If you're the right fit, having a blue heeler as part of your family can be an exciting experience. These dogs are not only stunning to look at with their unique coat, but they’re also super smart and full of energy.
Blue heelers are also known as Australian cattle dogs.
1. Blue Heelers Are Some of the Smartest Dogs Around
When it comes to smarts, dogs are often judged by how quickly they pick up commands. Stanley Coren, a well-known researcher, found that these dogs are pretty sharp learners.
They usually get the hang of a command in less than five tries. Even more impressive? They nail it about 95% of the time on their very first go, provided they're familiar with what you're asking them to do.
2. They Are Related to Dingoes
English sheepdog breeds weren't quite cut out for the long, hot days of herding, so they were mixed with local dingoes to adapt and were then known as Australian cattle dogs (blue heelers). Further down the line, heelers were also bred with Dalmatians, Collies, and Kelpies to ensure the best traits were firmly established in the breed.
3. Newborn Blue Heeler Puppies are White
Adult blue heelers have a beautiful mix of colors in their fur. But interestingly, just like dalmatians, they're born completely white. As they grow up, their distinct colors start to show up. Over time, their coats develop into the blue, black, and gray patterns that make them so unique. Watching their fur change colors as they get older is really cool and one of the special things about this breed.
4. They Have Tons of Energy
Blue heelers are bundles of energy, and they absolutely need physical activity. We're talking a minimum of one hour of exercise every single day.
They thrive best with families who lead an active lifestyle, as these dogs love to be on the move. They should have plenty of space to run and play — a large yard or even living on a farm would be a dream come true for them. This space not only allows them to burn off that energy but also keeps their minds sharp.
When dogs get bored, they're prone to developing destructive habits, and we definitely don't want that to happen.
5. One of the World's Oldest Dogs Was a Blue Heeler
Bluey is a dog that has gained quite a reputation, and for good reason. Astonishingly, Bluey lived to the ripe old age of 29 years, which is an incredible feat considering the typical lifespan of most dogs (there's only one dog that's lived longer than Bluey).
This longevity far exceeds what's common for canines, placing Bluey in a very special category. Such an exceptional age is not only rare but also a testament to the breed's resilience and health.
6. Blue Heelers Usually Live Between 12-16 Years
With good care, some even surpass this age range. To help your blue heeler live a long and healthy life, it's important to make sure they get plenty of exercise, eat high-quality food, and have regular visits to the veterinarian.
While they're generally a hardy breed with few health issues, they can be prone to certain conditions, like hip dysplasia or progressive retinal atrophy.
Keeping an eye on their health and addressing any issues early with your veterinarian can go a long way.
7. They'll Probably Try to Herd You
Being herding dogs, blue heelers have a natural tendency to nip at ankles and even try to herd small kids around. It's not that they mean any harm; it's just in their nature as herders. The good news is that you can train this behavior out of them. It might require a bit of extra patience and training time, but it's definitely something that can be managed with the right approach.
8. Blue Heeler Coats Are Really Cool
The blue heeler boasts an outer coat that's not just any ordinary fur. It's water-resistant, which is a fantastic feature, especially if you live in an area with plenty of wet weather.
This means they have a natural ability to stay dry, even when it's raining cats and dogs outside. And here's another neat thing about their coat — it only has major sheds once or twice a year.
9. Herding Earned Them the Heeler Name
The common question is, 'why are Australian cattle dogs also known as blue heelers?' Before I learned about these dogs, I wasn't quite sure either.
They earned the name blue from their unique color and managed to move those big cows around without any fuss (and still do). That's why 'blue heeler' is such a spot-on name — it perfectly sums up their look and herding smarts.
10. They Enjoy Agility Training
Blue heelers have tons of energy, so they really need a way to let it out. That's why they're so great at and love agility training. It's not just good exercise for their bodies, but it also keeps their brains busy.
They get to run around, jump over hurdles, and go through tunnels. This kind of training is a good way for them to burn energy in a positive way, and it also helps them strengthen the bond they share with their human companion.
Set up an indoor agility course to keep your heeler busy when the weather isn't great outside.
11. Give These Dogs a Brain-Buster Puzzle
Have you ever had a bored toddler? Yeah, your amazing heeler needs some mental stimulation to keep those big brains satisfied. Puzzle toys can be a huge relief to release some pent-up mental energy, which can be a lifesaver for pet parents with heelers. They have to think and solve puzzles, which keeps them interested and happy.
This is super helpful on days when they can't get out much to run around.
12. Red Heeler vs Blue Heeler: Same Breed, Different Style
Red and blue heelers look different, but they're actually the same breed of dog. The main thing that sets them apart is their coat colors. Blue heelers have blue, black, and gray in their fur, which is how they get their name. Red heelers have red, brown, and sometimes golden fur.
13. Training Can Be Simple
Thanks to their remarkable intelligence, training a blue heeler is usually a breeze. Their eagerness to please and ability to understand complex instructions make the training process both efficient and enjoyable.
Using positive reinforcement techniques strengthens your bond and boosts your dog's confidence.
14. Blue Heelers Are the Perfect Size
Blue heelers typically fall into the medium-sized dog category, with their height ranging from 17 to 20 inches and their weight varying between 35 and 50 pounds.
This size makes them perfectly balanced — not too big and not too small. Their sturdy build is just right for a variety of activities, whether it's herding, playing in the park, or going for a jog. Just don't expect to keep these dogs in your purse — they want to be out and about.
15. Blue Heelers Are Available for Adoption and Rescue
Fortunately (and unfortunately), if you're looking to adopt a blue heeler or a blue heeler mix, you'll find that it's relatively easy to find them at rescue organizations. Families are known to adore their unique appearance but later realize their family didn't match their energy levels with their blue heeler.
This means there's a good chance you could find one and give them a loving home. Plus, when you adopt from a shelter, you're not just getting a new best friend — you're also helping a dog in need.
Consider applying to be a foster parent and fostering a blue heeler in need of a home. You can make sure you're the right fit for this active dog's needs, and provide a respite away from the shelter for a while.
Make the Decision Carefully
Before you decide to adopt a blue heeler, it's really important to think about everything you've learned about the breed. Sure, they're gorgeous dogs, but remember, like any dog, they need a lot of care and attention. Blue heelers, in particular, need a home where they'll get lots of exercise and attention.
Heelers are an active breed that requires consistent training to manage any unwanted behaviors. But here's the great part: if you're up for the challenge and can provide what they need, you'll be rewarded with a dog that's not only affectionate but also happy and healthy.