The Australian Cattle Dog, also known as a Blue Heeler, Red Heeler, or Queensland Heeler, is a beloved family favorite. This medium-sized breed was developed in Australia specifically to control cattle, and was originally bred from mixing a border collie with a bull terrier.
It is known for its energetic demeanor, as well as its high level of intelligence and tendency towards independence. The coloring may vary from gray to merle or red. Often the coat is not a single color but rather mixed or speckled. This breed usually has colored patches over one or both eyes. Because the breed has been developed specifically for herding, it has a muscular and athletic appearance throughout its body, with no visible signs of weakness or vulnerability.
This is an active and intelligent dog, often engaging in destructive or mischievous behavior if it is not kept busy. This breed has a strong tendency to bond with a senior dog at the household rather than the owner if the owner does not quickly establish his role as the “leader of the pack.” Australian Cattle Dogs have not been known to be aggressive towards children, but may be mildly aggressive towards other dogs in the household until a hierarchy has been established. In addition, this breed does have a cautionary demeanor that may increase with age, resulting in a particular wariness of strangers. This, combined with the breed's territorial nature as herding dogs, makes it an excellent guard dog when trained appropriately.
This breed is easily trained, enjoys mental challenges, and excels at dog agility contests. It also enjoys a variety of other activities, including Frisbee and catch. The Australian Cattle Dog loves to have a toy box at home, filled with a variety of sturdy chew toys. It can often be taught to put their toys back in the box, as it is a very organized and obedient breed. The breed does have a tendency to get bored or frustrated, and enjoys new experiences and a change of environment from time to time. The Australian Cattle Dog does best with an athletic and adventurous owner who enjoys being outdoors, trying new activities, and experiencing new settings.
The short coat and short ears of the breed make it a fairly low-maintenance breed with regards to grooming. Common health issues include blindness, and issues with the musculoskeletal and reproductive systems, including arthritis and infertility.