Also known as Australian cattle dogs, the blue heeler is one of the ultimate working canines.
Bred to herd cattle in the Australian outback, this medium-sized dog breed is hardy, tenacious, loyal, and energetic. And, if there’s one word to be used to describe the heeler, many owners would say ‘workaholic’!
While blue heelers are becoming popular pets, their intelligence, energy, and intensity may make them a bit of a challenge for less experienced pet owners. But for others, the unique qualities of the blue heeler dog breed make them the perfect family pet.
However, there are some stunning blue heeler crossbreeds coming to the fore which may be a better match for you and your family. We take a more in-depth look at what makes a blue heeler and highlight 15 of the best blue heeler mixes.
All you Need to Know about the Blue Heeler
With its short, durable coat featuring the distinct speckled blue coloring, the Blue Heeler is a handsome animal. And when you realize that this hardworking breed is the result of a cross between either dalmatians or border collies with the wild dingo dog, you can see its heritage.
Originally bred in the 19th century, blue heelers were used for herding cattle back to the farm in the vast Australian outback. They got their name as they nipped at the heels of the cattle to keep them on the move.
The heeler is also a remarkably resilient and tough dog, able to deal with the harsh Aussie climate.
The blue heeler was recognized as a purebred dog breed by the American Kennel Club in 1980.
Key Characteristics of the Blue Heeler
- Appearance: Growing up to 20 inches tall, the Blue Heeler is a long and stocky dog, with a shorthaired coat and a bushy, muscular tail. They have dark, intelligent eyes, set in a wide skull and alert, upright ears.
All blue heelers are born with a white coat, which develops the distinctive blue mottling or blue speckled pattern as they age. You can also get red heelers, which have a rusty speckle to their fur.
- Temperament: With boundless energy, blue heelers are the ultimate working dog. The heeler is intelligent with a strong work ethic, which means they can succumb to boredom if not mentally and physically stimulated.
The blue heeler is also loyal and protective with an independent streak so can be wary of other dogs. Their personality can be best described as a little intense so they need an active home to bring out their best.
- Training: With their strong personality, the heeler needs early proper socialization and consistent training to bring out his best.
Their herding instinct is also strong, and they can ‘herd’ children, other animals, and family pets by nipping at their heels.
But they love a job to do, so like many other dogs, they can excel at dog sports and obedience training. Exercise-wise, the Australian heeler needs plenty of outdoor time so best suited to active dog owners.
- Health: A tough, resilient animal, the blue heeler is generally a healthy dog with an average lifespan of between 12 and 15 years.
However, blue heeler dogs are susceptible to certain health conditions, including hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, deafness, cataracts, and ear infections.
The 15 Stunning Blue Heeler Mixes
With such a strong personality, work ethic, and high need for exercise, the pure blue heeler is an energetic dog that may not be suitable for every would-be dog owner or family with small children.
But with an Australian blue heeler cross breed, you can get the best of both worlds by mixing two different dog breeds.
Known as a hybrid dog, we’ve put together a list of what we think are 15 of the best blue heeler mixes for you to consider.
1. Basset Heeler (Basset hound/blue heeler)
There’s a cuteness overload with the basset heeler thanks to its floppy ears, hangdog face, and gorgeous blue spots. And as a smaller dog, the basset heeler is a good choice if large dogs are not your thing.
However, this energetic pooch also has a larger-than-life personality and can be very protective as well as cautious with strangers. This is why, as with all the blue heeler mix breeds, early socialization and consistent training are a must.
The basset heeler is a strong, muscular dog with a lovely soft, yet short coat. He is also a bright spark and can become destructive if left alone too long or is allowed to get bored.
2. Beagle Heeler
Curious, playful, affectionate, and active, combining the inquisitive beagle with the blue heeler makes a special combination. But it’s also a blue heeler mix breed to keep you on your toes!
This is a pretty blue heeler mix, thanks to those distinctive beagle-droop ears from its parent breed. You may also see tan and black beagle patches of color on the blue mottled coat.
As a medium-sized dog, the beagle heeler can be a good choice for families as they love to play, although they can err on the mischievous side. And all that heeler/beagle energy will keep you and your kids active.
And you do need to bear in mind that with the heeler’s drive to work and the beagle nose, you may have a wanderer on your hands.
3. Bernese Cattle Dog (Bernese mountain dog/blue heeler)
A sizeable pooch, the Bernese cattle dog needs space, exercise, and stimulation.
Bringing together the herding blue heeler with the Bernese mountain dog, the Bernese cattle dog is a stunning designer dog. And overall, it has the best traits of its parent breeds.
The Bernese cattle dog craves attention and is a super affectionate member of the family, that is also good with children. And their sharp brain is highly trainable, although they do need a lot of mental and physical stimulation.
As they are people-focused, the Bernese cattle dog can also be prone to bouts of separation anxiety.
4. Blue Spaniel (cocker spaniel/blue heeler)
One of the most popular family dogs, the cocker spaniel already has plenty of energy. So, when you add the blue heeler into the mix, you get a very bouncy dog indeed!
What the spaniel brings to this energetic blue heeler mix is its bubbly, positive, and friendly demeanor. And this can counter the more intense nature of the Australian cattle dog.
With the blue spaniel, you get the lux fur of the cocker, mixed with the stunning heeler mottled blue. With long fur on the ears and chest, the blue spaniel is one handsome hybrid dog.
However, the blue spaniel can be a little aggressive towards strangers and is known to be a barker, so plenty of exercise and playtime is a must. And, as cockers can be prone to eye issues such as progressive retinal atrophy, then this is an area to watch.
5. Blue Tzu Heeler (Shih Tzu/blue heeler)
The first of our ‘mini’ Blue Heeler crosses, the Blue Tzu is an absolute cutie and can be anywhere between 12 and 18 inches tall. And of course, the Blue Tzu comes with the Shih Tzu’s attitude in spades!
This is also a very fluffy hybrid dog, with the Shih Tzu’s furry ears and body giving him a plush look, enhanced by the classic blue heeler coat pattern.
Although a smaller dog than a pure Blue Heeler, the Blue Tzu Heeler still has plenty of energy and loves to get out and about. In fact, this cross breed thrives in large open spaces rather than just being a sofa lap dog.
But he does have the Shih Tzu’s need for company, so you need to be sure you can also shower him with plenty of love and attention.
6. Border Heeler (border collie/blue heeler)
Combining the border collie with the blue heeler, the border heeler is a heady mix. Bringing together two of the most successful herding dogs means you get a mix that can tend to be on the hyperactive side, especially when their intelligence is brought into play.
The border collie blue heeler mix has boundless energy that needs to be harnessed as they can be destructive if bored so plenty of daily exercise and stimulation is essential.
Early socialization and training are also a must if you are to manage their protective side that comes from their herding dogs’ instinct. This means that this border collie mix is best suited to more experienced dog owners.
Healthwise, there are a few issues to note with the border heeler, as they can be prone to eye problems, including cataracts and a condition called collie eye anomaly.
7. Boston Cattle Dog (Boston terrier/blue heeler)
The Boston cattle dog is a spunky chap, thanks to its Boston terrier heritage, which gives it a spirited personality.
The Australian cattle dog aspect of this blue heeler mix adds in more energy, plus extra intelligence, making the Boston cattle dog very smart indeed.
A muscular smaller-medium-sized pooch, the Boston cattle dog can also be surprisingly strong and so needs confident and firm handling to keep him in check. Consistent training will be needed to counter his urge to dominate.
In the right hands, however, the Boston cattle dog can be an awesome pet, that is both switched on and friendly. And this can make him an excellent playmate for older children as this blue heeler mix may try to ‘herd’ smaller kids.
8. Box Heeler (Boxer/blue heeler)
The Box heeler is a super-friendly dog when he gets to know you. And he has a patient side which counters the blue heeler’s more intense personality.
But you also get the protective instincts that can be found in both the boxer and blue heeler breeds, which needs careful handling. However, this trait can make this cross breed an excellent guard or watchdog.
Longer limbed than the Australian cattle dog, the box heeler has the distinctive boxer face, with his short, easy-to-care-for coat peppered with blue speckles and mottling.
A popular dog, the box heeler is also a bundle of fun and energy, so would benefit from an active home, where he will make a fantastic playmate for older children.
Generally robust and healthy, the box heeler has a lifespan of up to 16 years.
9. Chi Heeler (Chihuahua/blue heeler)
On paper, a chihuahua and a blue heeler mix sound like an odd combination, but it seems to work.
Looks-wise, chi heelers are medium to small dogs with the stature of the chihuahua, and the sturdiness and blue mottling of the Queensland heeler. You also get a heady mix of that chihuahua sass and the heeler’s switched-on brain.
While this may sound like trouble, what you do get is a fun, active, and hyper-alert pooch that has an extraordinary zest for life. He can tend to be a typical chihuahua, however, when it comes to children, showing his bossy, dominant side, especially with the younger ones.
Light shedding, so easy to care for, the chihuahua cattle dog mix likes to rule the roost. But with consistent handling and plenty of love and attention, the chi heeler is a rewarding little dog to own.
10. Corgi Blue Heeler
With those distinctive corgi ‘bat ears’ and the trademark blue heeler mottling, the corgi blue heeler is an extraordinary-looking pup that will melt your heart.
A cross between the family-friendly Pembroke Welsh corgi and the Australian cattle dog, this medium-sized canine is less energetic than a full-on blue heeler.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t need much exercise as this cute dude is still a little powerhouse. And the heeler influence can also make this corgi cross breed less of a barker.
The corgi blue heeler mix is smart and needs to be occupied, but then is happy to settle down with his human pack at the end of the day. Which makes him a good companion for an active family with kids.
11. Dalmatian Heeler
Take two dog breeds known for their distinctive coats and you have one of the most eye-catching blue heeler mixes.
The spots of the dalmatian and the grey, black, and blue heeler mottling and the dalmatian heeler really turns those heads. But this dalmatian blue heeler mix is more than just looks as he also comes with a large personality to match.
The dalmatian heeler is one for more experienced dog owners as they tend to have quite a domineering personality.
They can also be on the sensitive side, so can crave attention. And their protective instincts mean early socialization and proper obedience training are essential
Exercise-wise, those long dalmatian legs, and blue heeler energy mean the dalmatian heeler needs to be walked every day at least, plus plenty of playtimes.
12. Labraheeler (Labrador/blue heeler)
Consistently the most popular dog breed in the US, the Labrador is a well-established pet in its own right. So, the labraheeler – a blue heeler lab mix – has a lot to live up to.
With the loyalty of the blue heeler and the affectionate personality of the Labrador, the labraheeler makes an excellent all-around family dog.
But you need to be prepared to put the walking miles in, as this loving blue heeler mix breed needs plenty of daily exercises.
The body and face of the labraheeler are clearly lab, but he has the most gorgeous black, blue, and white mottled coat pattern of the heeler. And his personality is also the best of both worlds, with the fun and people-loving lab softening off the heeler’s more aloof and protective side.
13. Pit Heeler (American pit bull/blue heeler)
If you like your dog to affectionate with plenty of energy, then the pit heeler could be your ideal match.
A mix between the blue heeler and the iconic American pit bull terrier, the pit heeler makes a great family pet as well as a watchdog.
With the pit bull’s muscular build and large head, the terrier side in this mix is evident. But the heeler vibe kicks in thanks to the blue mottling across the dog’s short coat.
The combined intelligence of the parent breeds also means that the pit heeler responds well to training and loves to have a job to do. And the pittie influence means they also respond well to love and affection from their human.
However, the heeler’s reserve and energy levels mean that this blue heeler mix thrives best in an experienced household.
14. Shepherd heeler (German shepherd/blue heeler)
Our next blue heeler mix is the majestic shepherd heeler, which combines the Australian cattle dog with the imposing German shepherd.
The first thing to note about the shepherd blue heeler mix is that it is a strong animal, so best suited to experienced rather than first-time pet owners.
The dominance trait is clear in the shepherd heeler which means they need adequate exercise, plenty of space, and consistent training and handling.
But with their protective nature and inherited work ethic, the shepherd heeler makes an excellent guard or even service dog as well as a loyal companion.
This is a large animal – the shepherd heeler can weigh up to 95 pounds – and their double coat means their grooming regime can also be quite demanding. And they can be prone to hip dysplasia which is common in the German shepherd breed.
15. Texas heeler (AKA Australian shepherd blue heeler)
This cross breed is a mix of two iconic antipodean canines – the blue heeler (also known as the Queensland heeler) and the Australian shepherd dog.
The result is a heady mix of high energy and a strong desire to work. This means more experienced dog owners are best to take the intelligent and full-pelt Australian shepherd blue heeler mix on.
The Texas heeler will need at least 60-90 minutes of exercise every day plus plenty of outdoor space to call his own. And the smart brain of the Australian shepherd blue heeler means they also need plenty of mental stimulation to prevent boredom from setting in.
But for the active family who loves to exercise in the great outdoors, the Texas heeler/Australian shepherd blue heeler mix dog will become a loving, loyal, and friendly furry companion.
Deciding if a Blue Heeler Mix is Right for you
Both the blue heeler and a blue heeler mix can make great companions and have all the core attributes to be a loyal family dog.
But, as a hybrid dog takes characteristics from each parent dog, you need to expect a pooch with a strong personality. They will also be very active dogs.
The blue heeler attributes as a herding dog will most likely mean the blue heeler mix you choose will be more high-energy and require plenty of exercises, consistent training, and sufficient mental stimulation.
So, if you are seriously considering one of the blue heeler mixes, make sure you do your research into both breeds and understand their likely temperament, health, care, and training/exercise needs.
And make sure you only use a reputable breeder or shelter and do all the checks required to ensure your new blue heeler mix puppy or adult mixed-breed dog is happy and healthy.
With all this information to hand, you will be able to confidently decide whether a blue heeler mix makes the right dog for you, your family, and any other pets you may have.
And if you do choose a gorgeous blue heeler mix dog, then you will hopefully have many happy, active, fun, and loving years together.