Despite what some may think, the Red Heeler is not classified as an individual breed. Instead, the Red Heeler is better known as the Australian Cattle dog, famous for herding cattle by nipping at their heels.
These high-energy, intelligent dogs make great family pets for many reasons. All of these are detailed below, so read on to find out about this loveable pup.
Interesting Facts About the Red Heeler
- These dogs may also be called a Halls Heeler or Queensland Heeler.
- The name ‘Heeler’ comes from their method of herding, as these dogs would nip at the heels of cattle.
- Like the Blue Heeler, this dog is not its breed and is formally known as an Australian Cattle dog.
- Early settlers bred Australian cattle dogs to herd cattle and hail from New South Wales, Australia.
- Although the Red Heeler is a working dog, he is still suitable for family life and other active households.
- An Australian Cattle dog can be either red or blue, resulting in a red heeler or blue heeler.
- The first registered Australian Cattle dogs that arrived in the UK were blue puppies.
A Short History of the Red Heeler
So as you might have guessed, these dogs were originally bred as herding dogs and, to this day, remain very much intact with their herding instincts. However, it may surprise you to learn that this breed was originally bred from dingos.
Red Heelers date back to 1800s Queensland, Australia, when a man named George Hall bred the initial litter using Dingoes and Border Collies. He then went on to sell these pups to local farmers. Before the breeding of the Australian Cattle dog, many dogs had been bred in an attempt to form a canine that would suit the country’s climate and particular herding needs. However, after Hall’s litters proved to be a success, ACDs were bred with Dalmations which then went on to create the Australian Cattle dog now recognized by the American Kennel Club.
As mentioned, the Red Heeler is better known as the Australian Cattle dog. They were given the nickname ‘Heeler’ as they used to herd livestock by nipping at their heels to encourage them to move in the desired direction.
These vibrant, loveable dogs were introduced to the US during the 1940s when they were exported from Australia. The breed became increasingly popular then and was registered with the National Stock Dog Registry and AKC by 1980. Add, these dogs are also admired by The Australian Cattle Dog Club of America and, of course, are recognized by the Australian National Kennel Council.
Red Heeler Appearance
The Red Heeler is a medium-sized breed with a short, double coat. They resemble their Dingo ancestors with their pointed ears, narrow face, and lean stature. Although these dogs are lean and agile, they are also powerful in build with incredible stamina as they were bred to withstand rough terrain.
Often, this herding dog will have a docked tail is used as a working dog to prevent them from injury.
- Height and Weight: Red Heelers tend to grow to between 17 to 20 inches in height and weigh between 35 to 50 pounds. Typically, a female Red Heeler will be smaller than a male, but both genders can weigh anywhere between the stated weight listed previously.
- Coat Colors and Markings: Whether red or blue heelers, puppies are always born with a white coat. As Red Heeler puppies age, colors begin to form across their coats. Initially, brown hairs begin to distribute, ultimately giving Red Heelers their famous red shade. In addition, these dogs’ coats can be speckled or mottled with red, leaving the remaining fur white.
Red Heeler Personality
If you’re looking for a new best friend, it’s understandable to want to learn about the general personality of the breeds you’re interested in. The good news is that the Red Heeler is considered by most a great family pet and an excellent guard dog.
To start, the Red Heeler is an intelligent dog and will therefore crave activity and mental stimulation. They are also incredibly energetic, playful puppies, making them excellent playmates for children and running partners for active pet parents.
In addition to their sweet, playful nature, they are also alert and protective companions. These loyal, active dogs are regarded as great guards as they will watch everything around them. Typically, this dog breed is considered quiet but can become vocal if they feel like they, or those around them, are threatened.
Children & other animals
It’s crucial to remember that proper training and early socialization are imperative to how any dog breed interacts with other dogs, animals, and even children. A Red Heeler puppy is a great fit for families due to its playful nature but needs to be adequately taught from an early age. This goes especially for homes with younger children and small pets.
Drawbacks to owning a Red Heeler
As mentioned, the Red Heeler is an active and intelligent breed which can mean that they will often get into trouble if they are not raised and cared for appropriately. If not stimulated or exercised enough, they can often develop bad habits and destructive behavior, which may have you paying for repairs or replacements around the home.
Furthermore, although they make excellent guard dogs, it’s not uncommon for a Red Heeler to be well-intuned with their innate prey drive and herding impulses. Therefore, if they haven’t been trained appropriately from a young age, they can take to chasing small animals and even attempt to herd other dogs, pets, or children around the home.
Caring for a Red Heeler Dog
Like most dogs, a Red Heeler will need a lot of care and attention to grow up happy and healthy. It’s also important to understand their training and exercise needs, as a lack of guidance will result in bad behavior or tendencies that will be difficult to deal with later in life.
Since these dogs are immensely active, they will need lots of entertainment and activities to fight off boredom. Dog sports are an excellent option for your pup to enroll in, and obedience training as your canine companion will appreciate and crave the stimulation these things offer. In addition, agility training can also be another great way to keep your dog happy as they are naturally built for the kinds of activities involved.
When you’re not at home and have to leave your pup to amuse themselves, you can always get your hands on interactive dog toys that are guaranteed to keep them occupied. Interactive toys are a great way to stave off boredom and prevent destructive habits and are perfect for all ages.
As you may have gathered, these energetic and active dogs need more than just a 30-minute walk daily to keep them in shape. Instead, Red Heeler dogs will need around 90 minutes of physical activity a day to stay fit and healthy.
Since these dogs thrive best when given jobs and tasks, it is advised that you take them to participate in dog sports or agility training. This way, you can guarantee they won’t have any pent-up energy left to turn to bad habits.
Take a look at this additional article regarding how to handle high-energy dogs effectively.
Although their energy needs may be demanding, Red Heelers are eager to learn. Since they are tremendously intelligent dogs, they take to training very well and pick up on lessons quickly.
Since Red Heelers are quick learners, they will respond best to positive reinforcement. Any scolding during training may cause your puppy to rebel and take time to recover from, so make sure you apply the correct method when training your Red Heeler.
It’s a well-known fact that any dog will benefit most from high-quality dog food, no matter what breed. For Red Heelers, you will need to ensure you get the best food to support their active lifestyle and keep them in the best shape possible.
It would help if you opted for a recipe that uses real animal protein to fuel their energy levels and muscle mass/leniency. It’s also necessary to avoid formulas with filler ingredients to avoid weight gain later in life.
Either wet or dry food will be adequate. However, if you choose to feed them dry food, you must always ensure that you provide them with fresh, clean water to avoid dehydration. You can also opt to add a food topper to your dog’s dry diet for a little extra moisture content.
Top Tip: Dogs have different nutritional requirements depending on their age and breed, so you must make sure you are using the appropriate dog food and adjust when necessary. For example, a puppy will require a recipe to support brain and muscle development, whereas a senior prone to weight gain will need a formula with fewer calories. If you need more information or recommendations, talk to your vet; additionally, you can visit our dog food-related archive.
You may be pleased to learn that a Red Heeler has very few grooming needs and is generally considered a low-maintenance dog in this category. However, if anything, you will need to brush them once a week to remove any loose or dead hair.
You may also like our article on Best Dog Shedding Brushes.
Also, despite what you may think, a Red Heelers coat doesn’t tend to retain bad odors or become oily easily. However, you will still need to bathe them at least once every couple of months or whenever they get themselves dirty.
Dental and nail hygiene
In addition to coat and skin care, you will need to maintain their nails and teeth to fend off discomfort and dental diseases. Fortunately, plenty of products are on the market to help you keep your dog clean and healthy. You can also enlist the help of a professional groomer to keep their nails in check if you’re uncomfortable clipping them yourself.
Related Post: Best Dog Toothbrushes
Shedding tendencies – do Red Heelers shed?
Red Heelers don’t tend to shed much throughout the year, and what little loose fur they have can be removed and disposed of by a weekly brush. However, they are known to blow their coats twice a year, so you must brush them at least three times a week during shedding seasons.
Although Australian Cattle dogs are considered a healthy breed overall, they are not invincible and are prone to certain health problems. Below are some of the most and least common health problems affecting your Red Heeler.
This problem can affect many breeds and occurs when one or both hip joints don’t align properly and develop abnormally. This condition commonly leads to pain and discomfort and can even lead to arthritis.
Similar to the above condition, this issue is when the elbow joint(s) form abnormally and cause pain, discomfort, and even swelling. As a result, your dog can also develop arthritis after some time.
Osteochondritis dissecans (uncommon)
This inflammatory condition occurs when diseased cartilage pulls away from the bone. Generally, this issue affects the shoulder joint but can also attack the hip, knee, and even elbow.
This disease is known to affect large breeds that grow rapidly. Therefore, even though the ACD is a medium build, you must give your Red Heeler puppy the appropriate diet to avoid this potential issue.
Progressive retinal atrophy
Sadly, this is another condition that affects a lot of dog breeds. It is a genetic disease that degenerates the eyes, often leading to vision loss and blindness.
It may seem like a stretch for this energetic breed to fall victim to obesity, but it’s not uncommon. However, weight gain can be avoided if your Red Heeler is given a high-quality diet and is exercised appropriately.
Note: Although these health problems can seem scary, a responsible and reputable breeder will ensure their pup parents are healthy and that any litter they form is also screened for potential illnesses. So if you are looking for one of these pups (or any other breeds for that matter), always ask to see proof of health checks!
Red Heeler lifespan – how long can an Australian Cattle dog live?
According to the AKC, healthy purebred Australian Cattle dogs can live anywhere between 13 – 15 years old. However, keep in mind that with a good exercise regime and diet, this can sometimes be a little longer.
Where Can I Find Red Heeler Puppies?
Thanks to the internet, finding puppies has never been so easy. One of the best places to start is by browsing the American Kennel Club marketplace, or you can check out the Australian Cattle dog Club of America’s website, where you can find listings of breeders across the US.
Breeder Advice: Establish good communication and ask your breeder as many questions as possible. If a breeder struggles to answer questions, refuses to show you the pup’s parents, or doesn’t have proof of health screenings, this person may not be reliable or trustworthy. If you suspect something is wrong, seek advice!
If you’re unsure what to ask a breeder, we’ve written a guide detailing the top questions you should be asking before buying a puppy.
Red Heeler Price
These puppies can be between $250-$2500 depending on certain factors such as pedigree, breeder experience, and availability.
For example, a breeder with extensive experience will likely ask for more, which isn’t necessarily bad. A breeder with a lot of experience will be able to answer every question you have to fire at them and have the best facilities, resources, and recommendations to care for pups and their parents, hence the higher cost.
Don’t forget that a Red Heeler puppy is a 12-16 year commitment, so you have to remember that additional fees are required to raise and look after your pooch. These include:
- Food and water dishes
- Pet insurance
- Vet bills
- Supplements (if necessary)
- Collars and leashes
- Grooming accessories
Adopt Don’t Shop
Adopting is one of the most rewarding things you can do as a potential pet owner, as you’ll be giving an animal a second chance at a forever home. You may have luck finding a Red Heeler or even a Red Heeler mix in one of your local shelters.
Not only can you look in local rescue shelters, but the AKC and ACDRI also have rescue pages for you to browse if you have no luck elsewhere.
- American Kennel Club Rescue Page
- Australian Cattle Dog Rescue Incorporated
The only drawback to rescuing is that sometimes you have to take extra precautions to ensure you can accommodate your new fur friend. Sadly, these animals have often been abused, leaving them scarred emotionally and physically, so they may also need time to adjust to a new home. So, before you adopt – make sure you have everything you need, and your rescue pup needs so that you are both content and comfortable.