Australian cattle dogs are powerful and bold herding animals who hail -- you might have guessed it -- from the land of koalas, kangaroos and vegemite. These midsize canines are commonly referred to as "blue heelers," a reference to their heel-nipping approach to herding and their often blue-tinged coats.
Blue Heeler Basics
Blue heelers have been around since the end of the 19th century, when they were bred to work alongside cattle. Not only are blue heelers renowned for their diligence, they're also frequently considered to be loving family dogs. Their thick and short fur is either blue or red, and "red heeler" is another common handle for the breed. Blue heelers who have caring and attentive caretakers can have content and thriving lives of 10 to 13 years. Blue heelers are vulnerable to a handful of medical conditions.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive retinal atrophy is an eye condition that frequently appears in blue heelers. This ailment involves retinal deterioration and the vision detriment that follows it. If your blue heeler is dealing with this disease, you might notice symptoms including difficulty seeing at night, widened pupils and the emergence of cataracts. Dogs with this issue do not experience pain. Progressive retinal atrophy works slowly to bring upon full vision loss in canines.
Canine Hip Dysplasia
Blue heelers are susceptible to canine hip dysplasia, a disorder caused by irregularities with hip joint growth. With dysplasia, hip joints aren't fixed in place, and discomfort results. If your blue heeler has canine hip dysplasia, he might hobble a lot and exhibit a strong aversion to physical activity. His body might always be rigid and tense, particularly at morning.
Deafness occurs in many blue heelers. Some blue heelers who develop hearing difficulties can't hear at all; others can to a degree. If your blue heeler has congenital hearing problems, he might make it apparent to you in a variety of ways. If, for instance, your pooch never seems to be aware that you're nearby prior to your establishing physical contact with him, it could mean he never hears you approaching him. Other common indications of deafness in canines are inordinate barking, lack of reaction to random noises and trembling of the ears.
Other Health Issues
Other health issues that blue heelers are prone to are the blood vessel irregularity of liver shunts, the foggy eye lens condition of cataracts, the eye difficulties of persistent pupillary membranes and the blood disorder von Willebrand's disease. Since symptoms for any diseases to which blue heelers are prone might not always be 100 percent clear or obvious, regular veterinary appointments are a must. The sooner you confirm the presence of a medical situation in your pooch, inherited or otherwise, the sooner you can get him the proper veterinary management he needs.
- Duncan Smith/Photodisc/Getty Images