Blue Heeler vs. Queensland Heeler: What’s the Difference?

blue heeler vs queensland heeler

It can be hard to tell the difference between dog breeds when they seem so similar. Luckily, we’re here to help.

One question that people often ask is “What is the difference between a Blue Heeler and a Queensland Heeler?”

The interesting answer to this question is that there is no actual difference. Blue Heelers and Queensland Heelers are all a part of the same dog breed, the Australian Cattle Dog.

The terms “Blue Heeler” and “Queensland Heeler” are just nicknames.

There’s a lot to learn about this fascinating breed. Read on to find out more about the Australian Cattle Dog.

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Types of Australian Cattle Dogs

Although they all fall under one category, there are a few different variations of Australian Cattle Dog. The two main variations are Blue Heelers and Red Heelers. The term “Queensland Heeler” is interchangeable with both of these terms.

The difference in Heeler types comes with their different colors and marking. Funnily enough, all Australian Cattle Dog puppies are born with mostly white fur and a few spots.

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Depending on who their parents are, it could be hard to tell which type of Heeler they’ll grow into.

Those puppies that grow to develop black spots mixed with the white are called Blue Heelers. Those that develop red or brown spots are called Red Heelers.

The differentiation doesn’t just stop at Blue or Red Heeler, though. In fact, there are several types of patterns that these dogs can have on their fur.

For example, color patterns include blue, blue mottled, blue speckled, red mottled, and red speckled. They can also have several different types of markings. These are tan, black and tan, and red.

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History of the Australian Cattle Dog

Queensland Heelers, Red Heelers, or Blue Heelers, whatever you want to call them, have a story that goes back to the early 1800’s. Their story begins with the British taking over Australian soil.

At the time, Anglo-Australians were migrating from the coastal settlements to the western inland with the hopes of recreating the rancher lifestyle. They wanted to farm cattle, and they needed talented herding dogs to be successful.

In comes the first cattle dogs used in this era in Australia. These were called Smithfields, and they hailed from Great Britain. However, you can imagine that the climate between England and Australia were incredibly different.

Humans are more adaptable than dogs, and the cattle ranchers found this out rather quickly when the Smithfields were struggling in their new habitat.

As a result, the Australian workers started the process of breeding a new type of cattle dog that could withstand the high temperatures and harsh terrain.

They started by combining Smithfields with Dingoes or Scottish Highland Collies. Dingoes are a famous feral dog that runs wild in Australia.

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A few decades later, George Elliot is hard at work in Queensland Australia. This is where the nickname “Queensland Heeler” comes from. Originally, the line of Australian Cattle Dogs from this area was the only one known as the Queensland Heeler.

Now, the term is interchangeable with other types of Australian Cattle Dogs. Elliot created this initial wave of cattle dogs by breeding Dingoes and Collies together.

However, this wasn’t the final version of the Australian Cattle Dog that we’ve come to know and love today.

Two brothers, Harry and Jack Bagust, furthered the pursuit of the perfect herding dog by mixing Elliot’s dogs with Dalmatians.

The reason for the combination was to create the perfect personality of a working dog. Dalmatians are protective, faithful, and work well with cattle and horses.

Australian Cattle Dogs of that time had an incredible working ability that, combined with these traits, made the perfect herding dog breed. Eventually, this line of dogs was also reinforced using Black and Tan Kelpies.

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This is what led to the modern-day Australian Cattle Dog.

It would take some time, though, for the breed to be officially recognized. Finally, in 1980, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the Australian Cattle Dog as its own breed.

It was listed under the herding group when that group was later found in 1983.

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Interesting Facts About the Australian Cattle Dog

Being a pet owner requires more than just knowing about your dog’s origin story and dedicated job. There are a few interesting facts about this breed that you should know if you’re going to own one.

These do not differ between Red and Blue Heelers.

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Energy and Exercise Needs

As you can imagine, the Australian Cattle Dog is a very athletic and energetic breed. They are compact and muscular. Males stand at about eighteen to twenty inches while females are about seventeen to nineteen inches. They are a medium-sized dog that should weigh between thirty-five and fifty pounds.

This breed requires both physical and mental exercise each day, thirty minutes of each to be specific. For physical exercise, you could give them a walk or play some fetch.

For mental exercise, you can give them puzzles, tug toys or ropes, and chew toys. You could also play games that require mental stimulation, such as forcing them to find you in order to play.

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Grooming Australian Cattle Dogs

Grooming for this breed is fairly low maintenance. It can be done on a monthly basis. Some of the low-key parts of the grooming include nails, teeth, and ears.

You should trim their nails about once a month. Clean their teeth and ears as needed to promote good health.

Australian Cattle Dogs have a double coat, meaning they have both a top layer and an undercoat. Interestingly, this coat helps them regulate temperature in all seasons, not just the cold of winter. In fact, it helps to keep them cool during the summer months.

To groom a double coat, you’ll need a special tool called an undercoat rake. This helps to remove loose hair from the undercoat. Doing so both makes your dog more comfortable and prevents shedding around the house.

One mistake that many double-coated dog parents make is that they shave their dogs during the summer. People often do this because they think it will help keep their dog cool. In fact, this has the opposite effect.

Shaving their fur prevents them from being able to regulate their temperature. So, while brushing is essential, you should never shave a dog that has a double coat.

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This breed usually lives between twelve and sixteen years. They are prone to a few health problems. These include torn cruciate ligaments, canine hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and deafness. Canine hip dysplasia is a joint disorder that causes pain and disintegration in the hip. Progressive retinal atrophy can lead to blindness later in life.

Personality and Temperament of the Australian Cattle Dog

Some people believe that there is a difference in personality between the Red Heeler and Blue Heeler varieties. However, this isn’t true. All varieties of Australian Cattle dog have the same personality. Of course, every individual dog is different, so they may not all fit this description.

Much of the Australian Cattle Dog’s personality falls in the mid-range. For many of their personality traits, they don’t fall at either end of the spectrum.

For example, Australian Cattle Dogs aren’t the most social dogs in the world, but they certainly aren’t loners either.

Australian Cattle Dogs do fairly well with other dogs and young children, so they can adapt to a variety of family environments. They are also fairly open to meeting new people and animals, though it can take them some time to warm up.

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They aren’t an aggressive breed, though. So, while they may be nervous around new people, they shouldn’t attack or be any more dramatic than any other breed.

Most herding dogs still hold onto their active nature. Australian Cattle Dogs are very active and energetic. They enjoy outdoor activities. They are also very alert and protective, even when they aren’t tasked with herding cattle.

Many herding breeds are extremely vocal. Funnily enough, the Australian Cattle Dog does not share this trait.

Despite being used to watching over cattle, they are not very vocal at all. These dogs are usually quiet for the most part. That said, they will bark to alert you to something.

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Training and Intelligence of the Australian Cattle Dog

In The Intelligence of Dogs from Stanley Coren, the Australian Cattle Dog is ranked number ten on the scale of most intelligent dog breeds.

They are able to learn a command with less than five repetitions. Additionally, they can obey the first command about 95% of the time.

It is important to remember, though, that training for Australian Cattle Dogs should start in early puppyhood.

For example, these dogs have a natural tendency to nip at the heels of their owners and other animals. This is what the term “heeler” actually comes from, and it is part of their herding behavior. The earlier you can curb this behavior, the less likely they are to continue biting at you as they grow up.

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Hi, I'm the owner of Juniper Pets! You can often find me playing fetch with my dogs, working out or cooking up something legendary in the kitchen. Hope you enjoy my blog!

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