An Australian Cattle Dog puppy can be hard to resist. With their big pointy ears and their beautiful speckled coats, it’s easy to fall in love with them. But choosing a dog is so much more than just adoring their appearance. You need to pay close attention to a dog’s personality and their care requirements. So, make sure you do all your research before bringing home an Australian Cattle Dog puppy.
What is an Australian Cattle Dog Puppy?
Australian Cattle Dogs are also referred to as Blue Heelers due to their beautiful blue-gray coats. They are also one of the healthiest dog breeds, and are capable of living just as long as most smaller dog breeds.
This breed’s history starts all the way back in the 1800s. They were initially bred as herding dogs, so they were used as essential cattle dogs in Australia, hence their name. However, it took farmers a while to breed the perfect herding dog. They needed a dog who could handle warm weather, rough terrain, and long distances.
They used Collies, Dalmatians, and even wild Dingoes to create that perfect cattle dog. After years of trying to perfect the breed, the Australian Cattle Dog was ready to take on important roles on the farm. Yet, it wasn’t until 1980 that the American Kennel Club finally recognized these hard-working pups as an official breed.
Australian Cattle Dogs have two distinct coat colors: either a blue-gray or a reddish-brown. Both of these colors are speckled on the dog’s back with lighter patches near their belly and legs. They are one of the few dog breeds that commonly have blue eyes, and they can even have two different colored eyes. They also have pointy ears that stick upright.
These dogs have medium-length fur that’s dense, yet it doesn’t shed as much as you’d expect. They’re considered a medium-sized breed, weighing 30 to 40 pounds and standing 17 to 20 inches tall.
Australian Cattle Dogs are alert, energetic, and born to run. So, they need a large home that allows them that freedom. A farm or a house with a large fenced-in yard is best for them. They won’t do well stuck in an apartment. They’re also fairly independent, so they might not be as cuddly and affectionate as most people want them to be.
Like most herding breeds, these dogs thrive when they’re given a job to do. If they can’t live on a farm, you’ll need to find plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to supplement the lack of work. They can be incredibly loyal to their family members, but hesitant around unfamiliar faces. Additionally, they have a natural tendency to herd and nip at animals and children, so they need plenty of training and exercise to prevent that. They’re certainly not the best dog for an inexperienced dog parent.
Australian Cattle Dog Puppy Care Requirements
If an Australian Cattle Dog sounds like the right puppy for you, then you’ll have a lot to do to prepare for them. Like most working breeds, these dogs can be a lot to handle. So, you should make sure you’re fully prepared before taking on such a big commitment.
What to Prepare
Bringing home an Australian Cattle Dog should never be a last-minute decision. So, here are some things you should prepare before adding a new member to your family.
- Space – The most important thing that every Australian Cattle Dog needs is space. They require a big yard to run around in, and preferably a fenced-in area where they can roam free. They don’t like to be kept in small spaces, so while a crate is okay for when you’re not home, you should allow them to run to their heart’s content whenever you’re around to supervise them. If you live on a farm or another large property, that would be the best home for them.
- High-quality dog food – All dogs should eat a healthy, high-quality diet, but it’s especially important for active dogs like the Australian Cattle Dog. They need a food that’s high in beneficial protein and fat since they’ll be running so much. Look closely at the ingredient list though, because items like carbs, by-products, and other filler ingredients should be avoided as much as possible.
- Leash and Harness – While Australian Cattle Dogs love to run around on their own, you’ll need to walk them at some point too. These dogs can be strong and love to pull, so attach their leash to a harness to better control them. It might seem easier to attach it to the collar that they’re already wearing, but even well-behaved dogs could accidentally choke themselves that way. So, collars should only be used to hold your dog’s identification tags.
- Puzzle Toys and Training Treats – You might not know your dog’s toy and treat preferences from the start, but it’s a good idea to get a few options for them to try out. Australian Cattle Dogs are very smart, so they need toys that can keep them entertained for long periods of time. Puzzle toys that have treats or smaller toys hidden inside them are the best way to keep a herding dog’s mind busy. You should also buy small, low-calorie treats for your dog so you can have frequent training sessions with them.
So, if you’re planning to get an Australian Cattle Dog, you need to make sure you have all of the above things prepared for them. Having a dog can be expensive and time-consuming, so you need to be willing to make sacrifices in the long run for your new furry friend. The more you prepare ahead of time, the more comfortable your new dog will be.
Surprisingly, Australian Cattle Dogs are one of the breeds with the lowest grooming needs. They do shed a little, but their fur only needs to be brushed every two to three weeks to properly maintain it. They usually shed more heavily about once a year, so that would be the only time you’d need to brush them more. Luckily, this low maintenance grooming perfectly balances out their high maintenance exercise needs.
However, these dogs still need baths just like every other dog. Since Australian Cattle Dogs love spending so much time outside, they’re bound to get dirty and even caked with mud from time to time. So, bathe them whenever their fur starts to feel not so clean. You should never bathe a dog more than once a week though, as it could damage the healthy oils that are on their skin. If your dog gets dirty more than once a week, you can use wipes or a dry shampoo to help keep them clean.
You also need to remember to trim your dog’s nails regularly. If your dog’s nails grow too long, the quicks, which are the part of the nail with nerves, will grow too long. So, monthly trimmings are recommended, unless you haven’t trimmed their nails in a long time. If that’s the case, trim them every two weeks until the quicks get back to a healthy length.
As mentioned earlier, Australian Cattle Dogs are a high energy breed. So, they’re always down for more exercise, and they need a family who can keep up with them. They need more than just casual walks, so instead, they prefer creative routines, such as hiking, running, swimming, and going through agility courses. The best way to keep these active dogs content is to give them a job to do, such as herding animals or guarding livestock.
An Australian Cattle Dog’s mind needs to be kept just as busy as their body. That’s why training sessions are important for these dogs. Even if they’re well-behaved and listen to your commands, they’ll still be eager to learn more. So, come up with creative tricks to keep them busy. Puzzle toys can also be a great way to get them thinking without you having to participate. Just be aware that with an Australian Cattle Dog, you won’t get a ton of time to relax and cuddle with them. They’d much rather be on their feet, doing something productive.
It’s common for Australian Cattle Dogs to lose their sight and hearing as they age. So, it’s recommended that they get their vision and hearing tested by the vet regularly, especially since these senses are so crucial to their herding jobs. Cleaning your dog’s ears on a regular basis can also help keep them healthy. It’s also possible for this breed to have hip dysplasia, which is when the bones in their hips don’t fit together properly. This often requires surgery to fix.
The best way to keep your Australian Cattle Dog healthy is to take them in for regular vet checkups. You should visit the vet at least once a year so they can check for health problems and update their vaccinations. Australian Cattle Dogs often live for 13 to 15 years, which is long for a medium-sized dog. Bringing them in for yearly checkups can help lengthen their lifespan even more.
Where to Find an Australian Cattle Dog Puppy
An Australian Cattle Dog puppy can be hard to come by since they are more difficult to care for than other breeds. You’ll need to take your time and be patient when finding the perfect pup. The best place to start is at your local shelters and rescues. They’re not guaranteed to have the specific breed you’re looking for, but there’s a chance that they could have some Australian Cattle Dogs already looking for a forever home. It’s also important not to overlook the adult dogs at shelters because they might not survive if they don’t get adopted quickly.
If you have trouble finding an Australian Cattle Dog at a shelter, be responsible if you choose to go to a breeder. A lot of breeders aren’t trustworthy, and they only care about the money. Pet stores that sell puppies should always be avoided. They might seem the most convenient, but they almost always get their puppies from puppy mills. Puppy mills breed many breeds at once, and they don’t care about the health and wellbeing of the breeding dogs. They just keep breeding the dogs over and over again in tiny, filthy cages.
A reputable breeder will let you meet the puppy’s parents and allow you to see where they breed the dogs. That can help you feel better about your decision. They should also be able to answer all your questions about the specific breed with ease. Even a licensed breeder can run a puppy mill, so if you ever feel uncertain about a breeder, find somewhere else to get a dog.
An Australian Cattle Dog puppy is guaranteed to be adorable, but they’re also sure to be a lot of work. Always do your research before bringing a new animal home, and make sure you’re ready to fully commit to caring for them. Dogs are a part of our families, so they should always be treated as such.