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History of
Australian Cattle Dogs

Around Queensland, Australia, George Elliott started experimenting with Dingo-blue merle Collie hybrids in 1840.

Elliott's dogs turned out to be fantastic workers. The working aptitude of these canines impressed cattlemen, who bought puppies from them when they became available. Two brothers from Sydney, Jack and Harry Bagust, bought several of these canines and started about improving them. Their initial move was to breed a bitch with a high-quality Dalmatian dog imported from Europe. The merle became red or blue speckled as a result of this cross.


The Bagusts' goal with this cross was to instill in their dogs a love of horses and a devotion to their master. These traits were achieved, and these Bagust dogs were valuable for watching over the drover's horse and goods, but part of their working abilities was lost. The Bagusts then attempted to cross their speckle dogs with the Black-and-Tan Kelpie, a sheepdog, since they admired its working aptitude. The outcome was a compact energetic dog that was similar in shape and build to the Dingo, but with thicker set markings and patterns that had yet to be seen on any other breed of dog thus far.


Blue dogs had black patches around their eyes, black ears, brown eyes, and a little white patch in the center of their foreheads. The body was dark blue with lighter blue speckles, and the legs, chest, and head had the same tan markings as the Black and Tan Kelpie. Instead of black marks, the red dogs had a dark crimson speckle all over their bodies.


Only the puppies that were the closest to the ideal standard were retained, and they were the forerunners of the modern Australian Cattle Dog. The Bagusts' dogs had exceptional working aptitude, combining the Dingo's calm heeling skill and stamina with the Dalmatian's loyal protectiveness. Property owners and drovers grew more interested in these canines as knowledge of their ability to herd cattle spread. Blue Heelers were born as a result of the popularity of the blue-colored canines. These cattle dogs were vital to the owners of large cattle ranches in Queensland, earning them the nickname Queensland Heelers or Queensland Blue Heelers.

There was no other successful infusion of breeds after the Black and Tan Kelpie mix. Working ability, type, and color were all important factors for breeders at the time. Robert Kaleski began breeding Blue Heelers in 1893 and began displaying them in 1897.

In 1902, Mr. Kaleski created a standard for the Australian Cattle Dog, as well as the Kelpie and Barb. He based the ACD standard on the Dingo breed, claiming that it had organically developed to fit the circumstances of the Australian outback. Except for the tint of the blues and the speckle in the reds, the likeness to the Dingo can still be seen today. Kaleski's standard was ultimately adopted by them, as well as all the prominent breeders of the period, after much protest by negligent breeders. He subsequently presented his standard for approval to the Australian Cattle and Sheep Dog Club and the original Kennel Club of New South Wales. In 1903, the standard was accepted.


The breed was first known as the Australian Heeler, then the Australian Cattle Dog, which is currently the official designation for the breed in Australia. However, they are still referred to as Blue Heelers or Queensland Heelers by some.


The Australian Cattle Dog was recognized for registration by the American Kennel Club on May 1, 1980, and became eligible to be shown in the Working Group on September 1, 1980, after a stint as a Miscellaneous breed. When the Herding Group was created on January 1, 1983, it was classified accordingly.

In 1999 the official Australian Cattle Dog Breed Standard was agreed on.

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