Imagine an absolutely gorgeous brown-haired dog happily frolicking about, his back speckled with dots of white and blue that look a bit like blue cheese. You’ve never seen a happier dog! What could he be? Of course, it has to be the Australian Shepherd Blue Heeler Mix.
You can end up with a variety of colors all mixed together with these guys, including black, white, brown, tan, gray, and merle. Then these colors can be mixed in patterns which are really quite unique!
Your Australian Shepherd Blue Heeler Mix might weigh, ideally, between 40-50 pounds fully grown. Australian Shepherds can get slightly larger than their Cattle Dog counterparts, so you might see 60 pounds. You’ll probably see a height of around 17 – 22 inches.
The coats will usually be shorter to sometimes medium length. These are double coats and will shed all year round. Minus the consistent shedding, these short, often smooth coats won’t require much maintenance or difficulty grooming.
Personality and Temperament
In the Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog) you have a wonderfully friendly and good-natured yet cautious pet with an instinct for protection. Unlike many other herding breeds, he’s not necessarily overly vocal and might not bark at absolutely everything that seems strange.
The Australian Shepherd is just as bright and energetic, though maybe not quite as energetic as his counterpart. Like the Blue Heeler, he’s also protective and watchful.
We only get both breed’s traits exemplified in the Australian Shepherd Blue Heeler Mix! He’s playful, loving, and bright enough for any enrichment activity you throw his way.
Your Aussie Mix will keep the kids (great family dogs) entertained for hours, just as he will be a steadfast companion for any family he knows.
Wary of Strangers
Socialization is especially important with these dogs because they are naturally aloof or even protective when it comes to strangers.
This was intentional in their original breeding and comes naturally. They love people and companionship, as long as that person doesn’t seem like a potential threat.
It’s up to you to teach your Australian Shepherd Blue Heeler Mix he doesn’t have to worry for your safety and everyone he meets is great!
You’re probably wondering how this is a personality trait! Remember, these dogs descend from breeds conceived to work long hours every day, running along the endless Australian landscape.
This means your Aussie mix isn’t going to be content confined to your home all day while you work. He needs enrichment (games, activities that focus on his instincts) activities that challenge him, and wide-open spaces to roam, or at least a handler able to offer quite a lot of exercise.
- Australian Shepherds were bred in the United States, while Australian Cattle Dogs (Heelers) hails from Australia.
Are They Good With Kids?
These dogs love to stay active, and would be more than happy to entertain those rambunctious kids all day long! If you’re looking for a family dog to occupy the kiddos, the Australian Shepherd Blue Heeler Mix is your guy.
There is one ‘possible’ drawback. They don’t call these ‘Blue Heelers’ for nothing! Your pet might get the urge to nip at your kids, other people, or even other animals in an effort to ‘herd’ them. Not all animals or children would respond well to this, which is another reason why socialization is so important.
When it comes to diet and nutrition, domesticated dogs generally have the same (in most situations) requirements across the board. Because he is so high energy, hopefully, he’ll be getting the exercise he needs and may require a higher calorie count (but not much higher) than normal.
It’s more about what to avoid.
Always Cook Meat
Raw diets may be appealing and sound wonderful! After all, wild wolves eat freshly killed prey, and you can’t get much rawer than that. Even if they sound wonderful, there are risks.
Meat is cooked at very high temperatures during the rendering process to kill and potential parasites, bacteria, or viruses that may live in a raw animal carcass. Because of this, the risks associated with feeding raw meat outweigh any potential nutritional gains.
Watch the Carbs
You don’t need to completely avoid plant starches (and shouldn’t), carbohydrates, or grains, but they shouldn’t make up over 50% of your pet’s diet.
In fact, studies are beginning to show ‘grain-free’ (all the craze these days) diets could be correlated to an increased risk of heart disease.
Don’t fall for the shiny labels or marketing gimmicks. Simple Purina dog chow or Iams are great examples of very cheaply manufactured foods to avoid.
Dogs don’t utilize simple sugars the same way we humans do, and so many starches in these plant-based diets can lead to excess weight gain or even diabetes.
If you want an example of top quality kibble, take a look at the ingredients listed here. Most can’t afford this much for dog food though, so you can measure the general quality rating on this website.
Meat ‘Based’ Diet
Vegetarian/vegan diets are gaining popularity these days! Perhaps the owner is a vegan herself or has religious qualms about animals eating meat.
Consider the animal. You are looking at a predatory species with three very finely honed hunting senses, one specifically evolved to track prey and among the most powerful in the animal kingdom. They have sharp teeth designed to grab and tear at the animal hide, not so much grind like our human teeth. Even their digestive system prefers meat.
Wolves would scavenge when necessary but do best with animal meat. There are specific amino acids, essential to a dog’s body, found readily in animal proteins that are difficult to find in many plants.
A dog can thrive off of a vegan diet, but it would need to be very carefully designed by a veterinary nutritionist and he may need supplements. You would also need to watch the carbohydrate count and potential weight gain.
The Australian Shepherd/Blue Heeler Mix is very much a high energy working breed, through and through! Though some surpass even their energy requirements, there aren’t many. Your Aussie mix will do best if given at least two hours of exercise (play, running) a day with wide-open spaces to roam/run.
A standard base recommendation for these dogs is at least two hours of physical engagement a day.
Even two walks a day probably won’t do it. For him to be at his best, you need to offer enrichment activities, learning puzzles, games that focus on his senses and breeding purpose, etc.
For example, a farm might be a perfect setting for this breed. He has several acres of free space to roam, or even quite a bit if you have an area fenced off.
Regular agility training is a great idea, and not too difficult! All you would need is a fenced-off area, limited training knowledge (not difficult to learn), and the equipment. The professional equipment you might see on television would cost thousands per piece, but you can create the same things at home out of a child’s tunnel PVC piping, sticks, etc.
It just takes some Ingenuity!
Grooming and Shedding
Both parent breeds have double coats and so does the Blue Heeler mix, but it is normally short and tends to be smooth. Shedding will be constant (more during Summer months), but still mild.
You’ll need to clip his nails once every two weeks and over the semi-monthly bath, but no extremes are required for grooming.
Is the Australian Blue Heeler Easy to Train?
This depends upon the experience and education of the handler. Because they are so energetic, this also requires patience.
He is very smart and not just capable, but eager to learn almost anything you throw at him! Because he is so eager to please, the Australian Blue Heeler will pick up on new skills fast. Of course, this is only true if the human trainer is teaching those skills correctly.
Neither root breed nor the Australian Shepherd Blue Heeler Mix is recommended of a novice or first-time dog owner. If not offered enough stimulation, your Australian Blue Heeler could become destructive or overly anxious.
Even proper socialization requires a handler able to approach it correctly.
- Not recommended for first-time owners
- Not recommended for city or apartment life
- Fenced in yard recommended
- 2 hours+ exercise daily recommended
Pros and Cons of Owning an Australian Cattle Dog
Don’t make the mistake of misjudging these guys! Both are fantastic breeds and the Blue Heeler mixture exemplifies some of the best qualities of both! However, just like any dog breed, there are some downsides.
High energy, demanding
Little grooming needed
Needs strong socialization
Wary of strangers
Easily trained (for the right handler)
Not recommended for city/ apartment life
Great with family & kids
High Energy Breed
Both of these incredible breeds were conceived to work, the Australian Shepherd descending from British herding dogs while the ‘Blue Heeler’ (Australian Cattle Dog) was conceived by early Australian settlers to endure the harsh Australian landscape.
Both are herding breeds, and (the Blue Heeler especially) both have tremendous energy.
Easy to Train
In general, any dog can be ‘easy to train’ if the handler is experienced, while the most intelligent breed in the world can seem impossible to train for the inexperienced handler.
Because they are highly adaptable with a strong desire to please their owners, sort of like a Beagle in comparison, these dogs would be especially trainable.
Lively and energetic, you’ll have trouble finding a more robust dog out there! This guy loves to play and will keep you occupied for hours. For the agility trainers out there, your Blue Heeler Mix will be more than thrilled to run around and leap over obstacles just to please you.
Little Grooming Needed
With his short double coat, your Blue Heeler mixed dog will shed regularly and it should get the occasional bath with regular brushing. When it comes to professional grooming, your pup won’t need much in that department very often.
Not Recommended for Apartment/City Life
These dogs (especially the Aussie Cattle Dog) were bred for wide-open spaces. To be truly happy, they need that ability to run every single day. A simple 30-minute walk once a day won’t do, which is more than many dogs get anyway.
Your Aussie mix won’t be happy confined to an apartment all day, or waiting for nine hours while you work, only for you to crash on the couch after. Failing to meet these energy requirements can lead to destructive or unwanted behaviors.
Predisposed for Joint Problems
This would be especially drastic for a breed that loves to run and play so much. Your Blue Heeler mix is slightly more likely to develop joint issues like Hip dysplasia or arthritis.
The risks for these are going to be much lower with proper nutrition and exercise!
Australian Cattle Dogs scored 79.6% on the American Temperament testing system, with Australian Shepherds scoring an 82.2%.
The ATTS “provides for a uniform national program of temperament testing of purebred and spayed/neutered mixed-breed dogs (ATTS)”. Very few breeds score below 70%, with most above 80%.
If not socialized well early on by an educated, experienced handler, your Blue Heeler mix could develop suspicion and potential aggression toward strangers.
Because certain training aspects are almost integral for these dogs, they really need an experienced dog handler and aren’t the best choice for first-timers.
Health & Lifespan
Smaller to medium-sized dogs tend to enjoy a longer lifespan than larger to giant breeds in general. The average weight you’ll see here is 40-50 pounds, and that rule still holds true. As long as they are offered a high-quality diet and exercise needs are met, he should live a nice, comfortable life!
Australian Cattle Dog: 13-15 Years
Australian Shepherd: 13-15 years
How to Tell if Your Australian Shepherd Blue Heeler Mix is Overweight
Overweight dogs, typically, won’t have much of a distinction between chest and stomach. The dog might look almost oval-shaped, and you won’t be able to feel any ribs upon inspection. The stomach and/or waist might even seem to sag. Your dog might waddle as he walks.
These dogs aren’t necessarily deep-chested, so the mistake can be easy to make. If unsure, ask your veterinarian if your dog is at a healthy weight next checkup.
Since this breed is especially prone to hip and joint issues, extra weight only compounds the pressure those joints bear and enhances the risk. Your dog could also be at higher risk for conditions like diabetes.