Blue Heeler / Australian Cattle Dog

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Blue Heeler / Australian Cattle Dog


blue-heeler-australian-cattledogRecommended for:  Families with older children

Maintenance Level:  High

Lifespan:  12-15 years

Temperament:  Loyal, active

Health Risk:   This breed has an around average probability of having health issues in its lifetime, hence it is one of the more affordable breeds to insure.



Blue Heelers and Red Heelers are also known as Australian Cattle dogs.  These sturdy medium sized dogs have been used as working dogs on farms and cattle stations.  While the use of working cattle dogs has somewhat waned over the years, they are nevertheless known for their loyalty and ruggedness.  They have in some ways become a symbol of the Australian outback.

They come in a variety of colours but there are four base colours for Australian Cattle dogs including black, red, chocolate and blue/grey.  Blue Heeler puppies are born white but you can sometimes the eventual colour of their coat through the pads on their paws.

The Blue Heeler has a double coat and even though this is a short haired breed they do tend to shed a fair amount of hair.  The Blue Heeler is not the ideal dog for apartment living because he needs plenty of exercise and stimulation.

Banner-BreedSelectorHeeler puppies love to take part in any kind of exercise including agility, chasing balls and Frisbees.  He makes the perfect jogging companion.  If the Blue Heeler isn’t given enough exercise he will become bored, destructive and may be prone to excessive barking due to their temperament.

The male Blue Heeler stands between 43 and 51 cm and females stand between 43 and 48 cm.  Blue Heelers usually weigh around 18 to 22 kg.

The average lifespan of a Blue Heeler is 12 to 15 years.



The Blue Heeler was originally bred by Australian settlers in the 19th Century to work on cattle farms.  This breed worked hard with their owners over the years to develop the beef industry in Australia.

Today’s Australian Cattle Dog puppies are the result of many breedings and cross-breedings by their breeders. Ranchers sought a hardy dog who could handle the harsh climate and working conditions in Australia. Dogs initially brought from England weren’t up to the job, so they were bred to the native Dingo. Countless breedings by many different ranchers finally resulted in what’s believed to be the ancestors of the present-day Australian Cattle Dog.

Due to the popularity of the blue cattle dogs tended to be called ‘blue heeler’ while the red cattle dogs of the breed being called ‘red heeler’. In Queensland they were given the name Queensland Heeler or Queensland Blue Heelers.

During 1893 Robert Kaleski began breeding Blue Heelers for show.  He drew up a standard for the breed which was approved by the Kennel Club of NSW in 1903.  While the Australian Heeler was the first accepted name of the breed it later became known as the Australian Cattle Dog.

The Australian Cattle Dog was accepted for registration by the American Kennel Club in 1980.




Blue Heelers and Red Heelers are intelligent dogs who are easy to train.  These dogs were bred to work and that means they can become easily bored if they are not given an outlet for their energy.

Taking on a Blue Heeler or Red Heeler means committing to regularly exercising the dog through long walks.  They are also ideally suited to agility, flyball and herding trials.

The Blue Heeler and Red Heeler makes a good family dog but they require training and they can have a tendency to be a bit nippy.  Sometimes Blue and Red Heelers are unsure around children and they may perceive them as threatening especially if they are unknown to the dog.

This dog does have a tendency to be a bit dominant but with early training and socialization he will come to know his place in the family.  He needs to know who the pack leader is in the family so he can take direction accordingly.

The Blue and Red Heeler makes an excellent watch dog and they may let people on the property but when they turn around to leave the Blue or Red Heeler has a tendency to nip from behind.  He will get along with other dogs if he has been raised with them from puppyhood.  The same applies for cats that the Blue or Red Heeler has been raised with buy they may chase and kill other cats and small animals.

Regular exercise, mental stimulation and training will usually result in a well-balanced dog.




  • Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia (common among larger dogs) is a condition in which the thighbone and hip joint do not fit together properly, causing pain and lameness. Arthritis can develop later in life as a result of the condition.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Progressive retinal atrophy refers to a family of eye conditions which result in the deterioration of the retina. In the early stages, dogs may lose their sight at night, and then gradually lose their sight during the daytime too. Most dogs, however, adapt to their vision loss very well unless faced with new or changing environments.

  • Von Willebrand’s Disease

Von Willebrand’s disease, a condition which impedes the blood’s ability to clot, can lead to excessive bleeding post-surgery, nosebleeds, bleeding gums or blood in the stomach. It is currently incurable, and blood transfusions are the only treatments available. Most dogs suffering this disease can lead normal lives, and there are tests available to determine if your pet has it.

  • Deafness

Deafness, like any breed, occurs in Blue Heelers and can be detected from as early as four weeks of age. If you believe your Blue Heeler is suffering from a loss of hearing, your vet can perform some tests to determine the situation.




A Blue Heeler starred with Mel Gibson in Mad Max 2 the Road Warrior.

When they are born cattle dog puppies are all white.  It is suggested this may have something to do with Dalmatian in their bloodline.

Blue Heelers have a strong herding instinct and they will often herd young children during play.

A Blue Heeler named Bluey was a legend of the outback where he worked from 1901 for a period of 20 years.


More Information:

Australian Cattle Dog Society of NSW:

Australian Cattle Dog & Kelpie Club of Queensland:

Blue Heeler Pet Insurance Quote

Getting pet insurance for your Blue Heeler will help ensure you can always afford the best vet care for them. Bow Wow Meow offers a range of flexible pet insurance options including cover for accidental injury, illness and routine care.

Wondering how much it would cost to insure your Blue or Red Heeler if you got one? It’s quick and easy to get a pet insurance quote.
(Note: dogs must be over 8 weeks old to take out insurance, so please enter a birth date to reflect this when getting an indicative quote.)


November 24, 2017
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