Skip to content


BACK 40 Dogs
Previous article
Now Reading:
Breed History: The Australian Cattle Dog
Next article

Breed History: The Australian Cattle Dog

The "DINGO" Dog

heeler history

One of the true blue-collar breeds, the Australian cattle dog is bred to work.

These compact, muscular dogs pack a large punch when it comes to making their presence know - especially around livestock.

Also called Queensland Heelers, Blue or Red Heelers, or affectionately by some, Dingos after their relationship to Australia's wild dogs.

Smarter Than The Average Dog

Heeler's are extremely intelligent, often so much so that they can routinely outwit their owners. It is this extreme IQ that allows them to thrive in what they were originally bred to do.

australian cattle dog


Their small size ( standing generally between 17-20 inches at the shoulder ) allows them to be extremely nimble and low to the ground so as to avoid being kicked by cattle.

blue heelers


The Australian Cattle Dog made vital contributions to the growth of the continent’s beef industry, and important component of the Australian economy.

Experts can pick up the breeds origins in the early 1800s, when Anglo-Australians began their migrations from the original coastal settlements to the vast grasslands of the western inland. This was prime territory for the raising of beef cattle. In re-creating these wild areas as cattle ranches, good herding dogs were essential.


blue heelers


These little badasses ruled ranches far and wide. Their tenacious and somewhat scrappy attitudes earned them reputations that despite their size they are not to be messed with!


"Australia’s first cattle dogs were British imports of a breed known as the Smithfield, unsuited to the high temperature, rough terrain, and vast distances to market of their new home. Thus, stockmen began a long process of trial and to breed a herding dog that could meet the challenges of the Australian interior. Smithfields were crossed with Dingoes (a feral breed brought to the continent by its earliest human inhabitants) and such other breeds as the Scottish Highland Collie, as breeders worked toward the hardworking and durable herders they desired." - AKC

red heeler history

A key contributor to the effort was George Elliot, of Queensland, who bred Dingoes with Collies and sold the puppies to farmers. The result was a dog who was close to being the quintessential Aussie herder. True perfection came later when two brothers, Jack and Harry Bagust, bred Dalmations with some of Elliott’s ACDs. The Dalmatian’s faithfulness, protectiveness, and ease with horses, mixed with the original breed’s working ability (which was also reinforced by the addition of a sheepdog known as the Black and Tan Kelpie into the line) was just the right combination to produce the ACD we know today.

ranch dog

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published..

Select options Close