When traditional European livestock dogs proved unsuitable for work in the extreme climates of Australian plains, many cattle ranchers decided to create their own herders which became known as Heelers. The name came from these dogs' working method of driving the rowdy cattle by biting their heels. Throughout the 1800's, a number of Heeler breeds existed, but it was Thomas Smith Hall who developed the progenitor of the modern Australian Cattle Dog in 1840 by crossing Dingoes and Collies with existing working Heelers. These dogs were initially known under the name of Hall's Heeler, but many breeders crossed Bullterriers, Dalmatians, Basque Herders, Kelpies and other popular breeds into its bloodline over the next six decades, establishing the present-day incarnation of the breed. This impressive worker is sometimes listed as the Blue Heeler, referring to the most common coat colouring. The first Standard was written in 1897 and this powerful and versatile breed became one of the most popular Australian treasures, recognized by the AKC in 1980.
Alert, athletic and intelligent, the Australian Cattle Dog makes an excellent livestock drover and watchdog, as well as a very capable Agility contestant. Although the breed is quite independent and stubborn, it responds well to obedience training and can be an agreable family companion. Broad socialization is crucial, due to its protective and somewhat confrontational nature. This is a well-boned and muscular breed, with a broad head, erect ears and strong legs.
The coat is short, dense and straight, accepted in a variety of red and blue-mottled colourings, with or without tan and white markings. Average height is around 19 inches.