Originally bred as a herding breed, the Blue Heeler breed is a medium-sized dog breed. Australian Cattle Dogs can be blue or red, but this article will focus on the Blue Heeler. In addition to making excellent family dogs, these dogs are also excellent working dogs due to their alertness and energy.
Here we discuss the history, characteristics, and what living with and taking care of a Blue Heeler is like.
History of the Blue Heeler
Heeler is a nickname given to the Australian Cattle Dog for its tendency to nip at cattle’s heels while herding to encourage movement. To cope with the rough terrain and high temperatures of the Australian outback, they were bred to herd cattle over long distances and have high energy levels and stamina.
As a result of this background, they are very energetic, playful, and intelligent dogs. It is important to spend enough time with your Blue Heeler outside, although they do well as a pet rather than a working dog when they are properly trained and socialized.
There are two types of Australian Cattle Dogs – the Original Cattle Dog, from New South Wales, and The Queensland Heeler, a variant of the breed from the 1940s. Both are now healers.
Breed Origin of the Blue Heeler
Originally developed in Australia in the 19th century, the Blue Heeler was bred to herd livestock. A dog that could guard and herd livestock in very hot conditions, as well as withstand rough terrain and run over long distances, was neede.
The Heeler was create in part by Thomas Hall. Base on their appearance, the Halls Heeler is believe to be one of the ancestors of the Australian Cattle Dog.
Heelers were created by crossing Halls Heelers with Dalmatians, Bull Terriers, and Kelpies. Around 1890, the Heeler was well established.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) registered the Blue Heeler in 1980 after being introduced to the United States in the 1940s. In the US, the Australian Cattle Dog Club of America is the official breed club. The Australian National Kennel Council, the Canadian Kennel Club, Kennel Club, the New Zealand Kennel Club, and the United Kennel Club also recognize this breed.
Characteristics of the Blue Heeler
Often, the Blue Heeler is referre to as the Queenslan Heeler or Red Heeler. You don’t have to worry, they are the same dogs, they just have different colors! They are usually born in litter sizes of 1-7 and can go to their new home at around 8 weeks of age. Blue Heeler puppies cost between $600 and $1,000.
Appearance of the Blue Heeler
Blue Heelers are a medium-sized breed that usually stands between 17 and 20 inches tall, with males standing a few inches taller than females. Both males and females can weigh between 35 and 50 pounds. Around 18 months of age, they will reach their full size and weight.
With a broad head and powerful jaw, these dogs are very athletic and muscular. Unlike German Shepherds, they have sloping shoulders, a level back, strong forelegs, and muscular hindlegs. Their ears are separate at the top of their heads.
In the United States, working dogs usually have their tails docked, but in the UK, Australia, and Canada, they are left at their full length to help with maneuverability.
Short in length, Blue Heelers have a double coat that can be strong and stiff. Instead of shedding moderately all year round, they shed excessively twice a year. We will discuss grooming in more detail later on, but they are relatively low-maintenance dogs.
Blue Heelers are typically blue, blue mottled, or blue speckled in color, with or without markings. There can also be some tan coloring on the forelegs, as well as on the chest and neck. It’s a fun fact – both Red and Blue Heeler puppies are born white and their adult coat color develops as they mature.
Temperament of the Blue Heeler
Australian cattle dogs are loyal and sweet-natured dogs who love to be by their owner’s side. Their high intelligence makes them very focused pups who adore human interaction and playtime.
These pups are highly active and enjoy running around. As working dogs, they have a high prey drive and are known to chase things. Due to their intelligence, they are also easily trainable. In a work environment where there is something to do, they will thrive.
Blue Heelers can be very protective of their families and watch out for anything unusual. Consequently, they make good guard dogs and watchdogs, and will not bark or alert you unless something is wrong or if they feel threatened. Humans are unlikely to be attacke by them, but they can be hostile to other dogs they do not know. Children get along with them, but younger children may display herding behaviors, so it’s best to keep them in a family with older children.
Lifespan of the Blue Heeler
Blue heelers have long lives. Most of them live from 12 to 15 years of age.
Known Health Issues of the Blue Heeler
In terms of age, the Blue Heeler holds the Guinness World Record. As with all breeds of dogs, they can suffer from some health issues. Health clearances will be provided by your breeder (a reputable breeder will do so), but your Heeler may be more susceptible to three main health problems.
- Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia- are two conditions that are seen commonly in larger dogs. It is cause by the incorrect formation of cartilage in the hip or elbow joint.
- Deafness — it is normally associate with a dog’s coat color, and speckle markings on the coat have been associate with deafness as well.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy — an incurable condition that causes eventual blindness.
Daily Life of the Blue Heeler
Now that we know what a Blue Heeler is like, we can see what everyday life is like with one of these dogs.
Food and Diet of the Blue Heeler
Blue healers are known for surviving on a very limited diet. However, you should always feed your dog high-quality dog food and the right amount based on their size, weight, and activity level. In general, a Blue Heeler’s food should be three cups every day, but the packet should always specify how much to feed.
Because healers have energy, their food should also be tailore for active dogs. As a result, they have high protein dietary requirements, and no less than 20% of their diet should be meat. Many pet owners choose to feed their dogs raw food because of this reason.
Taking a look at and feeling your dog’s body will allow you to determine whether it is overweight. The correct weight will not show a waist, and you can feel but not see their ribs without pressing too much.
Best Dog Food for the Blue Heeler
For your Australian Cattle Dog, we recommend Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete dog food. With this food, your pup will get all the nutrients they need, especially if they are very active like the Blue Heeler. For strong and lean muscles, this recipe contains high-quality chicken, which provides excellent protein.
This formula also contains vitamins, minerals, fruits, vegetables, and superfoods, all easily digestible. Additionally, this food contains K9 Strain Probiotics, a type of bacteria that helps maintain your dog’s health and immune system.
In our previous article, we mentioned that Blue Heelers have a high need for exercise and are very active dogs. Since they are working dogs, they cannot cope with boredom. Bored animals can display aggressive or destructive behavior, so if you let them run free or give them a purpose, they will be happy.
The Blue Heeler needs about 60 to 90 minutes of exercise a day, preferably divided into two walks. The simplest thing you can do to fulfill your dog’s need for purpose is to train and teach him tricks. As well as picking up toys and clothing, you can teach them how to work for you by teaching them to pick them up!
Dogs of this breed enjoy walking, hiking, and swimming. People who are outdoors a lot and exercise, and don’t want to be coope up at home, will do best with them.
Despite their love of people and ability to do well in a family environment, Blue Heelers may require more experienced dog handlers, and might not make the best first pet. You should make sure they are getting enough exercise every day, so a family that enjoys hiking or jogging will be beneficial. As a result, they will also benefit from having a large yard or area to run around in.
Australian Cattle Dogs are protective of their families and wary of strangers. However, if they are socialize properly, this shouldn’t be a problem. Due to their herding instincts, Blue Heelers get along well with adults and children alike. Although they are best kept with children over 10, socializing with your Blue Heeler may be beneficial if you have younger children.
Australian Cattle Dogs should also not be kept with other dogs or animals due to their herding behavior and tendency to chase them. You will just need patience and perseverance to raise them to be able to live happily around other animals with the right training.
Training of the Blue Heeler
It is very easy to train Blue Heeler dogs because they love to work and feel needed. As well as being intelligent, they are also very quick to pick up on new things. As with all dogs, they will benefit from positive reinforcement training that includes both verbal rewards and treats. By training your Blue Heeler, you can stop unwanted behaviors such as herding and unwanted behaviors when you have to leave the house.
The training of your Australian Cattle Dog should begin at a young age. When your puppy has a strong prey drive and a one-track mind, you will find it easier to train him when he is young.
Socializing of the Blue Heeler
Every puppy should be socialize as part of their training. Ideally, socializing should begin at a young age and include different sights and sounds. The Blue Heeler does not do well with smaller children or other pets, so early socialization is essential if there are young children or other pets in the house.
Because of their short double coat, Blue Heels do not require much grooming, but they should be brushe once a week with a slick brush. If there is any loose undercoat, this will help to remove it. Unless they have rolled in something unpleasant, they won’t need to be bathe very often. According to our previous discussion, they shed more frequently twice a year than moderately all year.
As well as clipping their nails, you should brush their teeth often to prevent decay that could lead to gum disease. In addition to dental sticks, you can feed them crunchy kibble, which can help keep their teeth clean. Dogs don’t like to be groome, so establishing a grooming routine from a young age can be beneficial.
It might be a good idea to get a Blue Heeler if you are looking for an energetic and active dog. In addition to being an excellent family dog, this loving and affectionate dog thrives in an active environment. In spite of their love for humans – both adults and older children – they can bark when they are scare, which makes them excellent guard dogs. Australian Cattle Dogs can display herding behavior around other animals and small children, but with the right training and socialization, they can be perfect family pets.
Red and blue heelers are also known for the white fur patch on the center of their heads. This patch is known to some as the ‘Bentley Mark’, and others as the ‘Bentley Star’. Blue heelers have tan markings on the lower half of their legs, black on their bodies, and a black spot on their tail roots.
Dogs are stresse by thunderstorms, fireworks, being left alone, traveling, and strangers on property. Depending on the situation, your Australian Cattle Dog/Blue Heeler may suffer from one or more of these issues.
When left home alone, Cattle Dogs can become antsy and turn to destructive behaviors to pass the time. Barking and chewing may be considere nuisance behaviors. You can minimize damage by crate training your ACD, but this breed should not be left alone for a long period of time.
As fearless animals, they have been dubbed “the rugby players of the dog world,” thanks to their high pain tolerance. They are also known to be funny.