Australian heelers are one of the most athletic dog breeds out there. Traditionally, they used to play a major role in herding cattle. Yet, nowadays, we raise them as friendly house pets.
Not only are they incredibly fun to be around, but they can also help you achieve a more active lifestyle. They’re constantly on the go and in need of a lot of attention.
So, if you’re considering adopting a Cattle Dog, you may have a few questions. Mainly, which one is better for you, red heeler vs. blue heeler? We’ve done all the research, so you don’t have to.
Both red and blue heelers originate from the same family. Aside from the color of their coats, these dogs are practically identical. They share physical appearances, habits, and even personality traits.
In this article, we’ll take a look at:
- Heeler origins
- What sets these two dog types apart
- Some of the similarities between them
Origin of Australian Heelers
Australia has one of the largest unique wildlife populations in the world. We’ve all heard about koalas, wombats, and, of course, kangaroos. Still, not many people know about this particular breed of dog.
The story starts with the original cattle herding dogs in Australia, the Smithfields. These dogs traveled with colonizers to the continent. After a while, people noticed that the dogs were struggling to adapt to their environment.
They couldn’t handle the harsh surroundings. So, Australians decided to breed the dogs with the more feral dingoes. This gave us heelers.
Historically, people would use heelers to help herd cattle over long distances. This was because the dogs are hardy and can handle walking through rough terrain.
Besides that, the dogs were also great at asserting dominance. They would bark and growl to make sure the cattle were moving where they should be.
Since heelers worked closely with humans, over the years, they built a relationship. We started realizing how loving and loyal they are.
As time went by, we domesticated heelers gradually. This brings us to today, where having one of these dogs as pets is common.
Red and blue heelers have been around for many years. While you can tell the difference between the two by looking at them, there’s a little more to it.
Let’s dive into the comparison between red and blue heelers.
Red Heeler vs. Blue Heeler Traits
Here are all the similarities and differences between the two strong yet loving pooches!
Officially, we know these animals as cattle dogs. However, they do have a few other names.
Some people refer to this canine as the Queensland dog. This is in reference to the state where the dogs originate.
Other than that, people also call these pets heelers. The reason behind this is most probably their herding duties.
When cattle would refuse to move, the dogs would nip at their heels. Eventually, this would become the breed’s most notable name.
The red and blue distinctions only refer to the color of the dog’s coat. Underneath it, both red and blue heelers belong to the same breed.
Australian cattle dogs have sturdy, muscular frames. Measuring at the withers, a male heeler is about 18-20 inches long, while females are 17-19 inches.
The height of these canines differs based on their length. Usually, they follow a 10:9 ratio of length and height, respectively.
Moving on to the size, a healthy heeler tends to weigh anywhere from 40 to 55 pounds.
Both red and blue varieties share these measurements. On top of this, they have strong shoulders and necks and powerful forelegs.
Apart from that, the dogs also share a similarly shaped skull and muzzle.
This is the area where you can distinctly see the difference between red and blue heelers.
First off, let’s talk about the similarities.
One of the first things you notice about these gentle creatures is their soulful eyes. They have oval, dark eyes that mainly have a keen expression.
Moving a little further back on the head, you’ll see the ears. They’re pointy and they stand straight up. These make the dogs look alert and ready to pounce at any moment.
These features are pretty consistent in red and blue heelers. However, as you turn your attention to the fur, you’ll notice inconsistencies.
Both canines have short double coats. This means that there are two different components that make up the fur.
The first is a layer of soft, short hair. This covers the dog’s entire body and grows rapidly, changing about twice a year.
As for the second part, the hair is long and coarse. The top coat is what most people can see.
While red and blue pets share this, that’s where the similarities end.
You would assume from the name that these dogs have bright red hair. However, that’s not the case. These pets have a more auburn shade to their coats.
This is due to the dual tones of the hair fibers. Each heeler has a mixture of orange-red and white fur. When these two pigments come together, they have an almost ginger tone.
Besides the main coat color, heelers can also have discoloration patches. These can be blotches of black, tan, red, or white tufts of hair.
Whatever the pattern of a red heeler coat, it tends to carry along its entire body. This includes both the back and underbelly fur.
On occasion, these dogs may have a few markings on their head. They present themselves as patches of lighter fur. Still, it’s highly unlikely that these markings travel beyond the head.
There are two different variations of the red heeler coat.
The main coat of red speckled heelers is mostly white. Among the white, you’ll find tiny specks of red peppered throughout the fur.
As for red mottled heelers, their coats are scarlet, with a few patches of white everywhere.
As you can guess, these dogs get their name from the color of their fur. Yet, the shade you see isn’t a true blue. Instead, it looks more like a deep navy hue.
This is due to the color contrast of the coat. A blue heeler’s coat isn’t usually a single color. Most of the time, it’ll be black and white, with a blue tint.
The way these colors come together decides the pattern of your pet’s coat.
This pigmentation applies to the upper area of the dog’s body. The underbelly tells a completely different color story.
Most blue heelers have a tan underbelly. It starts from the thighs of the hind legs and goes all the way to the neck.
Typically, the chest, throat, and jaw will all be a pale shade of brown.
These patches can sometimes carry on to the top of the head. Sometimes, a blue heeler can have tan markings on its head.
There are three different variations of the blue fur:
Even though the coat is blue, the color is part of the main components. This fur mostly consists of black and white fur.
The colors spread out and intertwine in the fur to create one solid coat. As for the blue, it’s more of a hue rather than a color.
These dogs have a predominantly white coat. Between the large expenses of white, you’ll find a few black patches scattered all over the place.
Blue mottled heelers have black fur as their main coat. On that coat, you’ll see small white blotches in a random pattern.
When it comes to behavior, red and blue heelers have a lot in common.
For starters, both dogs tend to be smart, resourceful, and energetic.
You have to remember that these pups come from a long line of herders. For this reason, heelers can be incredibly overprotective of their owners. Even though they aren’t vicious by nature, they will defend the people they love.
The only major difference between red and blue in this category is stealth. Since blue heelers can camouflage with their surroundings, they can be more wily.
Still, it’s more common for these pups to be happy and fun-loving than sneaky.
Aside from heelers being intelligent, they also have an incredible amount of energy.
These dogs are always ready to play with you or go on an adventure. Sometimes this energy can get out of hand.
Leaving these pups unattended for too long can lead to them getting anxious and jumpy.
If you keep to a regular exercise program, heelers should have no problem living in a closed space.
Heelers are descendants of two incredibly hardy dog breeds. Fortunately, these breeds passed on that trait to their offspring.
Generally, heelers tend to be in good shape. There are no pre-existing health concerns with this breed.
Still, there are a few medical conditions that are common in heelers. These include:
- Eyesight issues
- Heart conditions
While these may be uncomfortable, they’re rarely deadly. However, if you suspect your pup has one of these conditions, you should contact your vet as soon as possible.
There’s nothing more heartbreaking than losing your favorite companion. That’s why one of the most important aspects to consider when adopting is lifespan.
Luckily, these dogs have a relatively long life expectancy. On average, if they’re healthy, red and blue heelers can live about 13 to 15 years.
Still, there has been a case or two of these pups living much for many extra years.
Grooming is a key aspect of raising a pet. Sometimes, the process can take hours and be a real headache. Thankfully, this isn’t the case with heelers.
Because of their double coats, these dogs don’t need a lot of grooming. However, they do shed on occasion.
To make sure their hair doesn’t tangle, you should brush it out about once a week. This applies to most of the year, except shedding seasons.
In spring and fall, heelers change out most of their coats. That means a lot more of their fur will fall off.
During these periods, your dog may need more grooming. He may also need a few baths to keep his coat shiny.
There’s a huge debate over the best feeding program for heelers. Some people suggest that raw food is the ideal way to go, while others prefer canned food.
Luckily, both red and blue heelers don’t tend to be picky eaters. As long as you feed them about two meals a day, they’re happy to feast on whatever’s in front of them.
Because of this, you have to avoid overfeeding these pups. Too much food can lead to a few serious medical conditions.
The combination of brains and brawn makes red and blue heelers easy to train. These canines are usually happy to learn a trick or two.
They also have an innate need to please, which makes dealing with the pups much simpler.
Still, there are a few issues that can show up. The first is the playful side of the dogs. Sometimes the dogs can be a little more interested in playing than they are in training.
While this may be annoying, it’s nothing a few treats can’t fix.
Another problem may be heel nipping. Just because these pups don’t work with cattle, doesn’t mean they dropped their herding behavior.
As the dogs grow older, this can become a real nuisance. That’s why you should contact a professional trainer or follow a discipline guide.
Even though both red and blue heelers are the same breed, their prices can vary widely.
With blue heelers, prices are a lot more constant. A puppy can cost anywhere from $300 to $600 depending on the breeder.
However, red heeler prices have a much larger range. You can find a red canine for as little as $300 or all the way up to $2,500.
The cost will depend on your location, the color of the coat, and the age of the dog. So, adopting one of these pups may be a huge investment.
If you’re debating red heeler vs. blue heeler, you should be aware of a couple of factors.
One of the first things you should know is that both dogs are the same breed. There are, however, a few key distinctions.
These main differences include the coat color and pattern as well as the price. Other than that, owning a red or blue heeler should equally fill your home with joy and energetic vibes.
With all this in mind, it’s time to visit a reputable breeder or a dog shelter to get your heeler pup!