Blue Heeler Overview
- Dog Breed:
- Blue Heeler
- Breed Group:
- Herding Group
- Alert, resilient, intelligent, protective, and loyal
- 17-20 inches
- 35-50 pounds
- Life Span:
- 12-16 years
- Coat Colors:
- Blue, blue-mottled, blue speckled, or red speckled
- Area of Origin:
- Best For:
- Active Families/Owners with a keen interest in training/Homes with access to areas for safe free running
Blue Heeler Characteristics
Blue Heeler Gallery
About The Blue Heeler
Compact and muscular
Commonly known as the Australian Cattle Dog
Wary of strangers
The compact but muscular Blue Heeler or Queensland Heeler is most commonly known as the Australian Cattle Dog. Related to Australia’s wild dog, the Dingo, these are resilient herders who are at the top of the class when it comes to intelligence.
This is a breed that is ever alert and who can also be very wary of strangers, they’re not the type of dog to rush up to someone they don’t know to get a fuss.
If the Blue Heeler isn’t challenged, then they will quickly become bored and get themselves into trouble. Most owners train their dogs for competitive sports such as agility or herding as well as providing regular exercise to keep them fit and healthy.
Blue Heeler Breed History
Designed to cope with harsh conditions
Originally bred from a dingo cross
Recognized by the AKC in 1980
In the late 1800s, Anglo-Australians began to migrate from their coastal settlements towards the vast inland grasslands. This was the perfect environment for raising beef cattle, but they needed good herding dogs.
The first cattle dogs to arrive in Australia were the Smithfield, a large, shaggy type of collie which came across from Britain. However, they soon struggled with the very high temperatures and the rough terrain. So, stockmen began to breed their own type of herding dog that could meet all the challenges of the harsh environment.
They first crossed the Smithfields with the Australian wild dog, the Dingo. Then they added in other breeds such as the Scottish Highland Collie, to enable them to develop a hardworking and durable herder. It was the Dalmatian that provided the final piece of the puzzle. Their ease with horses combined with faithfulness and protective nature was just the right combination to produce the Blue Heeler that we now know.
The Blue Heeler is renowned for the contribution they made to Australia’s beef industry, which was an essential part of the continent’s economy.
Recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1980 under the breed name of the Australian Cattle Dog, they now have a breed popularity ranking of 55 out of a total of 195 breeds.
Blue Heeler Size & Weight
Medium sized breed
Measure 18 to 20 inches for males and 17-19 for females
Weight between 30-50 pounds
The compact but muscular Heeler measures 18 to 20 inches at withers for males and 17 to 19 inches for females. Their weight range is anything between 30 and 50 pounds.
This is a medium-sized breed, but there should be no doubt that they are real powerhouses. Teaching loose leash walking is essential to avoid being dragged down the street.
Blue Heeler Personality & Temperament
Bonds closely with their family
Can be aggressive towards other dogs
With their family, the Blue Heeler is a devoted and protective guardian. They will guard wherever they consider to be their territory, and they will defend it if necessary. This is a breed that is reserved with strangers, but they are neither shy nor unfriendly.
Often called “Velcro dogs,” the Blue Heeler bonds closely to their people and will want to be by their side whenever possible. They do not thrive if they are constantly left unattended in the yard.
The Blue Heeler can be aggressive towards other dogs, particularly those who are outside of their own family and who they perceive as a threat. Careful consideration is needed for the temperaments of existing family dogs before considering adding this breed to the household.
Climate conditions are not going to be a problem for the Blue Heeler; they were bred to cope with the searing heat of the day and the cold of the night. As for any breed, it will still be important that they are provided with shade in the summer months and a warm bed during the winter.
This is a top-level intelligent dog; they have fantastic problem-solving skills that were honed when independently working with the cattle. Without an outlet for the brains, they will make up their own fun, and this is highly unlikely to be what you would consider as an appropriate game!
Blue Heeler Health & Grooming
Testing needed to several genetic conditions before breeding
Minimal grooming needs
Has two shedding seasons
Several health problems can affect the Blue Heeler. Responsible breeders will have all their breeding dogs checked for the following conditions before they are bred from.
- Hip and Elbow Evaluation to ensure that there are no skeletal issues which may cause lameness, pain, and arthritis
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation to check for visible signs of problem eye conditions.
- BAER Testing to ensure that there are no signs of deafness. This test can also be carried out on 6-8 week old pups before they leave for their new home
- PRA Optigen DNA a genetic test for eye disease causing blindness and generally affecting middle-aged or older dogs
- PLL DNA a genetic test for a painful eye disease where the lens is displaced or dislocated.
The Blue Heeler, with their smooth double coat, has minimal grooming needs. A once a week brush to dislodge any dirt or loose hair is all that’s required most of the year. During the shedding season, which takes place twice a year, they will need brushing every few days to prevent the home from becoming covered with discarded hair.
Blue Heeler Training
Very intelligent breed
Early training and socialization needed
Strong prey drive
Early socialization and obedience training are essential for the Blue Heeler. Happiest when they have a job to do, continuing training to include activities such as agility, obedience, or herding is highly recommended.
An intelligent, energetic heeler who does get the opportunity to tire their body and use their brains will become bored and challenging to live with. The time commitment the Blue Heelers need from their owners is much higher than some of the more sedentary breeds, and this requires some serious consideration before bringing one home to be part of the family.
With their cattle-herding background, there can be a tendency to nip at the heels of both people and other dogs if they think they need to be moved. Redirecting any ‘mouthy’ behavior onto toys can provide them with a more appropriate outlet.
With their strong prey drive, this is a breed whose eye will quickly be caught by the movement of small animals rapidly followed by the desire to chase. This is where the time committed to training really pays off; having a reliable recall as well as drop and leave commands will allow your Heeler to be kept safe while also having much more freedom when out on walks.
Blue Heeler Exercise Requirements
Very intelligent breed
Early training and socialization needed
Strong prey drive
Don’t for one-minute think that this is a breed who you can fob off with a round the block walk. If you go for a daily run, then that’s perfect for the adult heeler. If not, then a good hour of exercise with some free running is going to be needed twice a day.
If you’re looking for a playful dog, then that’s certainly a tick in the box; they will keep going as long as you can, and in fact, probably quite a bit longer! Even then, tiring out just the body will not be enough; the Heeler’s brain also needs to be exercised. That could be in the form of obedience training, learning new tricks, or searching for toys hidden around the home.
Blue Heeler Diet & Feeding
Speak to your vet for advice on your dog’s needs
Specially formulated puppy foods will provide nutrients needed for growth
Select a food suitable for the exercise levels of your dog
For advice on your individual dog’s nutritional needs, we recommend speaking to your veterinarian or pet nutritionist.
As general advice, most young dogs start off on a specially designed puppy food. This ensures that their nutritional requirements to support their growth and development are fully met. At around six months of age, most dogs then move on to food designed either for adolescent or adult dogs.
You may also be interested in:
Blue Heeler Rescue Groups
There are times when a Blue Heeler will need a new home. Thankfully there are rescue organizations that are often run by volunteers, who step in to find the dogs a new loving family.
Australian Cattle Dog Rescue – http://www.acdrescueinc.com/
Arizona Cattle Dog Rescue – https://www.arizonacattledogrescue.org
Carolina ACD Rescue and Rebound – https://www.carolinasrescue.com/
For more information on the breed, we recommend checking out the website of the Australian Cattle Dog Club of America at http://www.acdca.org/