View Full Version : Tell me abt Aussie Cattle Dogs/Blue Heelers

Aug. 4, 2011, 02:32 PM

Aug. 4, 2011, 08:50 PM
I have a red/blonde female that I got as a 6 yr old from our shelter. I do not know anything about her history other than she was house broken and had lived with other dogs and cats. I've had her for about 6 yrs now and she is VERY LOYAL, very one-person, very intelligent and the best farm dog I've ever had. BUT she will not share me. :eek:

Anything that comes on the property is to be barked at and chased away, people included! She has Invisible Fence so she cannot get into the pasture but she will 'chase' the horses to the barn in her own way. She is scared though of the horses when I open a stall door and see if she will come over but all she does is slink away with her tail between her legs. I've had her on a leash when a friend came over with her horse to use my indoor and she acted like she really wanted to go after the horse. Because I'm alone on the farm with the horses and the dog, she is not allowed to be in the barn if I need to put the horses in the barn aisle. I simply can't take the chance that she would go after one of the horses when I was working on them. I take her back to the house and have done so for all 6 yrs. It's a bit of a PITA but I just can't take that chance. :no: :(

I think Australian Cattle Dogs HAVE to have a JOB and my girl's job is to protect the property and chase everyone and everything away.

Did I mention she's very loyal and very one-person? If anyone comes, she will stay between me and the other person until she's sure that person is OK, meaning I talk nicely to the person! She's the first dog that has ever made it to the bedroom. Every other dog has had to sleep at night in the family room with the door shut. Mind you that's not too rough as there is an 8' sofa there for them. It's the ONLY furniture dogs are allowed on. She has her own bed in the bedroom. We tried 3 different nights of allowing her on the bed but I'm too restless and toss and turn and she takes up too much room so we both agreed she'd have her bed by mine but she can't sleep on MY bed.

When I did get her from the shelter they said she was OK with cats and I did have a cat at the time but I could tell she did not want to share me with the cat. When the cat was put to sleep, I didn't get anther and I honestly think she'd try to kill another dog or cat if I brought one home. :( She has killed a baby 'coon and a baby rabbit and even a chipmunk because they couldn't get beyond her fenced area fast enough. :(

Aug. 4, 2011, 09:21 PM
Very headstrong, you must be wiling to be firm with them, but great hunters, great dogs. Yes must have a lot of outdoor/work time.

Aug. 4, 2011, 10:11 PM
I don't know if my girl is really typical but she has serious separation anxiety problems. Since she was a shelter dog it's hard to say. She's pretty good at home if I go out and don't let her come out with me but a total disaster taking her to the vet. When I first got her, I did try some socialization and I did do obedience class with her. I can put her on a leash at home and she's fine but she's a regular freight train off the property.

Admittedly I didn't get her to take to horse shows or parks etc so it's no big deal and the only places I do take her is the vet and to the groomer for a periodic pedicure. But at the vet, if they want to draw blood or handle her without me being in the same room it's not nice. Besides the barking, squealing, whining, she also drags the tech's around as though they are feather-weights. If I'm in the room it's OK but she just shakes terribly and you can tell she's just plain scared. :(

Aug. 4, 2011, 10:28 PM
Oy. How long a post are you up for reading? Do your research before obtaining a heeler. They are definitely not for everybody. They are very, very intense, and unbelievably smart. Mine was dumped and has been a two year work in progress. SWEET dog, would not harm anything on the planet, but very attached and very intense and very tough to outsmart when it comes to getting in trash, getting on counters, getting in the chicken coop (to eat their food), etc etc. It's definitely one of those life-changing breeds.

Aug. 4, 2011, 10:49 PM
They live up to their breed descriptions, and ditto to everything said above.

Will always have them but they need. a. job. They will snag your heels when you run for sure, hence the name. Mine is incredibly ball/frisbee motivated but NEEDS to be out hiking and moving...just running after a maniac isn't enough for him, plus it isn't great for him socially. My roommate's is more of the social cripple...only. wants. fetch. No thank you to any other dogs and you better not get in his way...been known to bring bricks, brooms, rocks, gasoline containers and anything else he suspects you might be able to lob. Thankfully ours are great with the indoor cats but I suspect if either of ours saw a stray one across the street they'd gleefully chase and murder it.

Aug. 4, 2011, 11:42 PM
Tough, tough dogs. I have had two.

You have to make sure you ARE alpha. Not anyone else.

But the best dogs I have ever been around. Smart. Unbelievably smart. Definitely not for everyone.

They MUST have a job. Or several.

But after having many different kinds of dogs, the next will be an ACD. No question.

Having said that both my dogs were 'rescues'. One was turned in to the Human Society by its owners. Owners that lived in a apartment. Obviously people who did not understand ACD's. I feel I am the luckiest person on the planet that they turned her in. And that I was able to get her. What a JOY she is. Entertaining, absolutely. Smart? Scarey smart. But a WONDERFUL dog.

Aug. 5, 2011, 07:41 AM
Mine has major, major separation anxiety, same as every other ACD I've met (though I haven't met a ton!). Anxiety that is bad enough that when I get out of the car to pump gas, never leaving the car's side--where he can see me the ENTIRE time--and I get back in the car he will LOSE HIS MIND. I've had to do some serious training on it and he's gotten better thankfully.
Mine used to LOVE going trail riding and it was a great way of tiring him out, but it also took major training to keep him from herding and nipping at our horses. We got that sorted out with a shock collar but he learns very situationally, as in "This rule applies to this situation, right here, right now, but not other places". This translated to not biting horses on a trail ride, but riding in a new place meant all bets were off. I didn't pay close enough attention and he nabbed a horse I was schooling and I was bucked off really badly. No more going out with horses :/
He is absolutely perfect when he's tired, and when he's without my eyesight. The only thing he does wrong is when he can't see us. This causes some problems, as you can imagine.

Aug. 6, 2011, 08:10 PM
I have a couch potato............he is easy peasy .....I think I got lucky........he is very quick and agile.......hence why we do dog agility......he is not typical in size either for the breed....he is only 30 lbs and very fine boned.





Aug. 7, 2011, 10:57 AM
I've had two- LOVELOVELOVE them. Smart, sweet, sensitive (in a very tough way), but very opinionated. If you get them to agree to your opinion, you'll never have a problem because the is The Way It Is.
Working as a vet tech, I've seen two types, a sweeter, more confident line, and a scared, tends to be fear biter line. I think you just have to pick and choose carefully (yes, some of this is raising, but I do think there are some that just tend to be a bit more timid, but they have enough aggression in the genes that it shows in that form).Mine is cocky and has been since day 1!
I can see the tendency for them to have separation anxiety, because most of them need their #1 person so badly. My first actually belonged to my uncle. He was diagnosed with brain cancer, and wanted to travel, so Katie stayed with me. She immediately glued herself to my heel (my older dog had been put down the morning Kate was dropped off, guess she knew who needed help, huh?) I was #1....until Uncle Bill showed up, at which point, my name was mud. Same thing if I was gone, she would glue herself to my mom....until I came home at which point my mom got completely ignored.
Libby shows no separation anxiety signs- she grew up working with me, being locked in the car, and staying home--she's fine with any of that, although she does look very sad when I leave! She is loose in the house with 2 cats, and I've never had any concerns about damage to the house or the kitties.
She can be a little "herding dog" around the horses if I get upset and energy is high. Most of the time she just plays with her stick around them, without bugging them at all--but I was very careful with her as a puppy, making sure that she knew that was not OK.
I think they are good dogs, if you are willing to handle the high energy, opinions, and herding dog issues. You definitely have to be willing to put in the time to find a good one, and then keep it way.

Aug. 7, 2011, 11:25 AM
i have one currently and had one is past. love them. got the second one 3 days after the first passed. by border collie was devastated about being alone. so we looked for another female. Lexi, is about 4, female and about forty lbs. they say she is pure but i wonder some days. sometimes has a look like a pitbull. she was sent to the resuce for chasing kids and herding. that was great for me. i had to break her of the horses, but that was easy with the shock collar. she is glued to me. my husband can't come to the bedrrom after me without hearing the growl. i tried to correct her and my hubby said it was ok, he would rather know that she will eat someone if they tried to mess with me. I am alpha, cats, horse, chickens, etc.. they all answer to me, so when i go away for trainings, i always will get the call, Lexi ran away or won't come home. so we have it now that he just goes to my office in another building and then she comes in and then only then can he get the leash on her. i had done obediance trasining with my first and immediatly repeasted it with the new one and it makes a difference. now if i could get her to understand when i want her to heard the horses.

My only fear is socialization with other dogs. my friend and trainer is also alpha, so i have this fear, 2 alpha women and thier alpha dogs. my past girl daisey, would in a freak second attck other dogs. we figured out it was movement from a human, too much affection towards another, etc.. one girl was holding her dog and coddling it and then it was put down and dasiey didn't like that, i could tell by the body language and i got her just as she got the first bite. needless to say i am shamlfully a little scared at times with other peoples dogs near by. i use the shock collar when we are with other people and the dogs are off leash and i am on top of keeping an eye on her, but if anybody has any ideas i would love them. i think i created that little part of her monster and don't know how to correct it.

Aug. 7, 2011, 11:19 PM
I have an ACD and he's the sweetest, laziest, most obedient and smart dog EVER.

He's excellent with horses (has never chased) and kids. We bought him as an 8 week old pup and he's 9 years old now. We never had any "professional" training put into him, and he pretty much housebroke himself. Super smart dog.

My aunt and uncle own his full brother (different litter) and another ACD I bought for them, and neither are the hard headed, aggressive, stubborn dogs people claim them to be. None of our ACDs have a job other than holding down the couch and are as perfect as can be.

Aug. 8, 2011, 07:01 AM
We have Australian shepherds - similar breed. Very busy little guys, need a job, need proactive training so they don't herd horses, chickens, kids, etc., when they aren't supposed to. Need lots of exercise too. Great dogs but not an "easy" breed.

Aug. 8, 2011, 07:45 AM
We have Australian shepherds - similar breed. Very busy little guys, need a job, need proactive training so they don't herd horses, chickens, kids, etc., when they aren't supposed to. Need lots of exercise too. Great dogs but not an "easy" breed.

Aussies are a bit more laid back than are heelers. (I've had aussies for many decades, Las Rocosa, and all of mine did as well living in a subdivision in Atlanta as they did swimming in the river south of Savannah.) Heelers have a slightly more aggressive temperment, in my experience & based on my observation of them working on farms. But heelers are great dogs too.

When you buy a herding dog, you must understand that the dog is smarter than most humans. So you must be able to handle superior intelligence.

There's a great movie with Mel Gibson and a heeler, set in Australia. Darn I forget the name. Shows just how cool the dogs are.

Aug. 8, 2011, 08:17 AM
Road Warrior.

Just remembered the name of the great movie. If you are interested in an Australian cattle dog/blue heeler, rent that movie. The dog in there is the greatest actor. I wanted one as soon as I walked out of the theatre, but I already had 2 australian shepherds and a mixed breed rescue, so I couldn't get another dog in the burbs of atlanta.

Aug. 8, 2011, 08:20 AM

^ In The Menagerie, there is a thread discussing them :)

Aug. 8, 2011, 08:22 AM
Road Warrior.

Just remembered the name of the great movie. If you are interested in an Australian cattle dog/blue heeler, rent that movie. The dog in there is the greatest actor. I wanted one as soon as I walked out of the theatre, but I already had 2 australian shepherds and a mixed breed rescue, so I couldn't get another dog in the burbs of atlanta.

Thanks for the name of the movie. I like Mel Gibson and love ACD's, at least the girl that I already have. I've already started looking at ACD Rescues to see what's available. :)

Aug. 8, 2011, 06:13 PM
They are great dogs but they are not for everyone. They are very smart and you need to be the alpha dog. In my house, the saying is "Do it or die". If I tell you to do something you'd better do it and quick or you'll think your life is over. :D

I'm on my second ACD and will certainly get another one probably in the next two years. My first was amazing and we did work cattle. This one is not quite as brave but she's loyal and won't even go with friends for a walk if I'm not going. You do have to watch them around livestock - it is bred into them so you need to expect that you'll be making some rules.

This is a great website:

Good luck,

Aug. 8, 2011, 09:00 PM
since so many here seem to have Separation Anxiety issues with your dogs, there is a thread in The Menagrie about shelter dogs and SA.

Aug. 9, 2011, 12:47 AM
I've had 3 -4 heelers. Two "purebreds" and two that were at least 1/2 heeler.

The 3 I raised from pups were all friendly dogs at adulthood even with strangers, but then I make a big deal about socializing all my dogs. They were all excellent herders, even when I didn't want them to be.

Very loyal, very smart, VERY high energy dogs. I have my own small ranch way out in the country or I would never even think of having this breed.

The 4th heeler was a stray who was dumped in our area and was actually feral for almost a year before she adopted me (when she was pregnant). Once she decided I was "her" person she became extremely devoted and possessive with me and had difficulty playing nice with my other dogs. She was also very aggressive with other people.

But I have never been so adored so completely by a dog...she never left my side EVER except for when I got in the car. She just could not bring herself to get in a car...the other dogs would be 'oh YEAH, car ride!!!' and she'd go hide under the porch. I think she was afraid she'd get dumped again...:sadsmile:

After she had her pups and they were placed I had her spayed and she died 3 days later...poor girl. Never did know exactly what went wrong...

But I am totally hooked on the breed...but then, I like Rotties & JRT's too!

cheval convert
Aug. 9, 2011, 05:07 PM
I own an australian shepherd and he is very intense but I think the blue heelers are even moreso. The one thing I will say about this breed is, "They are not beginner dogs!"

They are very smart and strong willed, so they need a lot of training. (I am relieved to see people posting about using an e collar on their dogs. After 3 trainers and a couple of thousand dollars I ended up working with a trainer who said we needed a shock collar. It has made the difference in my aussie's life. He can run on conservation land because I can reinforce my recall command if he chooses to ignore me. He is a very happy boy when he gets to run.) Anyway, they are great dogs, but they are dogs that must be trained or they will train you! lol

Aug. 9, 2011, 06:03 PM
Agree with everyone here - very intense, very loyal to their family but seem to pick their "one person" they belong to, you have to be smarter than the dog and demand respect from day one. Mine, thank god, is 10 this year and is a bit more relaxed in terms of what he requires as far as exercise goes. I've had several people (vets, photographers, agility trainer) tell me he's the best tempered heeler they've ever met so he seems to be a little more laid back than most. However, I have never, from day one, been able to let him loose around the horses because he'll go after their heels and WILL. NOT. call off. Even managed to get himself kicked in the head once when I was out of the town and the girl feeding for me forgot to put him in his stall while bringing the horses through. He was fine but it didn't slow him down for long. He'll also chase (and unfortunately kill - they're apparently fun to chase and shake) the barn cats that run away from him so he's not allowed around them either, but if the cat doesn't run it's perfectly safe. He's happily slept on my bed next to more than one of our house cats with no problem. The chase just gets him so worked up he can't stand himself and he loses his hearing to anything I tell him.

I once heard a description that said they're different from border collies, aussies, etc. because when those breeds herd they're bred to "check in" with their humans as to where to go next or where to bring the herd, while the heelers are bred to work on their own. They go in, move the cattle to where they need to be and only check back with the human when they're done, and that's why they're personality is so dominant and independent - because of how they're bred to work. Made a lot of sense to me.

They're definitely not for the faint of heart around dogs and I wouldn't recommend them for a first-time dog owner or someone wanting a fouffy dog, but they're wonderful if you understand how they think.

Murphy's Mom
Aug. 9, 2011, 11:51 PM
I am relieved to see people posting about using an e collar on their dogs.
There's a difference between Australian Shepherds and Australian Cattle Dogs when it comes to shock collars. :D One of mine would just twitch a bit when hit with the highest shock, then continue with her harassment. Another one would be an angel in the collar if it was turned on but she KNEW when that collar was off. I gave up on the e collar years ago in favor of clicker training.

My heelers (link should work for non-FB users too):

Aug. 10, 2011, 07:55 AM
Great looking dogs, Murphy's Mom.

I've only had one aussie who had to be trained. So I sent her to a professional for a month. Then I went to obedience school with her. Pat Klausman, the Pekay Kennel owner, was a great trainer. All my other aussies "aimed to please" and literally trained themselves. No shock collars.:eek:

All the herdings dogs are smarter than most humans. There's where the rub is, so you have to get a dog who will be tolerant of it's human's errors. They are a lot like TB mares.