Other Names: Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog, Heeler, Stumpy
Country Of Origin: Australia
Dog Group: Herding dog
Recommended For: Families, single owners
Maintenance Level: Moderate
Lifespan: 13-15 years
Temperament: Intelligent, energetic, cautious
Good For First-Time Owner: No
Good With Children: No
Good With Other Animals: Yes
Good With Strangers: No
Good For Apartments: No
Exercise Requirements: Daily walking
Can Live In Hot Weather: Yes
Can Live In Cold Weather: Yes
Can Tolerate Being Left Alone: Yes
The Australian Stumpy Tail is a breed of herding dog used mainly in Australia, but is becoming more popular worldwide.
The Australian Stumpy Tail is born without a tail, and when there is one present, it’s very short. The Stumpy Tail doesn’t have a docked tail.
The Australian Stumpy Tail doesn’t make for a good family pet, simply because it’s a very energetic breed, and it herds livestock by nipping at their heels, which can obviously be a problem around children.
However, the breed makes a great pet for couples, and is obviously excellent as a working dog for farmers.
Color: Blue speckled or red speckled
Height: 18-20 inches (both males and females)
Weight: 35-50lbs (both males and females)
Personality And Temperament:
The Australian Stumpy Tail, which is also known as a Blue Heeler or Red Heeler, is known for its intelligence and energy levels, both of which are because of their role as herding dogs.
Their personalities make them ideal as show dogs, and they excel in both show and agility competitions.
Their energy levels mean that they need frequent exercise, and should ideally be used as a working dog. If they’re not used for work, then they’ll need at least one very long walk a day, if not several walks.
This should be supplemented with playtime to provide them with mental stimulation; otherwise they can become bored and destructive.
However, if given enough exercise and entertainment, the Stumpy Tail can make a fun and playful pet.
The Australian Stumpy Tail is not a great family pet for a few reasons. The biggest is that Blue Heelers can be quite cautious, and also have very strong herding instincts.
Even though they would never mean to snap at children, their herding instinct can be so strong that they might nip a child’s heel if they’re playing. For this reason, the Red Heeler is not a good choice to have around children.
The Stumpy Tail can pick up obedience training very quickly, and is capable of learning very complex commands.
In their role as a herding dog they would often have to know what to do without their owner’s help, and would sometimes be left alone to guard the flock.
While their ability to learn tricks can be very impressive, owners should continue training throughout the dog’s life to provide them with enough mental stimulation.
The breed isn’t really intended for first-time owners, mainly because it was created with the purpose of being a working dog, and so isn’t necessarily considered a family pet.
Due to their energy levels, a Blue Heeler might be a bit too much for a first-time owner to handle.
Also, the breed needs early and quite strict socialization with both people and animals, which might not be something a first-time owner is able to do.
Australian Stumpy Tails are fine around other animals, both dogs and other pets, but should be socialized as early as possible.
Owners should again be aware of their strong hunting instinct because this might kick in while playing with other dogs.
This is another reason why strict training is needed, as this can mostly be kept under control.
The Stumpy Tail is naturally cautious by nature, and so can be very wary of strangers. This is particularly true when strangers come to the dog’s home.
However, they are also handled frequently at shows, so it is possible for owners to get them used to being around strangers.
When it comes to an appropriate home for the breed, they need plenty of land so they can exercise.
This means that the Stumpy Tail is not suitable for apartment living. Their energy levels and cautious nature mean that they need plenty of space and can be known to bark, which obviously isn’t nice in such small quarters.
Blue Heelers were bred to work for long hours in the hot Australian sun, and so they’re fine with hot climates. They can also be kept in cold climates, but owners should think about getting them a coat for the winter if it gets really cold.
Heelers have a short, coarse coat that needs very little grooming. They do shed, but not that much compared to other breeds.
At maximum owners will need to brush them once a week with a short bristle brush, but the main reason for doing this would be to help distribute natural oils.
They don’t really shed enough hair for it to be a problem around the home, and it can easily be kept under control.
Australian Stumpy Tails don’t need to be bathed very often because their coat is so easy to manage.
Owners should only give them a bath if they get very smelly or dirty, as frequent baths can dry out their skin and fur.
The breed’s ears stick up, and so there’s less chance of them getting dirty or full of debris. However, they should be checked regularly for mites, particularly in the summer.
Similarly, their nails should be clipped on a weekly basis as they grow very quickly.
As with all breeds, you should brush a Heeler’s teeth several times a week to minimize the risk of dental problems.
They should also be given chew toys that promote oral hygiene, mainly because they love to chew.
Common Diseases And Conditions:
Overall, the Australian Stumpy Tail is a very healthy breed, and they suffer from few common pedigree conditions, such as hip dysplasia.
A big reason for this is because they haven’t long been recognized by major kennel clubs, and so there’s been less selective breeding.
However, Stumpy Tails carry the gene for deafness, and should be tested as early as possible. The condition will be present from birth, and puppies will be tested by responsible breeders.
The breed is also susceptible to progressive retinal atrophy and primary lens luxation, both of which dogs are tested for before breeding.
The Australian Stumpy Tail is a descendant of a line of English herding dogs that were brought over to Australia in the 19th century.
Not long after their arrival, the dogs were bred with dingoes to increase speed and stamina, and make them more suited for the Australian climate.
There isn’t a concrete history of the breed, mainly because records weren’t really kept about breeding stock at the time.
Most believe the Heeler was created in New South Wales, where the Heeler’s ancestor was bred with Scottish Collies.
This was done to remove the visible traits of the dingo, and resulted in the Heeler’s distinctive speckled coat.
There’s very little information for the breed’s distinctive lack of tail, although this may have been bred into it early as a way to distinguish it from the Australian Cattle Dog.
It’s believed that both breeds descended from the same ancestors, and the tailless quality seemed more prevalent in the Stumpy Tail. It’s not been fixed as a trait of the breed, and appears in breed standards.
The Australian Stumpy Tail was first recognized as a standardized breed in Australia in 1988. It has been recognized by the United Kennel Club since 1996 as the Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog.
The Heeler currently isn’t recognized by the American Kennel Club, or the British Kennel Club. One major advantage of this is that there hasn’t been as much selective breeding, which means the Heeler has remained very healthy.
Although the Heeler isn’t necessarily popular as a family dog, it’s still very popular among farmers from Australia and New Zealand, and has taken off as a show dog.
The breed’s speed and intelligence make it excellent at obedience and agility competitions, but it’s also used for tracking and searching roles too. Heeler’s thrive when they have a working purpose, and so they make ideal working dogs that are capable of filling a number of different roles.
Australian Stumpy Tail Facts & Figures
Did You Know?
- The Heeler is known to be excellent at jumping, and can clear fences much higher than the dog. For this reason, any land they have access to should be very secure.
- The breed is often confused with the Queensland Heeler, which is a very similar dog. The main difference is that the Australian Stumpy Tail is heavier and has shorter legs. And, most obviously, the Queensland Heeler has a tail.
- The Stumpy Tail’s ancestor was crossbred with Scottish Smooth Collies because it was illegal to keep dingoes as pets at the time. Although the breed wasn’t pure dingo, its physical characteristics were too obvious.
- The breed’s cautious nature makes it an ideal watch dog.