Born in Fortingall, Perthshire, Scotland, McDougall was the son of Alexander McDougall, a sheep farmer, and his wife Grace, née Stewart. McDougall enjoyed hunting and fishing in the western Scottish islands; from 1836 to 1839 he trapped beaver in Canada. After returning briefly to Scotland, he emigrated to Australia, arriving in Melbourne in November 1841.
McDougall bred shorthorn cattle and bought the Arundel farm in Keilor in 1870. He purchased two prize Booth type bulls from England planning to create stock in opposition to the Bates strain bred by his rival, Niel Black. McDougall died at Ellora, Moonee Ponds, Victoria on 25 June 1887.
- Quaife, G. R. "McDougall, Robert (1813–1887)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
- "McDougall, Robert". re-member: a database of all Victorian MPs since 1851. Parliament of Victoria. Archived from the original on 7 July 2012.
- "The Late Mr. Robert McDougall". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 29 June 1887. p. 9. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
|Victorian Legislative Assembly|
|New district|| Member for West Bourke
November 1856 – August 1857
With: Patrick Phelan