Traits & Behaviors of the Blue Heeler Dog

Blue heelers have blue and red mottled coats.
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The blue heeler or Australian cattle dog descends from the Australian dingo and the smooth collie. Blue heelers were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1980. While every individual pup has unique and totally lovable characteristics, there are many classic traits and behaviors of blue heeler pups.

Energy Level

Blue heelers have a reputation for being high-energy dogs. As such, they do not make good apartment dogs. These pups do best when they have lots of room to roam and plenty of daily exercise -- so consider making one your running buddy. Blue heelers without adequate exercise may become frequent barkers or destructive in the home.


Per the American Kennel Club, blue heelers are known for loyalty, protective instincts, courage, watchfulness and a true devotion to their duty. Like other breeds bred as working dogs, blue heelers naturally enjoy having a job to do and may give themselves a job -- such as herding the family cat.

Behavior with Other Animals

As natural herders, these pups try to herd other animals. They can be dominant toward other dogs in herding attempts, although early socialization can mitigate this. Blue heelers also nip the animals they're herding, again due to instinct. They're not trying to be mean. For this reason, blue heelers aren't recommended around cats unless they have been raised with cats from puppyhood.

Behavior with People

In general, blue heelers enjoy a tight family bond, although they will test owners for dominance. If you can assert yourself as the alpha of the pack, your blue heeler will come to respect you. If you're not willing to consistently take a pack leader stance, you may find the blue heeler temperament and energy level too much to handle. These dogs tend to be suspicious and watchful of strangers. Coupled with their family loyalty, this makes them excellent guard dogs.