A Blue heeler (also called a red heeler- known for its coat color variations) is a wonderful breed that was selectively bred to herd cattle, and today it is still known for being a very energetic and active dog type in the herding dog breed.
Blue Heeler dog breed is extremely loyal, intelligent, gorgeous, as well as affectionate and as it is not a solitary dog, Blue Heelers do not like to be left alone loitering around without something to keep them busy. This active dog breed comes with all the bells and whistles that you would normally expect in a medium-sized breed.
But, can the Blue Heeler dog breed make a good family pet? Though Blue Healers naturally are heading dogs, they can be trained and socialized from when they are puppies to become excellent family pet dog. As Blue Heelers are loyal, with good temperament, you will find that these dogs fit in well with families with kids of all ages.
And as a herding dog, Blue heelers are energetic dogs who demand an active lifestyle to burn the energy they inherit from their herding ancestors. Further in this article I breakdown key details you need to finally make an informed decision as to whether a Blue Heeler Puppy could be the right pet dog for you and your family.
So, Can A Blue Heeler Puppy Make A Good Family Pet Dog?
Blue Heeler Puppies can grow up to make an excellent family pet as long as the puppy is trained and socialized early in their adolescent years to calm them down as they have bags of energy since they are descendants of herding dog breed. The Blue Heeler dog breed is loyal, eager to please, very loving and affectionate towards its owners.
Besides that, Blue Heelers as they are also known as cattle dogs can get along with just about everyone in the family, including children and other pets- just as long as they have been socialized at a young age.
Also, it is very intelligent, which makes it a very easy dog top train. On top of that, it is trustworthy, loyal, and protective of its family, making it one of the most devoted pets in the canine Kingdom.
However, the blue heeler requires a lot of professional training. This helps your dog to understand boundaries. As such, the blue heeler isn’t your ‘first dog’ unless you can show dominance to them and socialize them early with other pets and people.
In order to understand the breed better, we have to go into its history.
Blue Heeler History
The Blue heeler is said to have been developed in Australia during the 19th Century as a working dog, where it used to herd cattle.
Specifically, breeders carefully selected the traits in order to produce a dog with immense stamina, resilience and tenacity, which could deal with untamed cattle, rugged terrain as well as long distances.
Breeders then decided that the blue heeler had to be a dog that is easily led or trained by its owner, but also had to make quick decisions on their own, with large and dangerous mobs of wild cattle.
This breed was occasionally tasked with protecting the belongings and horse and if necessary, the owner as well.
After years of breeding, the breeders ended up producing the Heeler; which came with outstanding working ability, trainability and more.
Since the breed often came with a blue or red coat, the name was then changed on the basis of its coloring as well as the practice of nipping at the heels of reluctant cattle. It was later nicknamed “The Australian Cattle Dog”, but it is all the same breed.
Furthermore, the dogs that were bred in Queensland in the 1940s were called ‘Queensland Heelers’ in order to distinguish them from lines bred in NSW.
Characteristics of the Blue Heeler
Now for the part you have been waiting for. In this section, we want to look at some of the essential traits of the breed, to give you an in-depth knowledge of what you are in for.
Essentially, they are dogs renowned for their boundless energy. These are the type of dogs that can play all day if they have the time with you.
As such, they thrive when they have a job to do. If they haven’t been given anything to do, they will find something to do on their own, and most times, it will be something that isn’t allowed.
An Australian cattle dog that has no outlet for its energy can become destructive around the house.
Always watchful and attentive of their surroundings, the blue heeler is very devoted to duty and can be protective of their owners and all the owner’s possessions.
So if you have this breed in your compound, rest assured, you won’t have to deal with intruders as well as uninvited animals into your yard.
- Likes to be around its owners
Australian cattle dogs always like to be close to their owners. They can follow you around all day if you let them. It won’t leave your sight.
One important factor to know is that Blue heelers are prone to Separation anxiety. This is a condition that develops when you have been away for a very lost time. In simple terms, Separation anxiety is when your dog misses you.
Once separation anxiety kicks in, your dog can become destructive, chewy and can bark very loudly (in a way of trying to call you to come back).
- They tend to get closer to one person
This is one of the features of the breed. Even though it is an excellent breed that can get along with the whole family, the blue heeler tends to choose one best friend, and this is usually the person that grooms, exercises and feeds them.
- They like to nip
Because these dogs were originally bred to herd by biting cattle, they have been known to nip feet, especially that of running children. If this habit is not trained out of them while they are still puppies, it can become very difficult to correct once they reach adulthood.
Luckily, there are so many ways that you can correct this nipping problem. Now that we talked about the traits, let’s go into the breed’s appearance.
The Blue heeler is known for its muscular, solid and symmetrically built body with a natural, long tail, which is undocked.
These dogs have a broad skull that flattens to a definite stop between the eyes. They also have muscular cheeks along with a medium-length muzzle, which is both deep and powerful.
Their ears of the Australian Cattle dog are small to medium in size and set wide apart, with a covering of hair on the inside.
Their eyes are oval and dark, and have that alert expression t them. This makes them quite intimidating.
In terms of the breed’s height, the Blue heeler measures approximately 43-51cm at the shoulder and weighs around 15-22 kilos.
For all we known, the dogs are born white. They either take on black or red head markings and body patches, and their true color begins to show when they are at about three weeks of age. You should expect the blue heeler to be in blue, blue speckle, blue mottle and red speckle.
Health & Wellbeing
The blue heeler can live to approximately 13-17 years of age, which is a long time when compared to other breeds of its similar size.
Many heelers can live a full and healthy life. But 1 out of every 3 dogs is mostly prone to some illnesses once they reach adulthood. The common hereditary diseases include:
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
- Primary Lens Luxation (PLL)
Breeders mostly do DNA test to ensure that they breed dogs that have as less diseases as possible. This is why it is recommended that you should carefully your breeder. You should always opt for a breeder that is recognized and registered.
Besides the hereditary diseases listed above, some heelers have been known to suffer from Hip and Elbow Dysplasia.
Other common problems include Cataracts, Epilepsy and Umbilical Hernia which is described as a break in the abdominal muscle wall at the point where the umbilical cord enters the body.
You can always ensure to make regular visits at the vet to get your dog checked out, and to obtain any immunizations that are available. If a disease is spotted early, it will most likely be dealt with in time.
The Blue heeler has a short and weather-resistant coat that does not require a lot of grooming. The coat only needs a brush once or twice a week. They should only take a bath when required, or when you start to smell a doggie odor.
Like most dogs, the blue heeler sheds its coat. The coat may shed once or twice a year, but females also shed during their seasonal cycles. During the shedding season, the dogs will need to be brushed a lot of more frequently in order to get rid of the dead hair.
Also, the more you brush them, the less you will have to vacuum the house- that’s if you dislike frequent cleaning of the house just as much as I do.
The cattle industry is said to employ only a slight proportion of the Cattle Dogs each year. While most dogs are tasked with these things, some dogs are just there for breeding purposes. Other breeds have spread into many homes across the world.
So, is an Australian Cattle Dog suited to your family?
They certainly do. With their friendly demeanor and loving temperament, the heeler is the heeler is generally considered to make a perfect family pet.
As we mentioned before, the dogs are very watchful. Being a herding dog also meant that the dog had to be watchful to ensure that no intruders or predators would ambush the cattle in the field. Two centuries later, it still maintains its protective nature.