the elbow joint
  • Luxating patella - this is when a dog’s kneecap moves out of where it should normally be


  • Deafness - a full or partial inability to hear


  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) - this is when the retina of the eye, breaks down, leading to blindness


  • Bladder Stones  - Stones form in the bladder which can be uncomfortable and cause a blockage
  • Dermatomyositis - A genetic condition that causes inflammation of muscle as well as skin.

This list is by no means comprehensive, so if you have any concerns about the health of your dog, or if you want to discuss further if an Australian Cattle Dog is right for you, consult with your vet.

Always make sure to have your dog insured, so you don’t get caught out with any unexpected vet bills.

Our vet top tip

Australian Cattle Dogs can be great, friendly dogs but socialisation at a young age is super important for them to be good pets. Although stocky dogs, they can be known for going beyond stocky, to being overweight, so watch what they eat and exercise them well!

BorrowMyDoggy loves Australian Cattle Dogs

BorrowMyDoggy has 143 Australian Cattle Dog members.

The most popular name for an Australian Cattle Dog on BorrowMyDoggy is Dexter.

Information on this page should never replace advice given by your veterinarian. Potential health issues presented are given as a guide only and are not meant to be comprehensive. If you ever have any concerns about your dog’s health contact your local vet.

Herding Dog Breeds

Anatolian Shepherd

Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Shepherd

Bearded Collie

Belgian Shepherd

Border Collie

German Shepherd

Kangal Shepherd

Old English Sheepdog

Rough Collie

Smooth Collie

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