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The Australian Cattle Dog (ACD) is an intelligent working dog. He is tough and courageous, possessing endurance unlike any other dog of its size. When first developed and refined in Australia, the main requirement of this breed was that it be strong and possess great stamina to travel long distances over all types of harsh terrain with extremes of temperature.

ACDs are built for short bursts of high speed, but also have the endurance needed for a full day's work in the rough outback of Australia. Although they rely on their master’s commands and crave his attention, these dogs must have some degree of independence and self-confidence. This is an athletic dog capable of quick and sudden movement.
Selective as to who is friend or foe, curious but suspicious of strangers, very gentle but capable of showing aggression if their owner, family belongings or property is threatened, these tough dogs are not easily discouraged or intimidated and will exhibit independent thinking and action.

The versatility of this “natural” breed is a tribute to those who have worked to keep it a true working dog. Working cattle and other stock, guarding their family and property, they can be shown in the conformation show ring and do exceptionally well in obedience, agility and schutzhund training. They can play ball for hours or swim like an otter. They can do anything – just ask anyone who owns one.

ACDs have strong herding instincts. If working a farm is their life, they excel at herding & driving livestock. But if living in a backyard, they will exhibit the same drive, finding things to take the place of cattle. They will make do with kids, cats, lawn mowers, bikes - even motor vehicles, which puts them at risk.

Extreme behaviors like chasing cars is a serious problem that must be curbed immediately. Biting and nipping at the ankle while following these herding instincts is a natural behavior which needs an acceptable alternative. Owners must find outlets for this overwhelming drive. Things like fetching ball and frisbee are ways that owners have discovered to be positive directions for that instinctive drive and energy.

Farm dogs were bred to guard the stock. They were blessed with nimbleness, intelligence and the instinct to round up anything that moved. These qualities have not disappeared despite many ACDs being placed in homes as a beloved family pet where extra efforts must be made in order to have a good family dog.

ACDs are not for the novice dog owner. They are not to be taken for granted, tied out or ignored. Bonding and socializing are vitally important in this breed. Work and play with your ACD and he/she will die for you. Ignored, suffering from boredom, the resourceful ACD will begin to “round up” anything that moves - that could include the washing or something much more serious.

This is a breed that truly likes training and needs/wants a job. They take their job very seriously – whether an assigned task or one they have invented. If the owner does not find him work, he will find his own job - usually the wrong one. Left to his own devices, he can quickly and easily become a problem for his owner and a danger to himself. If left too long making his own choices on work, he will resent any effort to change his unacceptable ways, compounding the problem.

Sturdy, compact and symmetrically built, 17-19 inches tall for bitches and 18-20 inches tall for males, 45-65 pounds if it is correctly built, were the ideas of Robert Kaleski who drew up the Standard for the breed, endorsed initially by the Kennel Club of New South Wales in 1903.

With the writing of Kaleski’s Standard, the breed’s name became official as the Australian Cattle Dog. This Standard is very similar to those currently in use worldwide today.

We encourage anyone interested in the breed to do further research as this is just a brief overview. Find out all you can about the breed, ask as many question as possible. There are numerous excellent websites on the internet and published books about this unique breed.

Please visit our Resources Page to assist you in learning more about this special breed of dog.

Australian Cattle Dog Standard
Use the pull down menu below to explore the various Standards for the breed.