Owning a herding dog is an honor and a privilege. But some would say the job comes with plenty of challenges. But to be honest, every dog comes with its own set of good and bad. The good news about herding dogs is they love the active lifestyle. For pet parents, having a dog that gets along with children is among the biggest priorities. So, can a Blue Heeler be a family dog?
Certain dog breeds are famous for being the best family pets. Others are suited for individuals. And then there are dogs that are best fitted for seniors.
Today, we will talk about the Australian Cattle Dog, and how he fits into the family life.
Get To Know The Blue Heeler Breed
The Blue Heeler, or the Australian Cattle Dog, has a fascinating developmental history. Often people confuse him with the Australian Shepherd. While both originate from Australia, they are a bit different.
To get to know the Blue Heeler dog breed, we have to travel back to Australia in the 1800s. At the time, the beef industry was booming. Ranchers needed an intelligent dog, one that was quick on its fit to help them round up the cattle. And because it was a year-round work, they needed a dog that could also withstand the climate extremes.
So, they decided to ship hardy dogs from the UK and cross them with the native Australian Dingo and get the hardest canine possible. After several generations, we have the sturdy, speckled pup we recognize as the Australian Cattle Dog. Some people call it Blue Heeler or Red Heeler due to its coat color.
While the breed was developed in the 1800s, it wasn’t until the 1980s that The American Kennel Club recognized the breed’s registration. Initially, they were part of the working dog group. Yet, after a while, The American Kennel Club transferred the canine to the herding group.
Nowadays, they are known as farm dogs through and through. These canines are eager to work all day long.
Appearance Of The Breed
I do not know how people can mistake the Blue Heeler puppy for other dogs. This dog has a distinctive look. Now, if that is a mixed breed, it would be a different story.
These dogs have a gray-mottled pattern that appears blue when juxtaposed against the other brown and black markings. Patterns may vary, but most Heelers have tan on their legs and underbelly.
Here is a fun fact. No two dogs look alike, making this breed that much more unique. Yes, their coat color can also be more on the reddish side, hence the Red Heeler.
These dogs have cute pointed ears, which serve the purpose of alertness. This farm dog also served the role of guardian protector. They have a relatively short face leading to a thick neck and a stocky body.
As of size, they stand between 17 and 20 inches and weigh between 30 and 50 lbs.
Why They Make Great Family Pets?
Can a Blue Heeler be a family dog? Of course, it can. Let’s talk about some of the features and personality traits that make this puppy an excellent family pet.
They Are Extremely Intelligent
Blue Heelers are among the smartest dogs in the canine world. This intelligent dog is easy to train, provided you are consistent in your training. Working dog breeds love to train and work. It is up to you to rise to their level and provide them with enough tasks to keep them interested.
If their mind is not occupied, they can find things to keep them entertained.
They Are Mild-Mannered
The Blue Heeler puppy is one of the sweetest dogs around. They are full of energy, but underneath that energetic exterior, he is a wonderful companion that is usually mild, if excitable.
They do everything in their power to get the approval of their pet owner.
They Are Full Of Energy
Speaking of energy and exercise needs, Blue Heelers are an excellent choice for families that need an active companion. Whether you have young children or older children, this puppy will bring his energy to the family life.
They always want to play and hang around with their owners. Blue Heelers will help babies crawl and stand and walk around the house, or play fetch and ball with older children.
Loyal And Protective
Blue Heelers are not aggressive per se. Yet, if they feel their family is being threatened, they will react. They are very protective of their pet owner. Loyal to the bone, they will never leave your side.
Yet, the downside is they can view strangers as a threat. With proper early socialization, this can be solved.
They Want Your Attention
If you love playing with your dog, you will love the Blue Heeler puppy. With this dog breed, playing is a demand, not an option. These puppies will reward your affection and relish it. Give your heeler attention, and he will please you at every turn.
They Don’t Bark A Lot
When you have children, especially young children, you want a quiet breed. You do not want a dog that will bark and wake up your babies, right?
Well, here are some good news. Blue Heelers are not known for barking. They are a quiet breed. You might be wondering how a herding breed doesn’t bark. Well, this dog herds in a different way, by nipping the heels of cattle.
They do retain their herding instinct, but they do not bark.
They Are The Perfect Size
If you want a dog that is sturdy, yet not very big, the Blue Heeler is perfect for you. Classified as medium-sized by the American Kennel Club, they grow between 17 and 20 inches, weighing between 30 and 50 pounds.
Their size makes them suitable even for an apartment life, even though they prefer a house with a yard.
They Are Great With Other Pets
When you own a family dog, you want someone who will get along with other animals and pets. After all, your kids might be walking the dog, and you do not want a canine that will show aggression towards other dogs and pull the kids.
Blue Heelers are capable of being great with other pets. They were raised on farms with other animals, where they didn’t have to show dominance and get high in the pecking order.
How To Help Your Blue Heeler Adapt To Family Life?
If you want to be sure your Australian Cattle Dog will adapt perfectly to family life, you need to put in some effort as well.
First and foremost, provide plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation. These dogs are workers. They need a job to do. Without a job, they might find other ways to entertain themselves. Heelers have so much natural energy that needs to be directed to something.
Work on early socialization and training. They do have a herding instinct to nip at heels, even at small children. They need to herd them. But the good news is that with proper training, you can easily solve the issue.
Things To Consider Before Bringing A Dog Home
This doesn’t apply to a Blue Heeler exclusively. It applies to any dog you bring to your home. Dogs need space and training. If you cannot provide that, do not get one. Dogs are not toys you buy for your children to play with for 10 to 15 minutes per day, and then leave them hanging.
This is one of the reasons why many dogs end up in shelters. Once the children are bored with them, the parents do not have time and energy to take care of dogs and children.
Another thing to note. If you have allergy sufferers in the home, consider a hypoallergenic breed. Blue Heelers are not. They do shed moderately and will make it harder on people with allergies.