An Australian Cattle Dog sitting in the woods with autumn leaves in the background.

Blue Heeler / Australian Cattle Dog Price, Pawsonality and More


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Aside from being a true blue classic, the Blue Heeler Australian cattle dog has two of everything. It has two names (Blue Heeler and Australian Cattle Dog) and it has two sets of doggie DNA, which we’ll get into below along with so much more.

If you’re considering a Blue Heeler puppy as the newest member of your family, you’ll want to find out more about this sporty breed. In this article, PD Insurance looks at price, temperament, grooming, training and more.

A pair of Blue Heelers play catch with the water spouting from the hosepipe as their owner waters the garden

Is a Blue Heeler a good family dog?

Blue Heelers make incredibly loyal, loving family dogs, provided they’re properly trained and socialised from puppy stage. They love their family and get along with children and adults alike. That said, their super high energy levels and herding instinct means they aren’t always suitable around very young children.

Family ties vs stranger danger

There are a few ins and outs to ensuring your Blue Heeler is well behaved. Not only towards its family (easiest) but also strangers (needs more application) and other pets. Like most breeds that are known for having a strong sense of loyalty such as the German Shepherd, the Australian Cattle Dog tends to be cautious around strangers.

Left unchecked, this breed’s caution around people they don’t know can lead to aggression as they mature.

Training and socialisation are key

This needs to be pre-empted by ensuring your Blue Heeler has adequate training and socialisation. Once that’s achieved, they can enjoy the company of people, dogs and even cats (who like dogs).

Happily, this doggy has smarts and energy to match, making it highly engaged and trainable. Read our interview with Dogs New Zealand Director/Secretary, Steven Thompson on dog training and registration.

Here’s more on dog breed exercise requirements and high, mid and low energy dogs.

An Blue Heeler puppy sits on a step with its tongue out.

How to pick a Blue Heeler puppy

If your heart is set on getting a Blue Heeler Australian Cattle Dog, there are a couple of things worth being aware of. As with any pedigreed pooch, it’s important to find an ethical breeder.

Ethical dog breeders health screen both parents prior to breeding. This reduces the chance of passing on genetic/hereditary conditions common to the breed (more on that further on).

Things to consider when selecting your puppy include:

  • Health. A healthy puppy should have clear eyes and ears and a shiny coat
  • Temperament. Puppies shouldn’t be scared or aggressive (unless they’ve been badly treated)
  • Breeder Reputation. Choose a Dogs New Zealand registered breeder who provides health clearances for the puppy’s parents

Here’s more from our vet expert, Dr Cath Watson, on what sort of health checks an ethical breeder might do:

Australian Cattle Dog puppy price

The price of a pedigreed Blue Heeler Australian Cattle Dog can vary from one breeder to the next as well as the availability of puppies. Additionally, you can sometimes find Australian Cattle Dogs up for adoption, which can be a more affordable route. If you opt for the adopted dog route, consider a pet behaviourist to help settle them in.

The asking price for a Blue Heeler puppy can start anywhere from the region of $1,500* and up. However, this isn’t the benchmark because the more health testing and care that goes into whelping a litter, the more you can expect to pay.

Although you or I may be ready to buy a Blue Heeler puppy, that doesn’t always mean they will be available. Good dog breeders won’t breed more than a certain number of litters from a mum. Dogs can’t stay healthy if they have too many puppies or too many litters in quick succession.

That’s why dogs are best friends for life, rather than commodities!

Two girls sitting on the grass with their blue heeler.

Are Blue Heelers and Red Heelers the same breed?

We’ve already talked about how the Blue Heeler and Australian Cattle Dog are one and the same. But this dog breed has other names too… ACD is routinely used as an acronym for Australian Cattle Dog and this pooch can also simply be called a ‘Cattle Dog’, Queensland Heeler or Red Heeler.

So, to answer the big bold question above, the answer is yes! Blue Heelers and Red Heelers are the same breed. The difference is in their colouring: Blue Heelers have a blue-ticked coat, while Red Heelers have a red-ticked coat.

How much do Australian Cattle Dogs shed?

Good news! Blue Heeler Australian Cattle Dogs have low grooming needs. Though you’ll still want to keep their routine pet care and flea treatment in check.

Although these pups only shed moderately, this can increase over the spring and autumn months. Ideally, you’ll want to give your Blue Heeler a good brushing once a week. This helps remove dead hairs and dander and keeps their coat healthy.

If you’re someone who has dog allergies, consider finding out more about Poodles and other dogs with hair instead of fur. These are considered moderately hypoallergenic dogs. If you’re getting a cat, read about hypoallergenic cats too!

An Australian Cattle Dog sitting on a swing in the park.

What two breeds make a Blue Heeler?

The Blue Heeler has two main doggie ancestors, namely domestic dogs and wild dingoes. The Blue Heeler’s forefathers include a breed called the Smithfield and, over time, the Dalmatian, Blue Merle Smooth Collie and Australian Kelpie.

These dogs were developed in Australia to create a dog that would be adept at herding cattle. Heelers are called Heelers because they snap at the heels of cattle to get them to move in the right direction.

An Australian Cattle Dog runs with a stick in its mouth in the mottled sunlight of an Auckland park.

How fast can a Blue Heeler run?

The Australian Cattle Dog was bred to be active and tireless. This dog needs a lot of physical and mental activity, more than a simple walk on a leash can provide.

Blue Heelers are known for running 24 to 32 km per hour but some have reached up to 55 km per hour!

A good jog or long workout coupled with obedience lessons or other intellectual challenges is essential for everyday dog happiness. Blue Heelers are happiest when they have a job to do (like herding!).

A Blue Heeler is standing on a patch of grass with its head tilted

Is the Australian Cattle Dog healthy?

Like most breeds, these dogs can be prone to certain hereditary conditions. Sadly, the Blue Heeler is predisposed to progressive blindness and deafness, this despite being a relatively healthy breed.

Although not very common, hip dysplasia in dogs can affect this breed. It’s another great reason to buy your puppy from an ethical breeder as most will test parents to help reduce the risk of this. The Blue Heeler is also known for getting cruciate ligament tears – read more about cruciate ligament disease.

High quality pet insurance for high quality pets

Regardless of whether you have an Australian Cattle Dog or another breed or whether you adopt or buy, consider having pet insurance. Pet insurance for dogs and cats helps to pay for a broad range of unforeseen vet costs. Depending on what level of cover you choose, this can include accidents, illnesses and even dental vet bills.

While we humans have government subsidised health care, vet bills aren’t subsidised so you foot the full cost. However, pet insurance helps fill this gap so you won’t need to do this alone. Plus, when you buy your PD Insurance policy, we’ll give you one or more months of pet insurance FREE!

Click below to get a quote today.

*At time of writing

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