Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Australian Cattle Dog

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Find out everything you ever wanted to know about the Australian Cattle Dog, all in one convenient place right here on my blog. I will be featuring other dogs, so continue following my blog to read all about your favorite breeds.   

Other Names/Nicknames:                ACD, Australian Heeler, Australian Queensland Heeler, Blue Heeler, Blue Heeler, Heeler, Queensland Blue Heeler, Queensland Heeler, Queensland Red Heeler, and Red Heeler.

Country of Origin: Australia

Herding Group     (Pastoral Group, Cattledogs)

Purpose of Breed:               Cattle herder and livestock guardian.

Recognized By:    American Kennel Club in 1980
Canadian Kennel Club in NOT AVAILABLE
Fédération Cynologique Internationale in NOT AVAILABLE
Kennel Club in 1985
United Kennel Club in 1985

Population Scarcity:           Not vulnerable

AKC Ranking in 2010: 64th

Life Expectancy: 10-15 years

Weight: approximately 33-50 lb (15-23 kg)
Bulk/Substance: middle
A compact and well-muscled built dog with the appearance is that of power and balance, conveys agility, strength and endurance.

Height:  Male 18-20 inches (46-51 cm)                             Female 17-19 inches (43-48 cm)
Size:       medium

Proportion: is slightly longer than tall, as 10 is to 9

Color:     Blue - The color should be blue, blue-mottled or blue speckled with or without other markings. The permissible markings are black, blue or tan markings on the head, evenly distributed for preference. The forelegs tan midway up the legs and extending up the front to breast and throat, with tan on jaws. The hindquarters tan on inside of hind legs, and inside of thighs, showing down the front of the stifles and broadening out to the outside of the hind legs from hock to toes. Tan undercoat is permissible on the body providing it does not show through the blue outer coat. Black markings on the body are not desirable.

Red Speckle - The color should be of good even red speckle all over, including the undercoat, (neither white nor cream), with or without darker red markings on the head. Even head markings are desirable. Red markings on the body are permissible but not desirable.

The ACD's coloration should not to be confused with merle as it is the result of the ticking gene. Ticking which is the presence of color in the white areas with the flecks of color being the same as the basic color of the dog, though the effect depends on other genes that will modify the size, shape and density of the ticking.

Coat:      The coat is smooth, a double coat with a short dense undercoat. The outer-coat is close, each hair straight, hard, and lying flat, so that it is weather resisting. Under the body, to behind the legs, the coat is longer and forms near the thigh a mild form of breeching. On the head (including the ears), to the front of the legs and feet, the hair is short. Along the neck, it is longer and thicker.  A coat either too long or too short is a fault. Average hair length on the body should be from approx. 1-1 1/2 inches (2.5 to 4 cm) in length. The dog should be shown in natural state.

Trimming/Clipping Required: low to none
Grooming: Brush weekly; clean ears; clip nails
Time Spent Grooming: once a week for about 10 minutes, more when shedding.

Shedding: BIG time seasonally.

Basic Grooming Tools Needed:        Slicker brush
Pin brush
Nail clippers & Styptic powder

Temperament:      ACD are determined, equable temperament, courageous, trustworthy, with an independent streak. With absolute devotion to duty, making them loyal and a self-appointed guardian to it's owner, his herd and his property. While naturally suspicious and wary of strangers, the breed bonds closely to its family. However, the owners must establish themselves as the pack leader. Early socialization to both a variety of people and situations is recommended. Because of their level of devotion to their owners will typically result in the dog being never to far from the owner's side. They can be aggressive with other animals but respond well to familiar dogs as long as there is an established pecking order. They can bite if "harshly treated" but are amenable to proper handling. To clear up some misconceptions, a red ACD is not a Dingo and there is no difference in temperament between blue and red dogs.

Breed Characteristics:      The ACD is ever alert, watchful, and quick intelligence. Protective of its herd and property. They are cattle heading extraordinaires, ready, willing, and tireless to work all day. ACD work independently and often has to think for itself, moving stubborn cattle by coming in low from behind, biting the hock of the weight-bearing leg, and ducking to avoid the kick that often follows. They are able to easily control and move cattle in wide open or confined areas and on any terrain. Stubborn cows don’t discourage this breed, in fact they just become more determined to get the job done.

Best for: experienced owner, lots of attention, structured training, active owners, herders, and other high dog activities.

Not for:  inactive people, first-time dog owners, children under five years, submissive people, apartments, those lacking time, and never as a back yard dog.

Sociability with Other Dogs:            Can be aggressive especially if it feels challenged or threatened. dominant; accept amiable dogs, preferably of opposite sex

Sociability with Strangers:               most are mildly friendly ("reserved", "takes time to warm up to", "naturally cautious/suspicious") with strangers.

Sociability with Children:                 good with older, considerate children; good if raised with them; driving instinct might transfer to kids, particularly those running and screaming.

Watchdog Ability: alert (efficient)
Protection Ability: natural - accepting
natural- (usually holds intruders at bay by barking and growling, but has to be trained to attack.)
average- (gets confused with intruders, barking and growling indiscriminately at anyone. Without training it would be an undependable guard dog.)
accepting- (usually greets most strangers as friends. Occasionally encounters a stranger whom it fears.)

Sociability within Family:                  one-family or one-person dog. Extremely loyal and devoted to his family, often referred to as "velcro dogs". Some will bond more closely to one person while some bond closely to the whole family. Loving and playful family pet.  They live and breathe to make their people happy," obedient yet bold". Expect your ACD to constantly test the rules, probe for the limits, and to test what is and what is not acceptable. But also expect your ACD to truly care and be devoted to your welfare at all times. They are loyal and biddable, and respond well to training.

Indoor Activity:    moderate
Outdoor Activity: very active
Exercise Required: high (up to 1 hour per day)

Ease of Training: med

Possible Health Problems:                Accidental Injury, Arthritis, Deafness (in either one or both ears), Elbow Dysplasia, False Pregnancy, Glaucoma, Hip Dysplasia, Infertility, Lens Luxation, OCD (osteochondritis dessicans), PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), Pyometra, and Spondylosis.
A relatively healthy breed but that is not to say it is free of health concerns.

Possible Behavior Problems:            ACDs does every thing with force, are high energy, intently focused dogs and want to be active and busy most, if not all, of the time. This energy must be given an outlet or you will quickly end up with problems. Bored, they will find ways to entertain themselves, usually doing something you will not like. A tired cattle dog is a good dog.

They are an intently focused breed, everything they do is immensely important, from their point of view, and they always do it to the best of their ability. If they are doing good things then life is wonderful, but if they are doing something bad, you can count on it being horrid.

Without their own cattle, most will find other things to herd such as other pets, toys, kids, people, and anything that moves like lawn mowers, vacuum cleaners, and vehicles. This behavior can range from amusing, annoying, to outright dangerous. Biting at the ankle or hind leg is instinctive. This means they have a strong tendency to bite people, even just in play. This must be strongly curtailed from day one.

Part of their desire to herd comes from a strong prey drive, which is the drive to catch and kill small game. They can easily become cat, squirrel, or other small animal-killers. Teaching your dog to obey you and not chase squirrels can save your dog's life, especially when the dog decides to dart across a road in pursuit of something to chase. Most ACDs are fine with other species IF THEY ARE RAISED WITH THEM.

ACDs instincts make them a "mouthy" breed. Most will chew anything in sight if this is not directed toward acceptable chew toys. Many will even try to gently chew on people as a sign of affection.

Extra Information:               ACD are supposed to have a tail. A tail is described in both the American and Australian breed standards. These dogs are true athletes and use their tail as a rudder when making sudden changes of direction, whether while herding cattle, doing agility, or playing in the back yard. While ACDs generally work silently, they will bark in alarm or to attract attention. They have a distinctive intense, high-pitched bark which can be particularly irritating. Implicit devotion to duty. Always alert, extremely intelligent, courageous. They are a superb worker with remarkable reasoning power.

History: Thomas Hall developed ACDs in Australia in the mid to late 1800. He had imported some Smooth-coated Blue merle Highland Collies from Scotland, known by some as Welsh Heelers. These dogs were forceful heelers but barked at the head which was not suitable for the wild cattle, and they lacked the endurance and heat resistance needed for the climate. Hall crossed his Collies with selected dingoes he had tamed to combine the working ability of the Collie with the physical type, heat resistance, and reputed silence of the Dingo. During the next thirty years, the Halls Heelers, as they became known, were used only by the Halls. Given that they were dependent on the dogs, which gave them an advantage over other cattle breeders, it is understandable that the dogs were not distributed beyond the Hall's properties. It was not until after Thomas Hall's death in 1870, when the properties went to auction was Halls Heelers became freely available.

It was later in 1893 that Robert Kaleski took up the pure Hall dogs joining G.W. and H. Bagust, C. Pettitt, J. Brennan, and A. Davis, (the son of Fred Davis, who brought the first pair of Hall's dogs to Sydney around 1870), and others such as J. Rose who were actively breeding at the time. This core of men saved the breed as we know it today as it would not have survived due to indiscriminant crossing with various farm dogs had they not taken steps to preserve it.

Because the Hall line was the result of direct crosses of Highland Collies and Dingoes, a distinctive type was not yet fixed. It seems that from the first evolution, the Blue Heeler was identifiable only by working ability and similar coloration. There is still some disagreement as to the actual breeds that were later crossed into the ACD, among them are the Dalmatian, Australian Kelpie, Bull Terrier, and others. ACDs are born white, which is possibly inherited from the Dalmatian. Kaleski himself does not reveal the Kelpie cross until 1930. A few years later, he states that such a cross was necessary to provide the cattle dog with heading instinct. The resulting dogs threw true to type and had unique markings indicating the strain and the abilities attendant in each strain

Australians owe a great debt to all the persons involved in the development of the Australian Cattle Dog, for without it the beef industry of Australia would undoubtedly have had great difficulty in developing into the important industry that it has become.

The standard for the ACD was drawn up by Mr. Robert Kaleski in 1902 and was based around the Dingo type. Kaleski submitted his standard to the Cattle and Sheep Dog Club of Australia, and the original Kennel Club of New South Wales for their approval. The standard was approved in 1903. The ACD was accepted for registration by the American Kennel Club as of May 1, 1980, and became eligible to be shown in the Working Group as of September 1, 1980. It was transferred to the Herding Group when that was formed, effective January 1, 1983.

Collar Length: NOT AVAILABLE
A collar should ride high on your dog's neck without fitting too loosely as to slip over his head, nor to tightly as to restrict breathing or cause coughing. It should be snug with enough room to fit two fingers between dog's neck and collar. Check collar size frequently on growing puppies. Use a tape measure to measure dog's neck and then add on 2-3 inches (5-7 cm).
Collar Width:       1/2-5/8 inches (1-1.6 cm) width is best for puppies and small dogs.
5/8-3/4 inches (1.6-1.9 cm) width is best for small to medium dogs.

Leash Length:      that depends on use of the leash. A good all around and obedience leash is 6 feet (2 meters).
Recommended Leash Width: NOT AVAILABLE

Crate Size: about a 36 inches (91.44 cm) tall crate.
The best way to determine the correct size kennel for your dog is to measure your pet. Measure from the floor to the top of your dog's shoulder, and add 3-6 inches (8-15 cm); this is the minimum cage height. Then measure from the dog's head to the base of his tail, and add 3-6 inches (8-15 cm); this is the minimum cage length. If the kennel is going to have a 'permanent' place in your home, you will want to make sure that your dog can comfortably stand, sit, turn around, and lie down in it.

Dog Bed Size:      Rectangular - 24 x 42 inches (60.96 x 106.68 cm)
Oval - 24 x 42 inches (60.96 x 106.68 cm)
Round - 42 inches (106.68 cm)
The best way to measure your dog for a bed is when dog is laying down. Measure from base of tail to tip of nose, and add a minimum of 12 inches (30 cm). For bolster or snuggle style beds, add a minimum of 5-7 inches (13-18 cm).

Useful Breed Links:           American Kennel Club (AKC)

Kennel Club (KC)

Stop by my store on Etsy to see my Handcrafted Australian Cattle Dog art or check out the many other dog breeds I carry and more. Remember if you don't find what you are looking for just ask, I am always very happy to answer questions.

CAN YOU HELP? - In the sections that say 'NOT AVAILABLE,' I need help finding the correct information to fill in those blanks. If you know the answer please leave your response in the comments section below, thank you.

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