Are you planning to adopt a Blue Heeler, but are unsure whether they are good family dogs?
Will a blue heeler fit well with all your family members? Is it a wise decision to adopt one?
Blue heelers, also known as the Australian Cattle dog, are friendly dog companions with keen intelligence and a sense of loyalty towards their owner.
They are active in a friendly way. They are not aggressive and can be an excellent new addition to your family.
Before you make the important decision to adopt a blue heeler it is important to learn more about it. To understand and know your pet friend, continue reading.
History of the Blue Heeler Breed
Before we get into details like temperaments, their characteristic traits, and other relevant information, let us understand how blue heelers came to exist.
Blue heelers were initially bred as herding dogs. The herding breed was developed to herd and protect the livestock. Blue heelers, in particular, were bred to herd large livestock and cattle spread across a vast expanse of area.
They were also bred, out of a need to want a herding dog that could survive the rough terrain, long herding distances, and warmer weather, and yet be friendly and quiet.
The earlier dogs used for herding were prone to barking which would cause cattle stock stampedes.
After many trials of crossing various breeds, the blue heeler, a sturdy yet friendly and quiet breed, was formed by the late 1800s. The blue heeler was accepted for American Kennel Club in 1980.
What are the Physical Characteristics of a Blue Heeler?
Following are some physical characteristics that define an average blue heeler.
Blue Heeler Puppy
A blue heeler is born white. They may have either black or red head markings. They may also have body patches.
Adult Blue Heeler
At three weeks old, their real coat color begins to show. For a blue heeler, the colors could be either one of the following colors:
- Blue Mottled
- Blue Speckled
If the color is reddish, then it is a red heeler.
The coat consists of some white hair along with the base colored black hair, which together mingled give an appearance of blue. Hence the word ‘blue’ in blue heeler. In absence of the white hair, it appears to be a black dog.
An adult blue heeler is a medium-sized breed of dog. Its height can be anywhere between 17 to 20 inches at the shoulder. An average female blue heeler (17 – 19 inches) will be slightly shorter than an average male blue heeler(18 – 20 inches).
A typical full-grown blue heeler can way between 35 – 50 pounds.
A blue heeler will live on an average between 12 – 16 years.
What Is Their Personality Like?
In general, blue heelers are considered very smart and hard-working dogs. They may have their own original personalities and traits, but overall they are highly active and alert dogs.
Blue heelers are independent dogs. This trait has its root in the fact that they were bred to independently drive and monitor the livestock.
Blue heelers are quiet and do not bark much. However, they are extremely loyal to their owners and are fierce protectors.
Are Blue Heelers Good Dogs?
If you are looking for a “Good boy” or a “Good girl”, then the blue heeler is just the right breed. They are obedient, faithful, protective, and easy to train.
Often termed a one-person – dog, the blue heeler will get attached to one person and stay loyal to them. They will be very attentive to their owner’s needs and calls.
Since they were wired to be working dogs, they are prompt at doing certain tasks cleaning up their toys if homebound or being your running/jogging buddy.
How Smart Are Blue Heelers?
Blue heelers are an extremely intelligent breed. They are smart and can learn things quickly. Because blue heelers are smart and hard-working they pick up training fast.
They are sensitive to their owners’ needs and respond well to their owners. They also tend to be people-pleasers, which means they will be obedient to you most of the time.
However, do note that they can use this trait of theirs to get extra treats.
How Is Blue Heeler as a Pet?
Blue heelers make for a good pet. There are several reasons for which they justify being a good pet. For starters, blue heelers are tremendously loyal to their owners.
They often get attached to one person (most of the time, the owner) and are very loyal to them. This means, even a single person can adopt a blue heeler and find it to be a rewarding experience.
Blue heelers also make for a good family pet. If introduced early on and socialized in a gradual manner, they will blend well with all your family members, including kids.
Blue heelers are highly energetic, yet very attentive and can be great companions for singles, and families.
Do Blue Heelers Like to Cuddle?
Given that blue heelers are herding dogs, they may not be open to cuddling. They would rather engage in physical activity.
They are, however, affectionate in their own ways. Giving attention to the owner’s every demand and call is one such way.
It is important to understand that they may also not be eager for human touch. This mostly occurs if the adopted blue heeler has a history of abuse and/or trauma.
In such cases, it is best to not make them cuddle forcibly. It is advisable to let them take their own time to socialize and get used to the human touch.
You can start with small activities to make them like you better so that they are comfortable with cuddling them.
Petting them frequently, playing games like fetch, and socializing them gradually with other people will ease the process. This will not only help them ease a little into cuddling but also help them be comfortable around people in general.
Do Blue Heelers Bond Well With Kids?
Blue heelers are fairly good with kids and families. In case there are kids in your family, it is best to adopt a puppy blue heeler. That will give you plenty of chances to socialize and bond with the kids.
Despite the fact that usually blue heelers are comfortable and affectionate towards one person alone, you can encourage them to bond more with the kids.
Due to their high energy levels, blue heelers are perfect playmates for your kids. As blue heelers need a lot of physical activity and/or exercise, you can pair it with a fitness routine along with your child or yourself for a light jog, or a swim.
It is important to note that blue heelers can be a little too much to handle for very young kids. It is best if you monitor when both your child and your pet are around each other.
Blue heelers surprisingly can deal with a little rough handling done by the children. They are very patient with them otherwise.
However, you might have to keep a check on certain occasions and correct your child too if they are being overly rough with the pet.
Are Blue Heelers Good Guard Dogs?
Blue heelers play best to their natural instincts and are working dogs. They are naturally protective of their owner’s family. Since they are wary of strangers, they will immediately alert the owners of a stranger’s presence.
Blue heelers are a naturally vigilant and watchful herding breed. In case of an unfriendly intruder, they may also end up protecting you by quickly biting the unkind stranger.
Why Do Blue Heelers Bite So Much?
Blue heelers were originally bred to be herders. This means that they have a tendency to lead livestock by biting at their heels. This is also where the term ‘heeler’ in blue heeler comes from. It is possible to make them unlearn this habit.
The dog can be trained to control its bite pressure using certain training techniques.
One of them is to hold a treat between your fingers and ask the blue heeler to bite it. Withholding the treat if they are too harsh while biting can help them learn restraint.
What problems do blue heelers have?
Blue heelers are generally healthy. They are quite a tough breed with very few health concerns.
However, blue heelers are prone to certain common diseases. Along with this, they suffer from some genetic conditions.
The owner should be aware of these before making the decision to adopt a blue heeler.
Eye defect is one of the common grievances. Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) affects the seeing ability.
It eventually culminates into blindness. It starts initially as night blindness. As long as their environment is intact, this will not affect the blue heeler.
Similarly, deafness is another inherited disease. There is no cure for this condition. However, most dogs can live a happy life with communication from their owners via hand signals.
Along with this, they might also run into some orthopedic issues like hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is treatable, and with the advice of a vet, you can diagnose early on when your pet will get hip dysplasia and accordingly get treatment measures.
Do Blue Heelers Bark a Lot?
No. Blue heelers do not bark much. They use it often only to alert the owner or other family members about a particular situation. Blue heelers are one of the quieter breeds.
Are Blue Heelers Good With Other Dogs?
Blue heelers, if trained and socialized while young, grow up to be great around other dogs.
Since blue heelers have a herding instinct they may also end up leading other dogs. The other dogs may find it annoying. This herding behavior, however, can be corrected.
Are Blue Heelers Able to Tolerate Cats?
Some blue heelers have a higher tolerance toward cats. However, most of them end up chasing cats.
If you do have a cat and are planning to adopt a blue heeler, it is advisable to train the blue heeler accordingly. When they are on the chase to your cat, you could train them by redirecting them to a soft toy.
Also, always provide enough room for your cat to escape from the dog. It is always best to maintain a safe distance between them.
Will a Blue Heeler Protect Me?
Yes, the blue heeler is a protective dog. As blue heelers were primarily used as herding dogs, they have a strong sense of being protective. They are watchful all the time.
Do Blue Heelers Get Aggressive?
Yes, blue heelers do get aggressive sometimes, but mostly toward strangers. This is a common behavioral problem found among blue heelers. It usually begins in adolescence (8 months to 2 years).
It is advisable to socialize them slowly and properly to avoid aggression. It is crucial that you gradually introduce them to your friends and frequent visitors.
Every breed of dog has its pros and cons. On rare occasions, you will be able to be a good pet companion for your family. The blue heeler is one such breed of dog.
With all their strong qualities like being active, loyal, vigilant, protective, easy to train, and a good fit for your family, it is hard to not adopt one.
Remember, adopting a dog means shouldering a new responsibility. It is like adding a new permanent member to your family.
Hope this article helped you figure out whether blue heeler is a good family dog or not.