australian cattle dog

Red heeler dog – Information about Australian Cattle dog


Are you seriously considering getting a red heeler? They are also known as AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG as they were initially used in Australia for herding cattle. This beautiful breed is loyal and intelligent and can be a great companion. However, they are energetic and need socializing.

The Australian cattle dog is a pack full of intelligence, loyalty, and obedience. They are active and always ready to do some job, other than herding these dogs can be good sports dog and family protectors. As their name suggests, they have a red coat with erected ears and muscled legs. Although this breed has been ignored for many years, it does not mean that will not suit you. It will prove itself a great choice.

History and origin of the red heeler

The Australian cattle dog was originated in Australia in the 19th century, where it was used by Australian settlers to herd cattle. Red heelers, as its name shows use to nip or bite the heels of slow-moving cattle to move forward.

The dog which they brought from Europe was not fit for this job. They wanted a hard and strong dog to get fit in the harsh working environment of Australia. So, this Australian cattle dog is the result of many cross-breeding.

“Blue heeler” was most popular among this breed. It herds the cattle in Queensland where it was given the name of Queensland heeler dog. In 1893, Robert Kaleski started breeding blue heelers and showed them in 1897. He used to cross cattle dog with a dingo and came up with today’s Australian cattle dog (blue heeler) it was recognized in 1903.

Personality and temperament of red heeler:

The red heeler is always active and energetic just like all working dogs. It is highly intelligent and can be trained easily with this ability of intelligence and obedience. If your dog is not working for herding cattle, you must engage in some other activities like sports, exercise and learning tricks to keep its body active and mind sharp.

If you want your red heeler as your pet, this will be a great choice. As guarding is in their nature they will get attached with you and your family and will do their best to protect them. They do not get involved with new people easily.

The red heeler was originally used for herding cattle and forcing them to move fast. So, whenever it is mistreated, it can nip or bite you which are very dangerous aspects of its personality. But this behavior can be controlled through proper and on time training.

This dog likes to work in silence and will bark if there is something unusual. It will bark to alarm you and make you alert for action. Sometimes it gets aggressive toward another dog which is a common thing.

The physical appearance of Australian cattle dog:

The red heeler dog is a big, strong and powerful breed. It has a sturdy face and muscular legs. An interesting fact about red heeler is that when born it has a white color which does not turn red until maturity. This dog usually has color patches on its face and body. The most widely seen marks is a patch on one or both eyes.

It is not strange if you see a “star mark” on the forehead of a red heeler. This mark is called Bentley mark after this dog was owned by Tom Bentley.

It has a long, straight tail, commonly with a white spot on the tip. The other most prominent factor of his personality is his eyes, not because of mark or patches on it, but it will show the sign of alert in case of an alarming situation. This feature makes it easy to identify purebred red heeler.

The red heeler is not suitable if you are living in a small apartment and you are an outgoing person leaving your dog home alone. It will disturb him and he can be destructive and may harm itself.

Taking care of red heeler:

If you are thinking about buying a red heeler, make sure that you can provide him with proper care and training. As it was bred to herd cattle by nipping and biting, you must have to train it to not to bite anyone.

This dog needs to be socialized and trained to behave well. Here we will provide you with some basic instructions regarding his diet care, exercise, training, and grooming.


The amount of food given to your dog depends on his age, size, and weight. Dogs are individuals just like human beings, and they don’t like to eat the same food daily. Make sure that food given to your dog meets daily calories requirement. It needs 30-40 calories per one pound of body weight.

You can buy high-quality package food from a store or can make it at home by yourself. From wherever you get, it must be clean and fresh. Check for those human foods which are good for your dog.


The Australian cattle dog is an active breed and does not like to sit doing anything. It requires a daily walk, running and challenging activities. If you do not engage him in such activities, he will find some at his own that may be disturbing for you.

If you are thinking about swimming, take your dog with you as well, as he loves to swim. That’s the way you and your red heeler can enjoy together.


The Australian cattle dog is an active, intelligent and obedient dog. So, training this breed is quite easy. It will enjoy doing challenging and innovative activities. Keep in mind, not to repeat same things again and again.

These dogs have a natural habit of nipping and biting to force for something. To prevent and eliminate this habit you will have to try some interesting ways.

If you train him properly, red heeler will prove himself to be a good protective, guardian and family dog.

Grooming an Australian cattle dog

The red heeler requires very little grooming, unlike other big, working breeds. It sheds its coat once a year, so you do not need to brush it daily. To make it smooth and odorless, brush it weekly.

Take care of its ears to be cleaned and dry. Do not forget to trim its nails on time and brush teeth with toothpaste especially designed and formulated for dogs.

Health issues of red heeler:

This is a cross breed, so it carries many health problems with it. The most known health issues are:

  • Musculoskeletal
  • Blindness
  • Deafness

The musculoskeletal problem includes spondylosis, elbow dysplasia, and arthritis. However, hip dysplasia is very uncommon in this breed. Reproductive issues may cause Pyometra, infertility and false pregnancy.

They also carry germs of deafness in their genes. Naturally, this is a powerful and healthy breed, and all these minor issues can be eradicated with proper medication.

Buying guide of red heeler:

After reading the characteristics as mentioned earlier and care routines of Australian cattle dog, do you think that this breed is a good fit for you and you should buy one? Consider some points while going to get a dog for you.

Always find a reputable breeder, who is ready to provide you all information about health, temperament, and issues of dog. It is better to ask for habits and health problems of both parents. Doing this will make it easy for you to know about possible behavioral and health issues of this dog. You may ask for health certification of the dog.

australian cattle dog

Other than finding a breeder, contact a dog walker or some local dog owner, who may assist you in buying or can arrange a good dog for you.

Frequently asked questions:

  • Are red heeler good family dogs?
  • What is the cost of a good Australian cattle dog?
  • What is the difference between red heeler and blue heeler?
  • Is red heeler dog aggressive?

Also, read about the Yorkshire terrier

Photo Credits: Red~Star/Flickr, misst.shs/flick, Tracy Keller/Flickr.