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Blue Heeler Australian Shepherd Mix - Discover The Texas Heeler

The Texas Heeler is a hybrid dog that is bred by crossing a Blue Heeler (a.k.a. Australian Cattle Dog or ACD) with an Australian Shepherd (or Aussie).

Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa | Doctor Of Veterinary Medicine


Sara is Wileypup’s Veterinarian Adviser and helped compose this article to ensure the information is up to date and accurate. For more information on Sara click here

Did you know?

They're a popular hybrid dog in the state of Texas. This breed is coveted by farmers, ranchers and others that enjoy rural living and outdoor adventure.

We will take a look at the characteristics of this breed, followed by some detailed information on both parent breeds.

Stay tuned!

At the end of this article we will help you decide if this designer dog breed is a good fit for your lifestyle!

Check out our article Blue Heeler vs Australian Shepherd for an in-depth look at the similarities and differences of these two herding dog breeds.


Blue Heeler Australian Shepherd Mix | Texas Heeler

Temperament

Texas Heelers are loved for their herding instincts, which is not surprising since both parent breeds are exceptional members of the herding group.

Many have excelled both as working dogs on Texas ranches, as well as in sports such as agility, flyball, herding and obedience.

These alert dogs can be possessive of their family and tend to be somewhat suspicious of strangers unless properly introduced. They can be good guard dogs, particularly since they are unlikely to bark unless they sense a threat.

These crossbreeds need plenty of exercise and do best when they have a job that they can focus on.

They tend to be loyal to their family, however, they can be wary of other dogs and pushy with small children. Both of these tendencies should be considered before adopting or buying one of these canines as a family pet.

With both parents in the top of the intelligence spectrum for canines, there is no reason to expect a stupid Australian Shepherd Blue Heeler mix.

They respond well to positive training methods, but can be somewhat stubborn. Strong leadership will be important if you expect this hybrid dog to thrive.


Size

Both parent breeds are medium stature dogs, so you can expect the same from this mix.

Expect an adult dog somewhere between 25-50 lbs., and about 17-22” tall at the withers. Males are somewhat larger than females, although both tend towards a stocky and athletic build.


Coat and Appearance

Texas Heelers tend to have the shorter coats and specked features associated with ACDs, however, this is not always the case. They also are sometimes born with the medium length coat that many Aussies have.

Likewise, the tan markings that are typical of many Australian Cattle Dogs are common in Texas Heelers. Blue or red speckled is the most typical color pattern on the body and legs.

Ears can be pointed or floppy, although the former is more common, giving this mix an alert look. In rare cases, the different colored eyes that can be found with Aussies will also appear with the ACD and Aussie mix.


Health and Life Expectancy

12 -15 years is the average life expectancy of this hardy breed.

Like all dogs with merle color variations, higher rates of deafness are to be expected. Other potential congenital problems common to both breeds include progressive retinal atrophy, hip dysplasia and epilepsy.


Pros/Cons

PROS
  • Unlikely to be much of a barker, unless left alone too much or persistently under stimulated.
  • You can expect an intelligent dog that is relatively easy to train with positive training methods and strong leadership.
  • This is an excellent hybrid dog for sports such as agility, obedience and herding trials.
  • You will be hard pressed to find a better ranch hand than this crossbreed, accounting for their popularity among Texas ranchers.
  • Relatively easy grooming needs with weekly brushing and a yearly blow-out.
CONS
  • In some cases, these hybrids do not do well with other dogs, particularly if not socialized well as puppies.
  • Both parent breeds have extremely high exercise needs.
  • The ACD has a reputation for being somewhat unpredictable with small children.
  • ACDs can be somewhat stubborn. Strong leadership from an experienced dog person is highly recommended.

Blue Heeler | Parent Breed Profile Of The Texas Heeler

Also known as the Australian Cattle Dog (ACD), Red Heeler, or the Queensland Heeler, this canine is a popular member of the Herding Group.

Known for their tenacity, trainability, intensity and loyalty, it is little surprise that this is a popular breed in both Australia and the United States.


History

The Blue Heeler is a breed that originated in the very challenging climate of the Australian Outback as an aid in cattle herding.

Early stock used in the foundations of the breed included a variety of dogs.

  • Smithfield: a stocky, black herding breed from the British Isles.
  • Dingo: Australian native wild dogs, added to enhance endurance.
  • Blue Smooth Highland Collies: Added in 1840 by Thomas Hall, to temper the rather aggressive and loud heelers.
  • Bull Terrier: Added in the 1870’s to increase stockiness.
  • Dalmatian: To add the love of livestock and loyalty to human handlers this breed is widely known for.
  • Black and Tan Kelpie: To reinfuse the breed with a strong working ethic and the characteristic tan markings typical of ACDs today.

Temperament

The Blue Heeler is a herding breed with fairly stable personality across the breed. Hallmarks you can expect include:

  • Extremely intelligent and able to problems solve on the go
  • Stubborn due to the tenacity required to herd dangerous cattle
  • Alert to the point of neurotic if not put to work
  • Brave and sometimes pushy and controlling if they do not have strong leadership in their pack
  • A tendency to be possessive. ACDs commonly have issues with resource guarding.
  • Sometimes these dogs can be aggressive with other dogs. Early socialization is key.

Size

  • Height: 18-21” for males and 17-19” for females.
  • Weight: 33-49 lbs.

Coat and Appearance

The breed standard for Australian Cattle Dogs includes two distinct accepted color variations in a smooth double coat:

  • Blue: This color includes blue, blue mottled or blue speckled. Black, blue and tan markings are accepted with tan markings on the legs and jaws.
  • Red Speckle: Even red speckling with some allowance for even head markings.

Health and Life Expectancy

  • 12-14 years.
  • Deafness and blindness are congenital problems that can occur.

Australian Shepherd | Parent Breed Profile Of The Texas Heeler

The nickname for this popular and lovable breed is simply the “Aussie.” They have consistently ranked among the top 20 dogs in the USA over the last 5 years, according to the AKC.

The Blue Heeler and Australian Shepherd mix likely owes much of its popularity to this beloved breed.


History

Ironically, this breed was developed from a variety of different herding dogs by ranchers in the Western United States, not Australia.

The exact foundation breeds that resulted in the Aussie we know today is largely unknown because of poor record keeping.

It is likely, however, that dogs who herded sheep in the Basque region of the Pyrenees Mountains had a strong influence on the stock.

It is likely these dogs came to America with their human companions from that region, who happened to have stopped for a short time in Australia on their way to the States.

Despite the fact that the Australian Shepherd Club of America was established in 1957, it was not until 1993 that the AKC formally recognized the breed.


Temperament

Like the Blue Heeler, the Aussie is a dog developed for herding. They are happiest when they have a clear job to do and have a chance to excel.

This is why so many lovers of the breed find themselves gravitating to dog sports likeagility, obedience,herding trials andflyball.

The Aussie does have the advantage of being a little less intense and prone to neurotic behavior as a family pet than ACDs.

They tend to be a bit less serious, more willing to try on new behaviors, and prone to seek out fun games to get their owner’s attention.

They are very intelligent and train willingly, particularly with positive training techniques. They tend to be good with children, although they are sometimes cagey with other dogs so be sure to socialize early and often.


Size

There is a significant difference between males and females of this breed, both in height and weight.

Males: 20-23”, 55-70 lbs.

Females: 18-21”, 35-50 lbs.

They have a solid build and medium stature, but loads of grace and agility. These athletic dogs are rivaled in agility only by their distant cousins, the Border Collie.

Some breeders are now breeding selectively for size. Keep your eyes peeled for miniature and toy Australian Shepherds coming soon.


Coat and Appearance

There are four color variations accepted in the AKC breed standardfor Aussies:

Blue merle, black, red merle, and red (white or tan markings allowed in restricted areas of the body). Because points of contrasting colors are allowed, many Aussies have tri-color markings.

The top coat is of medium length and can be wavy or straight. This is a double coated breed, so an undercoat is also expected and a solid grooming brush is highly recommended. However, it will be climate that largely determines the thickness of this downy bottom layer.

One of the more distinguishing characteristics of this breed, and part of their stunning good looks, are their often uniquely colored eyes.

Australian Shepherds carry the gene for heterochromatic eyes, in other words, they are often multicolored. Shades of blue and brown cover the spectrum from light to dark. Even a single eye may have several colors!


Health and Life Expectancy

The average lifespan for the Aussie is 13-15 years. Eye problems, hip dysplasia, and epilepsy are the more common congenital problems that tend to show up in this breed. However, it is overall considered a healthy and hearty breed.


Australian Shepherd and Blue Heeler Mix: Is the Texas Heeler right for you?

If you are still unsure if this is a good hybrid for your lifestyle, here are some tips to help you decide:

This is a
great dog for

  • Participation in dog sports such as dog parkour, flyball, or agility
  • Folks that love the outdoors and are looking for a canine companion that can keep up
  • Farmers and ranchers looking for a handy helper dog that is easy to train
  • Experienced dog trainers with the skillset to make the most of this breed’s intelligence and desire to please

This is a poor choice
as a dog for

  • Folks with more sedentary lifestyles or mobility issues
  • People that work long hours who leave their dog at home for extended periods
  • Those with small children, cats, or other dogs
  • Inexperienced or first-time dog owners
  • People looking for an affectionate companion that lives for belly rubs

If you would like to share your experience with a Blue Heeler Australian Shepherd mix, we welcome your comments below!

FAQ

Are Texas Heelers good family dogs?

Texas Heelers are very intelligent dogs. They are also really loyal, so much so that it can sometimes lead to possessive behavior towards family members that reflects in aggressiveness towards other dogs or new people. Although every dog is unique, Texas Heelers can also sometimes be stubborn and not too careful around small children. Overall, they can be good family dogs, but these character traits should definitely be carefully considered before making a decision.

Are Texas Heelers easy to train?

The Texas Heeler is a mix of two very intelligent breeds, and there is no reason to expect anything different from the Texas Heeler himself. These dogs respond very well to positive reinforcement training, although they can sometimes be stubborn.

Do Texas Heelers shed a lot?

Some Texas Heelers have a short coat, while with some it can reach medium length, like that of an Australian Shepherd. They are considered moderate shedders, though. During the shedding season, you can expect a lot of hairs flying around, but with regular brushing it should be easy to keep the situation under control.

Do Texas Heelers like to swim?

Texas Heelers are energetic dogs who love getting lots of exercise. As such, they usually also love swimming. There are always oddballs, so there are probably a few Texas Heelers out there that don’t like water, but for most of them, swimming is a joy.

Sharon Elber (M.S. in Science & Technology) - Professional Dog Trainer

Sharon is a professional dog trainer with over 10 years experience. She is also a professional writer that received her M.S. in Science & Technology Studies from Virginia Tech.

For more info on Sharon click here

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