AUSTRALIAN CATTLE APPEARANCE:
The Cattle Dog's coat comes in a variety of markings, sometimes quite striking. The basic coat colors are blue and red speckle. For dog owners whose interest is primarily in their qualification for dog shows, even markings are preferred over uneven markings, and large solid-color marks on the body are undesireable. For owners who are more interested in their dogs' performance in activities such as herding or dog sports, the breed's strong work ethic and intelligence are of more importance than the exact coat markings.
The mask is one of the most distinctive features of an ACD. This mask consists of a darker red patch over one or both eyes (for the red speckle coat color) or a black patch over one or both eyes (for the blue coat color). These are called, respectively, single mask and double mask. ACDs without a mask are called plain-faced. Any of these is correct according to the breed standard, and the only limitation is the owner's preference.
Many Australian Cattle Dogs have a stripe of white hair in the center of the forehead, usually 1/2 inch to 1 inch by 2 inches to 3 inches (about 2 cm by 7 cm) called the Bentley Mark. This is similar in appearance to the blaze markings sometimes found on horses. According to legend, a popular dog owned by Tom Bentley passed on this distinctive mark to all Australian Cattle Dogs.
A female Australian Cattle Dog should measure about 17 to 19 inches (43 to 48 cm) at the withers. A male Australian Cattle Dog should measure about 18 to 20 inches (46 to 51 cm) at the withers. An ACD is a well-muscled, compact dog with a short, dense coat and a naturally long tail. An ACD in good condition should weigh roughly 40 to 50 pounds (18 to 23 kg).
Some breeders dock ACD's tails. This is a controversial practice and, in some countries, is illegal or is prohibited for dogs in the show ring. Docking Australian Cattle Dogs' tails is a practice peculiar to the United States - ACD tails are not docked in their country of origin, Australia. This is not to be confused with the Stumpy-tailed Cattle Dog, which is born with a naturally docked, or 'bobbed' tail; this animal strongly resembles the ACD in colouring, but has a slightly taller, leaner conformation.
Like many herding dogs, Cattle Dogs have high energy levels and active minds. They need plenty of exercise and a job to do, such as participating in dog sports, learning tricks and practicing them daily, or other activities that engage their minds. Cattle Dogs who do not receive the appropriate exercise and entertainment will invent their own, often destructive, activities. Cattle Dogs are, by nature, timid or wary. They are naturally cautious, and grow more so as they age.
Cattle Dogs drive cattle by nipping at their heels. When around people, their instinct to herd is sometimes hard to suppress and they can nip at people to herd them. If these dogs will be around children, they and their owners must have sufficient training to know how to manage or avoid such situations.