Queensland heeler

Queensland heeler | A complete guide

Queensland heeler are short coated medium sized dogs originally bred in Australia for herding cattle over long distances. They are also known as Australian Cattle dog, Blue Heeler or Red Heeler.

Queensland heeler got its name heeler from its habit of nipping the heels of the cattle to drive them. They are highly intelligent and energetic dogs having an independent mind of their own. They need a lot of physical exercise and need an active owner. Certainly not for the ones who love to relax on the couch. They are not recommended as Apartment dogs.

They are quite loyal dogs and attaches to one person the most with whom he stays like a shadow. This is why they are also considered as “Velcro dogs”. They are reserved to the strangers and hence used as guard dogs as well.

Queensland heeler have strong nipping instincts and it is not uncommon to see them nipping at small children. Early socialization and training is required for them to overcome the same.

Check out an Australian Heeler puppy playing

History of Queensland heeler

Queensland Heeler has been credited to the growth of Australian Beef industry. When the Early Britishers settled in Australia and started raising livestock, they had a challenge of moving large group of cattle across hundreds of miles to the Sydney markets. Many a times they used to lose cattle in the un-fenced areas.

The dogs that they brought with them was Old English Sheepdog known as Smithfields. But they were found not suitable for herding large cattle. Hence there became a need for dog who can herd the cattle over large distances.

In this chase of an ideal cattle herding dog, old English sheepdog was cross bred in early 1800’s with multiple dogs like Australian Dingoes, collies and Dalmatians. This is how Queensland heeler aka Australian Cattle dog was developed.

The blue and red color Queensland Heelers were quite popular and hence they became quite popular and started to be known as Red Heelers, Blue Heelers or Queensland Blue Heelers.

Queensland heeler
source: Flickr

Queensland Heeler Personality

As they were bred to herd the cattle over large distances all day, they are quite energetic and tough dogs who doesn’t tire easily. They need quite an active owner who can keep Queensland heeler busy both physically and mentally.

If he is not kept adequately busy, he can find his own tricks that you may not like. He may become destructive with activities like nipping and chewing at things, digging etc.

As like other shepherd dogs, he is quite intelligent and independent. Hence he can be trained but can be obstinate at times. Firm consistent training would help.

Queensland heeler is a loyal dog and would typically attach to one person of the family and would stay around him all the time. He would be protective of his territory and is reserved to the strangers thus making him a good Guard dog.

His nipping instincts remain dominant so you may see him nipping at heels specially at young children whom he may try to drive. Early socialization and training is required to overcome this.

Queensland heeler has a high prey drive and he may chase small animals like cats etc. Early socialization helps so they treat them as part of the pack.

Queensland heeler Appearance

Queensland heeler is a strong, compact and a muscular dog with a deep muzzle. They are a bit longer than tall that helps them to nip while herding the cattle. They have a standing, pointy pricked ears and curvy tail.

Queensland heeler have a double coat. They are born in white color which later changes to blue-gray or red color.

Queensland blue heeler can grow to a height of 18 to 20 inches and weigh approximately 30 to 50 pounds. The average life span is around 12 to 15 years.

Blue heeler

Care

Nutrition:

It is recommended to give full grown Queensland heeler 1 cup of high quality dry food two times a day.

Grooming:

Queensland heeler have a double coat that is weather resistant. They shed regularly but shed heavily two times a year when their inner coat blows out. Once a week brushing is good for the coat to be clean and magnificent. This would also help build the bonding between the owner and him.

Find more apartment friendly dogs – https://www.yourdogsworld.com/b/best-dogs-for-apartment-living/

Exercise:

He is an extremely agile dog who needs lot of exercise and play time. Preferable to have a fenced yard where they can play and run.

Training:

They are highly intelligent dogs who can be obstinate at times. Thus they are easy to train but need firm and persistent training. They also should socialized early so that they can be well rounded dog.

Health

They are generally healthy and live a long life but are prone to certain health issues.

  1. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). This may cause the dog to become first night blind and slowly this leads to day blindness.
  2. Hip Dysplasia. This is a genetic disease in which hip and thigh bone doesn’t fit properly.
  3. Deafness. This is a genetic disease prone to Queensland Heelers. This can be tested at the puppy age by doing the Brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) testing.
  4. Cystinuria. Queensland blue heelers can also suffer from this fatal neurodegenerative disease. Genetic testing may help diagnose the same.

Queensland heeler as a family dog

Blue heeler is suitable for active families having a large fenced yard. These dogs are quite agile and needs lots of physical work and mental simulation. They are not suitable for lazy ones and apartment living.

Queensland heeler have strong instincts of nipping to drive (as they used to drive the cattle). This may mean they nip the younger children as well for driving. Thus they are not recommended for families with younger children. If required, they should be socialized and trained early.

Queensland heeler have strong prey drive and may chase small pets like cats. They should be socialized with small pets since birth so they think of them as part of the pack.

Blue heeler are very loyal, protective dogs who will make a special bond with one person and would be stay close like a shadow to him. They are also wary of strangers and are good as Guard dogs as well.

Queensland heeler

Pros and Cons of Queensland heeler

ProsCons
Highly intelligent dogsHave tendency to nip/bite
Highly agile, loyal and protectiveProne to certain health issues

FAQ

Do Queensland Heelers shed a lot?

Queensland heelers do shed regularly and shed a lot two times a year when their inner coat blows out.

Do Australian shepherds bark a lot?

They do bark on an average whenever they see a stranger or feel threatened.

Are heelers aggressive?

Due to their instincts of nipping at the heels, they have a tendency to bite. Early socialization and training is required for them.

Are heelers related to Dingoes?

Yes, they were developed by cross breeding of Old English Sheep dog with tamed dingoes and other dogs.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2643461/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27203721

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