The loyal but independent, loving Australian Shepherd, also known as the Blue Heeler, is perfect for anyone who shares their intelligence, high energy, attention to detail, and activity. Read more about this extraordinary herding dog.

Blue Heeler  (Australian Cattle Dog)

The compact but muscular Australian Cattle Dog, also called the Blue or Red Heeler or Queensland Heeler, is related to Australia’s famous wild dog, the Dingo. These hardy herders are intelligent enough to surpass their owner’s intelligence. Standing between 17-20 inches tall at the shoulder, the Australian Herder is a strong, hard-muscled herder with strength and agility. ACD is born with white fur that turns either bluish-gray or red. Both coat colors can have distinctive spotting or spotting patterns. 

ACDs have a huge workforce and are great for managing livestock and of course, moving them around. Their boundless energy and supple gait make them great running companions. ACDs are loyal, notoriously intelligent, tenacious, always alert, and can be wary of strangers. If the ACD is not challenged, it gets bored easily and can get into trouble. ACD owners are encouraged to participate in some work, sport, or regular exercise with these versatile dogs to keep them mentally and physically fit.

Breed Overview

Group

Herding

HEIGHT 17 -20 inches
WEIGHT 35 – 50 lbs
COAT Thick double coat
COAT COLOR Blue or red with mottled or speckled patterns
LIFE 12-16 years
TEMPERAMENT loyal, active, intelligent
HYPOALLERGENIC No
ORIGIN  Australia

Characteristics of the Blue Heeler

In addition to their unwavering work ethic, Heelers are intensely devoted to their owners and do not like being separated from them, which is why they are known as shadow dogs. This is a very active dog that will happily become your next running or walking buddy. They can be affectionate with their family, although they are often wary of strangers. Being very sociable, they usually get along well with other domestic dogs and dog-loving cats.

Blue Heeler  (Australian Cattle Dog) Personality

The Australian Cattle Dog is a very active dog that needs constant mental and physical activity. When bored or lonely, he can be destructive. He tends to chew and tear things he shouldn’t. If you choose to live with an Australian Cattle Dog, be prepared to keep him busy – and tired. If he’s tired, he probably won’t be in trouble.

The Australian Cattle Dog is protective of his territory. He is also reserved (not necessarily unfriendly) towards strangers. But he is devoted to his owner and family. Once tied, he wants to go wherever his owner goes; In fact, the Australian Cattle Dog’s punishment is physical separation from the people he loves.

He is intelligent but can be willful and sometimes stubborn. Consistent and positive training will help control his independent streak. Temperament is influenced by many factors such as heredity, education, and socialization.

History

According to the American Kennel Club, Blue heelers were bred by Australian settlers in the 19th century to help ranchers establish ever-expanding ranches on the Australian prairies. After much breeding and crossbreeding, breeders have developed a strong canine that can withstand the harsh Australian climate. Dogs imported to Australia from England were bred with the original Australian Dingo to create the ancestors of the Blue Heeler, the Australian Cattle Dog.

In May 1980, the American Kennel Club accepted the Australian Cattle Dog for registration. The breed entered the exhibition in the working group in September of the same year and was transferred to the herd group in 1983.

Care

The Australian cattle isn’t one for grooming. His thick double coat is short and functional. It’s sleek, clean, and oil-free, so a quick weekly groomer with a short-hair brush has everything he needs to look his best. Most of the time he smells pretty good too, but a bath every other month or so, helps if he’s grubby.

Double-coated dogs “blow their coat” twice a year, which causes a lot of shedding, usually in the spring and fall. Caring for an Australian Shepherd during this time is no exception: he needs brushing and combing several times a week to remove loose dead hair.

He needs regular at-home dental care to keep his teeth and gums healthy and his breath fresh. frequent nail clipping, especially as a puppy; and weekly ear exams for cleaning and removal of earwax.

Training

Blue Heelers are easy to train because they are intelligent and energetic. They will herd anything and everything that moves, including children and other pets. Therefore, blue heelers need early socialization and training to understand what behavior is not acceptable. If early training is neglected, they may gobble up running children or play too rough with other animals.

These dogs often excel in dog sports such as agility, volleyball, herding competitions, or obedience trials. Plus, spending time exercising and interacting with your blue heeler is a great way to not only stimulate their minds but also build a bond between you and your pet.

There is a lot to love about these dogs and they have a lot of interesting history and characteristics. Australian Cattle Dogs are great dogs and can be phenomenal companions, but they need a job, they need an outlet, and ideally they need space to run and roam. Your backyard is not the Australian Outback. And this fact may be the most important.

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