Australian cattle dogs, also known as blue heelers, are herding dogs. The nickname blue heeler comes from the unique coat color of the breed and his habit for nipping at the heels of the livestock with which he works. The blue heeler is friendly and sociable, making him a great pet. If you’re considering getting a blue heeler puppy, it’s important to understand the specific needs of the breed.
In the Litter
The typical size of a blue heeler litter is five puppies. Up to the age of around six weeks, the mother is best able to provide care for the dog. Only after that stage is it appropriate to take your puppy home with you.
Blue heelers are medium-small dogs and, as such, their puppies grow at a relatively quick rate. Due to this rate of growth blue heeler puppies require three fat-rich, fiber-rich meals per day to provide the correct amount of energy to support them. It is normal for small breed puppies to grow at a rapid rate, so you must plan your feeding regimen to reflect this.
Blue heelers are herding dogs and, like all herding dogs, they are very intelligent. As adults, they are confident, curious and driven to work. Their work is heeling, which involves nipping at the heels of livestock to control their movement. Due to this habit, it’s important that you discourage nipping in your blue heeler puppy as soon as you identify it. The breed can be prone to hearing sensitivity and puppies may be startled easily by loud bangs and noises, so try to keep your pup’s environment peaceful. As puppies, blue heelers will begin to show the classic breed personality traits at around two to three weeks. He’ll show an interest in movement and will start play-fighting with his litter mates.
Because of the variety of breeds in the lineage, the blue heeler, thankfully, is free from many of the more common inherited health issues associated with herding breeds, such as collie eye. They also are statistically unlikely to suffer hip dysplasia compared to other breeds of similar size. One issue that blue heeler owners should look out for is progressive retinal atrophy. Although this condition typically begins to occur at around 4 years of age, any signs of poor vision in puppies, characterized by slow reactions to movement or regularly bumping into things, should be referred to your veterinarian. Due to his short coat, your pup requires minimal grooming aside from the normal practice of removing dirt from his fur as and grooming when required.
- Pet Planet: Australian Cattle Dog
- Virginia - Marlyland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine: Nutrition for the Growing Puppy
- Terrific Pets: Australian Cattle Dogs -- The Right Breed For Me?
- Terrific Pets: Health Concerns with Australian Cattle Dogs
- Pedigree: Caring for your Dog -- Puppy Development from Birth to 12 Weeks
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.