Comparison of the Catahoula & the Blue Heeler

Blue heelers were originally called Australian heelers.
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The Catahoula and blue heeler are dogs with their origins in herding livestock. While they work hard on the farm, they both can make loving family pets. The Catahoula is American bred, and the blue heeler hails from Australia. Working dogs with trademark merle coats, the Catahoula and the blue heeler draw many comparisons.


The Catahoula leopard dog is named for the Catahoula Lake region in Northern Louisiana where they originated. Early settlers bred their dogs with domesticated dogs of the local Native Americans to produce a hard working herder, the Catahoula. The blue heeler, also called the Australian cattle dog, originated in Australia. Dalmatians and tan kelpies were bred with the wild dingoes to produce the cattle herding blue heeler.


Both the Catahoula and the blue heeler have a multitude of monikers. The Catahoula is sometimes called the Catahoula leopard dog in reference to its spotted coat. They are also commonly called Catahoula curs, Catahoula hog dogs or Catahoula hounds. The blue heeler refers to the preferred blue merle coat of the Australian cattle dog. Queensland heelers are another name referencing their place of origin.


The Catahoula is the larger between the two breeds, weighing between 45 to 95 pounds and reaching a height of around 25 inches. They have a short single coat that commonly has a ticked and spotted merle pattern or black and tan coloration. The blue heeler is a medium-sized dog with a sturdy build. They weigh between 35 and 45 pounds with a height between 17 and 20 inches. They have upright pointed ears and a blue merle coat, accented with tan on the chest and face and black around the eyes. Their coats are double coats, thick and weather resistant.


Both Catahoulas and blue heelers are herding dogs. The Catahoula is affectionate and craves attention from his owners, but he can be shy or territorial around strangers. Early socialization is key to having a well-behaved Catahoula. A firm hand and plenty of attention help keep this pup well-behaved. They will appreciate a big yard and long walks, but they aren’t as high energy as the blue heeler. The blue heeler needs plenty of exercise and daily long walks to keep from becoming bored and destructive. Blue heelers are intelligent and will appreciate having a job to do making them great guard dogs. Like Catahoulas, they require an owner who is firmly in charge or they may become aggressive.