What is an Australian Heeler?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2019
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The Australian Heeler, also known as the Australian Cattle Dog, is a medium-sized, muscular breed of dog with a wide head and pricked ears. The Australian Heeler's double coat includes a thick undercoat and a short, speckled outer coat. The Australian Heeler breed includes Red Heelers and Blue Heelers, and all puppies are born white, with only their paw pads indicating their future adult coloring. The Australian Heeler originated in Australia where it was developed to handle the rugged Australian Outback.

The Australian Heeler has such a well-developed herding instinct, that many Heelers have been known to take little bites at people's heels to try and herd them! They can make good pets, but it's extremely important that these dogs are allowed to be active and productive. Australian Heelers need to be a part of what is going on and are working dogs. If left alone in a yard, they tend to be destructive rather than productive because they are easily bored.

Of course, with their high exercise needs, Australian Heelers do not make good apartment dogs. They make excellent watch dogs as they are alert and protective, but at the same time they need human companionship and many Australian Heelers are one-person dogs. The Australian Heeler is not the best breed to have around children, but they can make good family pets if they have been well socialized as puppies. Poorly socialized Australian Heelers tend to be aggressively dominant with other dogs.


Most dog breeds are prone to certain diseases, and the health problems associated with the Australian Heeler include progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), hip dysplasia and deafness. Hip dysplasia, which is a malformed hip joint, affects many dog breeds. PRA is an inherited eye condition that leads to blindness and also affects many different breeds of dogs. However, the Heeler's inherited risk of deafness is thought to be from early breeding with the Dalmatian since about 30% of Dalmatians develop deafness or some degree of hearing loss.


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