One of the two color variations of the Australian Cattle Dog, the Red Heeler was bred during the early 1800s by British settlers for the sole purpose of herding cattle in Australia.
Today this dog is slowly becoming popular in most households, but do not be mistaken: these dogs are not meant for families with young children.
While originally a working dog, this canine cowboy can be a great active companion if you give it the physical and mental exercise it needs.
Whether you run marathons or hike the great outdoors, the Red Heeler is your perfect workout buddy.
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What is a Red Heeler?
The Red Heeler is a medium-sized dog bred for herding livestock.
They are the result of crossing Smithfield Collies and Dingoes, as well as some other breeds like the Scottish Highland Collie.
Due to their breeding history they are a strong intelligent breed that can withstand long periods of hard activity. However this means they can get bored easily without enough stimulation.
Whilst these dogs are full of energy their medium size makes them a little easier to handle than larger working breeds.
These dogs are loyal and bond closely with their people.
When it comes to caring for the Red Heeler, making sure they get enough exercise is very important.
Their persistence and focus shines in training – positive reinforcement and repetition is key for this dog. Investing in dog sports can be a great way to give your pup the mental and physical exercise it needs.
- Overview: Purebred.
- Purpose: Working/Companion.
- Weight: 35-50 pounds.
- Size: 17-20 inches.
- Temperament: Energetic, intelligent and loyal.
Red Heeler Appearance
The Red Heeler is a compact, medium sized dog with a muscular body.
It is a short dog with dense ginger and white speckled fur and solid markings covering their face and body.
Their ears are triangular and sit perked on top of its square shaped head. They start out floppy as puppies and gradually perk up as they grow.
It has a deep chest and broad, muscular hindquarters, with a slightly curved tail. All in all this is a dog that conveys agility and power – a well-oiled furry herding machine!
This dog stands 17 inches at its shortest and 20 inches at its tallest, weighing anywhere from 35-50 pounds.
Colors and Coat
Puppies are born with white fur with some solid face and body markings – the ginger speckling comes on top as they grow.
The Red Heeler dog has a smooth weather-resistant double coat with a short, dense undercoat. While there is usually no need for professional grooming, this dog’s undercoat sheds in clumps once or twice a year, so be sure to remove dead hair using a comb and a bristle brush.
They are built for warmer climates but can tolerate cooler temperatures.
6 Fun Facts About Red Heelers
- They are also known as the Queensland Heeler.
- Heeler refers to how they were bred to herd – nipping at the heels of hard to control cattle.
- The first crossbred litter between the Dingo and the Smithfield Collie was too aggressive, thus needing the inclusion of other breeds (like the Scottish Highland Collie).
- They were first recognized by the AKC in 1980 as the Australian Cattle Dog.
- The Guinness World Records holder for the oldest dog ever belongs to an Australian Cattle Dog named Bluey, who lived to be 29 years old.
- Blue Heelers are the Red Heeler’s counterpart, sporting a speckled black and white coat with tan markings.
Red Heeler Personality and Temperament
The Red Heeler is a playful dog with lots of intelligence and energy.
Originally bred to be working dogs, this dog is not short on loyalty to its people. Owners often describe them as velcro dogs (always sticking close to their people).
If they have an outlet for their mental and physical energy, these dogs are eager to please and persistent to mastering whatever trick or sport you have in mind. For this reason, be sure to find a dog park or an agility facility near you (if you do not have a yard of your own). Before you can reap the benefits of their intelligence and loyalty, you must give them time to burn off their energy.
This dog is not known for its barking, but that does not mean it cannot develop barking problems. If any issues arise proper obedience training is a must to remove the problem before it develops.
Providing they are socialized correctly, they should get along with most people and dogs. However these pups should not be in an environment with small animals or very young children, as their herding instincts can easily take over.
Remember historically these pups were bred to nip at the heels of livestock to encourage them to move.
Are Red Heelers Good Family Dogs?
These dogs do best in an active family with older children who can handle the high energy of a Red Heeler.
However families with younger children should look for more family-friendly dogs.
Caring for a Red Heeler Dog
Aside from their high mental and physical demands, caring for a Red Heeler is easy.
A home with a big yard is a must, but some have been able to live in smaller homes or apartments and get their energy out at dog parks or in dog sports.
One walk each day around the block is not enough for this breed, nor is an hour of playing in the yard.
Red Heelers were bred to be active dogs, so expect to find yourself on multiple walks throughout the day.
Find longer trails so your dog can get its physical exercise in.
However if you really want to tire them out, invest in agility training classes.
Since your dog is no longer in herding cattle, having a dog sport for it to master will be like giving it a job to do. Running through courses and figuring out how certain obstacles work will give your pooch the physical and mental challenge it craves and enjoys.
A yard is best for these dogs, but apartment living is not out of the question. Just be sure to find an outlet for your dog’s energy and they should be happy.
- Number of Walks Per Day: 3-4.
- Total Exercise Needed Per Day: 90+ Minutes.
Grooming and Shedding
This dog sheds its undercoat once or twice a year, so it is not suitable for those with allergies.
Weekly brushing with a comb and a bristle brush (especially during that shedding season) will help remove dead hair and minimize shedding.
In addition to brushing, monthly bathing is essential if you and your dog find yourselves outdoors quite often.
Make sure to check your dog for ticks as well.
All in all, this dog is quite easy to care for in the grooming department. As always, be sure to clip your dog’s nails if they do not wear down, brush their teeth to prevent decay and clean their eyes and ears to prevent infection.
Feeding and Diet
Feeding your Red Heeler properly is essential to helping it recover after a long day of play.
Like all dogs the amount your pup eats depends on its size and activity level – but since they are an active breed, it will need more dog food than the average dog.
Many dog calorie calculators exist online to give you a general rule of thumb, but your veterinarian is best for helping you find an ideal weight for your dog.
|Calories Per Day:||Cups of Kibble Per Day:|
Known Health Problems
The Red Heeler is a relatively healthy breed, only susceptible to the usual ailments associated with old age such as hip dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy. However, these dogs also have genetic predispositions to deafness.
For all these reasons, it’s crucial to find a reputable breeder. Putting the work into finding a breeder you can trust pays off tremendously, giving you a healthy furry friend for life.
With little planning ahead you could get reimbursed for every vet bill from now on!
Exam fees are included, which saves you around $50-$250 per sick visit.
PetPlan covers injury and disease in every adult tooth — not just the canines.
Not all providers cover hereditary conditions linked to breed. PetPlan does.
How Long Does A Red Heeler Live?
Your Red Heeler should live well into old age, around 12 to 16 years.
How Much Does A Red Heeler Cost?
You should expect to pay ~$1200 for a Red Heeler puppy.
How to Train a Red Heeler
These rough and tumble dogs were bred for a specific job: herding.
However if you are keeping a Red Heeler for companionship, investing in obedience training and socialization is a must to make sure its herding instincts do not get out of control.
Start training as young as 8 weeks old to make sure you end up with a well mannered pup. With its high intelligence and eagerness to please (once you get all that energy worked out) training can be very rewarding with this dog.
With the Red Heeler positive reinforcement and repetition works best.
Rewarding your dog for good behavior and ignoring bad behavior will help build a positive and healthy relationship between you and your dog.
Still as they are a working dog, giving them a job is crucial.
A job can be many things but dog sports is often the easiest and most exciting way to keep your dog’s mind and body busy. There are many varieties of dog sports including:
- Agility: A dog sport where dogs run through obstacle courses. Racing against the clock, the fastest dog to complete the course wins.
- Flyball: A dog sport in which teams of several dogs compete through hurdle relays to retrieve tennis balls thrown from a machine.
- Disc Dog: A modified version of fetch that involves catching Frisbees. Dogs can earn points based on their technique of catching their favorite plastic disc in a variety of events.
Dog sports can be a great way to give your Red Heeler their exercise fix, as well as create a strong bond between you and your dog.
|Easy to groom (low maintenance).||Heavily sheds once or twice a year.|
|Intelligence makes for fast training.||Can be destructive without proper stimulation.|
|A great workout buddy.||Has a very high activity level.|
|Relatively healthy breed.||Not suitable for families with young children.|
|Excels in canine sports.|
Quick Breed Summary Table
|Coat:||Short double coat|
|Color:||Speckled ginger and white fur with body markings|
|Do They Shed:||Yes|
|Temperament:||Loyal, robust and intelligent|
|Socialization:||Needed with younger children|
|Destructive Behavior:||Yes, when bored|
|People Skills:||Good with most people if socialized properly|
|Good with Children:||Not good with younger children due to herding instincts|
|Activity Levels:||Very high|
For active and outdoorsy people, Red Heelers make the perfect companion.
These cattle dogs are meant for working, so be sure to give them the stimulation they need to keep themselves entertained. Otherwise your couch may be their next chewing toy!
In terms of mental stimulation dog sports are the way to go. Not only are they a two-in-one package for mental and physical exercise, spending time with your dog will really help to build your bond.
Loyal at heart, expect to find yourself a lifelong friend who will never leave your side.
If you are an adventurous spirit who is always on-the-go, then consider the Red Heeler to be your next best friend.