Blue Heelers are known for being incredibly loyal, intelligent, protective dogs, traits that many find appealing.
However, they are also known for their extremely high energy levels and their need to work.
Regardless, some people are determined to have a Blue Heeler and ask what seems like a simple question, can you keep a Blue Heeler in an apartment?
In short, it’s not recommended for the average person, but if you are dedicated to the wellbeing of your dog then there are several tips and tricks to make you Blue Heeler a happy and healthy apartment dweller.
Blue Heeler Origins
Blue Heelers, also known as the Australian Cattle Dog, first began being bred in Australia during the 1800s. The need for them arose when the British settlers realized that their collie dogs from back home were not suited to the rugged terrain of Australia.
A man named George Elliot began crossing their herding dogs from Great Britain with the wild dog of Australia, the dingo. Dingos are athletic, incredibly intelligent, and have evolved to be perfectly suited to Australia’s harsh environment.
This crossing created what is now known as the Australian Cattle Dog, or ACD. The breed continued to be perfected over time and was finally made an official breed by the American Kennel Club in 1980.
See Also: 20 Unique Jobs for your Blue Heeler
Blue Heeler Behavior & Exercise Needs
Ever alert and always ready to work, the Australian Cattle Dog is an ideal farming or sport dog.
They are stocky, muscular dogs with plenty of energy. In the past, this has allowed them to avoid injury while working with animals as big as cattle and sustain that work all day.
This breed desires a job and needs to expend the same amount of energy that they would when working with cattle on a ranch. When they are not given adequate exercise and activities, it is common for them to quickly become destructive, ripping apart everything from sofas to walls.
If properly exercised and stimulated, Blue Heelers are not noisy or aggressive.
However, when left to their own devices they can easily become neurotic, barking incessantly or developing aggressive behaviors.
They were bred to work all day and for most people, that is not the lifestyle that they are willing to create for their dog.
The average family needs a dog that can tolerate being at home alone for extended periods while the family members are at work or school.
For the most part, Australian Cattle Dogs are not going to tolerate this lifestyle well.
If you are not providing them with a job to do every day, they are going to create one for themselves and it’s highly unlikely that it will be one that produces pleasant results.
Blue Heelers and Apartment Living
So, we have arrived at the important question, can you keep a Blue Heeler in an apartment? According to the majority of Blue Heeler owners surveyed, the answer is no.
Not only are apartments a small space, but it is against the rules in the majority of complexes to let your dog off-leash. Off-leash exercise is ideal for the endless energy of the ACD and if you can’t provide that, it is going to be a lot more difficult for you to manage your dog.
One owner wrote that “Having lived for a couple of years in a small apartment with a very energetic, bouncy dog, I wouldn’t do it again by choice.” As much as you can say that you’ll walk your dog several miles every day and take them out to play frisbee, that’s a difficult thing to commit to.
These dogs need intense exercise every single day and for most dog owners, that’s just unrealistic.
Nowadays, a lot of apartment complexes have dog parks on-site and this may seem like a great solution. Unfortunately, unmonitored dog parks are not always the best place for a Blue Heeler to exercise.
They have a strong prey drive and herding instincts which can manifest themselves in behaviors that other dogs will not tolerate.
It is common for Blue Heelers to try and chase and nip dogs other dogs, this is a herding behavior that has been bred into them but generally is not appreciated by other dogs.
Their strong prey drive can also create problems if they are left to play freely with smaller dogs. ACDs are known to kill cats and small dogs so there is risk involved if you decide to allow your dog to socialize at your apartment’s dog park.
Tips for Keeping a Blue Heeler in an Apartment
At this point we have established what ACD are bred for, working cattle, and that this makes them an exceptionally difficult dog to maintain in an apartment complex.
While it is not recommended that you attempt to keep one of these dogs in an apartment, there are some possible solutions to increase the likelihood of your success.
The Blue Heeler’s background in cattle herding makes them ideal sport dogs. They excel at agility and putting them in an activity like agility allows your dog to get exercise while also stimulating their mind and improving their problem solving skills.
There are classes offered throughout the United States and all around the world that teach you and your dog to compete in agility competitions. You can go to the American Kennel Club’s website to learn more about agility classes and competitions near you.
Another way to keep your dog occupied in an apartment is by investing in puzzle and problem-solving toys.
There are many different options ranging from simple kongs to more difficult puzzles that require your dog to open different compartments to access food.
The main issue with this option is that, at least with puzzle toys, you Blue Heeler will likely begin remembering how to solve it.
When the puzzle stops occupying them for as long as it did initially, you will be faced with the prospect of constantly have to buy new toys for them.
Doggy Day Camp
A possible idea that was recommended by an ACD owner is paying for your dog to go to a doggy day camp such as The Pooch Pad.
Places like The Pooch Pad offer day boarding for dogs so you can drop them off in the morning before your workday begins, and pick them up in the afternoon.
They often have large fenced-in areas where your dog can run and play as well as swimming pools if you have a water lover. Oftentimes, they are a better solution than a dog park because they are split up by size and temperament.
Employees are always present when the dogs are playing together and are trained on how to prevent and resolve conflicts that may occur between dogs.
Of course, always read reviews and ask if you can see the facility before dropping your dog off for their first day. Blue Heelers can be wary of other dogs, but if socialized from an early age this could be a great solution for you and your dog.
Running with your Blue Heeler
Finally, we have a simple solution that is sometimes overlooked.
Running with your dog.
Blue Heelers love to run and if you can take them on a run every day or almost every day, they will have burnt enough energy that they shouldn’t be too destructive during the day.
Of course, not everyone likes to run. For those who would prefer that their dog is the only one doing the running, bike harnesses are available.
Bike harnesses allow you to attach your dog to the side of your bike so they run alongside you as you bike. This allows you to exercise your dog for longer periods of time and keep a more consistent exercise schedule.
This best-selling bike leash was recommended by a working dog owner saying that it allows her to keep her dog exercised even when she does not feel like a workout.
Her dog is on the larger side so she recommends buying an additional attachment, sold by the same company, that allows you to hook the harness to a wheel instead of the seat. This allows you more control over the bike and prevents your dog from jerking you around too much.
The Final Verdict
Overall, professionals and ACD owners alike do not recommend keeping these dogs in an apartment.
They are working dogs that need room to run and most people cannot keep up with the exercise needs of these dogs in an apartment complex.
However, if you are convinced that a Blue Heeler is the dog for your there are solutions. With dedication, consistent training, and a lot of exercise, you can make your apartment a suitable home for a Blue Heeler.
“Facts on the Blue Heeler Dog.” Dogster, www.dogster.com/lifestyle/blue-heeler-dog.
Accessed 17 June 2021.
Shaffer, Katherine. “Honesty From an Australian Cattle Dog Owner: These Little Biters
Can Drive You Crazy.” PetHelpful, 13 May 2021,
American Kennel Club. “Australian Cattle Dog Dog Breed Information.” American
Kennel Club, www.akc.org/dog-breeds/australian-cattle-dog. Accessed 18 June