Cattle farmers successfully mated dingoes with dogs in the 1800s when they found dogs from the British Isles were not tough enough for extreme conditions in Australia. The result was the Australian Cattle Dog – also known, depending on their colouring, as blue or red-heelers. The dogs “persuade” the cattle to move by nipping their heels.
Some of the earliest crosses between dogs and dingoes proved unsuitable for cattle work – the dogs were too aggressive and, if left alone, were liable to kill the animals they were meant to be herding.
Later crosses between dingoes and a number of dog breeds such as collies, dalmations, terriers and kelpies proved more suitable for working with cattle. These dogs would happily move up silently to the cattle and nip their heels then lie down quietly again. Eventually, these dingo-dog crosses were consolidated in a new breed – the Australian cattle dog – officially recognized in 1903 by the New South Wales Kennel Club.
Heelers are alert, trustworthy, intelligent and brave. They are supremely loyal to their owners. They are wonderful working dogs and can make good pets but, like sheepdogs, they have a huge amount of energy. If this energy is not given an outlet, the dogs may grow unhappy. This can result in misbehaviour.
The kelpie is another Australian working dog that may be a dingo cross, although this is disputed. Kelpies certainly look similar to dark coloured dingoes.
The kelpie is most likely a cross between Scottish sheepdogs and smooth-haired collies and may or may not have a touch of dingo.
Like heelers, kelpies are also fantastic, tireless, working dogs with superb temperament and intelligence. They should be kept as pets only by owners who can give them lots of vigorous exercise and challenges.