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Explore the Breed: Heeler Type Dogs

Posted By SLCo Animal Services
March 29, 2021

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heeler type breed blog

Australian cattle dog VS Blue or Red Heeler:

There is no difference, they are the same dog. The term Blue Heeler, Red Heeler, Queensland Heelers or Australian Heelers is a reference to the color of the Australian Cattle Dog. There will always be different temperaments or personalities between individual dogs, but color has nothing to do with it. Now that we have that out of the way let’s talk about this breed of dog.

What Does a Heeler Need:

The heeler was MADE to herd and this is his/her “occupation” and a large part of the personality and temperament. After all, herding cattle is a big job. They are quick thinkers and can be stubborn. They can run fast, they are very agile, can change directions quickly and are tireless workers. While this makes them a wonderful “ranch hand” it can be very challenging for them to be a family dog.

Heelers are very intelligent dogs and are motivated. They need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation or they will become frustrated. Proper training is a must so that they learn they are not in charge of the “herd” (Pack, or family) but instead a member of it.  They would benefit from learning agility, disc or frisbee, hiking, running, or jogging. These are just a few suggestions to help keep your heeler mentally and physically stimulated. They need a “job” to do.

The Australian Cattle Dog is very loyal, loves to herd animals, they are typically good with young kids, you will just need to be aware; they may herd your children, it is after all their “job” and what they are bred to do. (They herd by nipping at the heels, this is where the term Heeler came from). They have a ton on energy, love to play and run and while they love their family due to their loyalty, they can be wary of strangers.


Size & Health:

If you are thinking of adding an Australian cattle dog/heeler to your family make sure you have done your research and that is the breed for you and your lifestyle.  They need a lot of exercise (2-3 hours per day) so if you are an outdoors exercise kind of person, they could make a great companion. A walk around the block is not going to do it for this breed. They typically live anywhere from 12-15 years. Males weigh in between 35-45 lbs and are typically 19 inches in height. Females weight ranges from 35-45 lbs and typically 18 inches in height. Due to them being cross bred they can have some potential health problems. Deafness, retinal atrophy, and hip dysplasia. It is important to make sure they don’t get wax buildup in their ears and their teeth are cleaned regularly.

Australian Cattle dogs/Heelers are intelligent, alert, courageous, watchful, reliable, trustworthy dogs who are bred to perform demanding tasks and are loyal to their owners and fiercely protective as a watchdog. They do not tend to be barkers and require ample opportunities for exercise.

If you are interested in viewing adoptable dogs from Salt Lake County Animal Services, you can view them HERE. For further questions email adoptions@slco.org.

FUN FACT: A true Australian Cattle Dog/Heeler is born with and all-white coat. Puppies will begin getting their color quickly and you can see their patterns emerge by 6 weeks.

FUN FACT: They have a dense double coat; they are equipped with an undercoat and overcoat that is water resistant and can keep them dry in the rain, the top layer acts as a wick. They shed the undercoat 1-2 times a year, so they do not require a lot of grooming, just occasional brushing, and bathing.


Origins of the Heeler:

During the early 1800’s British immigrants, who were cattle herders and had immigrated to Australia, found their Smithfield dogs were not holding up to the harsh conditions of the outback. The cattlemen began experimenting with a variety of dogs to come up with the perfect herding dog for the outback. After some failed attempts cattlemen mixed a Dingo (ideal working dog) with a Smooth Highland Collie which became the “Halls Heelers,” cattle men continued to refine the breed and added a Bull Terrier (determined nature), they then added a Dalmatian (affectionate and loyal to its handlers) and then the final piece of the cattle dog puzzle was a Black and Tan Kelpie (Enhanced working ability). This is what is now considered to be the Australian Cattle Dog.

FUN FACT: Bluey is officially the oldest dog ever recorded and verified for The Guinness Record. He lived to be 29 years and 5 months. This would make him 151 in dog years.