Blue Heeler Rat Terrier Mix: What To Expect From This Designer Dog

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Written by: Celestine Gomez
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The Blue heeler rat terrier mix (also known as cattledog terrier mix) is a mixed breed dog emerging from the cross-breeding of a purebred blue heeler and a rat terrier. They are highly energetic, alert and show a terrific prey drive that is inherited from both parents.

Regardless of the big contrast in size between both parents, they tend to have extremely similar personality traits.

Both blue heeler and rat terrier are excellent farm dogs as well as loving companions to keep by your side.

In this article, I will discuss every aspect of a blue heeler rat terrier mix including the history, lifespan, size, appearance, temperament, common health issues, and whether this mix breed is right for your family.

History of Blue Heeler Rat Terrier Mix

Knowing a history of a dog breed may sound quite trivial, but it can give us invaluable information about the dog such as their natural instincts, the initial intent behind breeding the dog, and their reputation, hitherto.

Blue heeler rat terrier cross has not been around for a very long time, and like most designer dogs, it is impossible to pinpoint when exactly they were first bred.

While there is not much information about the past of this mixed breed, we can fall back to the parent breeds, take a look at respective origins and ascertain how it may reflect on the resulting cross.

Where Do Blue Heelers Come From?

Also known as Australian Cattle Dog, or Queensland Heeler was bred in the 19th century by Australian settlers to herd cattle while traveling to far-flung destinations. Aussie ranchers wanted a dog that could control a tremendous number of cattle to further the growth of the beef industry.

British Smithfields imported from England were excellent sheep herders but didn’t succeed in herding cattle, as a result, numerous breeding and crossbreeding were carried out to create a hardy dog capable of enduring high temperatures, ruthless terrains and extreme work activities.

In about 1840, Thomas Hall and George Elliott who were experimenting with British Smithfields mixed them with dingoes and Blue merle Highland collies to form an excellent working dog. The hardworking nature of these dogs piqued the interest of Australian ranchers who purchased the pups to raise them for herding purposes.

Two brothers, Jack and Harry Bagust sought to build on these existing cattle dogs by crossing them with dalmatians. They aimed to incorporate the loyalty and horse-friendly nature of dalmatians into these dogs.

Mr. Kaleski formed a standard for cattle dogs, which suffered diverse oppositions but was finally endorsed by the Cattle and Sheep Dog Club of Australia, and the original Kennel Club of New South Wales as of 1903.

Australian Cattle Dog was approved for registration by AKC on the 1st of May, 1980, and was placed under the working group on the 1st of September, 1980.

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Where Do Rat Terriers Come From?

The “rat terrier” was named in respect of president Theodore Roosevelt, who used this dog to control rat infestation in the white house. It is largely debated as to whether this name was actually given by him.

As the name implies, rat terrier was initially bred to kill rats, foxes and other vermin in farms. To instill such an indispensable quality in a dog, American farmers bred fox terriers with bull terriers, old English white terriers and Manchester terriers. In 1930, a movie titled “the little colonel” featuring Shirley Temple had an appearance of a rat terrier.

Between 1910 and 1930, American farmers saw the need to modify rat terriers, adding newer and tougher strains with improved skill. As a result, rat terriers were crossed with a whippet and Italian greyhound in the Midwestern region of America, The resulting progeny was a well-rounded and speedy dog with a more proficient working ability.

Rat terriers were further bred with beagles to form a compact dog with a strong sense. Some owners preferred a small-sized dog that can make its way through smaller holes. Rat terriers were bred with toy fox terriers and toy Manchester terriers to form toy or miniature rat terriers.

The popularity of this dog slowly declined between 1930 to 1960 with the incorporation of pesticides by farmers to kill vermin. Only a few breeders maintained this dog till it regained its popularity in the late 1980s

The Decker Rat Terrier and the Hairless Rat Terrier were both produced around this time.

The Decker rat terrier was bred to tackle both small and prey hunting, from foxes and squirrels to cougar, wild pigs, deer and bear.

While the Hairless Rat Terrier is smaller than the Decker RTs, and of course, hairless. They don’t shed but their coat is prone to sunburn.

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Appearance Of Blue Heeler Rat Terrier Mix

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Blue heeler rat terrier mix pups may not be very different from their littermates. But in the course of time, we may be able to tell what specific traits he has inherited from his blue heeler or rat terrier parents.

For example, the mixed breed may acquire the medium size of blue heeler or small size of rat terrier. They can settle for just the intermingled black and white hairs of blue heeler or lean towards the diverse color combinations of rat terrier.

There are, of course, a lot more physical features they can acquire from both parents, such as the eye colors, the muscular build, and the shape of their skulls or muzzles.

Also Read: Catahoula Blue Heeler Mix: All About This Unique Hybrid

Blue Heeler Rat Terrier Mix Lifespan

Rat terriers usually live longer than blue heelers but thanks to hybrid vigor for conferring on the mixed breed a slightly longer lifespan compared to their parents.

The average life expectancy of a blue heeler rat terrier mix is between 14 to 18 years. This dog is definitely going to have enough time to bond tightly with his owner. If raised in a healthy condition and given proper care, he could live a bit longer.

There are a lot of factors that can affect the lifespan of any dog. They include genetics, nutrition, weight (heavier dogs are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia), exercise and environmental conditions.

How Big Does A Blue Heeler Rat Terrier Get? (Size, Height and Weight)

The blue heeler rat terrier mix tends to take after the size of either the blue heeler or the rat terrier parent.

On average, blue heelers stand from a height of 17 to 20 inches and weigh between 15 to 22 kg.

While rat terriers are small adorable dogs that will reach between 10 to 13 inches in height and about 4 to 12 kg in weight.

Taking these figures into consideration, you can expect a full-grown Blue Heeler Rat Terrier mix will stand as high as 13 to 17 inches and will weigh between 9 to 17 kg.

To get a more precise estimation of the size of any given blue heeler rat mix puppy, you can average the particular height and weight of the parent dogs

Blue Heeler Rat Terrier Mix Temperament

A Blue Heeler Rat Terrier Mix is determined, energetic and loyal. He needs to always be engaged at all times, lest he becomes a destructive nuisance. Often wary of strangers but bonds strongly with his owner. Both parents have very similar personalities such that there is room for massive overlaps in the resulting progeny.

The blue heeler rat terrier mix may have an overly protective behavior and an incredible herding instinct if it takes after the blue heeler parent or maybe swift-footed, prey-driven and fond of digging if it takes after the rat terrier parent.

There is no actual way to predict exactly what personal traits they will inherit from each parent. Hence, it is just guesswork trying to figure out which personality is up for the grab. But by looking at the temperament of both parents we can get an idea of the possibilities that could find expression in the mixed breed.

Blue Heeler Temperament

Blue heelers are known for their incredible herding abilities as they were used by farmers to control large numbers of cattle by nipping at their heels. Regardless, they remain friendly, loyal and protective family dogs, but at times, may tend to be stubborn.

Having great endurance and toughness, blue heelers can handle pain quite well and may continue working with the same aggression even after getting injured.

They are athletic and full of energy and require constant physical and mental activity to make them tired and keep them out of trouble. As such, they may not be suited for first-time owners.

Often bonding tightly to one member of the family, they prefer to be shown affection in the form of physical contact from the person. They are very intelligent and playful, hence, need to be given enough room for their instinctive vigor and sharp mind.

Just like any other dog, they require early socialization and training to prune every unwanted or potentially dangerous tendency. This will also help them warm up to strangers.

Rat Terrier Temperament

Energetic, fun-loving and feisty, rat terriers are small adorable dogs with an unforgiven prey drive, which is expected from a dog bred with sharp sensation and speed in mind in order to detect and keep up with rats and other small vermin in farmlands.

Rat terriers are known to take pleasure in digging, especially when they are bored. You may consider creating a digging landscape from your dog, outlined with bricks or wood.

Upon having a prey-chasing propensity, rat terriers are intelligent and inquisitive little fellows who could at times exhibit a streak of stubbornness, just like other terriers. Due to their intelligence and incredible jumping forte, cracking their freedom code is a no-brainer for them.

They can be aloof and sometimes aggressive to strangers, hence, it may take a while for them to adapt to new visitors. It is best to properly socialize your dog at an early age to be free with new people and live peacefully with other animals.

If left alone for a long time, they can develop separation anxiety causing them to become destructive. They aren’t couch aficionados, hence, need constant mental stimulation and a well-spaced environment to stay healthy and happy. Apart from excelling as a farm dog, a rat terrier makes a good watchdog as well as a friendly and lovable companion.

Care and Grooming Of Blue Heeler Rat Terrier Mix

Both blue heeler and rat terriers are low maintenance dogs, so feeding, grooming and caring for a blue heeler rat terrier mix should be a relatively easy task.

If you buy commercial dog food, it’s wise to be sure they are high quality. Also, make sure you give the food you give them contains the important nutrients to keep them healthy and strong. Always supplement their food with veggies and high-protein diets like chicken breast.

The nutritional requirements of blue heeler rat terrier mix, like any other dog, will keep changing as he grows to become an adult. Your vet can tell you the dietary requirement of your dog based on certain factors such as size, health, and activity level.

Blue Heeler Rat Terrier Mix coats will be a mix of blue heeler and rat terrier parents’ coat patterns and color. The blue heeler is double-coated with a dense undercoat and short water-resistant outer coat while the rat terrier has a short single coat with dense, shiny fur. Blue heelers have apparently blue-colored furs unlike rat terriers with a vast color and color combination such as white, black, red, chocolate, lemon, blue, orange, tan, or rust.

Blue Heeler Rat Terrier Mix is likely to have a short or medium-length coat. Both blue heeler and rat terrier require minimal grooming and they shed periodically meaning less headache. Brush your blue heeler rat terrier mix at least 1 to 2 times a week. Bathe him at least once a month or when the need arises. Brush his teeth 2 to 3 times weekly to remove any tartar buildup and bacteria.

Blue Heeler Rat Terrier Mix Health Issues

Though hybrid vigor has made blue heeler rat terrier mix less likely vulnerable to various genetic disorders and pathogenic diseases, they are still at risk of inheriting various health issues from their parents.

Not all puppies will have any or all of these issues, but it’s vital to be aware of them if you’re thinking about adding a puppy to your household.

While blue heelers are prone to develop progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, deafness, and Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD), rat terriers are prone to develop kneecap luxation, hip dysplasia, dental abnormalities, heart and liver problems.

Before buying a puppy, you can make sure he is free of any genetic disease by asking the breeder to show you the health clearances of the puppy. You can also take a look at the littermates to confirm they are all healthy and strong.

Blue Heeler Rat Terrier Mix Exercise And Training

Like both parents, a blue heeler rat terrier mix is going to be full of energy and he will need more than short daily walks to stay in good health. He is never a couch potato and would need a spacious environment, probably a fenced-in yard to let out its natural exuberance. He should be engaged in canine sports like running, fetch, agility, rally, frisbee toss, herding balls, or tug of war.

Fortunately, both blue heeler and rat terrier are intelligent and trainable. The mixed-breed will probably do well with positive reinforcement and praise. To keep this dog happy and easy, regular mental and physical stimulation will come in handy.

Blue Heeler Rat Terrier Mix, like any other, will require early socialization and proper training to bond well and live amicably among humans and other animals. So, never deny him such.


If you are thinking about bringing a blue heeler rat terrier mix to your home, hopefully, after reading this, you will make a wise decision.

Rat terriers are smaller and good for first-time owners but blue heeler is not quite suitable for a novice as they are a bit tougher to handle or train, and may want to herd small children. However, both are intelligent, courageous, highly devoted, and excellent watchdogs.

Also, it is necessary to be aware of the health conditions both parents are susceptible to and be ready for them before making a buy decision.

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Celestine Gomez

I'm Celestine Gomez, worked for 5 years in an animal shelter in Los Angeles, California. Having noticed the inherent passion and zeal in me to care for pets, I took a step further to create a team of I and like-minded individuals to provide an informative resource in order to broaden the knowledge base of a regular pet owners.