The Australian Cattle Dog (ACD) also colloquially known as the Blue Heeler or Red Heeler, is a ‘purpose build’ animal bred originally by the farmers/ranchers of Australia who wanted a superior herding dog for their sheep and cattle. Many breeds have been said to contribute to the heritage of the Blue Heeler including Dalmatians, Collies, Kelpies and possibly Bull Terriers, but most notably the native wild dog of Australia – the Dingo. Much more information about the history and breeding of the ACD can be found at the websites linked below.
Our two Blue Heelers, Ruger and Neve, were born in August 2003 and we first saw them as tiny balls of white fluff in photos. When they were 8 weeks old we travelled to meet their breeder and parents and choose them from amongst their litter mates. They have been a ‘daddy’s girl’ and a ‘ mommy’s boy’ since the day we first met them. The ACD is a full on energetic breed, and our two have only two speeds – high energy mode, or lazy sloth mode. They love us to bits but Ruger especially can be a little wary of anyone else – the ACD is known to be a protective and territorial breed – although our boy Ruger is also quite taken with Annie’s sister, and Neve the girl made great friends with one of our caching pals, Bitsprayer.
The two have quite distinctive personalities. Neve is quite the little busy body and likes to try to introduce herself to any person or dog she meets. We often tell her that her ears must be painted on and purely for decorative use, as she has very selective hearing, and always likes to check what is in the deal for her before being quite as obedient as she ought to be. She has a great fondness for footwear, and a common place for us to look for shoes, slippers and socks is in her various sleeping spots. Fortunately she has never yet been known to chew them – merely carries them away for her own doggy purposes. Neve loves the water – outside – but baths not at all, and if there is a little mud puddle about, she will make it her business to find it and stomp in it.
Ruger has a more stand-offish outlook on life and would rather that he could keep our little family of four together at all times. He is generally more obedient and is pretty much resigned to his life of fetching back things that Neve has stolen or misplaced. He loves baths, and will occasionally stand in the bath tub even when there is no water in it, and
adores getting dried. His other great love in life (besides me) is his rubber Frisbee, which he much prefers to any kind of ball, though he will cheerfully chase a tennis ball if there is no Frisbee in the offering. He would also happily live on fruit and vegetables, with bananas and kiwifruit being among his favourite things in the world to eat, although almost anything that the humans are eating will do at a pinch – except that green leafy lettuce stuff.
See below for ACD links and blogs.
New Zealand Kennel Club breed standard for ACD
An American ACD site with lots of info and a gallery
Australian Cattle Dog Club of America
Blog with great ACD photos
Another great photo blog featuring ACDs