Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dog


Nicknamed the ‘Blue Heeler’ or the ‘Red Heeler’ due its appearance, the Australian Cattle Dog or Cattle dog is another working breed or dogs, originally used for walking live-stock over long distances.

Lifetime Care

Breed Profile


18 – 20



35 – 50


Life Span

11 – 16




Hereditary Polio Encephalomyelopathy

of dogs

What is it?:

A very rare condition found in Australian Cattle dogs is hereditary polioencephalomyelopathy which is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. It causes paralyses within the first year itself of most of the cattle dogs.

Clinical signs

It is a rare disease occurring in the cattle dogs but does have very threatening symptoms if occurred. Some of them include

  • Inability to walk for longer durations

  • Reluctance towards exercise

  • Incoordination between limbs

  • Weakness in the lower body

  • Head tremors


Treatment may include steroids.

Eligible vet bill


Reimbursement Rate

Amount a Spot accident & illness plan could cover*


Your Net payment


Click For Price

*Hypothetical reimbursement examples illustrate reimbursement of an eligible vet bill at the noted reimbursement rate, assuming the annual deductible had already been satisfied and the annual coverage limit has not yet been met. Annual deductible, co-insurance, benefit and coverage limits, and exclusions may apply. Eligibility may vary. Visit for full terms. For Canada enrollments only, reimbursement rate is based on the pet's age.


Extremely Alert

The Blue Heelers make a very fierce watchdogs as they are courageous and very much alert of strangers despite them not being loud barkers


The Red Heelers possess high levels of energy, the reason why they were originally used for long herding rides

Family Dogs

Cattle dogs are a very pleasant breed with low aggressiveness making them perfect for families with kids

Lifetime Care


The Australian Cattle Dog has a double coat with its outer one with protective short and straight hair coupled with a fine and dense undercoat


As the nicknames suggest, the breed is found usually in red and blue shades. Other shades are usually considered faulty




A low maintenance breed in terms of grooming, the blue / red heelers don’t require more than a weekly brushing and a thorough one while they shed. Brushing their teeth and cleaning their ears periodically would ensure good health.


Being intelligent and energetic helps the pet parents to train their cattle dog puppies very well and easily. There might be some resistance to new faces at times though.

Learn more about the cost of caring for an Australian Cattle Dog.

The term heeler in the name Blue / Red Heeler comes due to their practice of moving reluctant cattle by biting their heels and helping their masters in herding. It has a broad skull with muscular cheeks giving its face a sturdy look. Both blue and red heelers are born white. The colors are actually a result of a ticking gene.

Australian Cattle Dog: Introduction to the Breed

There is nothing much that would worry you if you are planning to adopt one of the heelers. But it is important to know more things before we make the decision. Key features to note here are -

Australian Cattle Dogs are generally:

  • Highly energetic and active

  • Independent

  • Highly obedient and trainable

  • Quick to respond to the emotion of the owners

  • Strongly bonded with their parents

Cairns are best suited for –

  • Existing dog owners

  • Active pet parents who like to keep up with the high energy of these dogs

  • Someone who likes to cuddle with their puppies as both blue and red heelers are very clingy

  • Families with big houses or lawns as they need sufficient physical space to release all that energy

Blue Heeler vs Red Heeler

Now that we know that this breed comes primarily in only these 2 colors, one must wonder what are the differences between the two types. As our first instinct suggests, the basic difference between the 2 heelers is just the color of the outer coat.

The blue heelers can have several fur patterns, viz. plain blue, mottled and speckled blue. On the other hand, the red counterparts only have mottled and speckled as the 2 types.

Things to watch-out before deciding to own a Australian Cattle Dog

The blue / red heelers are a beautiful companion, no doubt. But there are some things one should consider before deciding to adopt. Some common findings are

  • They cannot be left alone for a very long time

  • Lack of physical and mental stimulus can lead to destructive and aggressive behaviors

  • They don’t do very well with small pets because of their inherent nature of herding

  • With smaller chaotic kids, they are known to nip them as a muscle memory of them nipping the cattle during herding

  • These heelers are prone to eye and joint problems

  • Not really suited for apartment living

Things to keep in mind while training the cattle dogs

  • There are some habits of these blue and red heelers which deserve a punishment, however as a pet parent, it is important to know how to tackle them

  • Do not punish them for their genes. Biting and nipping is what they were bred for. Punishing them for these traits would be like punishing horses for running. Instead hand them a toy to substitute their urge to nip livestock

  • Always keep them on a leash in an unenclosed area. Heelers will most of the times run away as they love to road and wander in open lands

  • During their shedding season, you can even comb their fur or else be ready for a house full of fur.


If you’re looking for a playful, energetic, family friendly and an alert dog, then the blue / red heeler or the cattle dog is the one for you. Just don’t forget that you’ll have to run along with it as it will most probably jump around the house and break a lot of things if enough physical and mental exercise is not provided. But don’t worry, for all of that, you’ll get abundant love and loyalty and even security for your house from strangers.