Australian Cattle Dog

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INTELLIGENCE -Extremely intelligent with unexpected powers of reasoning, able to accomplish specific commands and tasks with flair, does not require constant direction, very much a self-thinker. Some ACDs will test rules and boundaries regularly. Behaviour modification and training can be challenging at times, ACDs are more apt to ask you why they should do something than to blindly comply. Some swear ACDs have a sense of humour and many seem to like to be the center of attention. Able to do most doggy activities; from sledding, herding, to scent retrieval and search & rescue. Becomes bored with repetitive tasks, so mix up the routine to keep both of you motivated. Be firm but fair in disciplining and quick to praise. Some are very food motivated, others desire toys or pats of praise--instant reward methods appear to work well. What makes your ACD a tough herding dog is also what makes them meet a fist with a snarl and a bite-physically forceful methods of training rarely work with this breed--work on convincing their grey matter and be smarter than your dog. They have an intense desire to please and delight in having a purpose or job to do. If bored, they may turn that intelligence to negative endeavours and they have the physical capabilities to escape, dig, bark, chew, leap, climb or totally destroy where they are contained. Keep that brain of theirs amused.ENERGYHigh maintenance athletic pet. Most ACDs will be satisfied with about an hour a day exercise. This breed will rest when you rest and work when you do, though if you miss a day of run runs, you will have to deal with an overly energetic dog springing off the ceiling. At home in the desert or rolling in a snow bank, bred for incredible feats of stamina and endurance in less than ideal conditions. May be difficult to contain safely, so be prepared to accommodate them in very sturdy confines (kennel runs, extremely secure backyards, x-pens, loose in a dog proofed house). ACDs do not chain out well and may strangle by their own collar. If left unattended and loose outside, will go work the neighbour's stock, possibly get hit by a vehicle or stolen. Most ACDs are easy keepers and can get fat if you are not careful to balance their diet and exercise requirements. Care must be taken to ensure they do not injure themselves due to over exertion burning off all that energy. The human should be the one to say when enough is enough.


Dingo bred to Smithfield Collie = 1830; Timmins Biters + Highland Collie = 1840 to 1870; Hall's Heelers + Dalmatian = 1875; Blue/Red Speckled Dog + Black & Tan Kelpie = 1930; Australian Cattle Dog 1911: "The majority were beautifully marked blue or red speckled dogs, exactly like a small, thick-set Dingo, boiling over with work, and as sensible as Christians." - R.A.S. Annual of New South Wales

Country of origin: 
MALE - 18 - 20 inches (45 to 51 cm) - Female 17 - 19 inches (43 to 48 cm). Weight 33 - 50 pounds (15 to 23 kg).

SHEDDINGTheir weather-resistant outer coat is moderately short, straight and of medium texture, with a short dense undercoat. They blow their coats twice a year (spring & fall). Intact bitches will shed after a heat cycle or roughly around the time their puppies are being weaned. ACD's kept indoors can shed lightly all year round. Beige fake fur makes excellent bedding material for ACDs because it resists chewing and does not show shed hair excessively. Combing before and after a bath usually helps remove the ACD's shed hair. Altered ACDs tend to have a thicker hair coat.GROOMINGAn ACD's coat is not clipped or trimmed and is very easy to care for. The original "wash & wear" dog (water, dirt and debris resistant). A fine toothed metal flea comb will remove downy undercoat and a rubber horse curry comb will loosen the outercoat. Bath every few months to keep the ACD sweet smelling and huggable. No nonsense pricked ears. Clip nails; especially front dewclaws as they will not wear down and can grow into the sides of their legs. Check paw pads for cuts, abrasions and excessive dryness (use human hand cream to moisturize). Brush teeth to remove tartar build up or have your vet do this biannually. In tick infested areas, have them inoculated for Lyme Disease and inspect frequently for ticks. ACDs should not have their tails docked (they use them for balance and as a rudder during high speed turns). As you groom your ACD, inspect them for weight gains or losses (initial warning signs of health problems) and any cuts or other injuries.COLORS Handsome dog of unusual color and markings. Speckled coloration camouflages the ACD when gripping stock. Even head markings desirable (dark red on reds / black, blue and/or tan on blues), but solid red or black markings on the body are not. White stripe on the top of the head (Bentley mark) and the Dingo tail spot are characteristic to the breed, as is a ringed and/or spotted tail. Eyes brown with very dark pupil, yellow eye is a disqualification. Nose pigment black. - RED SPECKLED: Red coloration (good even red speckling all over including the undercoat-not white or cream) is more heat tolerant than blue version as the darker coat absorbs heat. - BLUE or BLUE MOTTLED: Blue, Blue&Tan, Blue/Black&Tan, Blue Speckled, Blue Mottled. Permissible markings are black, blue or tan head markings evenly distributed. Tan undercoat permissible on the body if it does not show through blue outercoat. - Not to standard coat colors: Red (should be red speckled), Red Mottled, Purple, Black, White, Chocolate, red headed blue dogs or blue headed red dogs.

Common ailments: 

An overall very healthy canine breed. The top three nasties are: 1) Canine Hip Dysplasia (hereditary disease of the rear hip joints; painful, debilitating and can affect a dog's movement) - breeding stock should be radiographed and have their hips certified.2) Deafness (inheritance not well understood; total or partial loss of hearing, no pain to the dog, but special care should be used to ensure safety) - Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) test should be done on all ACDs to determine if they are full hearing, unilaterally or bilaterally deaf.3) Progressive Retinal Atrophy or night/moon blindness a group of retinal canine diseases eventually leading to blindness, not painful but untreatable with afflicted individuals requiring special needs so they stay out of harm's way)- Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) exams should be conducted annually to detect eye anomalies such as cataracts and early onset PRA (1-2 years of age). Late onset Progressive Rod Cone Degeneration (PRCD-4 to 7+ years) is now detectable with a DNA blood test specific to the ACD breed. ACDs may have a predisposition to the following ailments: Eye anomalies (Cataracts, Persistent pupillary membrane, retinal Dysplasia, or Lens luxation), Arthritis, Elbow Dysplasia (category 1 & 2), Abnormal joint cartilage formation, Hemophilia A, Hypothyroidism, Hepatic portosystemic shunt,Heart murmurs, Inguinal & Umbilical hernia, Seizures, Epilepsy, Over/undershot jaw, Missing teeth, Slipping patellas, and Cancers.

Information supplied by: 

Tara Lee Higgins - Rat Ranch