US Soldier with Australian Cattle Dog during WWII
Back in the 1800's, farmers moved their cattle to rich, unfenced lands. This caused the cattle to become almost feral. Other herding dogs were imported from other places, but they were only good enough to herd sheep, not huge herds of wild cattle. They were bred for herding large farm animals by crossing Dingo-blue merle Collies to Dalmatians and black and tan kelpies. The result was a hard working dog that was hardheaded enough to handle the cattle without hurting or spooking them. These farmers designed their own breed to nip at the heels of the cattle to quietly herd them.
The first attempt, by a cattleman named Timmins, resulted in a red, bobtailed dog that was a mix between a native Dingo and and Smithfield. These dogs ended up being too aggressive to get the job done. It was not for about another ten years before Thomas Hall tried coming up with a better version of "Timmons Biters". He mixed Scottish blue-merle Smooth Collies with Dingoes which resulted in blue and red merles known as Hall's Heelers. Hall's Heelers looked more like a Dingo than a Collie and the offspring were bred Timmon's Biters along with some Black and Tan Kelpie Sheepdogs and Dalmatians. This allowed the dog to have faithfulness, a high work drive and a love for horses. This dog became the Australian Cattle Dog that we all love today.
Their ability to keep going is what makes them such great dogs. They were able to quietly herd cattle across long distances in harsh conditions. The blue speckled dog with a black eye has become more common than the red vareiety. Robert Kaleski was the first person to show the Blue Heeler in 1897 and he wrote the breed standard in 1902.
The Australian Cattle Dog is also known as: Australian Heeler, Hall's Heeler, Queensland Heeler, Blue Heeler, Red Heeler, Australischer Treibhund, and ACD.