The Australian Cattle Dog is an extremely intelligent, active, and sturdy dog breed. Developed by Australian settlers to handle herds of cattle on expansive ranches, he's still used today as a herding dog. He thrives on having a job to do and on being part of all family activities. He is loyal and protective of his family, though wary of outsiders. Besides herding work, the Australian Cattle dog does well at canine sports, including agility, obedience, rally, flyball, and flying disc competitions.
Males stand 18 to 20 inches tall, and females stand 17 to 19 inches tall. Weight ranges from 30 to 50 pounds
:Also known as the Australian Heeler, Blue Heeler, Queensland Heeler, or Halls Heeler. Officially, however, he's the Australian Cattle Dog
Australian Cattle Dogs are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Australian Cattle Dogs will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This is a family of eye diseases that involves the gradual deterioration of the retina. Early in the disease, affected dogs become night-blind; they lose sight during the day as the disease progresses. Many affected dogs adapt well to their limited or lost vision, as long as their surroundings remain the same.
- Hip Dysplasia: This is an inherited condition in which the thighbone doesn't fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but others don't display outward signs of discomfort. (X-ray screening is the most certain way to diagnose the problem.) Either way, arthritis can develop as the dog ages. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred — so if you're buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems.
- Deafness: This is an inherited condition in the Australian Cattle Dog, but it can be tested for while the puppies are very young. Deaf dogs should not be bred. Research indicates that deafness is color-linked; genes that cause pups to be born white, or with white hairs in the coat that cause a roaning pattern, are linked to deafness. Brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) testing is useful for determining hearing problems, but it's only a tool, not a cure.
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