Dog Breeds

Blue Heeler: Everything You Need To Know

September 3, 2017 — by Carol Reddy0

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Dog Breeds

Blue Heeler: Everything You Need To Know

September 3, 2017 — by Carol Reddy0

The Blue Heeler is an intelligent breed and always full of energy. If you're interested in learning more about the Blue Heeler read this article.

You might not know that the Blue Heeler is just another name for the Australian Cattle Dog.

These dogs are one of the most intelligent, focused, and hard working breeds there are.

They dont seem too intimidating but they manage to scare enough cattle to end up herding them to their designated destination without breaking a sweat!

In this article we’ll discuss everything you need to know about this resourceful and alert breed.

So, if you’re ready to learn everything there is to know about the Blue Heeler, lets get started!

Blue Heeler History

Blue Heeler from Australia

During the 19th century Australian settlers started establishing cattle stations.  One of these settlers name was George Hall…

After trying to expand his business by transporting cattle to other regions including the Liverpool Plains and Queensland, George realized he had too many cattle to keep track of, and was unable to heard them properly.

He needed a herding dog…

A dog that was physically capable of withstanding hot temperatures, traveling long distances through tough terrain, and most importantly able to successfully herd cattle.

Unfortunately the original dogs brought to Australia from England were unable to handle such harsh climate and working conditions.

But luckily Australia has a native wild dog breed, the Dingo, who is a keen predator high on the food chain, and suited for Australia’s terrain.

Ranchers soon started cross breeding domesticated dingo’s with dogs brought from England. This resulted in dogs resembling the native dingo, but having a blue toned coat, which was quite popular with the farmers.

These dogs made herding cattle look easy, and were everything the farmers wanted and more. They were hard workers, focused on the task at hand, and seemed to be having fun chasing and nipping at the heels of cattle.

The breed eventually adopted the name Blue Heelers, due to their charming blue spotted coat and technique of nipping cattle’s heels to successfully herd them.

The breeds outstanding herding capabilities made them desired by ranchers everywhere, who soon adopted new names for the breed (depending on their location).

The most recognized other name for the Blue Heeler is the Australian Cattle dog, but the breed is also recognized as the Australian Heeler, Halls Heeler, and Queensland Heeler.

Blue Heeler Weight/Size

Size of Blue Heeler

The Blue Heeler is known for its endurance and agility, so it makes sense that this breed has a naturally strong build.

They are considered to be medium sized dogs, averagely weighing between 30 and 50 pounds. Adult males usually weighing a couple more pounds than adult females.

The common height of the Blue Heeler is 17-20 inches, females averagely grow between 17 and 19 inches, while males tend to be 18-20 inches in height.

Variation of size and weight depends on the individual dog, so don’t panic if you think your dog isn’t growing. The growth of your Blue Heeler will occur within their first 2 years, so maybe just give it some time!

When full grown the Blue Heeler is a muscle machine with a broad chest and strong back. Blue Heelers are always longer than they are tall, this helps them be more aerodynamic.

Furthermore allowing them to execute herding cattle with excellence and ease.

Blue Heeler Coat/Grooming

Blue Heeler Coat

The Blue Heeler would have spent most of his time outside working, and therefore had to endure ALL weather conditions.

Luckily, they have a water resistant outer coat that protects them from water and dirt. The outer coat of the Blue Heeler is short, but their undercoat is very dense.

Breeds such as the Blue Heeler that are known to have double coats shed by “blowing out” their coat, this heavy shedding that occurs once or twice a year.

Since they have this natural method of shedding you don’t need to go CRAZY thinking about grooming your Blue Heeler. They are able to keep themselves clean, to some degree…

But during this time period of “blowing” you should brush your dog frequently to assist with dead hair removal.

You should get in the habit of grooming/brushing your Blue Heeler weekly to ensure the removal of dead hair and and dirt. Not only are you cleaning off any dirt left on them, you are spreading the natural oils of their hair.

If you properly groom the Blue Heeler their coat will look that much more amazing!

The Blue Heeler has a coat that comes in two main colors, blue and red, even though its named the BLUE Heeler. What makes the Blue Heeler such a beautiful breed is its variation in coat color.

It is common to see tones of tan or white within the coat, but usually you can bet on the Blue Heeler having blue, blue/red spotted markings

Fun fact about this amazing breed is that all puppies are actually born WHITE! Even though it is possible for a Blue Heeler puppy to be born completely white but with solid colored markings.

The coat color of Blue Heelers is determined by the combination of red and black hairs growing through the original white coat of hair, better known as the ticking gene.

Whether blue or red, white or tan the Blue Heeler has a beautiful coat, that is worth taking care of with proper grooming!

 Blue Heeler Personality

Blue Heeler playing

If you’re looking for an energetic best friend then you found one with the Blue Heeler.  They have more than enough energy to chase cattle all day so they definitely a lot of energy to get out playing.

The Blue Heeler is bred to please, and has the intelligence to consistently deliver. But since the Blue Heeler was bred to be active practically ALL day they need a lot of mental and physical stimulation.

Meaning you will need to give Blue Heelers continuous stimulation or they can become bored and destructive.

OR…

You can give the Blue Heeler the stimulation they need by giving them activities to do. If you don’t they will make up their own activities (ones you might not like).

These are dogs that are able to diligently work on a task for the purpose of pleasing their owner but also for their own intelligence and fun. They deserve to be loved and given their owners undivided attention.

They will love every member of the family, acknowledging they are a member of the pack. They may be wary of outsiders but will warm up if they have more interactions.

Even though Blue Heelers are good with children and will protect and love them, they might try herding them now and then. Be watchful for nipping behavior.

Although they can be considered “high maintenance” because of their mental and physical needs of stimulation, they can be tasks that are enjoyable for the both of you.

Blue Heeler Training

Blue Heeler Training

Breeding the Blue Heeler to be a herder gave them a natural advantage when it comes to training. Blue Heelers are very trainable due to their ability to pick up on ques associated with certain words or signals.

If you think about it the Blue Heeler is his own boss. When a Blue Heeler is herding cattle they are making their own judgement calls, not being told what to do. This shows the level of intelligence of these dogs, while also displaying their love to learn,

If trained properly any dog can excel in ANY activity, but breeds such as the Blue Heeler are born with an instinctive form of concentration that propels them to the gold metal.

I mean this literally…

Often time you will see Blue Heelers competing in various different kind of dog competitions, and winning! Blue Heelers enjoy a challenge, such as being confronted with an agility obstacle coarse.

Not only can these dogs be trained to win metals in dog competitions, they can be trained as service dogs and save lives!

Having a service dog with the intelligence of a Blue Heeler isn’t such a bad idea. They can assist by helping the disabled, being therapy dogs, used for drug detection and other forms of police work.

Blue Heeler Activity Level 

Active Blue Heeler

Everyone knows that exercise is a good thing…

So it makes sense that intelligent dogs, like the Blue Heeler, are also active dogs. These dogs will be sitting waiting for the next thing to do, and they have the stamina to do anything and everything that interests or challenges them.

If a dog enjoys learning he is going to want to check out EVERYTHING.

Having a Blue Heeler means having a dog that will watch passing cars, chase critters, and investigate every new smell. They are just naturally curious animals.

Due to this they need high levels of stimulation. Meaning daily walks and activities, and also having plenty of toys and playtime to keep them occupied.

These dogs needed to have endless energy to be able to complete their job of herding cattle, and that energy is still a prominent trait of the breed.

This energy needs to be channeled correctly through positive stimulation or else these dogs can become destructive.

Blue Heeler Nutriton 

Blue Heeler Nutrition

All dogs need their nutrition to be carefully monitored by their owner, especially if they are an active breed like the Blue Heeler. These breeds have muscle they need to maintain so it is important they get their needed amounts of

  • Protein
  • Whole Grains
  • Vitamins/Minerals
  • Essential Fatty Acids

If you take on the responsibility of a dog, you take on the responsibility of the nutrition they receive. Doing your research to make sure the dry or wet food you are feeding your dog is essential to their health.

Every dog is unique and has different reactions to different types of food.

But Blue Heelers need between approximately one and a half to two and a half cups of your preferred dry dog food.

At the end of the day the smartest thing to do (if you have the time) is to prepare home made dog food recipes to ensure your dog is getting the proper amount of protein, whole grains, vitamins/minerals and crucial fatty acids.

If you’re concerned about your dogs diet but unable to prepare your dog home made meals its okay! There are many supplements you can give your dog to make up from the lack of nutrition from certain canned/bagged dog food.

Blue Heeler Health  

Blue Heeler Health

The average life expectancy of the Blue Heeler is between 13-15 years.

All dogs are prone to certain health issues, especially if they are purebreds.

Unfortunately the Blue Heeler is prone to numerous health issues including

  • Deafness
  • Hip Dysplasia 
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) 

Deafness is a common health issue for the Blue Heeler and also other breeds such as Dalmatians and Dogo Argentino.  Some dogs experience deafness in one ear (unirally), while others can experience deafness in both ears (binarally).

Deafness is thought to be pigment related, meaning dogs born with all white coats have a higher chance of becoming deaf.

Hip Dysplasia is common in many breeds, but if large AND active (like the Blue Heeler) they are likely to develop it.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is the progressive deterioration of the retina.

The retina lines the back of the eye and is essential to sight. Its function is to receive light, and send the converted light nerological signals to the brain, causing visual recognition.

When the retina is altered its rod photoreceptors are affected, therefore leading to loss of vision. In the early stages of the disease the Blue Heeler will lose their ability to see at night, and then gradually during the day as well.

Ultimately, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) leads to total blindness…

The Blue Heeler Is Happiest When…

Happy Blue Heeler

The Blue Heeler is happiest when occupied with a task. Whether this task be retrieving a ball you threw, joining you on a morning hike, or participating in competitive dog agility sports.

But since Blue Heelers are so intelligent, they need constant new stimulation and tasks to keep them busy.

Although they enjoy being challenged they enjoy your company just as much, and if you’re happy they re happy!

These dogs feel best when successfully accomplishing a task. Not only because it will please their owner, but because they learned something!

Stimulation is the key to keeping a Blue Heeler happy and healthy.

Who wouldnt want to show off their beautiful Blue Heeler by bringing him on an exciting walk…

Keep in mind, they do have a lot of energy. So the more you do with them, the more tired they will be at the end of the day. Then everyone is happy!

The Bottom Line On The Blue Heeler

Blue Heeler

The Blue Heeler is an impressive breed that will leave you trying to understand how a dog can be so smart.

They were bred with the intent of creating a dog that was smart enough to know how to herd large groups of animals, while having the stamina and determination to do so.

Being a medium sized dog allows them to be large enough to intimidate cattle, while small enough to nip at their legs and move throughout the herd with ease.

Luckily, Blue Heelers don’t need excessive grooming, but they do need constant stimulation of their brain and body through exercise to stay healthy.

If you don’t give your dog the amount of exercise they need they will act out by chewing up things and herding your children!

Thankfully the Blue Heeler is intelligent and active so therefore easy to train. But they are smart and have their own agendas so its important to keep them busy and behaving.

A big part of owning a dog, especially a dog as energetic as the Blue Heeler, is making sure they are healthy. Whether this means cooking over a hot stove preparing home made food for them or being aware of any ongoing health issues, they are your responsibility!

Taking are of a dog is no easy task if you aren’t ready.

But if you’re prepared to care for the Blue Heeler and give him everything he needs he will repay you with protection, love, and wonderful memories.

We hope you enjoyed reading about the Blue Heeler.  Do you have anything to add about the Blue Heeler?  Comment below…

Carol Reddy

Hi, I'm Carol Reddy, Founder and Editor of CommonPaw and Pawthentic. When I'm not sharing my love for and knowledge of dogs, you can usually find me at the gym or the beach, living a healthy lifestyle.