Why do cattle dogs lick so much?

Why do cattle dogs lick so much?

The Australian cattle dog is one of the working breeds that originated in Australia. The breed was traditionally used for driving cattle along by nipping at their heels.

Despite the Aussie blue heeler being susceptible to isolation anxieties, the dog breed is an amazing family dog that’s good with kids as it is naturally energetic. No wonder these dogs when they are not working, easily get bored and challenging to keep them calm. The Australian Cattle Dog is just another name for the Blue Heeler.

So you don’t have to be confused. Besides that, you may have come across the name Queensland Heeler or Red Heeler. It’s all one and the same. These breeds tend to lick a lot, which may leave us asking.

Why do the cattle dogs lick so much?

Australian Cattle dogs have the habit of licking because that is one of their way that they can show their love and affection towards their owners. They mostly lick during playtime and sometimes when they are being trained.

The dog is so attached to its owners that it can develop a condition known as separation anxiety” when they miss you. So after a long day without their owner’s presence, your cattle dog is likely to lick you- as a special welcome.

Is The Licking From Your Australian Cattle Dog Getting Too Excessive?

While most dog licking habits are a sign they love and adore their owner, some cases with excessive dogs licking have been lnked to boredom. If your dog is bored to during the day or when you are at home, they may turn to licking because they are seeking attention. Besides bored, your dog may also turn to excessive licking habits everytime they feel anxious or threatened.

Remember, sudden change of their daily routine can also elevate their stress levels, triggering hidden separation anxiety traits you didn’t even know your pet dog had.

This is very common for rescue pet dogs coming into a new family. So, if your dog’s excessive licking is not historic, its not wrong to suspect your dog’s boredom is to blame.

While most online resources on dog training recommend ignoring your dog when he is licking you, spending more time with your pet dog also does the trick to reassure your dog that you care.

And, if you work away from home a lot, make sure you have enough pet toys your dog can use to burst anxieties. Amazon has these treat-filled puzzle toys for dogs, which helps pets pass the time when you are away.

How Can You Stop Your Dog From Excessive Licking?

Because your dog is most likely licking you excessively to communicate with you, I recommend that you start paying attention to whether they are anxious, bored or nervous. To stop your dog from excessive licking, make sure your dog is not bored when you are at home, fix any recent routine changes so your dog settles in to her new family. 

However if your dog is only licking you excessively just to say “I love you, human!” Then it’s probably time to find another way we can train our dog to express their undying love for us!

But, in events where the dog is licking due to their attention-seeking tendencies, ignoring her when the unwelcome licks begin with your back turned to show you do not appreciate getting slimy licks from her will certainly send the right message and put obsessive licking behavior to a stop.

Want to know more about cattle dogs? This article will be looking at some of the important facts you will ever need.

A quick Glimpse at the Australian Cattle dog

The breed’s popularity: 54 of 193

Purpose of the breed: It was originally bred to be a herding dog. Due to this, the Australian Cattle dog has become a very alert breed, and a pleasant companion dog to many.

Weight: The Australian Cattle dog has a weight that from 30 to about 50 pounds.
Nature (Temperament): Strong, independent, active, loyal and warm.

Training and Exercise required: Like every other working dog, the Cattle dog needs lots of exercise, and is very intelligent, which makes it very easy to train.

History of the Blue Heeler

As I said before, the Australian Cattle Dogs were bred as herding dogs, and this was in the early 19th century.

According to history, the appearance partly comes from the wild dingo blood running through their veins.

In fact, archaeological evidence shows that wherever Dingos and domestic dogs have existed in the same area, a certain amount of cross breeding is said to have occurred. They do look alarmingly similar.

The Australian Cattle dog received its official recognition by the American Kennel Club in 1980, and since that recognition, a set of standards have been drawn up for the characteristics you should expect in terms of the appearance, temperament, health and many other traits. Let’s look at each of these.

Australian Cattle dog Appearance

Healthy adult Blue Heelers typically weighs anywhere between 30 and 50 pounds. In terms of the height, though, you should expect a blue heeler to be up to 20 inches tall. Commonly, females are smaller than males.

The dog has stand taller with its upright ears that are pointy. However, their ears may be initially floppy as puppies, but often become perky before they reach 24 months of age.

The blue heeler has a balanced, athletic body, which gives it the appearance of an Australian Dingo.
However, the difference between the Australian Cattle dog and the Australian Dingo is that the heeler is a lot more muscular.


The Australian Cattle Dog has a short coat, which often comes in two different shades. It may either comes in a red or blue shade.

The Cattle dog with the red marking is occasionally known as the Red Heeler. The markings and patterns covering the fur vary depending on the individual dog, though.

Most times, the dog may be looking like a mixture of the two colors.It is also common for the Cattle Dogs to have a mask of darker fur over one or both eyes.

Their fur is relatively rough. This is beneficial as it protects the dogs from harsh weather conditions like rain or extreme heat.
Australian cattle dog: Temperament

When we are speaking of temperament, we mainly focus on the natural instincts relevant to group and to individual breed, how co-operative the breed is, how independent it is, the breed’s tendencies to guard, or chase.

The Australian Cattle Dog is a tough breed both mentally and physically. The breed has very strong herding instincts, which is evident as the breed can be able to herd your children, if left unsupervised.

The breed it can be a little reserved. For this reason, you have to ensure that your Blue Heeler is used to a variety of animals from puppyhood.

Like most breed in the herding, the Australian Cattle dog is very loyal and can be quite protective of its family and toys, but wary towards strangers.

Plenty of early socialization can help to reduce the “suspicion” in the dog, though it won’t completely erase it.

Training and Exercising Your Blue Heeler

Australian Cattle dog are independent dogs who need to be well socialized very well, particularly from a young age.

Because they are so intelligent, they require activities that can stimulate them both physically and mentally. This keeps the dog from boredom.

Also, positive reinforcement training is a must for this, especially since it is very enthusiastic and clever.

There are so many activities and games such as retrieving and tracking will maintain the focus and quick responses of your dog.

If your dog doesn’t have anything to do, it may get bored and could possibly start misbehaving to occupy itself.

Luckily, the breed is very easy to train, and it can learn commands very quickly. Positive reinforcement is very essential as any punishment or harsh methods of training could result into an aggressive breed.

Clicker and reward-based training is the best way to train dogs like these, and it has to go hand in hand with proper socialization in the first few years of your dog’s life.

This ensures that your dog becomes obedient and friendlier when they get older. Speaking of which, adult Cattle Dogs require lots of exercise to keep them happy and healthy. Because of this trait, Cattle dogs are not suited to living in small apartments.

Instead, they need a yard, which should be surrounded by a secure dog proof fence to prevent them from wandering up and about.
Blue Heeler Health

Like in all breeds, it’s very important to be aware of health issues that may affect your favorite breeds. This is why you should always do your research prior to introducing the breed into your home.

While some diseases can be avoided by proper health testing, early diagnosis offers a better outlook for the dog in other diseases, allowing you to tackle illnesses before they worsen your dog’s condition.

But what are their health issues that come with the Australian Cattle dogs? There are a couple of them.

  • Eye problems
    Just like most pure breeds, the Heelers are prone to inherited eye troubles.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

This is a condition that causes slow, painless loss of sight until these dogs are completely blind in both eyes.

While it is dangerous, it does take a very long time before it can finally cause total blindness, giving you more than enough time to treat it.

Speaking of, we luckily have tests which can identify dogs carrying the PRA gene, and there is no reason today why any puppy should develop the most common forms of this disease.

All reputable breeders are required to use these testing procedures in order to screen their breeding stock.

  • Lens Luxation

Another common eye disease that these dogs can suffer is called lens luxation. In this condition, the lens of your dog’s eye may separate either partially or entirely.

While there are various treatments for this disease at different stages, your dog will require regular check-ups after whichever treatment procedure has been chosen.

Besides these issues, Australian Cattle dogs are also very prone to joint problems, all ranging from minor to severe.

Joint Problems in Australian Cattle Dogs

In this section, we have discussed some of the likely diseases that you should expect from this dog.

  • Canine Hip Dysplasia

Canine hip dysplasia is a condition where the hip joints do not develop properly and they eventually grind together rather than moving smoothly.

Depending on the severity of your dog, an affected dog could either need surgery or physiotherapy.

  • Elbow Dysplasia

Another type of dysplasia is called “Elbow Dysplasia”. Any dog that has been affected with Elbow dysplasia will need to be taken through a treatment, which is basically a surgery.


In summary, the Australian Cattle dogs really do lick a lot, but it’s only because they want to show you that they enjoy being around you.

You should expect them to lick you when you are playing with them, when you are petting them and also when you are training them.

Though it is not impossible, it can be a little tricky to train your cattle dog not to lick you, especially since the dog is so much attached to you.

Eddie Mcfarren

Eddie Mc Farren has been proudly advocating for pets and animal welfare for countless years and he's been doing so with passion and commitment to excellence. Because of that commitment, he helps Pet Referred.com maintain a completely friendly support team who help you navigate the complex choices you have to make for your pet food, best dog travel beds, skincare products for your pet and many more. Being on the constant hunt for 100% best pet supplies and service satisfaction for your pet is a task we approach with unprecedented intensity. Eddie also helps with the selection of our partners of choice and are carefully vetted to make sure that you get the best results possible for your pet.

Recent Posts