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    Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler) - Facts, History & Health Problems

    Old Australian Blue Heeler sits in the grass

    Queensland Heelers are a type of Australian cattle dog beloved by many pet owners around the world. These canines are striking to look at and certainly catch people’s attention with their grey-blue and speckled coats. Thanks to their background as cattle herders, Queensland Heelers are intelligent, curious, and affectionate animals. 

    Keep reading to learn everything about this amazing breed, from its history to its health problems.

    Quick Facts About Blue Heelers 

    A Blue Heeler dog can make for a wonderful pet since this breed tends to be very loyal, affectionate, and full of personality. In general, blue heeler canines are great with children and are highly intelligent, making them easily trainable. 

    Blue Heelers may also be known by the name Australian Cattle Dog. They come in different shapes in sizes, including a smaller, mini Blue Heeler.

    Here are some quick, useful facts about the Australian blue heeler:

    • The coat’s color is blue-grey with specks
    • This breed belongs to the herding group of the American Kennel Club (AKC)
    • This canine can range in height, generally from 17 to 20 inches
    • The life expectancy of a dog can vary, but most Queensland Heelers will live between 13 to 15 years
    • Heelers may weigh anywhere from 30 to 55 pounds

    History  

    As you may have gathered from their nickname “Aussie cattle dog” or the “Queensland Heeler,” this breed originated in Australia. Settlers from England brought canines with them and then bred them with local wild Australian canines known as dingos. After a period of time, what we now know as the Blue Heeler emerged.

    The Heeler dog was bred to be a cattle dog. During the 19th century, Heelers became a major part of the beef industry's expansion by helping ranchers manage their herds. Due to their working nature, Heelers tend to be very loyal, disciplined, and trainable.

    It wasn’t until the 1980s that this breed officially joined the American Kennel Club in the working group. A few years later, they were reclassified as part of the herding group. In time, these cattle canines rose in popularity and were found to be a good fit for many individuals and families.

    Common Health Problems 

    As working pups, Queensland Heelers are naturally inclined to be athletic and to love exercising, running, and playing. As such, these furry friends might be more inclined to health issues related to their joints and ligaments. Some common health problems for this breed include:

    • Hip dysplasia: This occurs when the canine experiences a problem with the ball and socket of the joints. Sometimes it’s a mild condition, and others may require surgery or even a total hip replacement
    • This breed is more inclined to progressive retinal atrophy, which is an eye condition that can lead to impaired vision or total loss of sight 
    • These pups carry a recessive piebald allele. This is a complicated way of saying they carry a genetic condition that makes them prone to deafness, sometimes only in one ear and others in both  

    Health issues in dogs may not always be avoidable. Your canine friend might be genetically predisposed to certain diseases, and unfortunately, accidents can happen. It’s a good idea to consider dog insurance so you can benefit from assistance with vet bills, surgeries, medications, and other costs that may occur.

    Food & Nutrition 

    Queensland Heelers are active pets, and as such, require a diet to help support their lifestyle. Since they’re running and using their muscles often, you’ll want to make sure it has a steady and regular supply of important nutrients. Thanks to their active nature, Heelers will need a lot of solid protein. This can be found in beef, fish, and other types of meat.

    A mixture of canned foods and mixed dry food can be good to ensure your pet  is getting a variety of what it needs. Do your research on what types of foods will work best for your Queensland Heeler. Remember that puppies and older canines may have very different nutritional needs.

    As with any pet, a Heeler needs regular access to clean and fresh water. You can speak to your vet about diet and the quantity of food you should be feeding your pet. Certain health issues like hip dysplasia can be made worse by obesity. Therefore, you’ll want to ensure your pup remains at a healthy weight.

    Blue Heeler Care  

    Keeping your pup in top hygienic shape should be a priority. Cleaning dogs ears and dental care for dogs are two aspects of pet care that tend to go unnoticed. Additionally, Heelers may require grooming like brushing to keep their coats healthy. 

    Since Queensland heelers are very active, exercising is a critical part of caring for your pet. Hiking with your dog, playing with retrieving toys, and ensuring they have plenty of space to run will help keep your pet happy.

    Personality Of Blue Heelers

    A Blue Heeler personality is known to be overwhelmingly positive. This breed is  known to be: 

    • Very affectionate
    • Relatively friendly with kids and other household pets
    • Very trainable 
    • Incredibly smart 
    • High energy
    • Not prone to excessive barking
    • Very protective 
    • Known to be loyal to their owners and families
    • Medium shedders 
    • Extremely playful
    • Blue Heeler temperament can be cautious and wary 

    Pro's

    • Easily trainable and disciplined
    • Eager to please their families
    • Very loyal and affectionate

    Con's

    • Needs a lot of exercise and stimulation to ensure they don’t become bored and destructive
    • May have separation anxiety since Heelers want to be with their owners at all times
    • Unless a blue heeler puppy is properly trained, they may show aggressive behavior toward strangers