Information about Blue Heelers

           The Australian Cattle Dog, also known as the Queensland Heeler, Blue Heeler and Red Heeler is a breed of herding dog developed in Australia for droving cattle. It is a medium-sized short-coated dog with a lot of energy, intelligence and an independent streak.

              Like many working dogs, Cattle Dogs have high energy levels and active minds. They need plenty of exercise and a job to do, so non-working dogs need to participate in dog sports, learning tricks, or other activities that engage their body and mind. Some individuals find repetitive training frustrating and dull, so owners should aim to make training sessions varied and more exciting in order to keep their dog interested. Cattle Dogs who do not receive the appropriate exercise and entertainment will invent their own, often destructive, activities. These dogs are, by nature, wary. They are naturally cautious, and grow more so as they age. Their cautious nature towards strangers makes them perfect guard dogs, when trained for this task.

              The Australian Cattle Dog ranks 10th in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs, being one of the brightest dogs ranked by obedience command trainability.

              Cattle Dogs drive cattle by nipping at their heels or tails, but they have also been known to round up other animals.

              To relieve the urge to nip, the Australian Cattle Dog can be encouraged to pick up and chew a toy or stick that is thrown for them. Any toy left with the Australian Cattle Dog needs to be extremely robust if it is to last.

             The Australian Cattle Dog enjoys living with other dogs with whom it is familiar, working well in combination with other Cattle Dogs, Australian Kelpies, and Border Collies. Because of their plucky nature, the establishing of a pecking order can result in a few scuffles and bites.

              It is important for an owner to quickly establish a hierarchy in which they are the dog's pack leader, otherwise the young Australian Cattle Dog may bond to a senior dog, rather than to its owner. If put in any situation where the dog feels threatened, and/or uncomfortable, it will usually resort to aggressiveness towards other, unknown dogs.          

             Australian Cattle Dogs not only tolerate a high level of physical activity, they almost demand it. Like many other herding dog breeds, they have active and fertile minds that turn mischievous if not properly channeled. Australian Cattle Dogs are highly intelligent and can be very bossy.

             When not active, an Australian Cattle Dog can be kept occupied with mental puzzles. Among the most popular activities for Australian Cattle Dogs is dog agility. While the Australian Cattle Dog is ideally suited for this work, since it is a herding breed and thus very reactive to the handler's body language, some Australian Cattle Dogs become highly frustrated at the repetition and routine necessary to hone agility skills. As for many breeds, frequent brief training sessions are more effective than infrequent long training sessions. For this reason, many handlers find training an Australian Cattle Dog to be challenging. It is important to always change the methods and exercises and not allow the dog or handler to get into a negative routine. Australian Cattle Dogs thrive on change and new experiences.

          Only a few Australian Cattle Dogs, therefore, have excelled in obedience competition. For example, the American Kennel Club awards an "Obedience Competition Championship" to the dog-and-handler team that defeats a large number of other teams in open competition. A handful of Australian Cattle Dogs have reached this level. While Australian Cattle Dogs enjoy the challenge of obedience competition, such as retrieving a scented article, the majority of Australian Cattle Dogs are easily bored with precision drilling.

          Australian Cattle Dogs are very organized animals. If the owner has established a "toy box," or some other type of holding area for the dog's possessions, it is not unlikely for an Australian Cattle Dogs to return whatever it has taken back to this area. Hence the numerous claims of the Australian Cattle Dogs "putting away its toys," or "picking up after itself." It is not unusual for an Australian Cattle Dogs to put away bones or items that have been taken out of the area by other dogs as well hence the many claims that the Australian Cattle Dogs "picks up after others."

          The dog is strong and muscular, yet compact and symmetrical, with the ability and willingness to carry out any task no matter how enduring or hard.





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Last updated: 11/28/11.