Originally bred as a herding breed, the Red Heeler is a medium-sized dog breed. In this article, we will focus on the Red Heeler breed of Australian Cattle Dog. Blue Heelers and Red Heelers are the same breed – just different colors!
The alertness and energy of these dogs make them excellent working dogs as well as great family dogs. Read on below to learn more about their history, characteristics, and how to live with and take care of a Red Heeler.
History of the Red Heeler
It was in 1840 that Australian George Elliott developed the Red Heeler, also known as the Australian Cattle Dog, by crossing native Dingoes with Collies and other herding dogs. The breed quickly gained popularity as a cattle herder due to its toughness and work ethic. Ranchers and cattlemen continue to enjoy Red Heelers, as well as regular pet owners.
What Does a Red Heeler Dog Look Like?
There is something solid, sturdy, compact, and alert about Red Heelers that makes them ready to work. Having muscular legs and strong necks, Red Heelers have curved, hanging tails and are slightly longer than tall. Their heads are broad, rounded, and pointed. There are usually dark or tan markings on their red, weather-resistant coats.
- Easily bored
Ideal human companion
- Active and sporty types
What You Need to Know About the Red Heeler
Due to their need for activities, tasks, and lots of space, Red Heelers are probably not well suited to apartment living. They can become destructive and mischievous without open spaces and work.
Deafness, hip dysplasia, and eye problems are some of the common health issues. Keep your Red Heeler on a leash unless you live on a ranch. Running and roaming are their favorite activities.
Characteristics of the Red Heeler
Pedigree dogs normally have litters of five to seven puppies, but a healthy dam can have up to nine! Depending on the parents’ pedigree, Red Heeler puppies can cost anywhere from $250 to $2,500. Within eight weeks of their birth, these dogs are usually ready for their forever homes.
Appearance of the Red Heeler
It typically stands between 17 and 20 inches tall, with males being slightly taller than females. For males and females, the weight can range from 35 to 50 pounds. Around 18 months of age, they will reach their full size and weight.
Their broad heads and powerful jaws make them very athletic and muscular. In addition to strong forelegs and muscular hind legs, they have sloping shoulders and a level back. Their ears are set apart on the top of their heads, like that of German Shepherds.
If they are working dogs in the US, their tails are often docked; however, in the UK, Australia, and Canada, they are kept at their full length to help them maneuver.
Red Heelers have a double coat, with an upper coat that is straight and stiff and an undercoat that is densely packed with hairs. Two times a year, they shed excessively, and the rest of the year, they shed minimally. As we will discuss later, they are relatively low-maintenance dogs that do not require much grooming.
Red healers are born white with brown hair that grows as they age. A Red Heeler’s signature red coat is based on brown hairs evenly distributed throughout its white coat. This is just like the Blue Heeler’s blue coat is based on gray hair.
The Temperament of Red Heeler
Known for their loyalty and sweet disposition, Australian Cattle Dogs love staying by their owners’ sides. Their high intelligence makes them very focused pups who enjoy human interaction and playtime. Although they can sometimes be aloof, they don’t particularly like cuddling.
The Red Heeler is fiercely protective of its family and will keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary. The fact that they will not bark or alert you unless something is wrong or they feel threatened makes them effective guard dogs and watchdogs.
This breed of pups has a high energy level and enjoys running around. Due to their working nature, they have a high prey drive and are known for chasing things, so watch out for this. Fortunately, their intelligence also makes them easy to train. A work environment that gives them a sense of purpose will be ideal for them.
It is possible for the Red Heeler to get bored easily, which may lead to destructive behaviors such as barking, chewing, chasing, digging, and nipping at heels. In order to keep them occupied, it is important to keep them both physically and mentally stimulated.
Lifespan of Red Heeler
The Red Heeler also has a relatively long life expectancy, just like the Blue Heeler. Between 12 and 15 years is the average lifespan of this purebred dog.
Known Health Issues of the Red Heeler
There are some health problems associated with the Red Heeler, as with any dog. In the following list, we have outlined the main health concerns.
- Hip Dysplasia – When the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint, it’s called hip dysplasia. A dog with hip dysplasia may not show any signs of discomfort, but some dogs will show pain and lameness in the rear legs.
- Elbow Dysplasia – In large-breed dogs, elbow dysplasia is common. Depending on the growth rate, it can cause lameness. Surgical intervention can be used to fix the problem.
- Osteochondritis Dissecans – Osteochondritis Dissecans is an inflammatory condition caused by the cartilage separating from the bone during development. Medication or surgery can be used to treat it when it occurs in the shoulder.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy – This are a series of conditions that eventually lead to blindness and are incurable.
Daily Life of the Red Heeler
Our knowledge of the Red Heeler has allowed us to see what living with one of these dogs on a daily basis is actually like. There will be a discussion about their food and diet, their exercise requirements, and their grooming requirements.
Food and Diet of the Red Heeler
Due to their history, red healers can survive on a restricted diet. However, they should be fed approximately three cups of food per day, or between 1,000 and 1,500 calories. Depending on the weight and activity level of your Red Heeler, you should always check the back of the food packet to determine how much of the food they should be eating.
Because healers have energy, their food should be high-quality and tailored for active dogs. Therefore, they should consume at least 20% meat in their diet in order to meet their high protein requirements. As a result, many pet owners choose to feed their dogs raw food.
By feeling and looking at your dog’s body, you can determine if he is overweight. You shouldn’t be able to see a waist at the right weight, and their ribs shouldn’t be visible without too much pressure.
Best Dog Food for Red Heeler
For your Australian Cattle Dog, we recommend Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete dog food. With this food, your Red Heeler will get all the nutrients they need, since it’s designed for very active dogs. For strong and lean muscles, the recipe includes high-quality chicken that provides an excellent source of protein.
This formula also contains vitamins, minerals, fruits, vegetables, and superfoods, all of which are easily digestible. It also contains K9 Strain Probiotics, which are bacteria that support your dog’s immune system and keep him active.
Exercise of the Red Heeler
The Red Heeler breed is very active and requires exercise. As we mentioned above, the breed requires exercise. Ideally, they should walk twice a day for 60 to 90 minutes.
When healers feel bored, they perform poorly. It will be great if they can run free or have a purpose if they are bored because they may display aggressive or destructive behaviors.
Your dog’s need to have a purpose can be met by training him and teaching him tricks. It will be a pleasure to work for you if you teach them to pick up toys and clothes as well!
Walking, hiking, and swimming are all favorite activities for this breed of dog. Families who are outside a lot, exercising, and do not want to be cooped up at home will do best with them. It’s the perfect exercise partner for them!
Heelers are also great at agility training and dog sports such as flyball because of their intelligence and energy levels. This is something you could practice with them to keep them active and entertained.
Due to their high energy needs, the Red Heeler may do better with more experienced dog handlers and may not be the right first pet.
If you have a family who enjoys hiking or jogging, you’ll be able to ensure that they get enough exercise everyday. Having a large yard or area to run around will definitely be beneficial for them.
Australian Cattle Dogs can be protective of their families and wary of strangers. It shouldn’t be an issue if they are properly socialized. Due to their herding instincts, Red Heelers can exhibit herding behavior around very small children despite getting along well with adults and children. If you have younger children, you may benefit from socializing with your Red Heeler.
Keeping the Red Heeler with other dogs or animals is also not recommended because they can be hostile and will show herding behavior towards them. It has also been reported that they chase them.
Despite this, they are capable of growing up happily around children and other animals with the right training. The only thing you need to do is be patient and persevere.
Training of the Red Heeler
Red healers are easy to train because they love to work and feel needed. It is also easy for them to pick up new things since they are intelligent. In addition to stopping herding behavior, training can also stop unwanted behaviors that your Red Heeler may exhibit when you have to leave the house.
The same training methods that are used for all dogs will work for them, which includes both verbal praise and treats. The best way to train your dog is to never get angry or frustrated with him. Because they don’t understand what’s going on, they won’t want to learn. In order for them to learn which is more desirable, you should ignore negative behavior and praise positive behavior.
From a young age, your Australian Cattle Dog should be trained. Since they have a strong prey drive and a one-track mind when they are young, you’ll find it easier to train them.
Socializing of the Red Heeler
Every puppy should be socialized just as much as they should be trained. It is important to socialize children from an early age. In a controlled and calm manner, introduce them to different sights, sounds, places, smells, people, and animals so they learn there’s no need to worry.
It has been mentioned above that Red Heelers are not compatible with small children or other pets, so early socialization is very critical.
Grooming of the Red Heeler
Red healers do not have high grooming requirements, but their short double coat requires a slick brush once a week. The loose hairs will be removed and they will look neater. Clipping them is not necessary.
Unless they roll in something unpleasant, they won’t need to be bathed very often. Previously, we mentioned that they shed more frequently twice a year than moderately all year long.
Keeping their nails trimmed and brushing their teeth as frequently as possible will also help prevent decay that could lead to gum disease. Keep their teeth clean by giving them dental sticks and crunchy kibble. Establishing a grooming routine from an early age can really benefit dogs who don’t like to be groomed.
Do Red Heelers Make Good Pets?
You should take your Red Heeler outside for exercise, play, and work every day rather than letting them sit around the house for hours. Active, intelligent, and energetic dogs with a steady attitude are high energy and intelligent.
Unlike other dogs, Red Heelers are independent and do not require much cuddling or affection. In spite of their toughness and steady nature, they definitely appreciate praise and good treatment. Their herding instincts sometimes come into play at home. A family member may be “herded” or lightly nipped at the heels if they want something. They make excellent watchdogs due to their cautious nature and wariness.
Red healers make great family pets because they are loving and affectionate. As much as they love to be out exercising, these energetic and active dogs also love to be by your side. The dogs can be very useful around the house or on a farm due to a strong working desire, but they are also excellent playmates and friends.
They are excellent guard dogs because they do not fear barking when they are scared, even when they love humans – both adults and children. When trained and socialized properly, the Australian Cattle Dog can be an excellent family pet.
They are playful, loyal, attentive, and energetic. It’s not just you who thinks those qualities are perfect.
It has been found that the Red Heeler makes a wonderful family pet!
You’ll find the Red Heeler to be a wonderful companion as long as you meet their need for lots of activity.
Two meals a day are generally recommended for dogs. Breed, age, size, and energy level all factor into how often dogs should eat and how much.
Routine Care, Diet, and Exercise
Very easy to groom. Just run a brush through her coat once in a while. Her weather-resistant coat needs natural oils, so don’t over-bathe her. At least twice a week, you should brush your Australian Cattle Dog’s teeth to keep them healthy.
Upon earning the trust of their owners, Australian Cattle Dogs become remarkably loyal companions. As a result, they don’t like to be left alone for long periods of time. Family and property are important to them.