If you have a type-A personality and love outdoor adventures, a Blue Heeler, also known as the Australian Cattle Dog or simply Cattle Dog, may be the dog for you. A high-energy, loyal breed, the Blue Heeler loves having a job to do, says Luis Santiago, Regional Director of the Australian Cattle Dog Club of America.
If you’re considering making a Blue Heeler a part of your home or just want to learn more about this hardworking dog, here are seven more facts about the breed:
Blue Heelers Were Developed in Australia
Blue Heelers were developed in Queenland, Australia by George Elliot in 1840, says Jessica Rice D’Amato, senior communications manager of the American Kennel Club. Elliot was dedicated to producing a breed that was an excellent working dog, and crossed Dingos with Collie mixes to create the Blue Heeler, which gets its name based on its cattle herding abilities.
Blue Heelers are a Mix of Several Dog Breeds
Further developing the Cattle Dog breed was continued on by brothers Jack and Harry Bagust, of Canterbury, Australia, who crossed a female Blue Heeler with a Dalmatian, says Santiago. The result was a dog that was blue or red speckled and extremely faithful to their master. However, in the cross breeding, this new Blue Heeler lost some of the desired working ability. To continue the tradition of hardworking Blue Heelers, the Bagusts crossed the breed with a Tan Kelpie—a type of Sheepdog.
A Blue Heeler’s Coat Has Many Colors
The Blue Heeler has striking marks unlike any other dog. The body of the Blue Heeler is dark blue, evenly speckled with a lighter blue, and has the same tan markings on legs, chest and head as the Black and Tan Kelpie, says Santiago. Blue Heelers often have black patches around their eyes and ears with brown eyes and a patch of white fur in the middle of their forehead.
The Blue Heeler Standard was Adapted in 1902
The standard for the Blue Heeler was written in 1902 by Robert Kaleski, a Blue Heeler breeder, D’Amato says. Kaleski took up breeding Blue Heelers in 1893 and started showing them in 1897. Kaleski based the Blue Heeler standard around the Dingo, Santiago adds. Today, the resemblance to the Dingo remains evident, with the exception of the blue color. The standard was approved in 1903.
Blue Heelers Are Known for Their Energy and Intelligence
In addition to their energy level, D’Amato says that Blue Heelers are also known for their keen intelligence. Because of this, Blue Heelers are often trained for herding jobs or performance events, such as agility, tracking, rally and obedience. The mental and physical exercises provided by these activities will help to keep a Blue Heeler happy and content. If you choose to own a Blue Heeler, you must ensure you have room for the dog to run. It is not recommended for Blue Heelers to live in apartments.
Blue Heelers Are Exceptional Watch Dogs
The Blue Heeler is an intelligent, independent, loyal and protective dog, says D’Amato. They can be trusted to guard your house and, often become a self-appointed guardian of their pack. As mentioned, this breed needs plenty of activity, or boredom may set in along with destructive behavior. Given the Blue Heelers protective nature, it is best to have them around older children and to be mindful around strangers.
Blue Heelers Require Professional Training
Owning a happy, well-behaved Blue Heeler begins in training classes. Santiago says training will help to socialize your puppy, curb its natural instinct to nip and help to direct their energy and intelligence. Once trained, it is important to continue to reinforce your Blue Heeler’s good behavior with rewards.