Blue heelers are a popular dog breed, and blue heeler mixes are some of the most common mixed breeds you’ll find!
But why is that? What makes blue heelers so special?
These 12 special traits may help you decide to adopt one of these energetic, loyal companions!
The Blue Heeler, or Australian Cattle Dog, is a great family pet due to its size, temperament, and energy levels. Active families will find that this dog integrates well with their existing activities. Blue heelers are also intelligent, eager to please, and will do just about anything for their owners.
Keep reading to find out why a Blue Heeler could be the perfect pet for your family.
Do Blue Heelers Make Good Pets?
Blue heelers can make great family pets for a variety of reasons. They are affectionate, loyal, and always willing to play with the kids. They are intelligent, easy to train and work hard to please their masters.
Blue heelers also tend to choose one person to become attached to. In this way, blue heelers are extremely rewarding pets.
They can be great family dogs, but it’s best to get a puppy. This way, you can properly socialize and train the dog to tolerate your family and any other pets in your household.
When blue heelers are trained properly and taught about their behavior expectations, they make energetic and affectionate companions.
Blue Heeler Breed Background
Traditionally, blue heelers (also known as Australian Cattle Dogs) were bred to be stalwart herders who would drive livestock without flinching. Early breeders also found them to be great companions and watchdogs for their flocks.
The ACD was developed in Australia. Farmers in the outback wanted dogs that could drive cattle over long distances, so they began experimenting with the local dingos.
The dingo’s ability to withstand the heat and work hard made them a great choice to mix with other popular herders, including collies. Those ACDs were then bred with dalmatians for their friendly, affectionate demeanor.
The result was the ACD, or blue heeler, that we’re familiar with today. Blue heelers became an AKC-recognized breed in 1980.
Read Also: 12 Mentally Stimulating Activities for your Blue Heeler
12 Reasons Why Blue Heelers Make Great Pets
Here are the 12 reasons a blue heeler may be the perfect fit for your family.
1. Blue Heeler’s are Extremely Intelligent
Blue heelers are one of the most intelligent breeds in the dog world. Their intelligence makes them easy to train, so long as you can be consistent. They know what they’re doing and can take on new tasks easily and with boundless enthusiasm.
Their intelligence can be a double-sided coin, but many heelers will use this to please you. Since they are extremely prone to people-pleasing, their intelligence usually helps them toward this end.
Beware a heeler who doesn’t have enough to keep their mind occupied, though, as they are notorious for finding things to do if they aren’t given a task.
2. Blue Heeler’s are Mild-Mannered
When it comes to temperament, you’ll rarely find a dog as sweet as a blue heeler. Underneath their energetic exterior, they are wonderful companions that are usually mild, if excitable.
Of course, every heeler is different.
It may be difficult to curb their herding instincts, but everything that a blue heeler does is for the approval of his favorite owner. A well-trained and well-behaved blue heeler will have no problem staying by your side in all types of situations.
As with every personality trait, early training will help your heeler overcome many of the breed’s challenges. With some work, any blue heeler can have a great temperament.
Read Next: Can Blue Heelers Be Inside Dogs? (What you Need to Know)
3. They Have Tons of Energy
If your family loves to be out in nature or spends a lot of time in the backyard, a blue heeler is a perfect choice for you!
This breed has a ton of energy, and they always need some sort of mental or physical stimulation to keep them from becoming depressed.
Blue heelers are best suited for active families who enjoy playing with them. It’s a bonus if you like to hike, camp, or do any other outdoor activities with your dogs.
Read Next: 20 Stimulating Jobs for Your Australian Cattle Dog
4. Blue Heeler’s are Loyal and Protective
Blue heelers can be aggressive from time to time, but that’s usually because they feel like their family is being threatened.
Blue Heelers can be extremely protective of their favorite people and can often see other dogs and even strangers as a thread. Of course, this can be combatted with training.
Still, in many cases, this loyalty and protective streak can be seen as a bonus. These dogs will rarely leave your side. If you’re looking for a protective, alert family dog, the blue heeler can be your best option.
5. They Want All Your Attention
You should love playing with your dog. With a blue heeler, playing is a demand rather than an option! If you love showering your dogs in affection, the blue heeler is a great choice for you. They reward your affection and love to relish in it.
Give your blue heeler as much attention as you can and they will try to please you at every turn. They’ll become attached to you and spend their days learning the best way to make you happy.
Blue heelers make an incredibly rewarding pet.
6. Blue Heeler’s are Easy to Train
Blue heelers are known for being intelligent, almost to the point of being stubborn. But that also means that they are easy to train. As long as you work with them, assert yourself, and be consistent, your blue heeler will pick up skills extremely quickly.
This goes beyond normal dog training, though. Blue heelers can learn tricks, behavioral tasks, and can even be taught to do a job.
These dogs thrive when they are given things to do, so it’s always a good idea to have games or ‘jobs’ lined up for them, even if they aren’t herding cattle.
7. They are Extremely Affectionate
Blue heelers are one of the most affectionate breeds, especially when you consider their hard-working background. After a long day of play, you can rest assured that your blue heeler will still want to be close to you.
Cuddling on the couch or laying at the foot of the bed is a just reward for a hard day of play.
They are affectionate with their families, but they are extremely attached to their special ‘person’. They may show this person more attention and affection than anyone else.
If you want a dog that will work hard, play hard, and cuddle harder, the blue heeler may be for you.
Read Next: 10 Goofy Blue Heeler Quirks – Dog Behaviors Explained
8. They Work Harder Than Other Dogs
Blue heelers were bred to be cattle herders, and this means that they are dedicated and hard-working. It’s a hallmark of the breed. When they are given a task, they’ll stop at nothing to perform it. If you give your blue heeler a ‘job’, they will make sure to do it with dedication every time.
Even if that job is something that doesn’t seem like a ‘job’, such as solving puzzles or putting away toys. They want to be working and giving them something to do will help keep them satisfied.
9. Blue Heeler’s are the Perfect Size
Most blue heelers are sturdy, but they aren’t very big. There are classified as a medium-sized breed, which may help you please future landlords (if you’re renting).
The smallest blue heelers are about 17 inches tall, and the largest is near 20 inches tall. Males are traditionally just a bit larger than females, but both male and female blue heelers are usually about 35 to 50 pounds when full-grown.
The blue heeler’s enthusiasm makes up for its size. They’re also very muscular dogs, which can be a lot to handle with small children.
On the other hand, kids will have an easier time playing with the blue heeler: it’s neither as large and aggressive as other medium or large breeds. They should be handled with care, but they aren’t as fragile as smaller toy breeds.
Blue heelers can be well-suited to apartment life if they are raised that way, and their size and coat structure make them appealing for active apartment dwellers.
10. It’s Easy to Get Attached
Blue heelers are known to be ‘velcro dogs’. This means that they will follow you everywhere and stick close to you whenever possible. They can become extremely attached to their owners, though they usually choose one person to get close to.
Once your blue heeler has chosen you, they will unleash all their affection on you. You might find that you can’t move from one room to another without being followed.
As far as who they get attached to, it’s largely up to the dog. In most cases, your blue heeler will become most attached to whoever spends the most time with them, feeds them, and plays with them.
They appreciate their attention being returned and will stick by the person who shows them the most care.
11. Their Diet Isn’t Complicated
Blue heelers should have a balanced diet, but they don’t eat as much as you might think for a dog their size. Kibble can be a great start, but heelers require a lot of protein to help fuel their active lifestyle.
Still, they’re rarely picky. They’ll eat almost any food you give them, so make sure that you avoid table scraps and food that lacks nutrition.
If you like to cook for your dog, you’ll have a blast with the blue heeler. Just make sure you’re cooking with dog-conscious nutrition in mind.
You can also give your heeler their meals with puzzle toys. Kongs, food mats, and rotating food depositing systems are all fun for your dog. Making them work for their meal helps to stimulate them mentally, and they’ll enjoy the challenge.
12. Blue Heeler’s Can Be Great With Other Pets
Like most of the breed traits we’ve discussed, how your dog reacts to other pets depends on his personality.
However, blue heelers do have the capacity to be great with your other pets. Most do well with cats and other dogs. It’s important to note that how your dog was socialized will contribute to how well they do with smaller creatures.
Some dogs will never be able to see a cat as anything but prey. Some blue heelers are like that, too. However, some shelters and agencies take the time to expose their dogs to cats.
This way, they’ll be able to determine if the dog will get along well with your cats at home.
For the most part, blue heelers will be fine with other dogs. If they were socialized with other dogs, they will easily integrate with the dogs in your household.
Read Next: 10 Best Companions for your Blue Heeler
4 Things to Consider Before Adopting a Blue Heeler
For all their great qualities, Blue Heelers also have some behavioral problems that might not appeal to all families. Watch out for the following traits. Consider whether you and your family would be able to handle these traits.
It’s important to note that every dog is different. Every blue heeler won’t necessarily have these issues but be prepared for them.
Biting and nipping. Most dogs (especially blue heelers) tend to use their mouths like hands. When they’re excited, they may nip or bite at you or your family to show affection or enthusiasm. Puppies should be trained out of this as soon as possible. Some older blue heelers may do this because they haven’t been trained not to.
Separation anxiety. If your family is gone from the house for most of the day, a blue heeler isn’t the dog for you. They need constant stimulation and attention.
For most families, this is a great thing. However, when left alone for too long, they can become destructive.
They may destroy furniture, chew up cords, and generally wreak havoc on whatever they can reach.
Aggression. Because blue heelers want to protect their families, they will sometimes act extremely aggressively towards anyone they deem is unwelcome.
This can be uncomfortable for your guests and can make walks and park visits stressful. Correcting aggressive behavior requires extensive early training.
High energy. Blue heelers are extremely intelligent. They have so much energy and enthusiasm, and they need to be entertained mentally and physically every day.
If they don’t get this attention, they can become listless, depressed, or even destructive. If your family doesn’t have the time or energy to deal with your heeler all the time, perhaps go with a less energetic breed.
Blue heelers can make exceptional pets, but it may take some patience and training. This intelligent breed is headstrong but can be affectionate if trained and socialized correctly. Be wary of certain prevalent behavioral traits, and avoid getting a blue heeler if you aren’t certain you can handle them.
“Australian Cattle Dog.” American Kennel Club. https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/australian-cattle-dog/. Accessed 11 August 2021.
“Is an Australian Cattle Dog right for your family?” Greencross Vets. https://www.greencrossvets.com.au/is-an-australian-cattle-dog-right-for-your-family/. Accessed 11 August 2021.
“Living with an ACD.” Australian Cattle Dog Rescue Association. https://www.acdra.org/living-with-an-acd. Accessed 10 August 2021.
“Frequently Asked Questions.” Australian Cattle Dog Rescue Association. https://www.acdra.org/frequently-asked-questions. Accessed 10 August 2021.