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The Australian Cattle Dog, or ACD, is a medium-sized herding dog developed in Australia for droving cattle across long distances, over rough terrain and in hot weather. In the 1800s, when large tracts of land became available in Australia for cattle farming, a need was felt for herding dogs that could not be fulfilled by Collies and other traditional sheepdogs used earlier in Europe for tamer animals. A number of dog fanciers are credited with playing vital roles in different stages of the development of the ACD, beginning with the crossing of a Collie with the local, slightly feral dingo, through multiple crosses with breeds like Dalmatians, Kelpies and even terriers to the final adoption by the cattle industry in Queensland of a new breed called the Queensland Blue Heeler. This breed, which combined the Collie’s herding excellence, the dingo’s hardiness and agility, and the Dalmatian’s protectiveness, eventually came to be known as the Australian Cattle Dog. 1897 saw a breed standard being drawn for the first time. The breed was a little slow to catch on outside Australia because of the sheer novelty of its appearance, but it has not only proved its mettle as a cattle dog over the years, but also gained popularity as a pet and a show dog.

Time for some Ruff Trivia:
— The Texas Heeler is a crossbred herding dog found mainly in Texas. It is most often a cross between the Australian Cattle Dog and which other breed?
o A: American Foxhound
o B: Australian Shepherd
o C: Australian Terrier
What do you think, give it your best guess in the comments below before we get to the answer! Hang on tight and we’ll get back to this Ruff Trivia Question toward the end of the video.

The typical height range for the adult ACD is 17 to 20 inches, and the weight range is 35 to 45 pounds. The female is slightly smaller and lighter than the male. This is a muscular, compact dog, giving the impression of agility and strength. A broad skull flattening to a definite stop between the eyes; medium-length, deep muzzle; small to medium size pricked ears; and a long brushy tail are some of the characteristic features. The tail is docked in some working dogs in the US. The outer coat is close, straight and hard; the undercoat is soft and dense. The coat colors are divided into two broad categories: blue, which includes blue, blue mottled or blue speckled with or without black, tan or white markings; and, red, which is generally an evenly speckled coat with solid red markings. Chocolate and cream color can also occur.

Grooming:The ACD sheds twice a year, and during these periods brushing needs to be more frequent than the otherwise once or twice-a-week routine that can keep it clean. A slicker brush is recommended to remove dead hair when brushing. Its prick ears are covered on the inside with hair, which needs careful checking for wax buildup regularly. Brushing of teeth and trimming of nails have to be regular too.

Temperament:The ACD is a hardy, hard-working, intelligent and independent dog. It is extremely loyal to its family, but generally aloof with strangers, making it a good watch and guard dog. It gets along well with kids, but has a tendency to nip at and herd very young children. Unlike many other cattle dogs, the ACD was actually bred to bite, and so care should be taken when the dog is interacting with strangers. This is not a pack animal, and can get aggressive with other dogs and pets.

Training:The ACD is one of the most intelligent and responsivedogs when it comes to obedience trainability. It is highly recommended, in fact necessary, that owners train their dogs as well as keep them engaged with regular challenges, or these dogs can get frustrated and destructive. If you have seen a regular Australian farm, you would have an idea of the amount of work these dogs were bred to perform tirelessly, and they still need exhaustive workouts daily to live up to that pedigree. Apart from a variety of dog sports, ACDs are also easily trained for therapy and detection work.

Health:Life expectancy for the ACD is 10 to 13 years. It is a generally healthy breed, which is more likely to get injured because of its constant need to expend its high energy than get ill. Some health concerns seen in the breed are deafness, congenital heart disorder, OCD, progressive retinal atrophy, cataract and von Willebrand’s disease.

Matchless in its need to work, the Australian Cattle Dog is a high-energy animal that needs wide, open spaces to remain happy. More than just a ‘cattle dog’, it is also trainable for a wide range of functions, as long as you can prove your higher role in the pecking order.

Music by Kevin McLeod — Royalty Free

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