8 Facts About Blue Heelers
The Australian Cattle Dog, also known as a Blue Heeler, is a hardworking, dedicated dog that loves their family and is affectionate with them. Here are a few more facts about Blue Heelers:
1. The Blue Heeler is Related to Wild Dingoes
The Australian Cattle Dog we know today can trace its roots back to the wild Dingoes of Australia. This feral breed was brought to Australia by its earliest human inhabitants. It was crossed with a British cattle dog called the Smithfield, Scottish Highland Collies, Dalmatians, and more to create the cattle dog they needed.
The Australian Cattle Dog was bred to maintain the hardworking qualities of the best herding breeds and to develop the durability needed to thrive in the rough Australian terrain and high temperatures across long distances.
In addition to their athleticism, durability, and skill, these dogs were also bred to be loyal and protective towards their families and comfortable around horses. As such, the Australian Cattle Dog is one of the dog breeds that work well with horses.
2. Their Heeler Name is a Nickname
Australian Cattle Dogs are commonly known as Blue Heelers in the United States, or Red Heelers if they have a reddish-brown coat. They are also sometimes called an Australian Heeler, Queensland Heeler, or Halls Heeler.
Regardless of which name you prefer, the Heeler part of their name is a nickname. When herding cattle, they commonly nipped at their heels to direct them and herd them. Hence, the “Heeler” nickname.
3. Heeler Puppies are Born White
Despite Blue Heelers having a distinctly patterned coat, their puppies are born white! This could be due to their Dalmatian heritage. One of the facts about Dalmatians is that puppies are born white and develop their spots later.
The same is true for Heelers and their coats develop after a few weeks. By the time the puppies are about six weeks old, their patterned coat should be coming in very clearly.
4. The Oldest Dog Was a Heeler
Generally, Blue Heelers have an average life span of 12-16 years. But, sometimes dogs can surprise you! One Blue Heeler named Bluey has gone on record in the Guinness Book of Records for living to the age of 29 years and 5 months! Bluey lived with his owner Les Hall in Australia and herded cattle until he was 20 years old.
5. Blue Heelers are Highly Intelligent
Just like many herding dogs, Blue Heelers are highly intelligent. They are even considered to be one of the smartest dog breeds. Because of their high intelligence, they are highly trainable.
Their trainability makes them an obvious choice in cattle herding. You still will need to do obedience training, but Blue Heelers will learn quickly and be a great family companion!
6. Australian Cattle Dogs Bond Closely With Their Families
Although Australian Cattle Dogs are focused and hardworking while on the job, they are affectionate and playful when at home with their families. They also tend to bond closely with their families and prefer to be near them.
Much like the Vizsla, the Blue Heeler can sometimes be a “velcro dog” in that they are happiest being by your side. These dogs bond quickly with their families, but they will often bond even closer to one person.
7. They Have a Protective Instinct
Blue Heelers may be most well-known for their herding skills, but they also are known to protect their families. They have the instinct to guard and protect their pack. Although they are very affectionate with their families, including other pets that are part of that family, they are naturally wary of strangers.
They also tend to become defensive if they sense a threat. Because of this protective instinct, early and ongoing socialization and training are important so your Blue Heeler does not automatically view anyone or anything unfamiliar as a threat.
8. Blue Heelers Are High-Energy Dogs
On top of being working dogs, Blue Heelers are also high-energy dogs. They need a job to do and they also need a lot of daily exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. These are some of the reasons why they are one of the best dog breeds for farms.
Daily walks plus some time to run, playtime, and some extra activity are usually enough. But, this dog will often be up for more activity if you are as they will be happy to be spending time with you and being active. Thankfully, they are a versatile and athletic breed that is also one of the sturdy dog breeds for outdoor adventures, so you have plenty of options to try once they are fully grown.
Trips to the dog park for some off-leash time to run are a good option. Hiking with your dog, swimming with your dog, teaching them to play frisbee, training for dog sports, and more can all be good activities to try with your Blue Heeler.
These are just a few facts about Blue Heelers, or Australian Cattle Dogs. Australian Cattle Dogs are energetic, loyal, and affectionate dogs that are a good fit for active owners who can give them the exercise and attention they need to thrive.
If you think this could be the right dog breed for you, learn more about them and check out the available Blue Heeler puppies. You could end up finding your new best friend!