About the Blue Heeler
Blue Heeler is also known as the Australian Cattle dog.
They are Solid, sturdy, compact dog that is always alert. Australian cattle dogs always have a ready to work stance due to their strength and agility. Originally Blue Heelers were bred as farm dogs to help in herding.
This makes them very hard working dogs as they still thrive in the work they do. To make things even better they have a fierce loyalty.
Blue Heeler is born with a white coat that turns to red or blue-gray.
So, the name blue Heeler refers to the Australian Cattle dog that has a blue coat. Red Heelers refers to the ACDs with a red coat.
He is a dog that wants to be active all the time and his energy must be directed.
Blue Heelers might start being mischevious if not kept busy. Therefore owners are recommended to keep the dog involved by sports and regular exercise. This helps to keep the dog physically and mentally fit.
Height: 18-20 inches (male), 17-19 inches (female)
Weight: 35-50 pounds
Life Expectancy: 12-16 years
COAT AND COLOR: Blue-gray with speckles
Temperament: Tough, independent, energetic, loyal
The Blue Heeler dog is about 18-20 inches and this differs from the females that are 17-19 inches.
This dog can be longer than it is tall meaning that the length from the head to the buttocks can be longer than the height at the withers. When in a perfectly healthy condition this dog should be about 35-50 pounds in weight.
Blue Heelers have a tickled coat meaning each that each shaft of hair has different colors.
They have dense and weather-resistant double coats that consist of a dense outer coat and an outer coat that is extremely short. what makes the Blue Heeler coat not appear dense is that the outer coat lies close to the undercoat.
The coat can be of different colors from blue, blue mottled, red speckled to blue speckled both with dark markings or even a combination of all these. It has a broad skull that flattens.
With medium-sized ears that are small.
The ears are pricked and set wide apart. Blue heelers have dark and oval eyes that have an alert expression. Neck and shoulders are strong and muscular with forelegs that are parallel and straight.
Blue Heelers are extremely active dogs that need constant mental and physical stimulation.
In case they get lonely they can be destructive. They are devoted to their owners and the family in general. These dogs are extremely protective of what they consider to be theirs and their territory.
As far as strangers are concerned this dog is reserved, not meaning that they are unfriendly.
They are very wary of strangers and don’t like other dogs that they don’t know.
History of the Blue Heeler
Australian Settlers bred the Australian Cattle dog in the 19th century to herd cattle on large ranches.
Thomas Hall is responsible for breeding this dog. The first Australian Shepherd were hardy dogs that could go for hours even in Australia’s harshest environment.
These dogs were later crossed with dalmatians and Australian Kelpies to produce the Blue Heelers that we know today. This breed was important in expanding the Australian beef quietly but aggressively.
By nipping and biting blue heelers could herd uncontrollable almost wild cattle.
Their unique appearance is partly due to the dingo blood running through their veins. As a matter of fact, the dingo was deliberately bred with the blue heeler to create a certain result.
The breed received AKC recognition in 1980.
Feeding a Blue Heeler
A Blue Heeler’s meal should take into consideration age, activity level, dog’s size, the stage they are in, and even other special needs.
Blue heelers are omnivores hence meaning they can eat meat, vegetables, and even grains.
However, when you look at the ingredients of the dog food the first thing you see is protein. Blue heelers require meals that are high in proteins and fats in order to meet their high energy requirements.
Experts recommend food with over 28% protein and 20% fats.
Before feeding any dog you should also consider the level of activity and how it affects the bones. Active dogs like the Blue heeler tend to be hard on their joints and bones.
Food with supplements can come in handy for their bone health. These supplements may be glucosamine and chondroitin. Consult your vet if you have any issues with weight or diet. Also, don’t forget to provide clean water for the dog.
The number of calories that are required:
If your Blue Heeler does not drive cattle but is involved in agility sports they will need about 2000 kcal or even more depending on the amount of strain.
Puppies that are growing consume more calories and so do young adults.
A young Australian Cattle dog puppy that is about 4-12 months that weighs about 30 pounds will need like 990 kcal per day.
An active adult Blue heeler weighing about 45 pounds will need about 1212 kcal a day.
Feeding an Australian cattle dog puppy:
You will want to make sure that your Blue Heeler puppy gets all the necessary nutrients to grow into a healthy and muscular adult.
Before getting any food for the puppy you should always first check the label and confirm that the food is endorsed by the organization that is mandated to do that.
Then you need to make sure that what you are buying is puppy food. You will then want to check the ingredients making sure that there are high-quality nutrients and free of fillers.
A puppy needs enough animal protein and fat. For example, the protein needs to be about 22.5%.
Kibble being popular could be a great choice for a Blue Heeler puppy.
Cheap kibble tends to have less nutritional value and so you might need to feed your puppy on more of it which is undesirable. If your puppy is on a kibble only meal provides enough water to keep him hydrated.
Something else that you can consider is wet food which is much easier for a puppy to ingest.
Many dog owners would prefer to combine both kibble and wet food as the latter does not provide the dental benefits that kibble provides.
There is also the option of raw food but you should know that this has both benefits and risks.
Blue Heelers burn calories quickly. They need about twice as many calories per pound as their weight as an adult.
Remember to plan your meals well. Never free-feed your puppy as this could cause them to get overweight due to overeating.
Caring and grooming for the Blue Heeler
Exercise is an important part of the Blue Heeler’s life. Australian Cattle dogs crave mental and physical stimulation in order to get satisfied.
They love games and so playing fetch would be a great activity for them.
He may not be good living in an apartment or being left alone for long periods of time.
Training at the early stages of their growth is mandatory. This is because they herd anything that moves including little children.
Having a double coat means that they shed a lot.
This happens especially during Spring when they shed their winter coats. Brushing their coat during this period should be done regularly to remove dead hair.
Blue Heeler grooming tips:
The Australian Cattle dog requires brushing and bathing. Blue heeler can be bathed after every week to every 3 weeks to keep him clean and to minimize body odor as this is the foundation of a dog having healthy skin.
Remember that baths that come too often, blowouts and brushing can accelerate the shedding process. The brushing frequency may not be much but still need to brush the coat.
To do this you need to choose a proper brush, choose one that has short bristle and not too hardy that will get the bugs and the burrs out and not harm the skin under the hair.
The undercoat will not more than a brush to remove dead hair, mats, and tangles. What you will need is a “rake” to remove dead hair without causing injuries to the dog.
Training a Blue Heeler
Training a Blue Heeler is no simple as they are stubborn and intelligent dogs that can decide to have their way.
So, training should start the moment you bring your dog home keeping his temperament in mind.
You don’t want your Blue Heeler to be controlling you, therefore, you need to channel your energy and willingness into the training.
Training should start with the basic house training such as potty training which we talked about in our comprehensive article on toilet training a dog.
Physical activities are important during the training of this dog as a way to channel their energy.
You should start by teaching the dog his name so that he can know when you are speaking to him and he can also get used to the name.
Whistle or clap when calling him to help him understand better.
These are intelligent dogs that excel well in obedience training and agility sports. You can train him the basics of obedience such as sit, roll over or down commands.
For example, if you are training him to sit say the word sit in a clear, demanding and a bit higher tone. Then push him down slowly in the sitting position holding a treat. After he executes the command give the treat to him. This might take time till he grasps the nitty-gritty so be patient.
Do Blue Heelers shed?
Yes, the Blue Heeler does shed. Just like all double-coated dogs the Blue Heelers twice every year. If you own or are getting ready to own one of these dogs you must be prepared for the shedding season.
Knowing what is in store for you in terms of shedding and grooming will make it easier for you to deal with.
Shedding can occur more especially in the warmer climates and under the normal circumstances, the Blue Heeler will shed normally.
This means that he will leave evidence of every place that he will visit from your socks to your car to your sofa or even your bedroom.
It is actually not a good idea to allow him into your bedroom at any time whether he is shedding or not.
Apart from the normal shedding, the Blue Heeler will blow his coat twice every year.
This is for 1 or 2 weeks of spring with a possibility of one other time in the same year. For puppies, they shed heavily during fall and spring.
Shedding during spring helps to remove the winter coat preparing the dog for summer.
For the fall shedding, it usually happens to remove the lighter hair so that the thicker winter can grow. Both of these two shedding seasons help prepare the puppy fro summer and winter but the spring shedding is usually heavier due to the winter coat.
Well if you want to control shedding you might like this article on dog shedding remedies.
Controlling Blue Heeler Shedding
The good news is that this can be controlled.
It is recommended that you groom you Blue Heeler routinely to control shedding both in the shedding season and even when he is not shedding.
During the period when this dog is blowing his coat it is important to groom his using a steel brush to control the free-floating hair in your house.
One or even two baths using dog shampoo will get rid of hair that is loose during this period.
The point to note here is that you should never use human shampoo on your dog. During the non-shedding period, brushing can be done maybe a couple of times a week and baths given as you wish maybe when the dog gets into something dirty or smelly.
Do Blue Heelers make great pets?
Yes, Blue Heelers make good family pets.
If your house has small kids an Australian Shepherd might not be the best option. This dog can easily get annoyed around children because kids are extremely speedy and sudden with their movement.
Also, their herding and nipping urges can sometimes get the children hurt. If your Blue Heeler is well trained and socialized from a young age then he would be fit for older kids.
These are kids with a minimum age of 10 years that are mindful of their actions. A blue Heeler can be very wary of strangers and can be extremely protective of their small family.
This applies even to unfamiliar kids and if he notices them doing something suspicious he might react defensively.
If you are living in an apartment this dog is not for you. They also tend to bark a lot due to their protective nature.
Health issues faced by the Blue Heeler
Australian cattle dogs have a lifespan of 10 to 13 years.
The common health issues with the Blue heeler are Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD), canine hip dysplasia (CHD), progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), deafness and elbow dysplasia. Other issues include Persistent Pupillary Membrane (PPM), lens luxation, con Willebrand’s Disease (CWD) and cataract. Also, don’t forget to visit the Vet for regular ear, eyes, hips, and elbow checks up.
Progressive retinal atrophy
This is an eye disease that involves the gradual deterioration of the retina.
During the early stages of the disease, the dog becomes night-blind and as the disease progresses the dog loses sight during the day. Many dogs adapt to loss or minimal vision and if the environment does not change.
Hip dysplasia (CHD)
This is an inherited condition whereby the thigh bone does not fit snuggly into the hip joint.
Some dogs may show signs of pain in one or both of the rear legs but some may fail to show any signs that they are not comfortable. Therefore the best thing to do is to go for an x-ray screening to diagnose this problem.
Arthritis may develop as the disease progresses and as the dog ages. Before buying a puppy make sure your breeder gives proof that the parents have been tested and are free from this problem.
This is another inherited condition that can be tested for while the puppy is still young.
Deafness is color linked and deaf dogs should not be bred. Genes that make pups to be born with a white coat or have white hair with a roaning pattern are linked to deafness.
Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)
Unlike what many might think OCD is not a condition that makes your dog be extra careful or keep cleaning his paws every time they get dirty.
It is a joint disease that causes pain to the dog and can occur knees, elbow, and shoulders.
This is a condition in which the bone underneath the cartilage dies due to a lack of blood flow which makes them break loose.
Some people claim that this condition is caused by a dog being overweight but this theory is yet to be proven.
The cause of this condition is still unknown but can cause pain or hinder motion. This disease can be treated at the early stages where the movement of the dog is limited. It is the conservative approach.
Only allow your dog to maybe go to the bathroom, rest and feed for the rest of the day. In severe cases, surgery might be required where this conservative approach has not worked.
This condition is very similar to hip dysplasia but it affects the forelimbs of the dog.
Elbow dysplasia is an elbow joint malfunction that occurs at the connection between the ulna and the radius.
Just like hip dysplasia, this condition causes uneven wear and a loose connection at the cartilage that pads this two-move and rotate.
This results in severe arthritis and lameness as the dog ages and can be a really painful condition to your dog.
During the young stages of the dog examinations should be carried out to determine of your dog has elbow dysplasia.
Quick Blue Heeler facts
The Australian cattle dog has been of great help to the Australian beef industry.
Australian Cattle dogs were first known as Australian Heelers but are today known as Blue Heeler or the Queensland Heeler.
There is no huge difference between the Red and the Blue Australian Shepherd.
The Australian Cattle dog has a natural affinity to obedience and enjoys agility.
Blue Heelers are a mix of several dog breeds.
They are exceptional watchdogs.
Blue heelers require professional training.
Australian Cattle dogs are very quick to sound the alarm at every new sighting or sound.
There You go WOOF!!!