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Are Australian Cattle Dogs (Heelers) High Energy?

Adrienne is a certified professional dog trainer, dog behavior consultant and former veterinarian assistant for an AAHA animal hospital.


Whether Australian Cattle Dogs are high energy is an important question for anyone planning on owning this breed.

Perhaps you have spotted an Australian Cattle Dogs in a shelter or you have spotted some cute puppies playing in a pet store and have fallen in love with the breed.

This is not surprising, as these dogs are smart, playful and come in attractive colors!

Doing some deep research on this breed is crucial so that you know ahead of time what you may be getting into.

History of Cattle Dogs

Australian Cattle Dogs were selectively bred to work on farms. Indeed, they have been used as herding dogs on farms, and are still known today for their hard work and stamina.

These resilient dogs were purposely built for managing the rough terrains of their homelands, withstanding the unforgivable heat, and controlling stubborn herds of cattle. This all took lots of energy!

Indeed, it can be said that this dog breed is always ready for action and will not rest as long as there is something to do.

It's as if these dogs do not want to miss anything. Work is fun. Working is their life, not working is their misery.

Even when in the home, an Australian Cattle Dog will be extra aware of his environment, and that includes his owners' emotions and instructions.

On top of this, herding stubborn livestock required a type-A personality. These dogs need to have rules and routines in place to thrive.

Australian cattle dogs were bred to herd cattle.

Australian cattle dogs were bred to herd cattle.

Are Australian Cattle Dogs High Energy?

While Australian Cattle Dogs are valued on farms due to their reputation as hard workers, in a different environment, this high energy level can easily wear you out.

This means that a simple walk around the block or a short game of fetch in the yard won't cut it with this breed.

Australian Cattle Dogs thrive when they are provided with the right dose of exercise.

Exercise is not only a matter of mental wellbeing, but also a physical one. In order to stay healthy, dogs need to move around and send oxygen to all the tissues in the body, including bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles.

Regular exercise also helps promote a strong appetite and overall good health.

So make sure to set aside at least two hours of exercise for your heeler every day. You can mix and match a variety of activities such as walks, play and sports.

The Importance of Mental Stimulation

On top of exercise, as working dogs, Australian Cattle Dogs also need mental stimulation. Make sure to offer several enrichment opportunities to keep your dog's mind active.

Food puzzles, brain games, clicker training and nosework are all activities that will give your Australian Cattle Dog something to do while keeping his brain occupied.

It also helps to rotate toys so that this breed never grows bored or tired of seeing them.

Nowadays, there are oodles of toys to keep dogs busy, from snuffle mats (mats made out of fleece where you can hide treats) and Kong Wobblers to a vast array of food puzzles which help relieve boredom and keep those busy minds stimulated.

When Do Australian Cattle Dogs Calm Down?

While the Australian Cattle Dogs can remain lively and energetic throughout their lives, they are known to become more manageable once they reach two to three years of age.

This is the age when the doggy adolescent stage has passed with all its associated ups and downs. However, you may not notice much significant change until your Australian Cattle Dog has reached the age of five.

Australian cattle dogs are happy on a farm

Australian cattle dogs are happy on a farm

Can Australian Cattle Dogs Live in an Apartment?

They technically could, but they almost certainly won't be too happy! Australian cattle dogs need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation and these dogs enjoy having space.

When confined in small living spaces they are likely to become destructive and engage in undesirable behaviors such as excessive barking, whining, pacing, chewing and digging when their needs aren't met. This can make owners and neighbors miserable over time.

However, as with many things "dog," there are exceptions. If you're able to provide lots of walks and ball-throwing and can take your dog to a beach or big park nearby, it's possible to have a happy "city dog." On rainy days, a doggy treadmill can work; just make sure to introduce it properly and safely.

Australian Cattle Dogs are adaptable creatures of habit, and if an apartment is your only choice, their loyalty should be honored with forever homes who understand this dog's needs.

Benefits of Owning Australian Cattle Dogs

Australian Cattle Dogs make perfect companions for those with active lifestyles. If you're not physically active, you should therefore avoid getting one.

Despite their high energy levels, Australian Cattle Dogs are loyal and loving pets that will form a deep attachment to their owners.

They are very intelligent, and can be protective of their territory. They can be a bit aloof around strangers, making them good watchdogs.

Since Australian Cattle Dogs are easy to train and can perform nearly any task with some training, you can train them to alert you if there's somebody on your property rather than taking the matter in their own hands.

Another benefit is that these dogs require very little grooming; their coats are easy to take care of, except for a brief shedding period.

Australian Cattle Dogs are also overall healthy and are blessed with long lifespan of 12 to 14 years.

Ways to Calm Down an Australian Cattle Dog

As seen, Australian Cattle Dogs are balls of energy, but that energy can be channeled, if you provide this breed with gentle guidance and provide consistency in his life. Be patient.

Ideally start socializing and training your Australian Cattle Dog from a young age. As he matures, make sure you provide your Australian Cattle Dog with refresher training sessions. Work on teaching him better impulse control. Here are some great exercises: 10 impulse control games for dogs.

And don't forget about keeping that brain busy! Provide loads of mental stimulation, brain games, food puzzles, safe chew toys, start clicker training, enroll him in a canine sport (this breed is naturally drawn to the sport of Treibball) and take him on sniffing adventures. However, don't forget to teach him how to chill too. Training your dog to lie on a mat can turn helpful.

The more you keep that big brain busy in positive ways, the greater the chances you'll help your Australian Cattle Dog grow into a wonderful adult companion.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Adrienne Farricelli