11 Impressive Facts About The Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog)

a picture of a blue heeler in a dog park

In a short list of the most respected working dogs, finding the Australian Cattle Dog mentioned is normal. Red and Blue Heelers, as they are commonly referred to, are unsurprisingly great dogs which were built and bred to herd livestock.

Blue Heelers may not be a top-ten good looking dog, but its unusual appearance will make you stop everything you’re doing to admire it.

While you may think that your presence may disturb his peace, this dog basically does not care about you. He’s more likely to care about his owner’s body language and react to it.

And if you own a Blue Heeler, it does not mean your dog wants you to cuddle all day. He is way more independent than your average furry friend.

He wants your attention and he is bound to get it, but that is because of his instincts. If you don’t pay much attention to Australian Cattle Dog, things around the house are bound to get messy.

Really messy.

Below, I will talk more about the Blue Heeler. You will find out everything you need to know about him.

Australian Cattle Dog: A Brief Breed History

At a time when the British herding dogs were not able to adequately do their job when the settlers moved to Australia, a grand need for a stronger herding dog became apparent. Shepherds needed a dog that can handle the rough life in Australia and still perform better than most cattle dogs.

While the English Smithfield dogs were great at herding the domesticated type of cattle, they were not great at dealing with the almost-wild type. A more equipped dog had to be developed.

There are contradictory sources concerning who was the first to develop the Australian Cattle Dog. Almost all agree that it was in 1840, but some say Thomas Hall crossed his Drovers with dingos to finally have the dog he needed for his cattle. Others, however, attribute the new breed to George Eliott.

While the origins of this dog breed may still be inconclusive, the first breed standard is always attributed to Robert Kaleski. The latter had observed and written extensively on the Australian Cattle Dog in the 1890s.

After many hassles, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the Australian Cattle Dog as purebred in September 1980. Since then (and even before), the club has been promoting, protecting and maintaining the breed standards.

More about the Australian Cattle Dog’s History here.

List of Facts about the Blue Heeler

Now that we know where the Australian Cattle Dog came from, it is time to get to know the dog on a deeper level.

The Blue Heeler is an exciting dog, and you are about to find out what is the reason for the hype behind that.

So, let’s get our deep-dive started.

1 - Red and Blue Heelers Are Basically The Same

Before we go on, it is essential to answer the decades-long question:

Which is better? A Red Heeler or a Blue Heeler?

The answer is quite easy for anyone familiar with the Australian Cattle Dog.

The Blue Heeler is no better than the Red Heeler. The two dogs are one and the same.

an australian cattle dog red heeler looking at the camera

That’s a good looking dog!

They are the same dog, just in different color coats.

You wouldn’t judge others based on their skin color, would you now? The same applies to the Heelers. They are similar dogs in everything, except that each individual dog is different than the next one.

Maybe your Red Heeler is smart, but someone else’s Blue Heeler may be just as smart if not smarter.

The important thing to remember is that the coat color of the Australian Cattle Dog has nothing to do with the intelligence, temperament, or anything other than him being a good dog.

Also, he is NOT the Australian Shepherd. Those are two different breeds. Learn more about the Australian Sheperd here.

2 - Australian Cattle Dogs Are An Exclusive Dog Breed

No, not exclusive as in only the elite can have them. They are not the cyborg dragons that Elon Musk is building.

The Cattle Dogs are exclusive because their needs exceed the ones of an average medium size dog. Unless you are able to provide precisely what they need, Blue Heelers can make your life way harder than it should be.

Long work hours, advanced training, constant stimulation, and careful nutrition, the Australian Cattle Dog is indeed a handful.

We do not recommend owning an ACD to a new dog owner or to someone who has to stay at work late. The dog may be independent, but he sincerely needs to lose all the energy building up inside of him.

3 - Blue Heeler Are Herding Dogs

“Take a dingo, add some collie to it” is how the Australian Cattle Dog came into existence. And if you are not sure how collies are, maybe you can read our guide on Border Collies to learn more about them.

But in a nutshell, your Blue Heeler is a dog that was bred not to get tired quickly, work all day long, and not rely on his owner to do his job.

The Heeler’s level of activity is through-the-roof, but that’s because he loves jumping too.

Unless you have some livestock and cattle roaming around your backyard, your dog will likely require constant stimulation to keep his mind busy.

His herding instincts may also kick in if you have smaller pets or humans. He’ll consider them the house cattle and herd them to the living room every time.

With training from a young age, you can teach the dog that herding others is not acceptable, but incidents will likely occur nonetheless.

4 - He Is Not Fan of Strangers, and Strange Situations

When the Australian Cattle Dog breed was developed, the goal was simple: an active dog that can keep the cattle safe and on the right track.

That instinct still exists in modern Heelers. The dog does not like strangers up close and is not happy in a situation where he is not feeling in control.

This attitude makes the ACD an excellent watchdog, but it adds to his anxiety as well.

Needless to say, socialization of the dog at a young age will help a lot in making him more welcoming of others. It will also increase his levels of self-confidence.

blue heeler running in a park holding a stick

Look at him running with that stick!

5 - An Australian Cattle Dog Is A Pack Dog, His Own Pack Dog

This dog can be described as overly protective. He is what is called a “shadow” dog. Meaning, once he establishes a connection with his owner, he is not going to let them out of his sight.

He likes to stay close to his owner at all times. It is tormenting for the Blue Heeler to watch his owner leave for work in the morning. He undoubtedly wishes you could take him with you.

When it comes to the family, he is protective of them as well. Everyone he connects with becomes someone he needs to protect.

He would not be the best with little babies, especially if he is not raised with them. Careful training, for both the children and dogs, should minimize accidents happening during playtime. But once your dog understands how fragile they are, he starts to adapt to them.

The same can be said of other dogs in the household, except there is more jealousy involved now. His protective nature of his owner prevents him from letting other dogs get too comfortable in the house he considers his own.

6 - Oh! And There Is a Reason They Are Called Heelers

We call them “Heelers”, among other names, for a specific reason. They tend to bite and nip the heels of the cattle to force it to follow their commands.

This tendency to nip others’ heels never leaves his DNA and can show up unexpectedly and occasionally.

This technique has proven to work in the past. It’s what makes them one of the best herding dogs in the world today. However, for households, this tendency makes living with a Heeler a little problematic.

Except for positive-reinforcement training, there is nothing you can do about this. As your young Heeler grows up, you should teach him to play gently and not to herd others by their heels.

In fact, most issues you’ll face with an Australian Cattle Dog require training. Which is why the next point is something you’ll like.

Watch this cute Blue Heeler show off below!

7 - Australian Cattle Dogs Are Among the Easiest to Train

Considering the number of behavior problems that a Cattle dog can develop based on instincts, it is good news that they are relatively easy to train.

By that I mean they are likely to follow your commands. But you shouldn’t just teach your dog the basic commands and that’s it.

You should be willing to go the extra mile, literally. Your dog needs more advanced training, for more extended periods of time, and an increase in the difficulty level.

Basically, it is easy to train your Australian Cattle Dog if you are a seasoned trainer with some previous dog training experience.

Otherwise, you may run the risk of boring your dog. And it is never a good thing to have a bored dog with a high-energy level at the house.

8 - A Guinness World Record Holder for The Oldest Dog

Ask any dog owner, and they’ll tell you that a dog living longer than 15 years is scarce. And losing them at a younger age is always painful, no matter how many times you go through it.

So, it should surprise you to hear that the world record holder for the oldest dog had lived for 29 long years.

Why am I saying this?

Because this record holder was named Bluey. And he was, and you guessed it, an Australian Cattle Dog.

He lived between 1910 and 1939 in an Australian farm, just like his modern grandpuppies do now.

It is worth mentioning that a female Australian Kepli (a presumed ancestor of the Australian Cattle Dog) has recently died at the age of 30 years old. Unfortunately, because there was no paperwork to verify her age, she won’t enter the world records. She will forever be remembered, though.

Still, the point is clear. Originating from the farms of Australia, dogs live longer and prosper.

9 - Australian Cattle Dogs Are Healthy Dogs

The previous fact is a clear example of how healthy the Australian Cattle Dogs are.

Of course, it would be insane to expect your dog to live to be 30 years old, but we wouldn’t discourage you from cheering him on every day of his long life.

The average lifespan of the Australian Cattle dog is 12 to 15 years. Many studies have shown that the Blue Heeler, on average, lives a year longer than other dog breeds his size.

He is also considered one of the healthiest dog breeds. The most common health issues that he faces come from hereditary genes. These health concerns include, according to a survey conducted in 2004, musculoskeletal (spondylosis, elbow dysplasia, and arthritis) and reproductive (pyometra, infertility, and false pregnancy), and blindness. Deafness is also among the most common health concerns for Australian Cattle Dogs.

However, you should also know that many dog owners have reported that their dogs live happy and healthy until the last days of their lives.

10 - The Australian Cattle Dog Has an Unusual Appearance

Other than confusing Blue and Red Heelers as independent dogs, Australian Cattle Dogs have an unusual outlook that grabs the attention of people seeing them for the first time.

A standard Australian Cattle Dog is a medium size dog, weighing between 33 and 50 lbs. He can be up to 19 inches tall. When he is posing, you’ll notice that he is longer than tall, with a curled tail behind him.

Similar to Rottweilers, only Americans accept Heelers with docked tails as standard. The rest of the world argues that the tail is essential for the agility of the dog as it helps him make faster turns.

The accepted coat colors are red and blue, with others color rarely occurring. The Cattle dog is born white and then grows to be either red, blue, blue mottled, or blue speckled with or without black, tan, or white markings or evenly spread red markings.

puppy blue heeler australian cattle dog holding a leaf

That’s so cute!

Many confuse the variations of color on the ACD’s coat with being merle, a color associated with many health concerns. However, these colors are natural to the Heeler and have no influence on his health, temperament, or his personality.

11 - Not the Worst Dog to Live With

Finally, I’m assuming you have made up your mind about the Blue Heeler, and you want to have him as your house pet.

As usual, I recommend you go for adoption rather than buying a new puppy. Otherwise, please make sure the breeder you’re buying from is well-respected.

When you take your new dog home, you will realize that he immediately marks his new territory. Soon, he will start defending it.

He has a dense coat that he only sheds once a year. During this period of time, daily brushing should make your hair nightmare go away. The rest of the year, he will only need minimum grooming and care.

Brushing his teeth, trimming his nails, and a few baths per year are usually enough.

Conclusion

Blue Heelers, or the Australian Cattle Dog breed, are awesome dogs to have at the house. They are likely to bring joy and happiness. They are also likely to cause a little mess here and there.

But I guess that is the beauty of having one at the house.

Let me know in the comments down below what you think of the ACD.

Would you like to own such an active dog? Would you recommend it to others?

About the Author Sam Cummings

Hey world! Sam here! I am a writer and a blogger, with keen interest in pets, dogs especially. Writing about those creatures make time melt like an ice cube in a desert! Dogs are just unbelievably amazing!

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1 comment
Lisa says May 23, 2018

I absolutey love Australian Cattle Dogs! I have one myself, Happy, and I would not treat him for anything in the world. I can totally relate to the messy part but that’s totally worth it! Thank you for the article, I really like it!

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