Distance running was one of the reasons we decided an Australian Cattle Dog (ACD) was the right breed for us. I imagined running side-by-side with both of our Cattle Dogs. However, when setting out on our first runs, our male, Banjo, would outpace us, sprinting for the entire run. So I switched to bicycling with him, but he continued to pull out in front. I wanted to know, just how fast can Cattle Dogs run?
On average, Australian Cattle Dogs can run at 25 mph. At a full sprint, some Cattle Dogs have been clocked at a top speed of 30 mph.
Even though ACDs are fast and love to run, they are not at the top of the list of the fastest dogs. The top spot for the fastest canine belongs to the Greyhound with a top speed of 45 mph. Still, running at 30mph is pretty impressive compared to the land animals with the fastest top speed.
|Pronghorn Antelope||60 mph|
|Thomson’s Gazelle||50 mph|
|Blue Wildebeest||50 mph|
|Quarter Horse||47 mph|
|African Wild Dog||45 mph|
No matter how fast they move, high-energy Heelers thrive with daily runs or other challenging physical activity every day.
How Much Exercise Does an Australian Cattle Dog Need?
ACDs were specifically bred to work long days herding, traversing large ranch lands, as much as twenty miles in a single day. Extreme stamina is built into a Cattle Dog’s DNA, so they need a lot more physical exercise than many other dog breeds.
On average, Australian Cattle Dogs require one to two hours of exercise daily. In addition to physical exercise, Cattle Dogs need mental stimulation each day.
Mental exercise such can burn nearly as much energy as physical activities. It’s also a good way for your Cattle Dog to learn how to calm down and focus on a new puzzle or task.
What are the Best Ways to Exercise My Cattle Dog?
There are many types of physical activities, but here are some great ways to exercise Cattle Dog.
Walks – Fast-paced walks, about thirty minutes to one hour, twice daily should be the minimum level of exercise for Heelers.
Runs – Cattle Dogs were born to run, so three to five miles, twice a day is just their speed. They can work up to longer distances, but keep an eye out for signs of over-exercising covered later in this post.
Hikes – Hiking, either half-day or full-day, in place of walks or runs, is a great way to exercise and also introduce your Cattle Dog to new sites and scents.
Swimming – Cattle dogs typically enjoy swimming. It’s great exercise, especially to cool down after a hike.
Agility Training – Whether it’s regulation training courses or setting up backyard obstacles, this sport is both physically and mentally challenging. Typically there are ten to twenty types of obstacles, including tunnels, weave poles, ramps, seesaws, hoops, and hurdles. If there are no classes nearby, it’s easy to set up an at-home obstacle course for your ACD like this one on Amazon.
Herding – Ranches offering herding classes with fowl, sheep, or cattle helps to fulfill a Heeler’s purpose in life. It’s an amazing experience to watch their herding instinct kick in the first time they get in a pen with livestock. It’s important to note that special care should be taken to protect their paws with athletic tape to avoid raw pads after a few rounds of herding.
Herding balls – Using large, nearly indestructible balls are a good substitute when there are no nearby ranches with animals to the herd. Herding balls are great for a game of chase and retrieve practice.
Dog Parks – Not just a good place to exercise your dog, but also important for socialization, to learn proper canine etiquette. Cattle Dogs love a good game of chase but watch out for overuse of herding techniques with other dogs.
Problem-solving exercises stimulate your dog’s mind and help focus their energy on positive, productive tasks. Mental exercises can include treat or food puzzles, interactive toys, hide and seek, keep away, recordable training buzzers, and many other challenging dog toys and training aids.
To keep their interest, try using a toy rotation schedule or teaching them how to put toys away. Basically, challenge an ACD with different ways to exercise and play!
Can a Cattle Dog Get Too Much Exercise?
It is possible to exhaust a Cattle Dog with too much exercise. Additionally, over-exercising can lead to injury and long-term medical issues.
As with many activities, moderation is key to keep a Heeler healthy and to avoid potential issues with over-exercising.
Some signs of over-exercising an ACD can include the following:
- Muscle pain or stiffness
- Joint pain or injury
- Heat exhaustion
- Pad injuries
When exercising a Cattle Dog, keep watch for signs of fatigue, stiffness, or favoring a paw. If they show any of the above signs, take a water break and/or rest until your ACD recovers.
Running is one of the Cattle Dog’s favorite activities. But no matter which exercises – running, walking, hiking, swimming, agility, herding, or a simple trip to the dog park, your commitment to exercise with your Cattle Dog will strengthen the bond between you and make them happier and healthier!