The Australian Cattle Dog (ACD) was developed in the 1800s by early settlers needing a dog with the stamina to survive the extreme conditions of the harsh Outback. They wanted a dog that would work silently without stressing the livestock or biting too severely and was highly trainable and able to withstand long hours in harsh climates.
Many ranchers experimented with variety of breeds in pursuit of a “perfect combination,” attempting “to create the ultimate heeler.” In 1840, Thomas Hall, of New South Wales, crossed the progeny of two Blue Smooth Highland Collies (similar to today’s Border Collies or Bearded Collies) with Australia’s native dingo. The resulting dogs were either blue or red speckled, and became known as “Hall’s Heelers.” Today there are many other breeds of cattle dogs, but the Hall’s Heeler is what we now know as the blue heeler, red heeler, Queensland heeler or Australian Cattle Dog.
Another Aussie gentleman, Thomas Bentley is said to have had one of these Hall’s Heelers. That dog sported a white blaze down his forehead. Known only as Bentley’s Dog, this dog, “beautifully built and an incredible worker,” was widely used at stud in order to retain the dog’s outstanding characteristics. Today’s ACD retains this white mark, the Bentley mark, on its forehead. The black tail-root spot seen occasionally in blue dogs can also be directly attributed to Tom Bentley's dog.
ACDs are born white. As the pups age, the body color darkens, resulting in either the blue or red speckle coloring. They are a medium-sized, muscular dog that stands 17 to 20 inches at the shoulders and weighs between 30 and 50 pounds. The ACD is a relatively hearty, healthy breed. Potential genetic disorders include deafness and progressive retinal atrophy, a degenerative eye condition.
Their average lifespan is 12 to 15 years. One dog, Bluey, is said to have lived 29 years, 5 months. Bluey is recognized as the oldest dog by Guinness World Records until 2013.
The ACD excels at canine sports like herding trials, agility, flyball and flying disc. They enjoy regular walks, and can be ideal biking, hiking and running companions. Though a very active and energetic dog, the ACD can thrive in an apartment, as long as the human they share their home with is attentive to the needs for appropriate mental and physical outlets.
A social breed that enjoys being with the family, ACDs do not do well when isolated or left alone for long periods. An ACD can behave in a destructive manner when left to its own devices. They are often reserved with strangers and can be protective when threatened, but are a great companion when raised with patience and appropriate training.
Texas Cattle Dog Rescue (TCDR) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) animal welfare organization dedicated to rescuing Australian Cattle Dogs from city and county shelters throughout Texas. We ensure each dog is spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. We do not have a central facility nor do we have dogs in kennels or boarding facilities. All of our dogs live in foster homes. We thoroughly screen potential adopters and work hard to place each dog in loving, caring forever home.
Our small, but dedicated group focuses on saving as many dogs as possible as well as educating the public about Australian Cattle Dogs. Everyone involved in the group is an unpaid volunteer.
Our mission is to reduce the shocking number of heelers euthanized in Texas shelters. We match each rescued dog with a forever home where he/she will be loved, cared for, and fully enjoyed and appreciated. Educating current and future owners is a key focus and helps us match dogs with homes. We believe pets should be spayed and neutered to reduce pet over population. We also ensure our rescued dogs are healthy and vaccinated when they are placed.
Texas Cattle Dog Rescue
Red or blue...there's one for you
Sunshine June 21,1998 – June 5, 2016
Sunshine was at a shelter in the Houston area. She was around eight years old, heartworm positive, unspayed and in heat, and was incredibly thin and almost hairless on her back legs and behind. She came to me as a foster, and with a bath, flea medication, good food, and vet care, Sunshine started to look better.
I had no experience with Australian Cattle Dogs and tried to find help from area rescues. To my surprise, there were no ACD rescues in Texas or surrounding states. I started looking at shelter websites and saw so many ACDs in need. My experience with Sunshine showed me how smart, loyal and brave the breed is and I knew that I needed to try to start a rescue for these wonderful dogs. Sunshine was the catalyst. Without her, TCDR may never have come to be.
Sunshine found her forever home with me and she is now a spoiled, happy girl who I love dearly and can't imagine living without. She is now 17 years old and a breast cancer survivor. She enjoys time on the couch and belly rubs. She will still chase anything you throw for her, but is a little slower bringing it back to you these days. She howls and barks when she wants something—and you better figure out what she wants because she doesn't stop until she gets it. Her face may be almost completely white now, but her heart is still pure gold!
- Jenn, Founder of Texas Cattle Dog Rescue, Inc.