There are a number of dog breeds available that herd large groups of animals with great precision and ease. However, in the 1800's Australian cattle ranchers not only wanted but needed a resourceful dog with the moxie to withstand the country's harsh conditions. It needed to have a strong heart, strong constitution and a strong mind as well. Those who had been in the business and worked in ranching for years used their expertise to help develop a dog that could meet these requirements. It was discovered that using native dingoes was the key to developing the breed. After a number of years, the Australian Cattle Dog became the breed many cattle ranchers ended up depending on to maintain their day to day operations.
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Thanks to its distinctive herding technique, the brawny Australian Cattle Dog was first referred to as the Heeler. For the most part, groups of dogs worked together and supplemented their meager diets by hunting on their own. This ability to be self sufficient was very important to ranchers who were more interested in devoting their attention to cattle and not dog care. Even the Cattle Dog's coat required no maintenance. The hairs in the topcoat of the Cattle Dog reflected the sun's energy away, allowing the breed to stay cooler even on the hottest days. The thick undercoat effectively blocked out moisture, dirt and insects.
The Australian Cattle Dog was also used as a guard dog. From time to time, it was not just strangers that ranches needed protection from but dingoes and other dangerous animals. Newborn calves were often a draw for nearby wild dogs looking for an easy meal. The Cattle Dog had no problem turning around and fiercely defending the same animals it had just been relentlessly nipping and herding. Cattle Dogs were also known to sound the alarm when poisonous snakes came along. It was not uncommon for the breed to take a strike or two yet valiantly stand its ground until the snake could be killed or it went on its way.
As Cattle Dogs gained recognition, many dog enthusiasts noted the breed's natural agility when at work in the field. The breed quickly became a choice for popular obstacle course events. Where other dogs showed hesitation, the Australian Cattle Dog approached their tasks and carried them out with a matter of fact approach. After being bred to take on two thousand pound animals, they did not seem to mind jumping through hoops, weaving or clearing hurdles. Though stocky, their powerful muscles helped them move through courses with great ease. The Australian Cattle Dog is still commonly found on the most difficult of agility courses and many other types of championship competitions.
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