Australian Cattle Dogs (sometimes known as heelers) were originally bred to drive cattle. They do so by nipping at the legs of livestock “encouraging” them to change directions. They are good at their jobs! They are highly motivated and enjoy challenging tasks. It is important to respect a cattle dog’s boundaries because they are possessive and form strong attachments to their owners. They love being with people and other accepted members of the pack. If you are thinking about adopting a cattle dog it is important to keep their social nature in mind. They don’t mind being alone for short periods of time, but they need companionship.
Cattle dogs make good pets for active individuals. They are easy to groom, only requiring an occasional bath and brush. They want to be with you and can make great traveling partners. Be careful if you have small children because a cattle dog might try and herd them! Because of their herding drive they also have difficulty with small mammals. With proper motivation a cattle dog can be trained to do almost anything. However they do get bored with simple tasks. Their high energy levels mean they need lots of exercise and stimulation! They are successful in agility trials ( in case you don’t have a herd of cattle around), but they can be satisfied with a good walk and play time.
Cattle dogs are strong and solid! They are considered a medium size dog, but they can get as large as 60 lbs. They have large bushy tails that are used to help balance them when they are running at top speed. Many working dogs have their tails docked to prevent them getting stomped on by livestock. They are notable healthy dogs. There have been noted cases of deafness and progressive blindness. Even though they might not suffer from many health complications, you might find yourself at the vet anyway. There active nature leaves them prone to accidents. It isn’t unusual for a cattle dog to have their fair share of scrapes, cuts, and sprains.
If you want to learn more about cattle dogs, check out this short video!