Australian Cattle Dog
Health & Care
To ensure your Australian Cattle Dog is mentally sound and physically strong, you should provide a stimulating lifestyle full of environmental enrichment and engage in some type of working, sporting, or training exercise.
Deafness, progressive retinal atrophy, or PRA, which causes vision loss, and hip dysplasia are among problems that reputable breeders will check breeding stock for. Regularly checking an ACD's ears for foreign matter and avoiding wax buildup is recommended, as is brushing their teeth.
Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
PRA Optigen DNA Test
PLL DNA Test
The Australian Cattle Dog has a smooth, double-layer coat that offers protection from the weather, as these dogs were bred to work outside. Because this coat has no odor or greasy residue, an Australian Cattle Dog only requires a weekly brushing and the occasional wash. Keep in mind that the ACD's undercoat is shed twice a year. During shedding season, the ACD will require a thorough brushing every few days to remove dead hair, which can be done with a short-bristle brush or comb. The nails of the Australian Cattle Dog should be trimmed on a regular basis. Practicing good hygiene by regular cleaning of the teeth and ears will help prevent health issues.
Ian Dunbar points out in Katherine Buetow's guide to the Australian Cattle Dog that while most people perceive dog training as teaching a dog to sit, talk, and roll over, the dog already knows how to do these things. According to Dunbar, training is educating the dog that doing these things when a certain phrase or signal is presented, is a good idea. He goes on to say that he believes training is all about developing communication channels so that the dog understands what the handler wants it to accomplish and why it will be worthwhile for it to do so.
Reinforcement for the dog might include incentives for performing what is expected, as Dunbar suggests, or corrections when an unpleasant behavior is observed. The Australian Cattle Dog, like other working breeds, is clever and responsive; all of these characteristics may be beneficial in training when a structured, diverse program is utilized, but they can also lead to undesirable results if training is inconsistent, repetitious, or dull for the dog.
Scott Lithgow, a stock dog trainer, suggests making training a game so the ACD learns that compliance leads to joy. Barking, chewing, chasing, digging, protecting territory, and biting heels are all normal ACD behaviors that are undesirable traits in a pet. As a result, training entails assisting the dog in adopting a lifestyle that is likely very different from that of its droving forefathers. The Australian Cattle Dog is a biddable breed that takes to training very well.
Since the Australian Cattle Dog is a high-energy breed, it requires lots of exercise. Like many herding breeds, the ACD has a very active mind and will find its own tasks if it is not provided with sufficient tasks to perform. It will still enjoy a stroll around the neighborhood, but scheduled activities that interest and challenge the dog, as well as consistent engagement from the owner, are absolutely necessary. While each dog will have its own unique temperament, the Australian Cattle Dog is overall well-suited for any activity requiring agility, intelligence, or endurance.
As previously mentioned, the Australian Cattle Dog was bred for its ability to drive livestock across great distances, and some say it may be the best breed in the world for this job. However, other working dog trainers feel that ACDs bred for the show ring are becoming shorter in the legs and more stocky in the body, making them less fit for the task they were originally developed for.
Dog agility is one of the most popular exercises for an Australian Cattle Dog. Because it is a herding dog, it responds to the handler's body language and is ready to work properly at a distance from the handler; it is great for traversing obstacle courses. ACD owners have utilized agility to instill confidence in their dogs and improve their performance in training and competition.
The Australian Cattle Dog thrives on novelty and new experiences, thus inexperienced handlers may find it difficult to teach the breed. In obedience competitions, the Australian Cattle Dog can truly shine. It will love the trials, such as retrieving a scented item. Rally obedience allows for greater engagement with the owner and less repetition compared to typical obedience trials.
Weight pulling, flyball, and barn hunt are just a few examples of the canine sports in which Australian Cattle Dogs have excelled. Because of its inherent endurance and penchant for sticking by its owner's side, the ACD makes an excellent trekking companion. The majority of Australian Cattle Dogs like swimming and are great swimmers.
Despite its energy, the ACD is not a hyperactive breed, so once it has had its exercise, the dog is content to lie at its owner's feet or relax in its bed, crate, or on the couch (while keeping an ear and eye out for signals of impending action). As long as its exercise and companionship demands are consistently addressed, the Australian Cattle Dog is an adaptable dog that may even do well with city living.