The Australian Cattle Dog was developed to assist with establishing the cattle industry in early Australian conditions. The principal requirement was a strong, biting dog, possessing great stamina and capable of mustering and moving wild cattle. Early imported breeds of working dogs did not possess these requirements.
A great deal of research has been undertaken to ascertain the origin of the Australian Cattle Dog, but as early breeders kept very little recorded information, there is a marked divergence of opinion as to the breeds used to develop the purebred dog we see today.
It is generally recognized though, that it resulted from the crossing of blue merle, smooth haired Collies with the Dingo, with a later injection of Dalmatian and black and tan Kelpie blood.
The purpose of the Australian Cattle Dog is to assist in the control and movement of cattle, in both open and confined areas.
A landowner named Hall at Muswellbrook, in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, imported a pair of Smooth Haired blue merle Collies from Scotland in the year 1840.
They proved excellent cattle dogs, however they barked and headed, and both undesirable traits in a cattle dog. Hall crossed progeny from this pair with the Dingo and the pups became known as Hall’s Heelers.
The Collies being blue merle and the dingo red resulted in the puppies being either blue or red mottled. They were good heelers, did not bark when working, and the Collie blood made them controllable. A Dingo trait is to silently creep up behind an animal and bite, and these cross pups followed this style of heeling.
A butcher named Davis took a pair of these dogs to the cattle sale Cattlemen liked the dogs and as pups became available, purchased them. They introduced selected Dalmatian blood, giving the progeny a love of horses and a sense of responsibility for guarding their master’s possessions.
The owner could drop his coat, saddle or any of his possessions on the ground or tether his horse and bid his dog to stay with them. This new blood also changed the blue and red mottles to speckles.
At this stage, the brothers were still not satisfied with the reasoning ability of their dog, so they introduced black and tan Kelpie blood thus advancing their working ability to intelligent controllable workers whilst still retaining the silent biting of the animals’ heels.
The black and tan Kelpie left colour traces, such as the tan markings on the blue dogs, also the black on the head. The breeders were then selective in breeding for their working ability type and colour and the dog became known as the Queensland Heeler. Later the name was changed
The breeders were then selective in breeding for their working ability type and colour and the dog became known as the Queensland Heeler. Later the name was changed to Australian Heeler and then to Australian Cattle Dog that has now been accepted throughout Australia as the official name of this breed.
Always alert, extremely intelligent, watchful, courageous and trustworthy, with an implicit devotion to duty making it an ideal dog.