The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog, named for their characteristic short, stumpy, and at times, non-existent tail, is often confused with their close relative, the Australian Cattle Dog — minus the tail. The Stumpy Tail is a naturally bob-tailed breed, however, and there are major differences between the two breeds. Like the Australian Cattle Dog, the Stumpy — or Heeler, as they are affectionately known — is an expert herder, supremely athletic, and hardy but has a lighter build, faster athletic ability, and longer legs.
17 – 20 inches
35 – 45 pounds
12 – 15 years
Blue, blue and black, red speckle
Farms, homes with large backyards, active families or couples
Lively, loyal, alert, courageous, intelligent, obedient
The Australian Cattle Dog and the Stumpy were developed from the same ancestors, most likely Halls Heelers, Timmons Biters, and as many researchers believe, wild Dingoes. The breed’s exact origins are difficult to pinpoint, but the Stumpy is largely agreed upon by experts to be the oldest domesticated breed native to Australia. The development of Stumpys and Cattle Dogs was largely parallel, but they diverged in the early 1900s into separate breeds.
Despite their physical similarities to the Australian Cattle Dog, the Stumpy Tail is a unique dog in many ways and has much to offer active owners or as working dogs on farms. If you are on the hunt for an athletic companion or need a partner to help with livestock, read on for more information on the unique Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog.
Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog Characteristics
Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog Puppies
Before you bring home an Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog, you should know that these dogs tend to be fairly territorial and even aggressive toward other dogs if they are not properly socialized. They can happily live with other dogs but prefer to be the only dog in the household. They are also highly energetic animals with tons of stamina and will need daily exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. Without the work that they are accustomed to, they’ll need a decent replacement, and this will take a large investment in time for their owner. If you are not at home frequently or want a dog that’s happy to chill on the sofa, the Stumpy Cattle Dog is not the breed for you.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog
The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is a working dog through and through, and although they are loyal animals and can be affectionate with their family, they are not overly playful or cuddly animals. They are great watchdogs because they are highly alert and territorial and have a fearless nature that is not aggressive, but they will not back down to a challenge in the protection of their family. They are wary of new faces and can take time to warm up to strangers, which can be an issue if you live in an urban setting.
These dogs are highly energetic and active and need a great deal of attention and exercise. They may not be the most social animals, but they bond strongly with their owners and do not do well being left at home alone. They need plenty of regular interaction and companionship and can become destructive or even aggressive without it. The Stumpy is a loyal and dedicated pooch that takes their job of family protector seriously, and they are discerning about whom they give their attention to.
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪
Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs can make great family dogs but are better suited as a “one-person” animal because they form close bonds with them. That said, with the correct training and socialization, they can make wonderful family pets and fantastic watchdogs. Their herding instincts may lead them to attempt to herd small children, though, and they are not the kind of dog that enjoys much cuddling or physical attention. This can be an issue around small kids that don’t know how to handle dogs, but families with older children shouldn’t have much of an issue.
Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?
Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs are known for being territorial and can be aggressive toward other dogs, even other dogs in the home. They are a herding breed that is accustomed to working alone and may see other dogs either as a threat or as an animal to be herded and dominated. With the correct training and plenty of socialization early on, this can be largely overcome with other dogs, but other family pets will either be seen as prey or as a herd to keep together, and this can be an exceptionally difficult trait to get rid of.
Things to Know When Owning an Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog
Now that you are more familiar with the history and temperament of the breed, let’s look at other important factors in owning an Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog. The needs of this breed are not much different from other dogs their size, but they are highly energetic pooches with a powerful working mentality, and these traits have unique requirements.
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs are active, energetic dogs that need to be fed on a diet specially formulated for working breeds. High-quality dry kibble is great, and they’ll need around 2 cups per day, depending on their age and activity levels. The most important factor to look for is protein. The food that you choose to feed your Stumpy should be at least 20% protein, and this should be largely animal-based. Check the ingredients list for animal-based proteins like chicken or beef, and these should be the first listed ingredients.
Also, make sure to keep treats and table scraps to a minimum, as these dogs are fairly prone to getting overweight. Lean meats are a perfect occasional treat and will give your Stumpy the energy boost that they need. As with any breed, make sure they have access to clean, fresh water at all times.
Daily exercise is essential for Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs, and without it, they can quickly resort to destructive and even aggressive behavior. These dogs have a ton of energy and stamina and are accustomed to being out in large, open spaces. They will not do well in apartments, and even in urban environments, they should have a large backyard to run around in, with a high, well-secured fence — Stumpys are expert escape artists. Around 2 hours of intensive exercise like jogging or running is ideal, but the more that you can give them, the better.
With their herding heritage, Stumpys take well to training and are highly intelligent dogs that respond well to commands. They are pack-oriented dogs that need a firm leader and will quickly take on the role if you do not! With a firm but gentle hand and reward-based training methods, they are generally easy dogs to train and love the process.
Early socialization is a vital but often overlooked part of training with working dogs, and socializing your pooch from day one will go a long way in making the training process smooth and successful. Owning a working dog like a Stumpy is truly a full-time job and will require a great deal of patience, consistency, and dedication.
Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs have short to medium-length coats that are a breeze to groom and don’t require much maintenance — a light brushing once a week is ideal. They are low-shedding dogs but do have a blowout twice a year as the seasons change, and they will need more brushing than usual to remove dead hair. Avoid bathing them unless absolutely necessary, and even then, use dog shampoos or clean water only to avoid damaging the natural oils on their coat and skin.
They’ll need regular teeth brushing to maintain their dental hygiene because they are prone to minor dental issues. Due to their active nature, their nails should wear down naturally, although it’s a good idea to check them periodically too.
Health and Conditions 🏥
Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs are a healthy robust breed that can easily live for 12 years and beyond. Reputable breeders will run regular health screenings to make sure their pups and parents are healthy, but there are known genetic issues with the breed. Common health problems are deafness and various eye issues, like progressive retinal atrophy and primary lens luxation.
Male vs. Female
There is little difference between male and female Stumpys, though males tend to be slightly larger and can be more territorial at times. As with all breeds, your Stumpy’s personality and temperament will be far more influenced by their upbringing and training than their sex, and each dog is a unique individual.
Any hormonal differences will be further reduced by spaying and neutering, and unless you intend on breeding, most experts agree that this simple procedure results in a healthier dog overall.
3 Little-Known Facts About the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog
1. They almost went extinct
The Australian Cattle Dog and the Stumpy are closely related, and the Stumpy came into existence out of the development of the Cattle Dog, when some puppies were born without tails. Serious breeders began to develop them separately, and by the late 1800s, the Stumpy was one of the most popular breeds entered into dog shows. World War II put a stop to breeding in many regions around the world, including Australia, and the Stumpy was soon on the brink of going extinct — by 1960, there was only one registered breeder left on the continent.
2. They came back due to one dedicated breeder
By the 1980s, the Stumpy Tail was all but extinct, and one dedicated breeder kept working to bring them back from the brink: Mrs. Iris Heale of Glen Iris Kennels. Then, in 1988, the Australian National Kennel Council decided to register the Stumpy Tail, as more and more people were starting to realize what an incredibly versatile working dog the breed was, and numbers gradually began to rise. The Australian Stumpy Cattle Dog was added to the Foundation Stock Service of the American Kennel Club in 2018.
3. Some have tails!
Despite their name, some Australian Stumpys are born with partial or full-length tails. Most Stumpy puppies are born with a small stump that resembles a docked tail, but some are born with longer tails of up to 4 inches long. This is still shorter than the average of most other dogs, and Stumpys born with tails are still accepted by breed standards.
The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is a rare gem and difficult to find in the United States. If you do manage to find one, you’ll need to dedicate a ton of time to training and exercise, as these dogs have incredible amounts of energy and stamina and need a great deal of physical activity. With the right socialization and training, they can make great family dogs and have powerful protective instincts, and they bond strongly with their human companions. Stumpys are as loyal and dedicated as they come, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more dedicated animal.
If you’re looking for a working dog on your farm or simply want an athletic companion to keep you company while you jog, cycle, or run, the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is a great choice — if you’re lucky enough to find one!
Featured Image Credit: everydoghasastory, Shutterstock