Let's talk Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs

The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is one unique dog. Maybe it’s the lengthy and slightly humorous name that describes the breed’s natural stump of a tail (their nickname is “Stumpy”) or their almost blue-colored dappled coat, or even their go-all-day energy. The quintessential herding dog has an innate need to run every day.  With bright eyes and pert ears, the breed is a true pleasure to behold. Don’t confuse him with the Australian Cattle Dog though - they are two separate breeds entirely.

Official name: Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog

Other names: Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog, Stumpy Tail, Heeler

Origins: Australia

Close-up of Cattle Dog in black and white
 Drooling tendencies

Low

 Warm weather High
 Grooming needs Low  Cold weather High
 Shedding level High  Suited to apartment living?  Very low
 Barking tendencies Low  Can stay alone?* Low
 Energy Level (high, low, medium)*   High  Family Pet?* High
 Compatibility with other pets  Medium    

 * We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.
 
For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs.
 
Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.
 
Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.
 
All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company.  However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age.  Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

 
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Illustration of black, white and beige cattle dog
Male
46 - 51 cm Height
17 - 21 kg Weight
Female
43 - 48 cm Height
14.5 - 16 kg Weight

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 12 months
 Adult age 1 to 7 years
 Mature age  7 to 10 years
 Senior age  From 10 years

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Get to know the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog

All you need to know about the breed

Passionately loyal and constantly active, the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is one-of-a-kind, in more ways than one. Bred for herding, the dog is almost unmatched in their stamina and ability to run and herd for hours on end. A home with space to run is a dream for this breed. Got fields?

And that tail is always the... stumper. They are a naturally bobtailed breed - not an Australian Cattle Dog with a docked tail, as is often thought. The two are totally distinct breeds. The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog breed is slightly leaner and reported to be more alert than their cousin as a result of their breeding. After watching the Stumpy (their nickname) run and herd, all day, every day, the word “alert” hardly seems fitting, and hyperactive is more like it.

Mental stimulus is key for this very intelligent breed. It can’t be overstated that the energy level of the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is nonstop and that they need a job to do - and are most content to do one to please their owner. The breed makes a great watchdog too, which means they’re slightly hesitant of strangers at first. They do warm up once trust is built.

One of the best ways to work off that endless energy is with obedience and agility training, an easy fix that the breed will take to in a heartbeat.

Given their high energy level, the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is best for homes with older children. It’s not that they’re not cuddly, they could just be a bit of a hazard in knocking junior over. Not at all aggressive, the breed shows their affection by being protective. Training your Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog puppy may be quite the task. Stand ready!

 

Two Cattle Dog puppies running on dirt

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2 facts about Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs

1. A first from the Land Down Under

Two cattle ranchers in the mid-1800s “invented” the breed by combining the working dogs similar to the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog in their area with imported drover dogs. The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog was born. 

2. They can be born with a tail

An Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog can be born with a slightly longer tail but it’s an anomaly. Breeders of the dog brought about the stumpy tail but occasionally Mother Nature takes her course with a lengthier version. The stumpy tail usually measures no more than 10cm in length.

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History of the breed

The remarkable Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog that we know today is thought to have come from two local breeds, the Halls Heelers and Timmons Biters, both bred by cattle ranchers in the mid-1800s in Australia.

The breeders took working dogs similar to the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog in their area, mixed in the Dingo - a wild dog found on the continent - along with imported drovers, meaning those that drive cattle across long distances like Northern English herding dogs. When they found the result too aggressive, breeders brought the Blue Merle Collie or German Collie into the mix, breeds similar to the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog. A lot of steps perhaps, but it all adds up to the even temperament and loyal demeanour the breed is known for. 


Both the long and stumpy-tail versions of the breed were being shown in dog shows by the latter part of the 19th Century. At the start of World War I, Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog breeds made up 50% of the cattle dog participants in shows; by the end of wartime, a rapid decline of the breed had started and by the 1960s there was only one breeder registered in all of Australia. By the 1980s, the dog was almost extinct as a registered breed. It was the Australian National Kennel Council who finally stepped in to preserve the breed toward the latter part of the decade.


In the United States, the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog breed became popular at the beginning of the 21st Century.


Side view close-up of cattle dog in black and white

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Labrador Retrievers

1. Head

Broad, bear-like head forming a blunt triangle

2. Eyes

Dark brown eyes are relatively small with tight black rims

3. Ears

Triangular ears are wide at base and angled forward

4. Body

Well-muscled body, more long than high, with well-sprung ribs

5. Tail

Large, high-set tail is well-furnished and carried over back or flank

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Things to look out for


From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Australian Stumpy Tailed Cattle Dog
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This is one breed without a weight problem

Running is the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog’s middle name. The breed is always in motion so will burn calories at a very high rate. It’s OK to free-feed them so they can eat when needed; otherwise, feeding your Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog a high-energy food twice a day works, and a highly nutritious, whole-grain formula is best. There’s no need to use a specific diet with the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog too. Unlike many dogs, they need not transition from puppy food to adult food.

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Deafness has been known to occur

Deafness has been known to occuraGood health for the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is a given. As breeds go, their physical problems are not at all monumental but they do carry a gene for deafness. The trait is a possibility - not a given - but there is also a simple way to check for it. As a puppy, owners can give the BAER hearing test - or the Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response - to rule out any chance of deafness being on the horizon. The test can be administered from the dog’s earliest age, and any early indications should result. Proper screening from your veterinarian can rule out potential problems before they start.


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Training will be a thing

The incredibly smart Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is a wonder to watch but a dog that definitely needs a firm hand when it comes to their training.

 

This is a breed who is most satisfied when pleasing their owner, and willing to carry out any task they’re assigned. A reward-based, repetitive program works best to teach the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog when they are young; doing so means many rewarding adult years to come.

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Caring for your Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog

Grooming, training and exercise tips

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Unfortunately the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog does shed - a good deal. Their short double coat is easily kept in shape with the daily swipe of a good grooming brush, and twice a week is even better. The breed isn’t suitable if you suffer from allergies. Those toenails need a weekly trimming too since they grow at a fairly rapid rate. Bathing for the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog can be minimal, depending on how much they are a true working dog.


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The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is a highly cooperative dog. Eager to gratify, the breed becomes very bonded to their owner. The active life is a kind of game for the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog, one where responding to commands with reward-based methods is pure fun. The breed is a natural problem-solver, whose extremely high intelligence means they learn very quickly.
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It’s mandatory for the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog to get exercise and have room to run; since they were highly bred for use in droving - or moving large flocks across vast distances - they have a natural inclination for work and activity. If in a suburban setting, the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog’s high energy level means daily walks or runs are a must. Long hikes or backpacking trips? All the better.

All about Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs

The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog has a long lifespan and can live from 12 to 15 years. This is a very active, healthy breed that is known to live a lengthy and fruitful life.

A stumpy tail is not no tail, and it’s not due to docking in this case - meaning cutting off the tail to shorten it. It is a tail, just a very short one! Caused by the mutation of a gene, the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog was born with a stumpy type of tail, a natural occurrence from years of breeding and domestication.

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/