Before adopting a Cattle dog, make sure you are not looking for a guaranteed, all-around affectionate pooch. There’s a possibility your Cattle Dog may not always like or need to cuddle, but they are definitely affectionate dogs.
Australian Cattle Dogs (ACDs) are not known to be the most affectionate breed, with a tendency towards independence. ACDs can develop a strong bond with their owner or other pack members, but often do not exhibit a strong need to cuddle. Cattle Dogs are hard-working, loyal, and show their affection in many different ways.
Are the differences in a Cattle Dog’s affection based upon some inherited trait or upbringing? Is it nature or nurture that determines the cuddle factor? Let’s take a closer look at some examples of each.
Are Cattle Dogs Cuddly?
So if Cattle Dogs, also known as Heelers, are not known to be cuddly, is it possible to get a cuddly heeler? It depends on a variety of factors such as genetics, the pack hierarchy and their environment. Sure, the fact that Cattle Dogs are descended from Australian Dingos can make them predisposed to be cautious around humans. Breeding also has a lot to do with it. If possible, it’s helpful to meet the litter parents to understand the puppy’s personalities. The pack members (human family included) can also influence heeler cuddling. Even the most skittish Cattle Dog, has a chance to learn how to cuddle with their humans.
As an example, our female Blue Heeler, Bindi, inherited the wild, cautious streak and would not cuddle. When she was a puppy and we would try to hold her, she would run from us and hide. We tried reassuring her and holding her, but she would squeal and retreat more. Over time, we realized she didn’t need to be cuddled, she needed space to learn to trust us. When she retreated, we ignored her, then rewarded her when she came out and resumed normal activities. She’s now one and a half, no longer has these episodes and loves to cuddle!
What Does Cuddling Mean to Cattle Dogs?
Dogs are capable of deep affection with their pack, which makes evolutionary sense. In the wild, dogs would gather closely together in dens as a means of survival: to hide from predators, for protection from harsh elements, or to keep warm. Gathering together would strengthen the packs bonds. This gathering behavior begins in litters with a puppy pile, when adorable pups cuddle together for warmth and comfort. Historically, cuddling was kept within the pack, but through domestication, canine cuddling behavior was extended to humans.
New studies show, cuddling and petting is good for Cattle Dogs and for their humans. That’s right, cuddling has been proven to relieve stress and release oxytocin, also known as the cuddle hormone, in both canines and humans. So whatever type of affection your Cattle Dog expresses, more is better for you both!
Why Do Some Cattle Dogs Cuddle More?
Why some dogs like to cuddle more than others leads us back to the question of nature versus nurture. It seems to be a blend of both. While some breeds are known to be affectionate, others are known for their aloofness. Some breeds such as Chow Chows, Basenjis, Afghan Hounds and Shiba Inus are known for their independence. While other breeds like Golden Retrievers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, and Dalmatians are famously affectionate.
So where do Cattle Dogs fall on the independent / affection spectrum? The answer is, it depends. Let’s look at our personal experience. We fully expected our Cattle Dogs to be more independent and less cuddly than our Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. However, both heelers are very cuddly and affectionate to members of the pack and frequent visitors to our home.
If you’re looking for a guarantee that your Cattle Dog will be cuddly, you may want to consider a breed known to be more affectionate. But to get a better idea, research the prospective pups parents or if possible, meet the parents to understand their personalities and genes they pass on to their young.
What Are Some Ways My Cattle Dog Will Cuddle?
Not known for being a lap dog, a Cattle Dog has many other ways beyond cuddling to display the bond they have for their owners.
Since ACDs are predisposed to use their mouths for heeling, they may try to show their affection by mouthing their owners, much like they would with their pack. This can be painful for the owners, so ACD open mouths should be redirected to a favorite toy or affection withheld until they refrain from biting.
Of course, kissing and licking are part of an ACDs daily display of affection. Belly rubs, ear massages, and that hard-to-reach area just above the tail are all perfect spots to show your ACD love.
Pawing is another common way ACDs show affection. Raising a front paw and tapping, somewhat forcefully, on their owners to show and elicit affection.
Cattle Dogs also enjoy being near their humans, even if they need a bit of space. Often, they will move from their owner’s side to close to an exit where they can keep a protective watch. This is not a cuddle, but a definite show of affection!
Every Cattle Dog has different personalities and needs. Regardless of the way your Cattle Dog shows and receives affection, whether a lick, paw, or a cuddle, it’s all for their humans!