12 - 15 years, but may live much longer. The record books show one ACD that lived to be 29 years old.
1 - 7 puppies, average of 5 puppies
Herding, AKC Herding
CKC, FCI, AKC, UKC, ANKC, NKC, NZKC, APRI, ACR
Red and blue, some crosses display both colors at the same time. Many have what is called the Bentley mark on their foreheads - a white blaze.
46 - 51 cm 18 - 20 inches
16 - 23 kg 35 - 50 pounds
43 - 48 cm 17 - 19 inches
12 -18 kg 25 - 50 pounds
This dog is extremely active and therefore needs a lot of mental stimulation - much like the Australian Kelpie. A bored ACD is not only trouble, but destructive. It NEEDS to be with people and cannot be left chained or penned in the back yard. If the ACD is isolated like that, it leads to serious personality problems. These dogs need to be part of the action and needs to be constantly on the go.
The ACD is a sturdy, compact working dog. It is well muscled and very powerful, but agile. Its body is a bit longer than it is high and has a slightly curved tail that reaches just about to the hock.
The front legs are normally perfectly straight when viewed from the front. However, as with many breeds, there can be variations in their conformation.
The head is quite broad and slightly rounded, and flattens to a slight but definite stop. Ears are widely set, and moderately pointed and pricked. They are muscular with thick leather, but are not spooned or bat eared. The inside of the ears has a fair amount of hair.
The medium size oval eyes are dark brown and the foreface is broad and well filled in under the eyes. The muzzle is medium in length, very deep and the skull and muzzle are on parallel planes. The teeth should meet in a scissors bite. This is crucial for this herding dog that heels or bites at its livestock to move them. No overshot or undershot should be present. The lips are very clean and the nose is black. The ACD neck is very strong and blends into the body.
The top line of this dog is level, with a strong back and well-sprung ribs. Its chest is deep and moderately broad, with broad and muscular loins and deep flanks. ACD feet are round with short toes that are well arched and close together. Footpads are deep and hard, with short strong nails. This is one very well put together dog.
The Australian Cattle Dog coat has a double coat, the short, straight protective outer and the short, kinky but dense undercoat. The outer coat is straight hair that lays flat and is rain resistant. Under the ACDs body to behind the legs the coat is longer forming a mild form of breeching near the thigh. The head, inside the ears, fronts of legs and feet all sport short hair. The hair on the neck is longer and thicker, sort of like a mane.
Australian Cattle Dogs don't shed year round, instead they blow coat about once a year just before the summer months.
This breed was developed in the 1800's in Australia because stockmen needed a dog with the stamina to handle the harsh conditions in their country.
Dogs that came to Australia with the settlers were from Europe and were called Smithfield and the old Smooth Collie. They could not handle the long distances and the harsh weather. That's when breed experimentation started.
Some of the breeds used to develop the ACD were: the Dingo, Smooth Haired Scotch Merle Collies, the Dalmatian, the Bull Terrier and the Australian Kelpie. The end result was an outstanding herding dog with superior stamina that could work stock quietly yet with enough insistence to get the job done well. One who was willing and quite able to drive cattle across vast distances in the worst weather conditions.
Robert Kaleski drafted the standard for the breed in 1893, which was finally approved in Australia in 1903. The Australian Cattle Dog was fully recognized by the AKC in 1980.
ACDs are usually reserved with strangers and fiercely protective if they perceive their property and/or people are being threatened. Hard headed and stubborn, once an ACD has taken a shine to you, they are your friend for life. Make no mistake about it though this friendship must be earned. ACDs are also affectionately referred to as Velcro or shadow dogs because they are stuck to you like glue. Anywhere you go they are dogging your footsteps.
These dogs are very loyal, protective and alert and make excellent guard dogs. They are also brave and trustworthy. They can make some serious points in the obedience ring and in herding and agility.
The ACD needs to be handled firmly yet fairly, and it is totally loyal and obedient to its master, and it's a one-person dog. They can suspicious of people and dogs they don't know and can be very dog aggressive, because they are very dominant.
This is not a good dog with children unless it has known the children since puppyhood. Many tend to nip at people's heels in an attempt to herd them. Avoid strictly working lines if you are looking for just a pet, as these dogs are too active and intense for home life.
Australian Cattle Dogs are very easy to train due to their high level of intelligence. The puppies are born white (inherited from Dalmatian crosses), but adult colors are seen in the paw pads.
Australian Cattle Dogs are generally a quite hardy breed, but do have some medical conditions to be aware of:
The Australian Cattle Dog with its short hair and highly weather resistant coat, needs very little grooming and coat maintenance. If you brush it regularly with a firm bristle brush and they receive good nutrition, the coats will stay healthy.
There seems to be some differences of opinion on how often to bath your ACD - some saying regular baths won't hurt and others insisting they only be bathed when they really need to be. It often boils down to a matter of what is right and works for YOUR dog.
Those who prefer to wash often say regular bathing won't harm your dog's coat but make sure you a good quality dog (not human) shampoo that doesn't dry the coat. An oatmeal shampoo or tea tree oil shampoo works wonders. Often called the wash and wear breed, it tends to clean up really well.
Those who only bathe the dog when it's necessary suggest brushing once a week.
Since these are herding dogs, their feet really important. Their nails should be kept short to maintain their strength and the pads inspected regularly for cuts or bruises and other foreign matter. Keep the ears clean as well. The ACD sheds up to twice a year (depending on sex and geography).
Since the ACD is such an active breed an owner/handler must make a firm commitment to exercise frequently. ACDs are great running or biking companions but don't over exert the young dog or it will ruin its joints.
Due to their high intelligence, they make great obedience prospects. Be aware this very intelligence can also be a drawback as this dog is not beyond manipulating you to get what it wants. ACDs are also outstanding in Dog Sports - like Flyball, Agility and Frisbee. Many also like to holler at things that fly and have been known to chase birds up and down the yard, barking at them to smarten up and fly right.
Sponges for affection, these dogs will sit and grin at you when you take the time to talk to them and play games with them.
Due to their intelligence, the ACD is easy to train, however they are hard-headed and stubborn. Meaning, they would be less compliant than some other breeds. To have a well trained ACD you need to have the dog's respect, and vice versa.
Keep things interesting while you are training your ACD. While this breed learns fast it can get easily bored with repetition. Firm but fair training methods are best. You must be the pack leader or Alpha dog. At home, you are the dog's pack and if you don't set yourself up to be the leader your ACD will take the role over, and usually with some disastrous results. Being a pack leader isn't about being big and mean and scary. It is an attitude, an air of authority. Your dog must learn you have the power to handle him, and that handling will not lead to any harm. Your dog must trust you completely.
Your ACD won't learn if he isn't paying attention. Make sure any stimulus is strong enough to get him to give you eye contact. Working with signals only is a good way to teach your dog to keep one eye on you at all times.
Use positive, not negative reinforcement to train. Positive reinforcement is something your dog perceives as a good result. Negative reinforcement is any result that doesn't please him. Remember any inappropriate behaviors cannot be eliminated overnight. Good behaviors take time to develop.