menu icon

Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog

Home »  Dog Breeds »  Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog
 Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog

This strong, durable dog has modern roots in the British Isles and ancient roots in Asia, and was bred to handle the harsh terrain of Australia.

Here is the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog at a Glance
Name Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog
Other Names Heeler
Nicknames Stumpy
Origin Australia
Average size Medium
Average weight 27 to 45 pounds
Average height 17 to 20 inches at the shoulder
Life span 10 t0 15 years
Coat type Short, straight, dense
Hypoallergenic No
Color Red or blue with darker speckle markings
Popularity Very rare outside Australia
Intelligence High
Tolerance to heat High
Tolerance to cold Average
Shedding Annual shedder
Drooling Not a drooler
Obesity Low risk
Grooming/brushing Minimal
Barking Is a barker
Exercise needs Extremely high
Trainability Trains well
Friendliness Wary and aloof with strangers
Good first dog No
Good family pet Can be
Good with children Good with older kids
Good with other dogs Not great
Good with other pets Not great
Good with strangers No
Good apartment dog No
Handles alone time well No
Health issues Congenital deafness, inherited blindness, cleft palate, dental problems, hip dysplasia
Medical expenses $250 annual average
Food expenses $250 annual average
Miscellaneous expenses $70
Average annual expense $600
Cost to purchase Unavailable
Biting Statistics Attacks doing bodily harm: 38 Maimings: 13 Deaths: 1

The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog’s Beginnings

To go back to the very beginning of the Stumpy’s family tree, we need to return to Asia, say, two or three thousand years ago. Like other parts of the world, Asia had its share of wolves, and some of those wolves became domesticated. Asia also had its share of sailors, especially in China, and Chinese sailors did what sailors do—they sailed. When they took to the high seas, their dogs—those more or less domesticated wolves—went with them, as dogs tend to do.

One of the places it is believed the Chinese ships reached was Australia, and there it is thought that, as happens now and then, some of the sailors, and some of the dogs, jumped ship. What happened to the sailors is anyone’s guess, but when it came to the canine crew members, the Aboriginal people who already inhabited Australia knew a good thing when they saw it, so they hung onto the dogs and used them as hunters. Today we know that breed under the name Dingo.

In 1788 the British arrived in Australia and made landfall on the southeast coast with seven hundred and thirty-six convicts, seventeen convicts’ children, and a few hundred soldiers and sailors along with their families, and established a penal colony near Botany Bay that eventually became the city of Sydney. Over the next decades more people arrived, and many of them began raising sheep and cattle.

If you want to raise sheep or cattle, you need a dog. More, in Australia’s open and arid terrain you need a tough one. In the third decade of the nineteenth century, a group of Australians began to create a new herding dog by mixing two breeds together. One of those was the Smithfield, an English dog that was big, strong, and bobtailed. The other was the Dingo. The Dingo has predatory tendencies, and Smithfield/Dingo cross created to a dog that was hard to handle, so shortly after that another breed, the Blue Merle Collie, was added to the mix, and the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog was born.

New Lease on Life

The Stumpy never achieved great popularity among Australian sheep herders. By the nineteen eighties the breed was dwindling; but some of its dedicated fans put together a new breeding program, and there is now a stable population of Stumpies Down Under.

Outside of Australia, however, the breed is rare to nonexistent, although there is reportedly one family in Texas that raises them.

The Dog You See Today

The first thing, of course, is that the Stumpy Tail is in fact a bobtail dog. It is a medium sized canine, weighing between 27 and 45 pounds, and standing seventeen to twenty inches at the shoulder. The muzzle is medium long and tapers to a point at the nose. The Stumpy has a deep, strong chest and neck, and powerful legs. The jaws are powerful and the teeth typically come to a scissor bite. The Stumpy’s ears are medium size, set wide on the head, and stand erect, Dingo-like.

The Stumpy’s coat is short and straight. It is usually either red, speckled with darker red markings, or blue speckled with black.

The Inner Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog



The Stumpy is not a playful, cuddly dog, although it can be affectionate, and is very loyal and obedient when properly socialized. It is not aggressive, despite its Dingo roots, but it is fearless and will not back off from a fight if another dog violates its boundaries.

This is a dog that is very watchful, and is wary of strangers. It is also a barker, and makes a good watchdog as a result. It does not tend to trust strangers so apartment living can create hazards for the neighbors. It also is not a dog that can be left alone for long periods of time. It needs a lot of companionship and activity.

Living with an Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog

What will training require?

The Stumpy is very intelligent, and will respond well to obedience training, and even more to skills training. It is a herder, and will jump at the chance to show its abilities in that domain.

Stumpies are pack dogs, and they need a pack leader. If the human owner does not take that role, the dog is likely to, which will lead to trouble down the road. It is important to establish, from day one, that you are the alpha in the household. This means early socialization, good obedience training, preferably with the help of a professional who has experience with working dogs, and firm, consistent discipline. The owner of this dog needs to be willing to invest time and energy in shaping its behavior and attitude, and be able to spend considerable time working with it every day. Having a Stumpy is a full-time job, and if you lack the time or the energy to do that job, this is not the dog for you.

 Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog

How active are they?

First off, the Stumpy is definitely not a dog for apartment dwellers. It does not handle confinement well, and is likely to be destructive, chewing furniture and tearing up cushions. Daily exercise is a must for this dog, and that exercise should be both physical and mental.

Stumpies need space to run, so if they are going to live in a yard, it should be a large one; and it should be carefully and securely fenced, because these dogs are escape artists that will dig or climb their way to freedom if they get a chance.

The Stumpy is a very active, high energy dog. It is definitely a working dog, and needs to have a job to do. This is not a dog that can be left to lie around. It also does not do well if confined. It is really a ranch dog, and will do best in rural settings.

Caring for Stumpy

Grooming needs

This dog has short to medium length hair that is easy to groom and weather resistant. Give it a comb and use a firm bristled brush when brushing once a week. It does shed but rather than shedding a lot all year round it actually blows its coat once or twice a year and then the rest of the year there may be a minimal amount around. The blow out will happen over a few weeks and the hair can shed in clumps. A bath should be given just when needed to avoid damaging the natural oils in the skin.

As well as the coat there are other maintenance needs the Stumpy will have. Oral care is important for dogs as well as people and the Stumpy should have its teeth brushed at least twice a week. Nails will need clipping if they are not worn down naturally. As there are live blood vessels and nerves in dog nails clipping should only be done by those with knowledge and experience. Finally dogs can be prone to ear infections so check them once a week for bad odor or redness. Give them a clean by wiping them not inserting anything into them.


This dog will likely need to be fed 1½ to 2½ cups of dry dog food a day and that should be split into at least two meals. Make sure it is as nutritious as possible by getting only high quality dog food. Physical shape, activity, age and size can all affect how much a dog may need to eat so adjust if needed.

Getting along with children and other pets

Stumpies are actually not the best selection for a family pet. They can be socialized to get along with other pets, but this takes time and work. A family with very active, impulsive younger children may find the Stumpy difficult to deal with.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs are generally healthy, but they do appear to have some inborn medical problems that may arise.

Two issues that can come up are congenital deafness and blindness. When you are dealing with a dog whose breeders are in the neighborhood, this is not likely a problem, because you will have examined the dog before you take it home, and if there are problems, the breeder is close by and accessible. If, on the other hand, your new pup has come from half way around the world, you have to be a little more careful, making sure of the breeder’s background before you act.

Stumpies also have a history of occasional cleft palate, dental problems such as missing or misaligned teeth, and hip dysplasia.

Biting Statistics

Statistics specifically for the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog are not easily available but there are some for the Australian Cattle Dog and it is possible the two were grouped together so knowing this data will be informative. Over a period of 34 years there have been 38 reports of an Australian Cattle Dog attacking a human. 13 of those attacks were maimings where scarring, loss of limb or disfigurement occurred and 1 resulted in a death. This puts this dog in the top 20 per cent of dog attacks and gives an average of a little over one attack a year. Of those reports it is known that at least 6 were children.

In order to avoid such a situation it is important to choose a dog wisely. Make sure it is suited to your lifestyle and needs and that you can give it what it needs to be happy. Early socialization and training are paramount, a well raised and loved dog is less likely to attack.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

Start with the cost of purchasing a Stumpy. As noted, there appears to be one kennel in the United States that breeds the dogs, but there was no information available at the time this was written on what they might charge. Another choice, going to a pet shelter, is not likely to get you anywhere given the rarity of the breed outside of Australia. The remaining option would be purchasing a Stumpy from Australia. The going price there is about $500 Australian, which is about $350 in U.S. dollars at the current exchange rate. That, of course, would not include the cost of getting your pup home from halfway around the world.


Once you have your Stumpy home, it is time for spaying, if it is a female, or neutering if it is a male. This will cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $150. Add to that the first round of routine medical work such as inoculations and de-worming for about $70, plus a collar and leash for about $35 and another $15 or so for a pet license.

Obedience training is the next thing on the list. You can expect that to start at around $120, and maybe a little more, especially if you go to someone who specializes in working breeds. In the case of a Stumpy, you will probably want to continue with specialized training to develop your dog’s skills. The Stumpy will love it, and you will benefit as well by having a well-trained, obedient dog.

Because Stumpies do show some risk of congenital medical issues, along with the things that can happen to any dog, you will probably want to think about getting pet insurance. The premiums for that typically start at around $200 a year, and can go higher depending on how extensive the coverage is.

Then, of course, there is food. All dogs love to eat, and that is even more true of very active dogs like Stumpies. You can expect that a year’s supply of good quality dog food will cost in the neighborhood of $250 a year. Add to that the treats you will want to get your dog, to use as rewards in training, and just for nice. How much you spend there is strictly up to you, but you are probably looking at $75 a year at least.

Overall, you can figure that taking care of your Stumpy will run you about $600 a year, not including pet insurance.


Looking for a Stumpy Puppy Name? Let select one from our list!

The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog, used Down Under to herd sheep and cattle, is a relatively new breed that first showed up in the eighteen thirties. It is a mix of two English dogs—the Smithfield Sheep Dog and the Blue Merle Collie—with the Australian Dingo. The breeders were looking for a mix that would offer intelligence and trainability, along with the ability to deal with a harsh environment. It is of medium size and height, is bobtailed, and has a striking speckled coat.

The Stumpy is a working dog, extremely energetic and obedient, but not really a family pet type. It will bond with a strong person, and be loyal, but is not always good with children, other pets, and strangers. It needs frequent and intense exercise, as well as a lot of space. It is a ranch or farm dog, not a city dog.

The Stumpy is also a somewhat rare dog, especially beyond the boundaries of Australia. It may be a challenge to locate one and take it home, but if you do, you will have a canine unlike the average pet.

More to Explore

Dog Owner Reviews