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  A Summary History of the Australian Cattle Dog (ACD)


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Blue Heeler at 6 weeksThe Australian Cattle Dog

(Updated 11-21-10)

The breed has been known by many official names: Australian Cattle Dog, Blue Heeler, Australian Heeler, Red Heeler, Hall's Heeler and Queensland Heeler. Nicknames include ACD, Aussie, Bluey, Dingo, or just plain Cattledog. All of these refer to same working and herding dog from down under.

Adult Red Heeler femaleAccording to the breed standard of the American Kennel Club, the Australian Cattle Dog should be "a strong, compact, symmetrically built working dog with the ability and willingness to carry out his allotted task however arduous." The Heeler is a medium size dog of 17 to 20 inches in height at the withers. A healthy cattledog should weigh between 35 and 50 pounds. The ACD colors are either a good red speckle, hence the name Red Heeler, or a blue, blue mottled, and blue speckled pattern, universally called "Blueys." The Australian Cattle Dog is always alert, extremely intelligent, and a loyal, trustworthy working partner.

The Queensland Heeler is a well known export of Australia. The settlers of Australia in the early nineteenth century brought their working dogs with them. While excellent herders, they required more stamina for the harsh conditions of the Australian Outback. There were several attempts to cross these dogs with the Dingo, the wild dog indigenous to the Outback. The result of these early breedings all had their faults. In 1840, Thomas Hall of New South Wales, Australia imported a pair of Blue Smooth Highland Collies. The Highland Collie of the 1840s, unlike today, was described as blue merle dogs similar to either the border collies or bearded collies of today. Mr. Hall crossed these dogs with the Dingo. The resulting progeny were either blue or red speckled and became known as "Hall's Heelers."

Bentley's mark on two adult Blue HeelersOne dog of the pure Hall strain became well known as being beautifully built and an incredible worker was owned by Tom Bentley. Known only by the name of "Bentley's Dog," he was used widely used as a stud to retain the outstanding qualities he possessed. It is said then that the white blaze on the forehead of all Australian Cattle Dogs is the "Bentley Mark" and can be attributed to Tom Bentley's dog.

The ACD continued to evolve and included the infusion of other breeds, most notably the Black and Tan Kelpie, the Dalmatian, and a re-infusion of Dingo. By the twentieth century the Blue Heeler had found its way to the United States. In the late 1960s, fans of the breed formed the first Australian Cattle Dog Club of America. Their goal was to move the breed out of the Miscellaneous Group of the American Kennel Club. The AKC took over breed registry in 1979 and fully recognized the Australian Cattle Dog in 1980. Today, the Heeler is a member of the Herding Group.

Like all herding dogs, the cattledog has a high energy level and an active mind. They require plenty of exercise and a job to do. You will find the Queensland Heeler plentiful in farm and ranch country, but in recent years many are finding their way into homes as the family pet. Their job here must be activities like walking or jogging their humans, and participating in dog sports like catching a flying disk, or agility courses. It is important for the Cattle Dogs are known as MASTER manipulators!cattledog to have a pack leader and an established family hierarchy. It cannot be emphasized enough: the Australian Cattle Dog requires discipline, training, and plenty of exercise.

Cattle Dogs who do not receive the appropriate exercise and entertainment will invent their own, often destructive, activities. However, given the master who will give them love, leadership, and an exhaustive daily workout, the ACD will be the most loyal, protective, fearless, and loving partner in work or play. Once you befriend this breed, their will be no other for the rest of your life.




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