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Australian Cattle Dogs: the most honest dog breed review you'll ever find about Australian Cattle Dog temperament, personality, and behavior.

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Australian Cattle Dog Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em

(also known as Queensland Heeler, Blue Heeler, Red Heeler)

Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013

Australian Cattle Dog - Queensland Heeler
Silver Dust Real Butter
owned by Deb Casey Silver Dust AuCaDos

Bold and athletic, the robust Australian Cattle Dog enjoys romping and roughhousing.

He is absolutely NOT an apartment dog. To stay in hard muscular condition and a satisfied frame of mind, Australian Cattle Dogs (also known as Queensland Heelers) require lots of exercise. Working livestock, agility, jogging, biking, chasing balls, and playing Frisbee are productive outlets for this breed's high energy. Cooping him up with nothing to do will lead to destructive behaviors and obsessive barking.

With strangers, the Cattle Dog is watchful and often suspicious. Early socialization is important so that he does not become too sharp.

He can be dominant and pushy with other dogs, and with his strong chasing drives and tendency to nip at whatever he is pursuing, he is not recommended around cats unless raised with them.

A challenging combination of cleverness and hard-headedness, Australian Cattle Dogs will test members of the family during adolescence and must be handled with firm, consistent leadership. These versatile dogs can learn and do a great deal in the right hands, but they will run right over hapless owners.


If you want a dog who...

  • Is medium-sized, very sturdy, and natural-looking
  • Thrives on vigorous exercise and athletic activities
  • Makes a vigilant watchdog
  • Has a short, easy-care coat that comes in striking colors

An Australian Cattle Dog may be right for you.


If you don't want to deal with...

  • Vigorous exercise requirements
  • Destructiveness when bored or not exercised enough
  • Suspiciousness toward strangers
  • Aggression toward other animals
  • Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
  • Chasing and nipping at things that move: children, joggers, other animals, bikes, cars
  • Potential for excessive barking, often in a high-pitched voice
  • Heavy shedding

An Australian Cattle Dog may not be right for you.

But you can avoid or minimize some negative traits by
  1. choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
  2. or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
  3. training your dog to respect you
  4. avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy


More traits and characteristics of the Australian Cattle Dog

If I was considering an Australian Cattle Dog, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Australian Cattle Dogs MUST have regular opportunities to vent their energy and to use their busy minds to do interesting things. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored -- which they usually express by barking and destructive chewing. Bored Queensland Heelers are famous for chewing through drywall, ripping the stuffing out of sofas, and turning your yard into a moonscape of giant craters.

    If you simply want a pet for your family, and don't have the time or inclination to take your dog running or hiking or biking or swimming, or to get involved in herding, or agility (obstacle course), or advanced obedience, or tracking, or a similar canine activity, I do not recommend this breed.

    Australian Cattle Dogs were never intended to be simply household pets. Their working behaviors (chasing, nipping, poking, barking, territorial instincts toward other animals) are inappropriate in a normal household setting. Trying to suppress these "hardwired" behaviors, without providing alternate outlets for their high energy level, can be difficult.

  2. Suspiciousness toward strangers. Some Australian Cattle Dogs have protective instincts toward strangers. They need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of "good guys." Then they can recognize the difference when someone acts abnormally. Without careful socialization, they may be suspicious of everyone, which is a short step to aggression.

    If you have small children, or if you or anyone who lives with you is elderly or infirm, I do not recommend Australian Cattle Dog puppies. The temptation to play roughly and nip at moving people is simply too strong in many young Queensland Heelers.

  3. Animal aggression. Many Australian Cattle Dogs are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex. Many have strong instincts to chase and seize cats and other fleeing creatures.

  4. The strong temperament. Australian Cattle Dogs are not Golden Retrievers. The best Cattle Dogs are versatile working dogs, capable of learning a great deal, but they have an independent mind of their own and are not pushovers to raise and train. They can be manipulative, and many are willful, obstinate, and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.

    To teach your Cattle Dog to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Australian Cattle Dog Training Page discusses the program you need.

  5. Barking. Australian Cattle Dogs are often too quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound. You have to be equally quick to stop them. This breed should should not be left outside in your yard, unsupervised. To make matters worse, some Australian Cattle Dogs have intense, high-pitched barks that can set your teeth on edge.

  6. Shedding. For such a shorthaired dog, Australian Cattle Dogs shed much more than you might think. Their short coarse hairs come off on your hands when you pet them, and stick tenaciously to your clothing, upholstery, and carpeting.


book cover To learn more about training Australian Cattle Dogs to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book,
Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.

It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Australian Cattle Dog the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.

Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.



book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Australian Cattle Dog puppy. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.


If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Australian Cattle Dog might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.


book cover Once you have your Australian Cattle Dog home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.

My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.

Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.



Please consider adopting an ADULT Australian Cattle Dog...

When you're acquiring an Australian Cattle Dog PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.

But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Australian Cattle Dogs who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!

Save a life. Adopt a dog.

Adopting a Dog From a Dog Breed Rescue Group

Adopting a Dog From the Animal Shelter

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