Breed of the Month: Australian Cattle Dog

Description: The Australian Cattle Dog (ACD) is a medium-sized dog.  They are known as a red or blue heeler. This is because their coats have black or brown hair through out their white coat.  ACD’s are known for their high level of intelligence, energy, and for wanting to herd animals. They like to keep busy and may even heard your family members.  To keep the ACD out of mischief, owners should give them a task or job to focus on. This will encourage positive behavior.

History: Originating in Australia, a man name named Thomas Hall crossed the Dingo with the Blue Smooth Highland Collie.  This breed was named “Hall’s Heelers”. After Thomas Hall passed away, the breed was free to travel outside of his family and then the common name, American Cattle Dog was used.

Size: The ACD measures, on average, 43 to 51 centimeters. These dogs are longer than they are tall and weigh about 33-49 pounds.

Temperament: The ACD is a very smart breed, they were ranked 10th on the Stanly’s Coren’s “Intelligence of Dogs”. When meeting strangers, the ACD may become reserved and cautious. Some owners have trained them to become loyal watch dogs.  If you plan on having them around lots of individuals, it is encouraged to work with them on meeting new people. That way they feel more at ease.  ACD are known for their amazing companionship and loyalty to their family.

Grooming: ACD’s do not shed year round. It is said that males blow their coat once a year and females twice. When this happens, it is encouraged to give them a warm bath and brush them.  They also need regular maintenance on their nails and teeth.

Health: After reading up on the ACD, the most common health concerns were deafness and blindness. It was also reported that both of these issues were hereditary.  Due to such an active life-style ACD are prone to injuries. This was noted as the “most common health risk”.

Exercise: The ACD are a very active breed. These dogs need a task to complete at all times. They were bread as a herding animal and need a lot of exercise due to their high-strung personality.  Some owners have their dogs compete in speed and agility courses. This will keep them very active.

Lifespan: ACD generally age well, especially when they are kept active throughout their life. The average lifespan is 11-13 years.

Trivia: A blue heeler was featured in the movie Mad Max 2.


Dog Longevity

One thing about dogs that fascinates me the most is the differences in lifespans between dog breeds.

At 29 years of age, the Australian Cattle Dog name Bluey is the oldest living dog, passing away in 1939. However, a study regarding longevity in Australian Cattle Dogs showed that most Australian Cattle Dogs live, on average, 13.41 years. Although Australian Cattle Dogs live longer than average, it’s not the longest living breed of dog.

As for the longest living dog breeds, these breeds are amongst the average longest living: Toy Poodle 14.67 years, Miniature Dachshund 14.4 years, Canaan Dog 14.67 years, Swedish Vallhund 14.77, Border Terrier 14 years, and Cairn Terrier 14 years.

The Dogue de Bordeaux, or French Mastiff, has the shortest life span of 5.29 years. Other breeds like the Irish Wolfhound and Bloodhound have an average lifespan of around 7 years.

The British Veterinary Association compiled results of a survey by dog owners who gave information about their deceased dogs, resulting in information from 3,000 dogs.

From the abstract of the article: “The mean age at death (all breeds, all causes) was 11 years one month, but in dogs dying of natural causes it was 12 years eight months. Only 8 per cent of dogs lived beyond 15, and 64 per cent of dogs died of disease or were euthanased as a result of disease. Nearly 16 percent of deaths were attributed to cancer, twice as many as to heart disease.”

If you are interested in more information regarding breeds and their average life spans, you might want to check out Dog Longevity created by Dr. Kelly M. Cassidy. On the site you will find information on life spans of dog breeds, including information from the US, Canada, and the UK. You will probably notice some variance in breed life span between the different countries. I would attribute this to statistical noise and probably not habits of dog owners by nation. None of the differences in life spans between the countries seems to be statistically significant.

I realize there is so much more information that could be covered but, I just wanted to give you all a brief overview of dog breed longevity and some interesting facts. There is just an overwhelming amount of information and a multitude of variables when it comes to the life spans of all the different breeds of dogs. Selective breeding has given us a wide variety of dogs and a wide variety of health concerns for these dogs. Future posts about health issues, selective breeding, designer dogs, diet and other posts will hopefully provide more information about the life spans of our dogs.

Do you have any stories about the life span of your dog or a dog you know? Any anomalies you have witnessed in the age of a dog?