How Smart Is a Lab & Blue Heeler Dog Mix?

by Jane Meggitt Google
    Australian cattle dogs were originally known as blue heelers.

    Australian cattle dogs were originally known as blue heelers.

    Duncan Smith/Photodisc/Getty Images

    A Labrador retriever crossed with a blue heeler, also known as an Australian cattle dog, is one smart canine. Ideally, this hybrid dog combines the intensity of the blue heeler with the affable disposition of the Labrador retriever. Some people call these dogs "Labraheelers."

    Australian Cattle Dog

    The Australian cattle dog's ancestry includes the dingo, the wild dog of the continent. In the 19th century, Australian ranches bred Dalmatians, blue merle collies and other breeds to the dingo, with the resulting offspring developing into what some today call the blue heeler. While it boasts the dingo's build, the Australian cattle dog sports the coat colors of domestic dogs, appearing in either or blue or red speckling. It also inherited the dingo's native intelligence. According to Australian Geographic, research proves that dingoes are "smart enough to respond to human signals in ways that wolves cannot, and are able to solve problems that leave dogs frustratingly foxed."

    Labrador Retriever

    Labrador retrievers are America's most popular dog breed, according to American Kennel Club registration statistics. They come in basic black, yellow and chocolate coat colors. Labs are also among the versatile of breeds, equally comfortable in the hunt field retrieving game or cheering up patients in nursing homes as therapy dogs. They're the breed of choice as service dogs for the blind and disabled. Smart and eager to please, Labs require a fair amount of exercise and mental stimulation or all that energy might be channeled into destructive activities.

    Working Dogs

    While both Labs and blue heelers are intelligent, they have something else in common. There's a lot of energy in that canine package, whether he takes after the somewhat smaller blue heeler or the larger Lab. The Labraheeler doesn't make a good choice for the couch-potato owner. The dog needs some sort of job. If you don't happen to live on a ranch or farm, there are plenty of alternatives. Your dog can excel in obedience, tracking, agility, search-and-rescue and other canine activities.

    Considerations

    There are big differences between these two breeds, so much will depend on the individual dog's temperament and what side of the canine family he takes after. Blue heelers make excellent watchdogs; Labs, not so much. The blue heeler loves his family but isn't necessarily good with strangers. Many Labs love everybody. That also goes for new canines. While Labs generally get along with other dogs, that's not necessarily true of the Australian cattle dog. If you have kids or other pets, you might find the Labraheeler herding them.

    Photo Credits

    • Duncan Smith/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, her work has appeared in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.

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