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Blue Heeler or Australian Cattle Dog Breed Info

Blue Heeler or Australian Cattle Dog Breed Info
Blue Heeler

The Blue Heeler is actually called Australian Cattle Dog. As the breed name suggests these dogs were originally developed in Australia to handle herds of cattle! According to the American Kennel Club, this breed ranks 55 on the list of most popular dog breeds.

The Australian Cattle Dog is a very intelligent and active dog. Besides this, the Blue Heeler is a very hard-working dog and thrives when they have a job to do. But what else is it that makes this breed a good breed? How is their personality, and would they even be a good fit for you?

If there’s one thing to know about the Australian Cattle Dogs it’s that they aren’t for everyone! They are very high maintenance and need a lot of exercise. They are also quite clingy and are often called “Velcro” dogs. This is because they choose one person and stick to them like, well, Velcro.

This breed offers everything you could possibly want in a dog in a package for many active families. Sadly, many of the new Aussie owners find that he is too much to handle and wind up in rescue shelters.

But, let’s take a look at their personality, size and much more! And decide then for yourself if this is a breed of dog that could work for you.

Also read: Poodle – Meet One Of The Smartest And Oldest Dog Breeds

History of the Cattle dog

Anglo-Australian immigrants who moved interior from coastal areas in the 19th century bred the Australian Cattle Dog. There, they discovered ideal surroundings for raising cattle. The Smithfield dog, one of their original English herding canines, was ineffective in the hard terrain and sweltering heat. They must therefore breed a robust herding dog that will prosper in their new residence.

The Australian Bush Dogs known as Dingoes were crossed with domesticated dogs to create the Smithfield breed. Some of that mixture is also believed to include the Scottish Highland Collie, which contributed exceptional herding abilities. These dogs were eventually crossed with Dalmatians in breeding. As a result, they developed a preference for working with horses and defending their territory in addition of their excellent herding abilities.

A guy by the name of Thomas Hall was instrumental in the breeding of this hybrid, which eventually became the new Australian Cattle Dog. Like many other herding methods, theirs involves nipping at the cattle’s heels. And for this reason, he has been known as “Hall’s Heelers.” When he first arrived in America on business is unknown. However, he didn’t join the American Kennel Club until 1980.

His exceptional herding abilities, diligent work ethic, and unyielding persistence have helped him secure employment on numerous ranches all over America. Particularly in places with higher temperatures where Collies or Australian Shepherds can struggle. However, he is also gaining popularity as a family pet with busy families.

An Australian Cattle dog running on the beach

Source: Instagram (@heelerclub)

Cattle Dog Appearance

This breed weighs between 35 and 50 pounds and is a medium-sized dog. His height, from paw to shoulder, ranges from 17 to 20 inches. Overall, according to the breed standard, he has a symmetrical, small-but-sturdy frame. In line with what a real working dog should be. He has a proportional nose and a large, flat head on top.

His enormous triangular-shaped ears are usually upright and vigilant, and his medium-sized oval-shaped eyes. It’s not unusual to discover a blue heeler with heterochromia, an alteration in the pigmentation of the eye that results in a single blue eye. His strong, muscular neck contrasts with his square, plump nose. His tail is always carried straight or low, reaching his hocks. Like the tail of a fox, it is likewise quite bushy.

A short, smooth double coat covers the Australian Cattle Dog. His body is kept warm in the winter and cool in the summer by his short, dense undercoat. This dog’s coat is rigid to ward off the rain and has close-cropped hairs that rest close to his torso. His facial, ear and leg hair is shorter towards the front of him. In contrast to his lengthier fur around his neck, which extends from the back of his legs to the front of his underbelly, His hair should be about 1 to 1 1/2 inches long.

The Red Heeler and the Blue Heeler are thought to be the two main varieties of this breed. The two coat colors can have spots, but they are the same. Simply said, their coat is a different color. Both the Red Heeler and the Blue Heeler have the colors black, brown, and white as their primary colors.

Personality and temperament 

Due to their high level of energy, Australian Cattle Dogs require regular mental and physical stimulation. He may act destructively if he’s lonely or bored. He frequently chews and tears up things he shouldn’t. An Australian Cattle Dog will need to be kept occupied and exhausted if you decide to live with one. He is less prone to cause trouble if he is exhausted.

The Australian Cattle Dog will defend what he views as his area, and he is protective of it. He is also reserved around strangers, though not necessarily unpleasant. Nevertheless, he is loyal to his owner and family. Once he unites with his master, the Australian Cattle Dog enjoys following them everywhere they go. In fact, punishment for the breed is being physically separated from those he loves. 

He is a diligent canine that delights in nothing more than a task to complete. You’ll need to find alternative ways to meet his labor needs since he won’t have access to conventional jobs. He also makes a wonderful workout companion because of this. The youngsters will spend endless hours playing in the yard. The Cattle dog does take some time to get used to people outside of his human group. He can be a dog that guards both his family and his house.

He is quite affectionate with his family. If he is happy with his working day, he likes to cuddle in the evening. particularly with the person he views as being his primary caregiver. He ties with one individual more closely than the entire family. Due to his constant craving for personal proximity, he is frequently referred to as a Velcro dog.

Are they good family dogs?

The Australian Cattle Dog is a terrific family pet, but he gets along with kids best if he spends his entire life with them and accepts them as family. He becomes very mischievous and guarded in these circumstances. However, the breed’s propensity to bite and even nip at children can be an issue. He might desire to bite when young children play rough or use stinging nips to herd them.

A mature Australian Cattle Dog who has not spent much time around kids won’t know how to handle them and might be overly rough. Because kids don’t behave like adults, some dogs are wary of them and occasionally view them as a threat. The majority of issues can be resolved by training the Australian Cattle Dog puppy bite inhibition and cautiously introducing him to young children.

The Australian Cattle Dog gets well with the other dogs in his home, particularly if he was reared with them when he was a puppy. However, because the Australian Cattle Dog is so loyal to just one person in the family, there may be jealously or disputes between him and other dogs.

Now, regarding cats and other small creatures that the Australian Cattle Dog typically views as prey, if they are reared with one from the time they are puppies, they will likely consider them members of their household and leave them alone. Otherwise, he might pursue, catch, and even kill.

Living with the Australian Cattle dog

The Australian Cattle Dog is a very active working dog. Most of the time, he likes to be busy and active. His energy must be channeled or he will become bored and turn to self-entertainment, usually by engaging in behavior you would find objectionable, like digging in the trash or up your flower garden.

The Australian Cattle Dog is extremely loyal to his owner and household. Usually, he ties closely with one person while forming weaker bonds with others. He is frequently referred to as a “Velcro” dog because of how tightly he bonds with his chosen person and enjoys constant close physical touch.

The Australian Cattle Dog is a mouthy dog because he was bred to herd cattle and to do so violently and by biting. He has the instinct to nip anything that moves, including cars, children, dogs, and livestock. He frequently bites, even when playing. As a puppy, socialization and training are necessary to correctly channel this propensity so that it doesn’t develop into risky behavior.

The breed’s strong prey drive is another aspect of its instinct. Cats, squirrels, and other small animals captivate his attention. It is safe to assume that the Australian Cattle Dog will coexist peacefully in his house with other animals, including cats, if he is raised with them from an early age. But he’s probably going to think anyone outside his family is fair game. 

The Australian Cattle Dog is often sociable, yet he guards his family and his territory and is normally leery of outsiders. His ideal living situation would be in the country, with a big family that likes being active and going outdoors. 

Exercise

The Australian Cattle Dog is a dog with a lot of energy. For the Blue Heeler a lot of exercise is a must! You could say that it’s a critical part of their life and something that keeps them healthy and happy. In an ideal world, he would work all day on a ranch or farm. But if he doesn’t, he needs at least 90 minutes of hard work to meet his needs. This dog doesn’t want to take a slow stroll around the neighborhood. For his heart to start pumping, he needs very hard exercise.

But that’s not the end of it. When you are at home with him, he will also need a lot of interactive playtime and mental stimulation. Don’t think he’ll sneak off to the couch to take a nap. He will want to play games with you, like “fetch” or “tug of war” in the yard. He will also need toys that he can play with by himself, like chew sticks or puzzles that give out treats.

If you don’t give him something to do, he will find something else to do, like digging up flowerbeds, breaking furniture, or shredding sheets. It will also lead to bad behavior and herding that is out of control at home. And the way he bites makes it hard for everyone in the family to get along. This is why it’s so important for you to be honest about how much exercise you can give him. And why he doesn’t fit in with a normal family.

Training

This breed, like many other superior working dogs, is very autonomous. His independence implies that he will never be completely obedient, and if he believes he is right, he will follow his instinct rather than your order. Enrolling your Australian Cattle Dog in puppy school is the best option. 

The active Australian Cattle dog thrives in a setting with lots of opportunities for both physical and mental activity. He doesn’t do well in an apartment or when left alone for extended periods of time. He prefers to chew a lot and is destructive when he’s bored. This Cattle dog requires a rural farm or ranch, or a house with a yard that is completely fenced.

If you want to get an Australian Cattle Dog, make sure you can give him a way to use his natural energy and sharp mind. He was raised to herd and chase, so you can be sure that’s exactly what he’ll do, even with cars. If you don’t raise sheep or cattle, you might want to think about dog sports. This dog likes the challenge and competition that come with sports.

The Australian Cattle Dog needs to be socialized and trained from the time it is a puppy. Like any other dog, he can become shy if he is not socialized enough as a puppy. Socializing your Australian Cattle Dog from a young age is important if you want him or her to have a full life as an adult. Because he likes to mouth, chew, nip, and bite, he needs to be handled with care. He needs to be taught to only chew on  things like strong toys, and not to bite other people.

Grooming

The Australian Cattle Dog’s outer coat is short and straight, and it can stand up to the weather. His undercoat is thick. Most Australian Cattle Dogs don’t shed all year long. Instead, they “blow” their coats once or twice a year.

The Australian Cattle Dog doesn’t need much grooming to stay clean and healthy, but he does need some. You should brush him every so often, maybe four times a month, to spread the oils and get rid of dirt. But when he sheds, brush him weekly to get rid of the dead hair. When he really needs it, like when he’s really dirty or smells bad, give him a bath.

At least twice or three times a week, you should brush your Australian Cattle Dog’s teeth to remove tartar and the bacteria that lives in it. Even better if you want to avoid dental problems and bad breath, brush your teeth every day.

If your dog doesn’t wear down its nails on its own, trim them once a month. When they’re too long, you can hear them clicking on the floor. The feet stay in good shape when the nails are kept short and well-trimmed. There are blood vessels in a dog’s toenails, so if you cut too far, it could bleed. If you haven’t done this before, you should ask a vet or groomer for tips.

Every week, you should look in his ears for redness or a bad smell, which can be signs of an infection. When you check on your dog’s ears, use a cotton ball dampened with cleaning solution to clean his ears. This will help prevent infections.

The Australian Cattle dog or Blue Heeler sitting in a field

Source: Instagram (@heelerclub)

Most common health problems

The average lifespan of an Australian Cattle Dog is 12 to 16 years, which is pretty long. This is a great life span for a dog, but he needs to be healthy and get there with your help. Keep up with vet visits and give him exercise to keep him healthy and happy. Keeping him healthy will also go a long way if you feed him the best food you can afford.

Some health issues are more likely to bother him than others. So, we’ve listed the conditions you need to know about below. Even though this isn’t a complete list, it’s a fine place to begin.

Both hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia are common in this breed. It’s usually caused by bones that grow too quickly, which makes the joints uneven and causes them to grind and wear down. This makes it hard for him to move around, and if it goes untreated, it will lead to arthritis. Joint dysplasia could be the reason why your puppy has trouble exercising, standing up, or moving his limbs.

Progressive retinal atrophy is the most common eye problem that this breed is prone to. This is the breakdown of the retina, which leads to total blindness in the end. Also common is primary lens luxation, which is when the lens moves out of place and causes blindness. If your dog is bumping into things, take him to the vet.

The Australian Cattle Dog can get deaf from its parents, as one of the most common hereditary health conditions. Reliable breeders will put their puppies through a BAER test, which will show if they are deaf or not. Make sure to ask for the documents.

Buying an Australian Cattle dog

Australian Cattle Dogs aren’t the most popular breed, but there are a lot of good breeders out there. All you have to do is find them. You might have to go somewhere, and you’ll probably be put on a list of people waiting. But don’t worry, if you wait, good things will happen! A puppy from a reputable breeder usually costs between $1,000 and more than that. 

A trustworthy breeder will tell you everything you need to know and ask you a lot of questions about how you live. They might even come to your house to make sure you are a good fit for this tough breed. Always meet the puppies and their parents, and ask to see their health certificates. The AKC’s list of breeders is a great place to start.

Try as hard as you can to stay away from puppy mills and bad breeders. If you find a Heeler for a low price, it’s likely that they are sick or not even a Heeler. These organisations don’t have your dog’s health in mind, all they want to do is get as much money as possible from you. 

There’s also the option of rescuing. Go to the animal shelters near you and talk to the staff. They might be able to tell you where one is in a nearby shelter. You won’t only provide shelter to a stray dog, but it’s also often much cheaper than buying a puppy. If you can’t find one in a shelter near you, contact the The Australian Cattle Dog Rescue Inc. for more information.

Conclusion

The Blue Heeler is truly a great dog, however, they do have a few negative traits you should not forget about. Firstly, as mentioned before they are herding dogs, that means they will herd anything, even children and other pets! It’s simply in their blood to do that.

This is why these dogs need early socialization and training. That’s the only way how they will learn which kind of behavior is acceptable and which is not. Blue Heelers are quite high maintenance too! They have a two-layered coat which means lots of shedding. Because of the shedding it’s so important to brush your dog multiple times a day! Besides this, it’s necessary to bathe them often, trim their nails, brush their teeth, and clean their ears!

In conclusion, the Blue Heeler is an amazing dog that will make its owners super happy. However, they do require a lot of care and you could say that they are quite high maintenance. A lot of exercise, training, socialization, and grooming – are all a big must with this breed. But, it’s definitely worth it because of all the love and affection they give you.

Of course, we do need to state that this breed isn’t for everyone. The Blue Heeler definitely needs a responsible owner who will take good care of them. If you are a couch potato living in a small city apartment, then this breed definitely isn’t the right choice for you. These dogs need their space, and most of all, they need their exercise.