Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian Cattle Dog measures 46 to 51 cm at the withers for males and 43 to 48 cm for females. He has a very strong neck. The ears are erect, and slightly pointed. The top coat is waterproof because it is tight and lies flat. It is shorter on the head, the inner ears and the anterior part of the limbs and feet. Her dress is speckled blue with a tawny undercoat. It can also be tinted red.
The Fédération Cynologique Internationale classifies it among the Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs (group 1 section 2).
Origins and history
As the name suggests, the Australian Cattle Dog was developed to keep cattle in Australia (Latin Cattle Bo (v) arius means “beef keeper”). The dog’s origin dates back to the 1840s, when a Queensland breeder, George Elliott, crossed dingoes, the wild dogs of Australia, with blue merle collies. The dogs resulting from this cross were very popular with cattle breeders and aroused the interest of Jack and Harry Bagust. After obtaining a few of these dogs, the Bagust brothers began crossbreeding experiments, notably with the Dalmatian and the Kelpie. The result was the ancestor of the Australian Cattle Dog. A little later, it was Robert Kaleski who determined the breed standard and was finally approved in 1903.
Character and behavior
The Australian Cattle Dog is particularly happy in large open spaces. He is always alert and extremely vigilant, with great energy and exceptional intelligence. All of these qualities make them an ideal working dog. He can be a cattle keeper of course, but is also good at obedience or agility tests. Very loyal and protective, the Australian Cattle Dog is closely linked to his family, but it is still important for the owner to clearly position himself as the leader of the pack to avoid behavior problems. They are naturally suspicious of strangers, but are not aggressive.
Common pathologies and diseases of the Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian Cattle Dog is an extremely hardy dog and generally in good general condition. According to the 2014 UK Kennel Club Purebred Dog Health Survey, the Australian Cattle Dog is not affected by much disease. Almost three-quarters of the dogs identified showed no disease. In the rest, the most common condition was arthritis.
Australian Cattle Dogs are also susceptible to hereditary diseases, such as progressive retinal atrophy or deafness.
Progressive retinal atrophy
This disease is characterized by progressive degeneration of the retina. It is very similar between the dog and the man. Ultimately, it leads to total blindness and possibly a change in the color of the eyes, which appear green or yellow to them. Both eyes are affected more or less simultaneously and equally.
The loss of vision is progressive and the first clinical signs can take a long time to detect because the first cells in the eye affected by the disease are those that allow night vision.
The diagnosis consists of an ophthalmologic examination using an ophthalmoscope and also by an electroretinogram. It is an incurable disease and blindness is currently inevitable. Fortunately, it is painless and its progressive appearance allows the dog to gradually adapt to his condition. With the help of his owner, the dog will then be able to live with his blindness. (2 – 3)
Congenital sensorineural hearing loss
Congenital sensorineural hearing loss is the most common cause of hearing loss in dogs and cats. It is often associated with the white pigmentation of the coat and it seems that genes involved in the coloring of the coat are also involved in the hereditary transmission of this disease. Among these genes we can cite the The merle gene (M) that the herdsman could have inherited from its crossing with the blue merle collie in the XNUMXth century (see the historical section).
Deafness can be unilateral (one ear) or bilateral (both ears). In the latter case, the clinical signs will be quite suggestive. The dog will for example have a very heavy sleep and a loss of sensitivity to noise. In contrast, a dog with unilateral deafness shows less clear manifestation of hearing loss. It is therefore difficult for the owner or even the breeder to detect deafness early.
Diagnosis is guided by breed predisposition and by observing the dog’s reactions to a sound stimulus. The formal establishment of the diagnosis is then made by a test which measures the electrical activity of the cochlea: the trace of auditory evoked potentials (AEP). This method makes it possible to assess the diffusion of sound in the outer and middle ears and also the neurological properties in the inner ear, the auditory nerve and the brainstem.
There is currently no treatment to restore hearing in dogs. (4)
See the pathologies common to all dog breeds.
Living conditions and advice
Their waterproof coat has no odor or oily residue, and the short, dense undercoat is renewed twice a year. The care of the coat therefore only requires occasional baths and weekly brushing. A curry brush will help keep their coats in good condition. The claws should be trimmed regularly to prevent them from breaking or growing too much. Also check the ears regularly to prevent wax or debris buildup that could lead to infection. Teeth should also be checked and brushed regularly.