Blue Heeler Australian Shepherd Mix | 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).

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!


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.
  • minus-circle
    ACDs can be somewhat stubborn. Strong leadership from an experienced dog person is highly recommended.

Blue 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.

In fact, it is often used as a parent breed in other hybrid dogs bred to work long days on ranches, including:


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

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 like agility, obedience, herding trials and flyball.

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 standard for 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. 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!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Paul Mason - March 2, 2018

I have a girl named Dixie. She is without a doubt the smartest dog I have owned. She is very loyal, and good at picking out bad people. She knows her left from her right and loves her frisbee. I love her to death. She is 8 years old and has been a blessing all the way through. She is my better half!

Reply
Brenda - March 15, 2018

If the puppy is raised from a young pup with a cat, it can work, right? I’ve read that if they’re raised seeing the cat(s) as a member of the family, they won’t see them as prey.

Reply
    wileypup - March 15, 2018

    More often than not that’s the case. Early socialization is certainly key!

    Reply
    Keely - March 20, 2018

    My Texas Heeler pup was introduced to other dogs and cats from day one and he is best friends with one of our cats. He gets along with everyone so far and we have had him about 2.5 months now

    Reply
Ken Sanders - March 31, 2018

1 1/2 years ago, I “re-homed” a Texas Heeler at 3 1/2 years old. The original owner had a toddler and the dog would play too rough with the child. He has become the most loyal, smartest, and agile dog I have ever known. He thinks that catch and retrieve with a ball is a contact sport if you don’t watch him and imitates hooked tarpon when catching a bounced ball. Generally, he’s good with kids if they don’t have a ball in their hand. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t make me smile.

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Candy - April 5, 2018

We’ve got a blue heeled and she is really good with most dogs (she gets reall snippy with dogs that are bigger than her), and the family cat. I’ve never had a dog that is so alert and seems to be constantly playing. We got her from a shelter and had no idea what type of dog we had until the vet told us. I would gratefully appreciate anyone who has ideas about training and and things I can do to to help her busy through out the day. We take her the dog park 2 times every day. She’s not a dog to lay around. She will come and cry at me when she’s bored.

Reply
    wileypup - April 5, 2018

    Hi Candy,

    I’ve got a blue heeler cross too, that was also a rescue from a shelter and is also a bit nervy around bigger dogs, bet they would love each other though. Swear he’s smarter than me sometimes!

    For training I would use a combo of food rewards and play rewards (eg if she sit, stay and lays down she gets to play tug of war with you). Try to teach her the fundamentals of loose lead walking and impulse control, it will go a long way.

    I’ve got a dog walker that comes and takes my dog out 3 times a week, another option might be to see if you could look after another person’s pup at your house during the day so that have each other to hang out with, otherwise interactive toys like kongs, raw bones etc gave give them something to do for a little bit.

    Hope this helped!

    Reply
Sonny Rice - April 6, 2018

I thought i created this breed. My dog named Dog is an intact male now 17 still has all his beautifull white teeth. no hip eye or hearing problems still runs like the wind. stands like a sentry all night and still thinks its his job to populate the west coast with his offspring. Watch him for five minutes and you will say he is the smartest dog youve ever seen. His secrets include. nothing but raw meat first three yrs. Never wear a leash or collar. Great social life. Free to be a dog. Run many miles every day. Keeping employed and keeping testicles

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