The Australian Cattle Dog (ACD), also known as the Blue Heeler, is a sturdy, compact, medium-sized dog from Australia. Initially bred by Australian settlers to handle herds of cattle on expansive ranches, the Blue Heeler is an extremely alert and intelligent canine. ACDs herd cattle by nipping at their heels, which is where the nickname ‘heeler’ comes from.
Blue Heelers are extremely friendly and loyal and make for a great family companion. As a prospective ACD owner, you may be worried about their shedding tendencies. This article explores the ins and outs of the breed’s shedding and the steps you can take to manage the situation.
So, do Australian Cattle Dogs Shed? Yes, the Blue Heeler sheds moderately all year round, and the shedding is kept mostly under their two-layer fur. But like many other double-coated breeds, Blue Heelers also go through excessive shedding twice a year during fall and spring. The excessive shedding season allows them to change their coat for a more appropriate one when the weather changes.
Most furred animals, including foxes, wolves, and domestic dogs, shed. No owner is safe from shed hair, you know unless you own a hairless breed. Some breeds shed significantly less than others. Unfortunately for owners who are sensitive to allergies, ACDs shed a lot, especially during their excessive shedding season.
The shedding season can be challenging for pet parents trying to avoid allergies and other issues that come with all the dropping hairs and dander. While you can’t escape the shedding with a Blue Heeler, you can minimize it to keep your home fur- and dander-free and your pet healthy. Read on to learn more.
How Much Do Australian Cattle Dogs Shed?
As stated above, Blue Heelers shed a lot, particularly during the excessive shedding seasons. Why does this breed shed so much? Well, there are a couple of reasons for that. Firstly, Blue Heelers have thick coats. Remember that these pups were bred for herding. As working dogs, Blue Heelers need a thick coat that offers protection against harsh outdoor weather. Secondly, ACDs are double-coated, with a thick undercoat and a short, weather-resistant topcoat. Having two coats means far more fur to drop when the excessive shedding season comes around.
Remember that Blue Heelers shed all year round, but a lot more during their excessive shedding season. Under normal circumstances, there will always be evidence of your Heeler’s presence in your home.
Why do Australian Cattle Dogs shed?
So, you may be wondering, why do Australian Cattle Dogs shed? Like their wild cousins, Blue Wheelers and many other domestic dogs will shed their fur twice a year to make room for a more adapted coat for the upcoming season – even though they will spend most of their life as indoor pets. In a nutshell, Australian Cattle Dogs shed so much because they need to adjust their coats to the weather. Aside from the seasonal ‘blow’ for one or two weeks every fall and spring, there’s also the usual shedding that is to be expected all year round. This happens to get rid of loose, dead hairs and to allow for new, healthy growth.
Shedding Seasons and Frequency
When do Australian Cattle Dogs shed? Like many other double-coated breeds, the Blue Heeler has a biannual coat ‘blow.’ During winter, the Blue Heeler’s fur needs to be thick to provide warmth. However, this thick fur is not needed during the hot summer months. As a result, your pup will shed excessively for a week or two during springtime while growing lighter summer fur at the same time. Similarly, as the summer comes to an end and winter approaches, the Blue Heeler will need to rid itself of the light summer coat and grow a thicker fur that’s more appropriate for the cold season. This shedding cycle occurs during the fall season.
That being said, shedding seasons and frequency may vary from one Heeler to another depending on several factors, including the climate in which they live, whether they are indoor or outdoor pets and their overall health. Also, neutered male Blue Heelers typically shed once a year. You can expect your female Heeler to go through a major shedding after being in heat, usually happening twice a year.
While it can be a little frustrating for owners, shedding is natural for dogs. It’s an essential part of their fur and skin health. Some breeds shed more than others, particularly during seasonal shifts when temperature changes occur. However, shedding that exceeds your pup’s normal levels should be a cause for concern. Excessive hair loss can be a sign of illness or disease, and you should call a vet immediately. Unhealthy shedding is pretty common among all canine breeds, and Blue Heelers are no exception. Your Heeler’s unhealthy shedding could be caused by:
- Anxiety or stress
- Side effects from medication
- Food allergies
- Parasites like lice, mites, and fleas
- Thyroid or adrenal issues
- Fungal infections
- Bacterial infections
How do I know it’s not normal shedding? For some breeds such as the Blue Heeler, excessive shedding is normal, especially during the shedding season. Shedding becomes a problem when other physical symptoms accompany it. If you notice more fur loss than usual, bald patches, excessive scratching, brittle fur, or inflamed skin, it’s time to go to the vet. It’s also imperative that you establish your pup’s baseline shedding patterns as soon as you adopt them. You can always tell whether your dog’s shedding is within the normal range or there’s a problem, even if there are no symptoms.
What Type of Coat Does an Australian Cattle Dog Have?
ACDs are double-coated, with a thick undercoat and a short, weather-resistant overcoat. The wool-like undercoat is short and thick, serving as an insulator in cold weather. The overcoat is a little longer and protects against the elements. For instance, the Heeler’s outercoat is water-resistant to keep the canine dry during rainy days. The outer layer of the Blue Heeler’s fur is also referred to as ‘guard hairs’ due to the extra protection is offers outdoors. The two layers of hair allow the Blue Heeler to regulate body temperature, helping keep the pup warm in the winter and cool during the hot summer days.
When it comes to visual appeal, the Blue Heeler is also one of the most aesthetically pleasing breeds out there. Blue Heelers can be speckled or mottled, with shades of white, blue, black, red, or a combination of all. No two coats are ever the same. If you like your pup with unusual color markings, you’ll love the Blue Heeler.
How to Manage and Reduce Australian Cattle Dog Shedding?
Keep in mind that Blue Heelers shed all year round, but a lot more during their excessive shedding season. Even under normal circumstances, there will always be evidence of your Heeler’s presence in your home. If your pup reclines on the couch, he’ll leave hairs on there. The same will happen if he leans in for a petting session, leaving fur on your pants. While you can’t escape the shedding with a Blue Heeler, you can minimize it to keep your home fur and dander free, and your pet healthy.
Australian Cattle Dogs Grooming
One of the simplest and most effective ways to minimize your pup’s shedding is regular brushing. Under normal circumstances, you should brush your dog twice a week. Ideally, it would be best to brush your pup daily when it’s going through excessive shedding. Brushing helps remove dead and loose fur before it falls off and is later deposited on furniture or carpets through shedding. It will also redistribute skin oil into the fur and help it stay in place. It’s important that you use the right tools to brush your dog. De-shedding instruments such as a slicker-style brush, de-matting comb, and an undercoat rake will help you pull dead and tangled hair off your Blue Heeler.
Can you shave or clip a Blue Heeler? While shaving your Blue Heeler is certainly an option, it’s not one that we’d recommend. Shaving your Heeler will permanently damage the overcoat, which causes it to grow back thicker and uneven. Thicker fur will only lead to more shedding, which isn’t the desired outcome. Fortunately, there are other things you can do to reduce the amount of fur around your home.
Australian Cattle Dogs Diet
You have full control of what you feed your canine friend. The quality of food you give your pup affects the quality of their skin and fur. A poor diet is one of the leading causes of unhealthy shedding. Good nutrition makes hair follicles more resilient, which helps maintain a healthy coat and makes shedding more manageable. Since the Blue Heeler is a working dog that expends a lot of energy, the effects of a poor diet, such as shedding, are even more pronounced.
Like brushing, bathing your Heeler every once in a while, helps remove dead or damaged hair and collects it in one place. However, bathing your pup too many times is not recommended as it will remove the natural oils in the fur and cause the skin to dry up. A bath every four to six weeks will suffice for most dogs, including the Blue Heeler. Others need to be bathed more regularly. Talk to your vet about how often you should bathe your pup. Other than brushing and bathing, there are other ways to manage your Heeler’s shedding.
For instance, you can try to make sure that your pup is eating a well-balanced diet that’s full of essential nutrients. Nutrients that are not commonly available in pet food, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, can be given as supplements. Flaxseed oil, olive oil, and salmon oil supplements are also rich in fatty acids and can help soothe inflamed skin and help your pup develop a healthy coat.
Are Australian Cattle Dogs hypoallergenic?
No, Blue Heelers are not hypoallergenic. Canine allergy is a widespread and unpleasant condition that causes itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing when someone comes into contact with a canine. It’s not the hair that triggers the allergic reaction but the proteins in your dog’s dander (flakes of dead skin), saliva, and urine. All of these irritants tend to collect on your canine’s fur and are released into the environment during shedding. This is why breeds that shed less are often considered hypoallergenic since they produce fewer allergens, making them less likely to trigger allergic reactions.
Unfortunately, the Blue Heeler is not one of them. This breed sheds quite a lot and produces a large amount of dander in the process. This means it releases a lot of allergens into the environment that can trigger frequent allergic reactions. If you have severe allergies, perhaps you should consider a more allergy-friendly breed like the Poodle. But for those with mild allergies, proper grooming, a balanced diet, thorough cleaning your house, and some allergy medications can help reduce allergens and manage symptoms.