Are Australian Cattle Dogs (Blue Heelers) Aggressive?

For anyone considering to buy a new dog as a family pet, it is important to find out how the breed of the dog will behave.

Some breeds are more prone to showing aggressive behavior than others, both to other animals and people.

As a result of possessing certain aggressive attributes, some breeds can make great guard dogs and protection dogs.

However, even breeds prone to aggressiveness can be brought up and raised to be good family pets.

But what about the Australian Cattle Dog?

Bred for work with cattle in rough terrains, these dogs are excellent herding dogs.

Back then, these dogs would may have used aggressive behavior when herding cattle to drive them on.

For this reason, some people may wonder is this dog still prone to aggressive behavior today?

This article will discuss are Australian Cattle Dogs aggressive, and if yes, what could be the cause of aggression.

I will also talk about how you can stop any aggressive behavior in a Cattle Dog, and whether this dog makes a good family pet.


Are Australian Cattle Dogs (Blue Heelers) Aggressive?

Australian Cattle Dogs can potentially be aggressive due to various factors, or in certain situations.

Sometimes, an Australian Cattle Dog can become aggressive toward people and to other dogs, or even to children.

When this is the case, it can be a very difficult situation to handle and to manage. If not dealt with as soon as possible, it can quickly get out of control.

Of course, aggressiveness can be trained out of a dog. But in some breeds more than others, this may be quite a challenge.

Cattle Dogs are a breed that are prone to being stubborn, and may refuse to listen during training.

It is this stubbornness that may make it difficult to gain control over an aggressive individual.

If an aggressive Cattle Dog is being trained, he may bite or growl in defense if he doesn’t like something.

As a matter of fact, biting is not an uncommon behavior in an aggressive Cattle Dog. This is due to this breed being instinctively prone to the act of biting.

This particular instinct comes from the fact that Australian Cattle Dogs would nip or bite the heels of cattle back when they were used as herding dogs.

It was for this reason that they were given their name, Blue ‘Heeler’.

Nipping or biting can still be displayed by this breed today. If they feel threatened, they could be inclined to bite or even attack a person’s heel, or that of another animal.

However, everyday biting is an unacceptable behavior and can quickly get out of control if not managed as soon as possible.

First, let’s take a look at what causes aggression in some Cattle Dogs.

What Causes Aggression In Some Cattle Dogs?

Natural Instincts

The Australian Cattle Dog is a breed which is naturally wary around strangers and incredibly protective around his family.

The presence of people or even animals he doesn’t know or is unfamiliar with can make him feel uneasy.

These dogs are also very territorial, and will watch over and protect their property and home. They do not allow anyone to trespass into their boundaries without a good cause.

If a dog or person crosses into their territory, they will likely display aggressive behavior or frustration. Likely, they will bark or may even chase the offender.

But some untrained individuals go too far and will lunge or bite the intruder.

This can be a problem if you have a postman regularly coming to your door, visitors, or other dogs in the neighborhood.

Improper Training

Cattle Dogs aren’t a breed for everyone. They are not ideal for beginners, or for someone who is very inexperienced with dogs.

The Australian Cattle Dog is more intense and hardy than people may think upon first glance.

They need someone as an owner who understands this dog’s needs and exercise requirements.

A person getting one of these dogs also needs to be equipped with patience and time for training.

Improper training and not enough socialization from puppyhood can only show through aggressive behavior as an adult.

A Blue Heeler puppy can become a naturally controlling and bossy dog if he receives no correction from an early age.

Any dominant behavior can quickly turn into aggression if your Cattle Dog doesn’t like something.

Being trained in a harsh way can also have a negative outcome and result in aggression in later life.

A puppy that is shouted at often, beaten, or treat improperly may likely develop aggressive actions as a way of defense.

For example, they can growl at or even bite their owner and other people out of fear or anger.

Boredom And Insufficient Exercise

Another aspect of owning an Australian Cattle Dog is their requirement of at least an hour or two of exercise each day.

These dogs are highly energetic and active, so relaxing at home all day is out of the question for them.

As well as exercise, these dogs need to stay busy and have tasks to do.

A lack of both can contribute to boredom, restless, or hyperactivity. In turn, these can possibly result in aggressive behavior in some individuals.

Aggressiveness caused by improperly caring for your dog and failing to meet his needs should come as no surprise.

Also, never leave your Cattle Dog on his own for many hours every day, or he could become bored and antisocial. He could even develop social anxiety.

This could potentially incline him to show aggression toward others and even toward you.

Are Australian Cattle Dogs Aggressive With Other Dogs?

Australian Cattle Dogs and Hound Mix by Andrea Arden (CC BY 2.0)

Australian Cattle Dogs do tend to be aggressive with other dogs, especially ones of the same sex. This is due to their dominant and territorial nature.

They are possessive dogs and for that reason are intent on guarding their territory and property.

Cattle Dogs may not only display signs of aggression, but could also fight with a dog that steps into their territory.

This is especially true if the other dog does not surrender.

This breed is also prone to chasing smaller animals due to their high prey drive, including small dogs.

However, this doesn’t mean that the Australian Cattle Dog won’t get along with other household dogs. Though they may be bossy at times or dominant,

Cattle Dogs can live in peace with both large and small dogs in the family.

It is always best to raise a Blue Heeler with other pets from puppyhood so that they can grow up together.

Also, Blue Heelers usually get along best with friendly, good-natured dogs that won’t be highly territorial or jealous.

How To Stop Cattle Dogs From Nipping And Growling?

Australian Cattle Dog by Llima Orosa (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Expose Them To Other People And Dogs

The safest way to get your aggressive Cattle Dog to stop nipping and growling is to expose him to other dogs and people.

Ensure your Cattle Dog wears a muzzle so he cannot nip or bite, and that he is also wearing a harness.

This will give you more control over him without straining on his neck like you would with a leash.

Allow the stranger to pet your Cattle Dog, or allow your Cattle Dog to socialize with the other dog.

It is best to approach another dog by walking parallel to him until he and your Cattle dog meet.

This is better than the approach from the front, which can make your Cattle Dog feel confronted.

Negatively Reinforce Nipping And Growling

Reward your Australian Cattle Dog for peaceful or friendly behavior toward the other person or dog.

On the other hand, negatively reinforce nipping and growling by tugging on the harness and saying ‘No’ sternly.

If this doesn’t work on your Cattle dog, you may use a spray water bottle to spray your dog near the face.

This will be understood as a negative consequence of nipping and growling. It will deter him from repeating the behavior.

Another method to use is a citronella collar. This will allow you to release a scent of citronella (which dogs dislike) from the collar whenever your Cattle Dog’s aggressive behavior gets out hand.

As a result, he will associate nipping and growling with the unpleasant scent, and will be more likely to stop it.

Provide Physical Activity And Mental Stimulation

Not giving your Cattle Dog adequate exercise and mental stimulation may make him more prone to nipping and growling.

This is because a Cattle Dog that doesn’t receive enough physical activity may grow restless and may be prone to aggression.

He may also release his energy on others by nipping and chasing them.

Additionally, not providing Cattle Dogs with toys and interactive games may make them bored and grumpy – and therefore aggressive.

What Is The Bite Force Of An Australian Cattle Dog?

The bite force of an average Australian Cattle Dog is 210 PSI (pounds per square inch).

This is a rather high bite force for a dog, which deems the Blue Heeler as very strong.

For this reason, it is important to properly train and teach your Cattle Dog obedience from early on, and be wary of his strong prey drive.

This is because an Australian Cattle Dog’s nipping or biting could potentially injure another dog, especially one much smaller in size.

Is An Australian Cattle Dog A Good Family Pet?

An Australian Cattle Dog can make a great family pet as long as he is socialized from early on in his life.

This means that he needs to be exposed to different people and animals as a puppy to become comfortable with them.

Otherwise, his natural instincts may make him aloof with people and pets. As well as that, his high prey drive and herding instincts may incline him to chase after pets and children.

When it comes to children, Australian Cattle Dogs get along most with children if they are raised with them.

For that reason, it is best to get a puppy Australian Cattle Dog for a family with children instead of one who has already grown up.

It is also important for children, especially small ones, to act sensible around an Australian Cattle Dog.

A child that repeatedly pulls at a Cattle Dog’s tail or fur, and screams loudly, may incline the Cattle Dog to nip or growl.

Apart from that, the Australian Cattle Dog has a very playful nature and can be a great companion for small and bigger children alike.

He loves playing games and has enough stamina to keep going all day. Cattle Dogs are also energetic and work-driven dogs which need an hour or two of exercise each day.

It is for this reason that they do best with a family willing to provide enough physical activity on a daily basis for this dog.

They are also great dogs for families who love the outdoors. Bred for work in the rugged environment of Australia, Cattle Dogs love to play and work outside.

They have an adventurous and curious nature and love to roam and explore.

As well as that, Australian Cattle Dogs are loyal, devoted, and extremely protective of their family. They make good guard dogs, and will protect children from any harm or threat.

They are quiet and bark very Infrequently, but will alarm their owner if they detect any suspicious activity going on or potential danger.


Are Australian Cattle Dogs aggressive?

Some Australian Cattle Dogs may be aggressive, and this is due to a number of reasons.

It can be improper training, insufficient exercise, or simply their natural, dominant instincts.

Whatever the case, this behavior, including nipping and growling, can be trained out of a Cattle Dog using some effective methods.

The best way includes socializing your Australian Cattle Dog, and using deterrents such as water to discourage aggressiveness.

In spite of the fact that this breed may be prone to being aggressive, the Australian Cattle Dog still makes a great pet.

Not only do his protective instincts make the ultimate guard dog, but his loyal and playful nature makes for a devoted pet.

Australian Cattle Dogs are also very active, and can make a great exercising partner.

Their adventurous and curious nature also works out well for families who love to explore and travel.

Authored By

Madeline Wright

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